Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lengsfeld and Merckle: Quite a Pair, Apparently

There are a lot of great combinations in this world: Spaghetti and Meatballs, Bogie and Bacall, Rum and Coke, Law and Order. There are a lot of not-so-great combinations in this world: well, mainly broccoli and anything.Then there are the eternal classic combinations: Death and Taxes, Man and Remote, Hamburgers and Fries. This week I’ve been getting miles of amusement out of another eternally classic combination: Sex and Politics.

Time magazine ran an article I saw regarding the upcoming elections in Germany. As riding the coattails of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s popular CDU party in a Berlin district dominated by the Green Party was not going to be a successful strategy, candidate Vera Lengsfeld, 57, has taken a more upfront approach. Her campaign posters, plastered everywhere feature a composite photo of herself and the Chancellor in low-cut attire, over a slogan that simply proclaims: We Have More To Offer.

Ja vol!

If mammary serves, cleavage gets attention (ok, that was bad). It’s Mother Nature’s publicity, a fact that apparently has been used in this case to mostly, though not completely positive feedback. The posters are a good humored trick in a way, but walk a very fine line between being taken seriously and not. Now, I don’t ascribe to the Frankenstein-villagers-with-torches-and-pitchforks we’re going to take back her feminist credentials point of view. I’m also not a man, so I don’t ascribe to the drool-hey-look-dopey smile Cleavage! point of view either. I do, however, wonder if Ms. Lengsfeld had considered running under the auspices of the Benny Hill party. I suppose it might be hard to discuss climate change while patting short bald old fellas on the head to the accompaniment of jittery music, though.

The entire episode has had me laughing, true, but there is another question I find myself asking as well. Why do we (and I mean an in general “we” as western culture) view a woman striving to rise as either a bollocks-busting hellion with PMS, or a game playing vixen? Despite all the advances women have made in careers, politics, and life in general, there is always this undercurrent of derision. “Well, we know who wears the pantsuit in that family.” A woman’s strength is an honorable and appreciated thing within a culturally acceptable context? Like on Little House on the Prairie or something? Or for others, her strength is only considered valid if she scowls at men who hold the door open for her? It’s positively schizophrenic.

Naw, don’t believe any of that. If I did I’d have to eschew my own culture for ever. You don’t have to choose, as a woman, between the vixen and the pantsuit, unless you buy into the argument that you have to. That’s the only way any of it changes. Granted, evolution happens at a glacial pace, but if women decide not to accept either version for themselves and instead become people, both sexual and strong, there won’t be the need for women to make clear How Much More We Have To Offer. And still enjoy the fact that a man holds open the door for us.

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