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Obama praises attorney general Kamala Harris

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.


3 Comments

  1. henrysaadi says:

    This is interesting because it is hard line to determine weather the Presidents comments were in some way derogatory. In arguing for the feminist point of view I would understand why his comments would be criticized. The reason being is that it may be perceived to some that the President credits all of Harris’s accomplishments because she is beautiful rather than complimenting her on just her skills. However, Obama did graduate top of his class @ Harvard Law so I can understand his admiration for Harris but I do believe that those comments are better left unsaid.

  2. Jack Manska says:

    I respectfully disagree. What does her appearance have to do with her capabilities? Yes, he used kind words to describe her qualifications however his lasting comment would be on her appearance. Leaving the entire audience to focus on her physical attributes rather than identifying with her capabilities. The President apologized and right well he should. Would he have pointed it out if she was handicapped, balding or the least attractive? No. So why make the remark. Sure the president is allowed verbal mistakes as they all have made them. But I wonder, if there is any other Obama cabinet member worried that he or she might not meet that qualification?

    • ninazm21 says:

      My point is her appearance has nothing to do with her abilities. Obamas comment does not leave me focusing on her appearance and as a side not it was not his last comment about her during the speech. Like I stated in my blog post Obama complementing her on her looks was just a lighthearted compliment that was not intended to take away from her professional accomplishments nor do I think it did. If he was pointing out someone being handicapped or balding it would not be considered a compliment so that would be kind of irrelevant in this debate. What took away from her credentials more than anything are those that are focusing on the comment about her physical appearance rather than the praise he gave her in other comments for outstanding work she has done in her male dominated field. I sincerely doubt his complementing a women on her looks made his cabinet members question there abilities and qualifications.

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