Big news in science land: A new study from UCLA’s Department of Psychology has found that Republican women have more feminine facial features than their Democratic counterparts. Researchers examined the facial features of women in Congress and rated them based on adherence to standards of “gender-typical femininity.” Those faces were then judged by students, who were asked to guess which political party each face belonged to. The students were apparently, surprisingly, accurate in matching faces that ranked high in femininity with conservative politics and those with more masculine features as more liberal.
I could bore you with more science study talk, but hey, you’re probably a lady if you’re reading this, so your small brain won’t understand it. Essentially, the study claims that conservative women are — by standards of gender normativity — considered more feminine. That is, more likely to wear frilly underthings, bake cakes and spend all their discretionary income on shoes. And democratic women? Well, they probably wear pants.
I’m not here to argue the particulars of what it means to be a “more feminine” or “more masculine” Cis-female. Because the bigger question is, WHY IS THIS EVEN A THING? Why is science wasting its precious science time and money on looking at this crap? Oh, wait, because of the implied meaning behind being more feminine or more masculine. As Jessica noted over the weekend, “What purpose does such a study actually serve (other than to give the likes of the New York Post and the UK Daily Mail fodder for “LIBERAL LASSES ARE MANNISH UGLY LESBIANS” headlines?)”
By saying Republican women are more feminine than their strong-jawed, makeup-shunning counterparts (with deeper set eyes, of course), this kind of research implies that conservative women are better, somehow, at being women. It correlates femininity (and by proxy attractiveness) with a particular political position. And in an election year, no less (well played, scientists)! Or as Samantha Bee wrote in a very funny New York Times op-ed over the weekend:
I can’t figure out which part of this story is the most unforgivably retro. Is it the part where the Internet is flooded by a tsunami of bickering over which political party has the “prettier” members of Congress and/or prettier voters? … Or is it the part that suggests that a key factor in the electability and, dare I say, presence of a female politician on a national stage can be dependent on something as random as the placement of her eyebrows? Are there really subtle ways in which people would consider a woman suitable for office that are rooted in their visceral reaction to the width and prominence of her cheekbones? Well, probably.
Because really, if you’re not treating politics like choosing the next high school homecoming queen, you’re doing it wrong. So ask yourself this when you head to the voting booth this November: Are you voting for the candidate, or are you voting for her pert little nose? [NY Times]