Anchorman Wears The Same Suit Every Day For A Year To Demonstrate Sexist Viewer Attitudes
Finally, a social experiment I can get behind: Australian morning news anchor Karl Stefanovic decided he was going to test viewers’ differing attitudes toward him and his female coworker, Lisa Wilkinson, after she did a segment on the negative feedback and unsolicited advice she gets about her wardrobe. He wore the same suit for a month and no one noticed, so he told Wilkinson and their producer about his idea, and decided to extend the experiment for a whole year.
The grand total of comments he’s received on his wardrobe is a whopping zero. He says he does get other feedback, though: “I’m judged on my interviews, my appalling sense of humor — on how I do my job, basically. Whereas women are quite often judged on what they’re wearing or how their hair is.”
He calls the suit a “cheap Burberry knockoff,” and he wore a different shirt and tie with it day to day. I’m more than sure that a few people are going to say that there’s more to criticize about women’s fashion, but I disagree. I think there’s plenty to critique about men’s fashion, but we don’t even notice men’s clothes unless the man is in a specifically fashion-related field, or, like Steve Jobs (who wore the same exact outfit every single day), he has a very specific style outlook — and more often than not, that’s perceived as a positive mark of character. In fact, I’ve come to accept the fact that the majority of men I might see in a day look downright sloppy. It’s not something I expect them to worry about too much.
Even as a writer, I’ve gotten critical e-mails that knee-jerked to potshots about my looks, and I’m not even in front of a camera (well, not as a function of my job, most of the time) — one particularly memorable e-mail said that I have “a whole pirate goatee going on” because the fine hairs on my face were visible in my headshot. That being said, I tend to elicit strong responses (it wouldn’t be a stretch to say I get hate mail), so I asked my coworkers if they’d had that experience. Claire and Katie both had bad experiences with coworkers — Claire said, “In retail and other jobs, I’ve had coworkers comment on my looks and treat me in a certain way that I personally would perceive as extremely negative and insulting. But not as much with this job.” Katie had gotten specific, very reductive, overtly sexual comments about her looks from male coworkers at a former office job. Amelia hadn’t had the experience of getting comments on her looks at all. [Except on those occasions when I parade around the office dressed as the woman with three tits. — Amelia]
So the experience varies from woman to woman, but it’s not exactly a secret that women who are on film of some kind as a basic function of their job will inevitably take shit about it, but their male counterparts, for the most part, will not — certainly not at the same rate. We expect women to put a level of time and effort into our looks that we don’t expect from men.
This is awesome male solidarity with women — male feminism — at work (literally and figuratively). Karl Stefanovic illustrated perfectly what male privilege looks like for a news anchor: It looks like being able to put basically no money or effort into his clothes and never have it come back to bite him. Wilkinson doesn’t enjoy that privilege, and he pointed out that hypocrisy on the viewers’ part. Male feminism can come at no cost to the man — and in this instance, with the amount of positive press Stefanovic is getting, it’s actually very much to his benefit. It makes you wonder, what other small measures could men take to act in solidarity with women?
[Image via Twitter]
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