Rep. Michele Bachmann is the only female candidate gunning for the Republican nomination. So you know I’ve got something to say about her taking on what the New York Observer cheekily referred to as “the traditional woman’s role” at a GOP Thanksgiving Family Forum on Saturday night and pouring glasses of water for all her male opponents. While Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and the other male candidates sat at their roundtable, she walked from glass to glass, filling them with water.
Now, let’s put on our Women’s Studies Major Hat and ask ourselves, BUT WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!?!
I’d like to think Michele Bachmann was just being polite and she was trying to be helpful. (Although shouldn’t an intern have filled the water glasses before the Thanksgiving Family Forum started? Somebody is getting fired!) Alas, I am a conspiracy theorist and therefore think her water-pouring was a more calculated of act of appearing as a subservient and unthreatening woman in front of the cameras.
I know I’m going to be accused of reading too much into this, but alas, I think politicians are pretty conniving. I genuinely believe Bachmann knew pouring water would be a photo op that would end up in newspapers and online depicting her as being “nice” to her opponents. That’s not her fault, of course: she knows as well as any other woman who has angled for a top job in government (Ferraro, Clinton, Palin) that her aspirations make her look bitchy, careerist, cutthroat and calculating. None of these are qualities that our sexist society is willing to stomach from a woman. Even if Bachmann frequently talks about “conservative values” and the “traditional marriage” she has with her husband, she surely knows the power of imagery that shows her behaving nicely.
But unfortunately, I don’t think the water-pouring makes her look “nice”: I think it makes her look a little foolish. Would Hillary have done that? Hell no, she wouldn’t. (Hillary would have been sharpening her shiv underneath the table.) I’m somebody who is OK with more traditional relationships between men and women (if chosen, not imposed) and this display of subservience even gave me an icky feeling. Completely independent of my distaste for Michele Bachmann’s bigotry and political opinions, I cringe as a woman when I see another woman serving water to a bunch of dudes who are supposed to be her equals. Playing Susie Housewife to Rick Perry, Herman Cain and other dudes with crappy records towards women is as lame as a fallen souflee.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.