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‘High Maintenance’ is the New Ambitious?

May 7th, 2009     by Mir Verburg     Comments

I am not usually one to write on politics, but this headline, “Scandal sidelines ‘high-maintenance’ Liberal MP’” isn’t so much about politics either.

Ruby Dhalla is the first female Sikh MP in Canada, a high profile member of the Liberal Party, and the critic for youth and multiculturalism. At least the article mentions that.

There have been other women and other Sikhs in parliament, just never one who might describe herself in an online personal as “SSF,” because guess what? She’s not married either. Amazingly, the article doesn’t mention Ms Dhalla’s age. Amazing because pretty much every other aspect of her personality, looks, and behavior is put under the microscope.

What’s up Canadian political journalists? Why do you always go to town on female MPs? I agree that if Ms Dhalla mistreated her live-in caregivers she should defend her suitability as critic for multiculturalism. Unless by critic we mean “punching holes in the myth that in Canada people are treated equally regardless of origin or ethnic background.”

She’s a mess ethically, but are quotes like the following really necessary?

“One of the party’s high-profile MPs, she travelled widely to speak at public events, briefly flirting with a run for the leadership, and showed up at the convention in a white stretch limo.”

Do men ever flirt with leadership, or is that a chick thing? I betcha it’s just a word we use for attractive, single women who also happen to be in politics. You know, when we want to make their gender, age, and marital status seem relevant when it’s not.

Not convinced? How about this one:

“In this year’s annual light-hearted poll of parliamentary staffers in the Hill Times, Ms Dhalla was voted second-sexiest female MP, but also the worst MP to work for.”

Irritating! Who else was in this “light-hearted poll” I wonder? Why is a question about her sexiness even included in the article? Unsexy women can mistreat workers too, can’t they? Please explain how this helps the story, aside from promoting the image of an evil stepmother MP with a small dog, an even smaller laptop and some D&G sunglasses perched on her turned up nose.

MP Judy Sgro sprang to Dhalla’s defense”

“She’s a good-looking, single, hard-working woman,” Ms Sgro said. “She spends all her time working. And there are always people around who are fast to cut you down when you’re one step ahead of them.”

Of all the quotes to pick, we get the one that starts with Ms Dhalla’s appearance, then her relationship status, and then her work ethic. Still nothing about whether she is an effective politician, just more gossip disguised as affirmation.

I wonder what she’s going to do to get out of this? Cut her hair? Stop wearing lipstick? Find a boyfriend??

Tags: media savvy, on the job

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