On November 13th of 2012, the LA Times’ Julie Makinen published an article titled, “Women and media at China’s 18th Communist Party congress”. In this article Makinen discusses Chinese women, and their increasing presence as delegates in the 18th Communist Party. However, she also points out that their main contribution seems to be their looks. She tells how a Chinese media site published a slideshow that was titled “Beautiful Scenery from the 18th Party Congress”. Makinen goes on to say that many of these women were dressed in exotic clothing and wore elaborate hair ornaments. The majority of Makinen’s article discusses the real role of women in the communist party.
After reading this article I realized that the media plays on feminine stereotypes all across the globe. Not even in communist China can women escape its ever watchful eye. It is truly sad that the women who are allowed to participate in politics are pressured into looking “beautiful”. Perhaps even worse, however, is the title these women are given. Instead of getting the respect that the men receive the women are referred to only as “beautiful scenery”.
Makinen says a Beijing news station has frequently described two of the delegates as “the most beautiful judge” and “the most beautiful mom”. It’s almost apalling to think that these women are based solely on their looks. What most people don’t seem to realize, however, is that American women are treated the same way. How many times have female politicians been judged based on their clothing? It’s as if a woman’s style is a deciding factor on how well she can do her job.
One upside to Makinen’s article is, as she says, ” it’s proof that women’s participation in politics has grown”. In fact, a woman named Liu Yandong was targeted as a “possible candidate for elevation to…the select group of seven or nine top officials who essentially govern China”. Of course the down side is many analysts see her as an “extreme long shot”. Which makes it obvious that women in China still have a ways to go before reaching equality. To which I say… don’t we all?
This article struck me because of the literature I have read in my Women and Gender Studies class. Two of the books have been about girls who lived in countries other than America. I believe the books have impacted me because of how similar their stories are to my own. Its shocking when I realize a girl who lives in a completely different cultural environment is undergoing the same societal pressures as I am.