President Obama has been the recipient of intense criticism over the past few days regarding comments he made on the appearance of California’s attorney general, Kamala Harris. “You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake,” Obama said. “She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country.” Some feminists have been outraged by such comments. In their minds, the president is undermining her abilities and taking away form her professional performance by bringing his judgment of her down to her physical appearance. While in some cases it is understandable to be outraged at someone’s physical appearance being at the forefront of professional judgment this is not one of those cases. Clearly, the president holds this women in the highest regard within her professional field stating she is brilliant, dedicated, tough and exactly the type of person you would want administrating the law. This description of an attorney general, who happens to be women, depicts a person who is highly capable and highly regarded as one of the best in her field by the most powerful man in the world. The president could have taken a different tone to describe her as working to better the community she cares so deeply for. He could have highlighted the caring nature and feminine qualities she brings to the field but instead he chose to describe her abilities without taking her sex into consideration. That is commendable, that is equality, that is what feminism seeks, and that is not a display of sexism.
After commending her professional abilities the president went on to call Miss. Harris the best looking attorney general in the country. Taken in context it is obvious the president was simply and lightheartedly complementing her on her appearance. The comment was meant to be flattering and I did not take it to be sexist nor do I believe Kamala Harris did. Quite frankly if it was a good looking male attorney general I believe the president would have made the same comment only he would have yielded a greater chuckle from the audience and far less criticism. So to the outrage feminists, let us consider that it was not Obamas’ comments that were sexist, but rather the response to those comments that has displayed our culture of sexism. Why is it that articles’ discussing the presidents comments on Mrs. Harris are all labeled “Obama calls Kamala Harris ‘the best looking attorney general’” rather than “Obama calls Kamala Harris ‘brilliant, dedicated, tough and exactly what you’d want in anybody administering the law’”? Why is the media only focused on the complement Obama gave her regarding her physical appearance and not the praise for her professional abilities?
Obamas comments were not sexist, and did not demine or undermine Kamala Harris’ professionalism but the feminist/non-feminists that attacked him and choose to focus their attention on her physical appearance rather than the praise the president gave for her work in a male dominated sector are the ones who are promoting a sexist culture. You are the ones who have undermined Kamala Harris’ professional abilities and accomplishments.