I am a proud and unapologetic feminist and have been all of my life. I know how difficult it is for women who have to work twice as hard to prove that we are equal to men in ability and competence in the workplace and I know that attractive women have to work even harder to be taken seriously.
So, I'm a little surprised to find myself in an apparent minority of women, judging by the barrage of indignant tweets, who weren't offended by the President's comments on California Attorney General Kamala Harris' undeniable good looks when introducing her at an event in Northern California.
Although he prefaced his compliments by noting that she's “brilliant and she’s dedicated, she’s tough,” by going on to state the obvious fact that she's also gorgeous he crossed the rubicon of inappropriate behavior and in the process demeaned her. At least enough people thought so that he's now issued an apology.
At the risk of having my feminist credentials revoked, I kind of wish he hadn't. Maybe my problem is that the President said something that most of us who live in the San Francisco Bay Area and are familiar with Kamala Harris have said ourselves. I don't think I have ever heard her speak, and I've heard her speak a lot, when I haven't been absolutely floored by how informed, articulate and engaged she is and by how spectacularly attractive she is as well. What's more, all the people I know who are active in Bay Area public life, again quite a few, feel exactly the same way.
Everyone likes attractive people, and not just attractive women. His attractiveness is one of the things that we like about Barack Obama. We love that he is wicked smart and capable, but we also appreciate the fact that he's tall, fit, good looking and has a smile that lights up a room. I've commented on it and I've heard other people comment on it as well.
It's true that women have a harder road to hoe than men, and to be thought of only in terms of looks makes it even harder. However, Kamala Harris' looks aren't why she's been so successful in life and they are not the reason she's so popular in the state, or so well-respected in the law enforcement community. They are simply a part of who she is and to acknowledge that fact doesn't diminish her talents or her skills.