Warning: It’s going to sound like I’m in some way defending or sympathizing with Sarah Palin, but I’m merely using her as an example.
Years ago, before most people had even heard of her, a friend of mine passed her name along to me along with the rest of his picks for the worst republican VP candidates (this is before McCain had chosen her). Palin had very little news coverage at the time so there wasn’t much yet to pick on, and my friend pointed out that she had been a beauty queen once upon a time. This was his main proof that she was stupid.
I agreed with him, and wasn’t surprised when it turned out that she was far from being an egghead. Anyway, time went by, Palin became the VP candidate, fueled the media with sound byte after sound byte, lost, and made her own cult. Meanwhile, the election was over, and America moved on to think about other things. And I forgot about the offhand beauty queen remark.
Until today. For no reason whatsoever, I started thinking about this old conversation while I was in the shower. In general, I’ve been questioning and challenging everything I believe in lately. Even those tiny little negative thoughts — I am trying to explore them to see where they come from, if they’re coming together to create something more sinister inside of me, and what other perspectives can I take. Using this subject as an example, I used to think beauty queens were dumb and vapid because they participated in contest that was about their looks (and honestly, I probably do still believe this to a certain extent). But now I’m wondering if that makes me sexist against my own gender. Who am I to tell a woman how she chooses to build her life? Who are you to do so? And why should I or anyone else assume that a woman is dumb because she is also beautiful and sociable. It’s a very unfair, weird way to look at the world.
Then I thought about Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino boxer and politician. I have never heard anyone say anything negative about his boxing career in relation to him being a politician. Most people think it’s cool. In fact, I think it’s kind of cool.
But the issue is this: why do we think a woman is stupid for once being a beauty queen, but we don’t think it’s stupid that man is a boxer? Is there something about boxing that seems intellectual? Why is walking around on a stage in a bathing suit so much more shallow and stupid than getting punched in the face? And if someone should want to get involved in politics, why is it that a man doesn’t have to defend himself for being involved in sports or acting or whatever, but a woman has to defend herself for participating in pageant?