Dear Tell All: I can't help noticing that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker picks beautiful young women to be the spokespeople for his administration and his campaigns. By my count there's Laurel Patrick, Alleigh Marré, Jocelyn Webster and Ciara Matthews. Matthews, you recall, is the one who made headlines for being a former Hooters waitress.
It reminds me of Fox News, which uses super-sexy women as on-air talent rather than a normal range of women who just happen to be good journalists. As with Fox, it's hard to believe that the most talented females available to fill Walker's frontline jobs also look like models. The thinking seems to be: We'll use this eye candy to make our "product" more palatable, just as the advertising industry has always done with noxious products like cigarettes and fast food.
In the realm of government, this approach makes you go "hmm." What does it say to the young girls of Wisconsin who hope to do important work when they grow up, regardless of their looks? In my opinion Walker's approach sets women back 50 years, to the pre-feminist Mad Men era.
Dear Kate: To be fair, Gov. Walker also hires male spokespeople like Cullen Werwie and Tom Evenson. Of course, they're young and attractive too -- and good luck fighting the tendency to make good-looking people the face of an organization. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, Kate, but sex sells. That may not reflect well on our shallow, hormone-driven species, but it's certainly not something you can blame on Scott Walker. A quick survey shows that both Democratic and Republican governors in neighboring states also employ attractive young spokespeople.
And you can't make the case that Walker hires these flacks only for their looks. They've been quite effective at their jobs, spinning the facts, stonewalling reporters and keeping the public in the dark when it suits the administration.
If you're looking for a feminist critique of Walker, I'd focus on his policies. Give the governor credit for supporting legislation to protect victims of domestic violence. But blame him for restricting access to reproductive health care, repealing the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, refusing federal money to expand Medicaid, cutting Planned Parenthood funding and eliminating comprehensive sex education.
Those actions, rather than the attractive young spokespeople, are what should really make a feminist go "hmm."
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