The men were completely, conventionally covered by their suits; the women seemed half naked by comparison, in fitted jackets, often showing a little cleavage, and above the knee, or shorter, skirts. Maybe they hoped to benefit from these reveals, but I suspect they were subtly disadvantaged by them. The men were free to focus on their interviews; at least some women were likely to be distracted (however, unconsciously) by concern about their looks and the need to sit and display themselves appropriately. How much skin is just enough? Stilettos, kitten heels, or flats? Hollywood or D.C? These are questions men never have to ask. Will they ever cease to matter to women?Okay. My bullshit alarm went off. What year was this? In what city did this supposedly happen? I see law students dressed for interviews all the time, and as far as I can tell from my excellent perspective, this problem Kaminer would like us to fret about does not exist. Women law students know how to dress exactly appropriately for interviews.
I'm reacting to the ending of a piece titled "Kagan, Palin, and Lipstick Feminism," which is mainly riff on that Robin Givhan column about the way Elena Kagan dresses. Kaminer begins:
What do Elena Kagan and Sarah Palin have in common? They each offer complementary cautionary tales about the continuing appeal of an ersatz, "Sex in the City" feminism that rewards beauty and punishes plainness with all the subtlety and compassion of a Playboy centerfold. Kagan's appearance and fashion sense are mocked or savaged, especially but not exclusively by pundits on the right, following a familiar script. Hillary Clinton and Janet Napolitano endured similar hazings. Sarah Palin, to say the least, did not.You know, the standards of male and female beauty are different. That isn't wrong. We talk about how everybody looks. And we poke fun at anybody who exercises power. It's not wrong. It's right. It's perfectly fine to talk about the glamorous or dowdy way some female politico dresses. We talk about men's clothes too, even though it's usually a more boring subject because professional men stay within a narrower range of options.
Men are armored by their unrevealing suits; women are expected to expose themselves, with various degrees of discretion.Oh, bullshit. Women aren't expected to expose themselves. We don't even have to wear skirts anymore. Hillary gets away with pantsuits and complete coverage. If she chooses to expose herself, we're going to notice, and we will talk about it. But it is true that men are "armored by their unrevealing suits." Here, I talk with Robin Givhan about exactly that (in 2007):