Monday, February 9, 2009

Power Skirts

One of the topics I'm continuously interested in studying is the semiotics of women with power. From power suits to details like hairstyles or accessories there is a constantly changing formula for what look will gain you respect in politics or the media. In Backlash, Susan Faludi makes the point that while suit styles stay acceptable for men for a decade or more, women expend a great deal of time and money because we have no formula and the "respectable style" changes every year.
These things that women do to convey importance and power are part of a complex system of signs and symbols that use up a great deal of our time. Not to mention there is no winning in this game. Nancy Pelosi is made fun of for having plastic surgery, and yet I've no doubt that the further up Kathleen Sebelius's career takes her the more negative attention her gray hair and age appropriate looks will bring.
The International Museum of Women has an online exhibition, Women, Power, and Politics that covers issues like power suits and female politician's styles. I recommend checking it out.

Yulia Tymoshenko- Prime Minister of Ukraine

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf -President of Liberia

Nancy Pelosi- Speaker of The U.S. House of Representatives

Michelle Bachalet - President of Chile

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