The many meanings of “Public Affairs”?

From the WSJ:  The “upstart” political party, the Czech Public Affairs party, has published a calendar of some of its leading public office holders. 

Apparently this is seen by the participants as a feminist assertion of their attractiveness as women (and, in at least one case, an animal companion).  And in the era of Lady GaGa feminism, why not?  Member of Parliament as Playmate.

A possibly more mitigating explanation is that the display is a reaction to, and rejection of, the dreary Soviet controlled years of anti-fashion.

What do you think?  Want to see (a photo-shopped) Hilary Clinton in a black satin negligee?

This year has the highest proportion of women in the Czech parliament ever.  Since the Cabinet is still all male, it appears men remain on top.

6 thoughts on “The many meanings of “Public Affairs”?

  1. I looked through the pics on the WSJ and I fail to understand how this pin-up type calendar correlates with public office.

  2. My problem here is that many will see these photos as evidence of these women’s lack of seriousness or ability as officeholders. Insofar as we maintain binary subject-object distinctions, those who are (sexually) objectified can’t be subjects with autonomy and agency (and this point is, I think, Bauer’s main argument in her Gaga piece). This same sort of logic is even applied to male politicians (e.g., Scott Brown, or that representative whose abs made headlines in the NYT).

    IMHO, it would actually be pretty radical to see a boudoir photo of HRC. She’s not young, nor was she ever a paragon of traditional beauty norms.

  3. This is not the same as LG “feminism”. Not at all. These are women who are competent enough to get elected to office, showing their fashionable side in a tasteful way. LG is a talentless attention hog showing off her cameltoe for no reason other than shock sells when nothing else about the product will. There is nothing “empowering” about hooping one’s own pants!

    LG reminds me of one of those weird candy eyeball things that little boys like to lick just because they’re gross-looking. There’s something rather insulting about watching a press machine going to such absurd lengths to get me to look at a product that’s otherwise valueless–whether we’re talking about nutritional OR musical value. Forget about getting me to pay good money for tastelessness. My definition of tasteless pretty much comes down to public displays that carry a high risk of yeast infection. Just watching that woman makes me itchy!

    Congratulations to the Czech politicians for striking just the right balance with these pics. They demonstrate that competing with men doesn’t have to mean dressing like a man to cater to the myth that “men can’t work with sexy women because they can’t control themselves”. Hooey! At the same time, their dress is modest enough that it DOES NOT make them look like receptacles for yeast and other nasties.

    As for Hilary, not a negligee. I’m seeing well-constructed and figure flattering leather fettishwear for her. She’d look great in a vivid colour, like fire engine red or electric blue.

  4. Robin, perhaps we should distinguish between can’t be subjects and can’t be seen as subjects by those consuming the sexualized image? In private life these may collapse, but for a politician they may be quite separate. Nonetheless, the point remains that the women in question may well be inflicting harm on themselves.

    Xena, there are lots of non-political images these women may want to broadcast, but choosing to advertise that they are the fit objects of male fantasies seems to me a questionable move.

  5. If relaxing in a bathrobe or enjoying a great view while caring for one’s nails makes one the object of a male fantasy, I’d say the fault rests with the observer, not the woman. For busy career women, those acts are also their fantasies. Not for the sake of being looked at, but for the sake of coming down out of their intellectual space and enjoying some “me time”. Silk and sun feel good on skin. These parliamentarians look like they’re enjoying themselves.

    Again, this is very different from LG displays. The costumes in those videos look intensely uncomfortable, if not painful.

    My test for sensual self-indulgence vs. objectification is simply: Would I still wear that/do that/touch that if there was nobody else on the planet to watch me doing it? For every image on the calendar, the answer is not only yes, but yes I have, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Cuddling with my kitty in my bathrobe, falling down sideways on the sofa after a painful day of classes and who cares if my bra’s showing, and good morning (in my case it would be Toronto from the 30th floor, not Prague) fair city, you can’t see me but I can see you.

    Some of us like to know that politicians aren’t just Talking Heads headed for a Type A meltdown. Maybe this is too much projecting, but when I see a public figure doing “human” things that don’t require huge expenditures of public funds, I find it reassuring. I think, yes, that person’s less likely to get so stressed that she’ll start spending taxpayers’ money on crack, or cost taxpayers stupid amounts of legal fees for assaulting somebody, or whatever.

    Also, the article said that the Czechs are open minded. The WSJ is an extremely conservative publication. I’d like to see what Europeans think of this move.

  6. Btw, those shots of HRC in her fettishwear would have to include Bill in an obviously willing, joyfully submissive pose :-)

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