sexism, Steve Vaillancourt

Free To Be You and Me?

Every boy in this land grows to be his own man
In this land, every girl grows to be her own woman
Take my hand, come with me where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we’ll run…

Marlo Thomas, “Free To Be You and Me” 1972

This post has nothing to do with medicine, running, or motherhood.  However, it’s my blog and my bully pulpit, and I’ll use it as I see fit.

This post is about sexism, misogyny, and assholes.  Three things that, to my dismay, are apparently alive and well here in New Hampshire.  I was lucky enough to grow up with two parents who always taught me to value myself.  I was never, ever told that there was something I couldn’t do because of my gender.  I have fond memories of the family singing along with Marlo Thomas on the 8-track while we barreled down the highway.  That’s why it always feels a bit like cold water being thrown on me when I come across a blatant example of sexism.

Now, I don’t have my head in the sand.  I experience a small degrees of sexism on pretty much a daily basis.  But it’s comparatively subtle stuff…things like patients asking me, “Who takes care of your kids while you’re working all the time?  Don’t you miss them?” (For the record, their Dad takes care of them, and no, I don’t miss them while I’m at work and they’re at school.  Jeez. Our bond isn’t that fragile).  Sometimes it’s even more insidious.  A recent example is the day camp calling me instead of my husband about an issue at camp, even though he is listed as the primary contact.  Apparently only the mother is qualified to do anything that involves childcare?  That’s insulting to both me and my husband, who rocks the fatherhood gig.

However, I’ve never experienced anything like the nastiness that is going on in the 2nd District US Congressional race.  Incumbent Ann Kuster (D) is being challenged by Marilinda Garcia (R).  I’m not going to get into their politics- this is not my district, and I haven’t been following this particular race.  That’s not what is post is about, anyway.

I want to talk about Steve Vaillancourt’s opinion on the race.  Mr. Vaillancourt is a member of the NH House of Representatives.  Now, before you get too impressed, keep in mind that the NH House is the fourth largest democratic governmental body in the world, only behind the UK Parliament, the Indian Parliament, and the US Congress.  For a tiny state, it’s ridiculously large. There is one legislator to about every 3,000 residents of NH.  Perhaps that’s why we all feel free to run our mouths off around here.

Mr. Vaillancourt doesn’t seem to care too much about the issues affecting the 2nd District.  It appears that, first and foremost, what is most important is the looks of the two candidates.  Yes, you read that right. Here is what he says…

It was late the other night when I saw some polling data which went by too fast for me to write down, and I’ve been unable to find it on Google. It might have been from Fox’s Red Eye show (3-4 a.m.–I told you it was late)…or maybe I’d fallen asleep and was dreaming.

I seem to recall hearing that a new survey is out revealing that, with two caveats, an attractive candidate can have as much as a seven to ten point advantage over a less attractive (or even an unattractive) candidate….

In New Hampshire’s second congressional district, if I may be so bold as to speak the truth, Republican Marilinda Garcia is one of the mot attractive women on the political scene anywhere, not so attractive as to be intimindating (sic), but truly attractive.

How attractive is Marilinda Garcia? You know how opposition ad makers usually go out of their way to find a photo of the opponent not looking his or her best. Well…Democrats and Annie Kuster supporters can’t seem to find a photo of Marilinda Garcia looking bad at all.

As for Annie….oh as for Annie…and before I continue, I offer that caution, caution, caution, gain.

Let’s be honest. Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin? And I hope I haven’t offended sin.

If looks really matter and if this race is at all close, give a decided edge to Marilinda Garcia.

How ugly is Annie Kuster? …..

By now you probably know why I think of Annie Kuster whenever I walk by Mados; sad to say, but the drag queens are more atrractive (sic) than Annie Kuster….not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I’ve promised myself for years not to use this anecdote, but after seeing the story about the seven to ten point boost for the attractive, the story has political relevance.

Annie Kuster looks more like a drag queen than most men in drag.

Lest you think I’ve taken the quotes out of context, please check out the link for yourself.  It’s worse, because it’s festooned with pictures of drag queens just to make his point.

He’s been called out by numerous news outlets, but feels justified in his views, given that he gave us a “warning” before writing the piece that it might be offensive to the “PC police.”

I also want to call the Democratic side to task.  Peter Sullivan (D), yet another state rep from Manchester, has compared Marilinda Garcia to Kim Kardashian.

Sullivan’s tweets included saying Garcia was “Al Baldassaro (state Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry) in stiletto heels, a lightweight and (former House Speaker Bill) O’Brien clone.” He also called her a “right-wing, homophobic, anti-worker shill for the Koch Brothers,” and said when you combine O’Brien and Kim Kardashian you get Marilinda Garcia.

In this case, he’s devaluing someone based on her good looks, which is just as bad.

How is it that more than 40 years after Marlo sang to us about being “free to be you and me,” people still act like this?  I have two sons.  I hope that every day I present them with an example of a strong woman whose worth is based on her deeds and actions, not on her looks.  I don’t know if Mr. Vaillancourt has children.  If he does, I hope to God that he did not raise sons with his attitude or daughters who were disparaged.

Mr. Vaillancourt seems to feel that he does not owe Ms. Kuster an apology.  You know what?  I agree.  Actions speak louder than words, and an apology would be nothing but hot air.  And since actions speak louder than words, I hope that the voters of NH in his district take the opportunity to vote this sexist jerk out of office this November.

3 thoughts on “Free To Be You and Me?”

  1. I find this very interesting because I don't think I have seen any pictures of either candidate. Most of the news I listened to is on the radio. I very rarely turn on the t.v. That takes what a candidate looks like out of the picture. The sad thing is I don't think society is anywhere near that point. I do think good looks are valued in today's world. When presented with two equal candidates for a job the one with the better looks will most likely get the job. One of my teacher friends pointed out to be recently that you can usually figure out when a teacher was hired by who the principal was. She explained that each principal usually hired the same type of teacher. Example one principal may hire all young blond girls or another principal might hire young males. Sexism is still alive and well. It seems lately that in the classroom you are given an edge if you are male. No matter what any one says it is hard to keep personal judgements out of a decision when deciding who to hire.
    P.S. My best room parent was a dad. I could always count on him at a moments notice. Sarah


  2. The fact is that looks matter. I wish they didn't. It is especially bad now in a visually oriented society. Voters are unlikely to read anything substantive, they just look at tv and read tweets.

    How orherwise can you explain the success of Mitt Romney and Scott Brown? They won their primaries more by haircuts then ideas, right?


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