Thursday, September 16, 2010

Czech please!!!

"Glass, china, and reputations are easily cracked, and are never well mended."
-- Ben Franklin

Political campaigns and elections in the United States have always had some wild elements and often involve heavy doses of negativity.  However, recent developments in Europe have one-upped their friends across the Atlantic Ocean. 

In the middle of Europe lies the Czech Republic, a post-communist nation that was formerly linked to Slovakia.  Political parties within the Czech Republic have several women serving in public office or attempting to become elected officials.  To promote these females candidates, parties have put together a calendar showing off their finest ladies. 

However, the caveat in this political hullaballoo is the pictures in said calendar could be considered risque.  The poses are provocative and have led to some protesting any votes for a party that would put their female candidates in such a calendar.  Supporters of the candidates claim these women are actually empowering their gender as a whole by showing they are politicans and yet still in charge of their femininity.

A vote for me is like a vote for anyone else -- only hotter
To be fair, we have to put this story into the appropriate context.  First, most European nations are much more cavalier in their attitudes toward sex than Americans.  In fact, they probably consider us prudish.  Also, we have to take into account the Czechs are still relatively fresh out of communist control where the idea of women being feminine is a new concept. 

With that in mind, on to the nature of this sort of behavior.  My opinion of this political calendar?   This is a ploy to manipulate voters into making a choice based on a woman's physique rather than the policy views.  Women should be insulted and feel degraded. 

All individuals naturally want to feel attractive and believe they are desirable to others, but to combine sexy with politics is irresponsible.  What message does this send to young women?  Being intelligent doesn't matter as long as you're pretty.  If these women want to show how attractive they are, they could easily take pictures in more professional attire.

What purpose do these pictures serve?  To turn the heads of males in their constituency and to obtain votes in what amounts to little more than selling their bodies.  Looking at these pictures doesn't send the message "Vote for me" -- these images are essentially giving the "come hither" look.  Would a woman expect to be taken seriously as a politician after putting out these pictures?

While I believe the Czechs are sinking very low with such naked attempts at manipulation (no pun intended), I also believe people are building up the hype of the story to beyond what it deserves. 

No matter what the hormones of men may say, most males will not vote for a candidate or party based on how attractive the female candidate is.  They may enjoy the campaign and gawk at these women -- which many of whom are quite attractive -- but when it comes time to cast a ballot, men choose based on reasons other than looks.  Look at the most recent presidential election in 2008.  Did Sarah Palin really help John McCain's chances of winning?  If anything, it probably did damage to his bid for the presidency.  Men and women both saw through Palin's facade.  The only thing Palin did successfully was to give Tina Fey's career a boost.

Vote for me for Parliament -- how's my law making body?

After giving this some thought, I suppose American politics are essentially manipulating people in a similar manner to the Czechs, only we aren't nearly as blatant in our attempts.  Typically, voters in the States can base their choices off of three main areas -- voting based on party, the issues or candidate appeal.  If you guessed that Americans go for candidate appeal, you're correct!  

During the 2004 presidential election, the George W. Bush campaign pushed onto the public the notion that the sitting president was the type of guy "you could have a beer with."  For some reason, the American public bought into that idea -- that President Bush was like them.  Maybe Bush is a fun guy to hang out with, but Democrats (unsuccessfully) attempted to persuade voters that having that particular quality didn't make Bush presidential material. 

American politics are filled with candidates who try to manipulate voters to either like them or hate "the other guy."  Making decisions based on the issues is too complicated for many Americans -- so they often go with the candidate who better presents themselves.  John Kennedy appealed to citizens with his looks.  George H.W. Bush used the shady "Willie Horton" ads to destory Michael Dukakis.  Bill Clinton parlayed his saxophone abilities into gaining favor with a younger generation. 

Aren't these politicans equally as shady as the ladies from the Czech Republic?  Perhaps American politicans deserve more of the criticism for their attempts at manipulating voters.  Their attempts to mislead voters appear to be much more difficult to detect.  Or maybe the voters need raked over the coals  for being so blind to these overtures. 

Your thoughts?

2 comments:

  1. First off, nice pun for the title.

    Second, unless there are more risque pictures than what you showed here (don't necessarily want to google it...actually I just did so nevermind), the pictures aren't that bad. Maybe the idea was not the greatest, but to assert that all women should feel degraded... I'm not entirely sure that I should feel degraded based on what someone else does. No one ever says men should be degraded for guys showing off their abs on a magazine cover or something that sexualizes men. Another thing that could give men a bad name: sexual harassment or rape, but when a man rapes/harasses a woman no one is like "HEY MEN. FEEL OUTRAGE AT THIS MAN. HE IS DEGRADING YOU." It is an isolated event, just like these women taking mildly sexual pictures.

    Actually, I think it is empowering. In a time where a Spanish reporter reporting on the Jets, Ines Sainz is BLAMED for how she dressed when she got sexually harassed, it is wonderful to see women still being able to be sexy. Let's not forget the fact that several of them (you implied it seems like) are already elected to serve. They've been in office and shown what they can do. They have MORE than just this calender to get elected on. The women who are running for the first time and chose to do this calender, it's a little different, but for the women already elected, it's not like they're just basing this on their looks. They're saying "I am smart AND I am comfortable with my looks." And that is completely okay to me. Women shouldn't have to come off manly and abraisve to be taken seriously in the political relm. Now I realize that by drawing attention to a somewhat scantily clad calender you are not saying that at all, but it seems like women posing attractively for a calender draws far more outcry than if a bunch of attractive men decided to do the same thing, and that bothers me.

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  2. I always like to read what you have to say Don because I think, for the most part, we have similar thoughts/beliefs/convictions/etc. Lately however, this, among other things, has been ringing very very true for me....

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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