Sadly, this is essentially an edited version of a Facebook argument I had yesterday, so please bear with me if I forgot to clarify some back-and-forth stuff in the editing-for-blog process.
Hypothesis, slightly in jest: Carrie Prejean will be a Fox News correspondent within three weeks.
(Let me credit my sorority big sis with reminding me that, after all, Fox News WAS the channel that brought Ms. Prejean’s embarrassing work texts/emails to light, so maybe she’s not a shoo-in for a Foxette position, after all.)
This rumination is not intended as a direct criticism of Ms. Prejean; I’m just saying she exactly fits the Fox News Correspondent type. She’s young, blond, and willing to do anything to get some press, whether it’s telling the gayest man on earth she doesn’t want him to get married or saying she got fired for her politics. She just fits in well with the News Corp’s corporate style.
Look, I’m alright with the women doing what they want to do, including putting up with unprofessional, revealing outfits to get on TV, especially something as legitimate as Fox News (as opposed to, I don’t know, Rock of Love or somewhere else you should take off your clothes and parade again for weird men’s and can’t-look-away-Americans’ viewing pleasure). If I were a journalist and given that opportunity, I’d probably take it too. After all, we all gotta get ours, and if the way to be the next Katie Couric or Christiane Amanpour is to reveal a bit more skin while delivering the news, it’s probably a deal I would strike.
My issue isn’t with the women, themselves; it’s with Fox News’s portrayal of them.
News anchors have always been relatively hot. THANK GOD! We all look at enough ugly people every day.
That said, Fox News tends to pick women of a very particular type of beauty; it doesn’t really allow for any deviations from the norm. FN does tend to pick very stereotypically beautiful women — that is, definitely Caucasian, usually blond, very feminine, long hair, big smiles, etc. As my dad said about my sorority magazine, The Trident: “All hair and teeth.” (Bless him, that old fraternity man.) I very much doubt that even an Angelina Jolie-type beauty would have had a shot at getting a spot before Jolie became popular, and even now she’d probably still have a hard time. Padma Lakshimi, Tera Patrick, Penelope Cruz, or Tyra Banks would hardly have a shot, either — and let’s not even get into the less “white-looking” women of color than the spectrum the aforementioned (ha! get it) represent.
Second, Fox News displays its anchors in very different ways, depending on their genders. It usually has men in suits, of course, but they’re also sitting behind their desks and the camera focuses on purely headshots. Conversely, Fox News takes its younger female anchors, props them on stools, dresses them in short skirts and cleavage-baring blouses, and gives them very reactive roles: they generally just are allowed to provide sound bites or fodder for the men to comment on, and aren’t allowed to discuss much, themselves. Furthermore, as far as I know, only Greta Van Susteren even holds a prominent position among FN’s high-profile personalities, which is a paltry showing, especially considering the rest of the channel’s options consists of old, straight, rabid white men.
To be clear: I don’t care that Foxettes’ legs are showing and boobs are hanging out — I freaking wear Louboutins and V-necks to work! They should get to wear whatever they want to wear, and I’m sick of assholes saying that women need to dress like nuns to be respected, or if they show a bit of skin they’re sluts. (P.S. FUCK YOU!) (P.P.S. Who cares if they’re sluts? You’re just jealous you’re not sleeping with them, so stop hating and get masturbating!)
I DO care that FN doesn’t allow its women to present the news as the men are allowed to; instead, FN clads them in Ally McBeal-wear. That the producers find this costuming necessary shows the viewer that, to FN, the fact that the woman is smart and beautiful is not enough; instead, she must be presented as an object for our sexual fantasies. Women aren’t allowed to just present the news and/or their opinions; we have to have something theroretically titillating (other than their beautiful faces) to look at.
(This doesn’t quite make sense here, but it did in the conversation, and I’m too lazy to figure out where to stick it, so sorry/deal:) Of course Ms. Prejean has the right to say whatever she wants. However, the Miss USA pageant and Donald Trump also have the right to fire whomever they want, program sponsors have the right to withdraw their advertising dollars, and you and I have the right to disagree/agree with her opinions on gay marriage. That’s totally fine, healthy, and totally as it should be! I’d be very concerned, indeed, if we all started agreeing with each other (even if I am totally right, definitely one hundred bajillion percent).
The only point I’m making is that she might make a good Fox News correspondent, and in fact, might even be an improvement over their current Foxettes. Why? Because Ms. Prejean is a celebrity, we already have seen more sides of her than we have seen of the majority of FN’s television personalities. The more sides we’ve seen of someone, the more likely we are to consider her a real, full person, with real ideas and opinions of her own. Because of her celebrity, she’s much less interchangeable than the relatively unrecognizable women FN usually “trots out.”
Ms. Prejean’s celebrity (and thus “personness,” as opposed to “talking doll-ness”) might get FN to let her actually say what she thinks instead of just parroting lines like everyone else does. While it sucks that Ms. Prejean may get to wax intellectual sooner than all the the Ivy League-educated Foxettes get to, maybe Ms. Prejean’s accidental political celebrity will pave the way for the rest of the Foxettes to get to speak their own minds in the future, instead of having to suck up to pervy daddy to climb the corporate ladder.
So, hopefully there’s a silver lining to all this after all? I guess we’ll see how long it takes FN to get its shit together and become an intellectual sparring partner, instead of just a big, phlegmatic bully.
P.S. Does it bug anyone else that it’s the “Miss USA” pageant and not the “Ms. USA” pageant? What woman past the age of like 13 wants to be called “Miss?” Show some damn respect for us adults!