Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lipstick: Asset or Distraction?

'You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig' is a quote credited to Dick Cheney, as I found out somewhat to my chagrin after using it during a City Council meeting last year.
At the time, I thought it fit perfectly the thought I was trying to convey; that just talking about a few 'feel-good' cosmetics to justify a position on an issue doesn't come close to seriously addressing its real import and potential ramifications.
Last I checked, real 'issues' are mostly gender neutral.
So, what's this made-up fuss about?
Issues were being discussed and debated long before anyone ever heard of Sarah Palin [some are calling her the 'Caribou Barbie' or a female George Bush], or John McCain for that matter.
The talk about 'lipstick' issues is nothing but a pure distraction from talking about things that are -or should be- of real concern to people.
You know, little things like like war & peace, prosperity or poverty, healthcare versus no healthcare, education or ignorance, lawfulness vs outlaw behavior, honesty & dishonesty, reality versus perceptions.
Just little things like that.

In earlier times, the use of lipstick-like coloring materials was what men used, and sometimes it came to be called warpaint or fearsome tattoos.
Ruling class folks of past centuries thought it was quite fashionable.
More recently, the cosmetics industry has burgeoned, largely due to demand from women who prefer less natural looks.
I suspect the combination of increased affluence and the long overdue freedoms of expression and choice that have accrued to women in most progressive countries have given rise to the widespread use of cosmetics, including lipstick.
But, actors, clowns, soldiers, burglars, rabid sports fans and vain men also are consumers and users of cosmetics of all kinds.
Others, including the poor, shy, allergic, natural-look preferring or religiously restricted, don't use them.
But, again, people do have the choice of using cosmetics or not.
[Isn't it ironic to be talking about something so simple as the right of choice when a woman's right to choose whether a childbirth might be harmful is again being challenged?]

Personally, I think some people do look better in a little lipstick than without it, but that's beside the point I'm trying to make.
Lipstick is an artificial substance which masks a more natural appearance, just as McCain's current rhetoric on the subject is an attempt to avoid addressing real issues.
It seems obvious to me that McCain is using his VP 'choice' for her lipstick appeal, as well as her pit bull aggressiveness.
Also, it doesn't hurt to have her petticoat to hide behind either!

An interesting thought came to me today while visiting the Legion of Honor in San Francisco to view an exhibit on Women Impressionists. The work of four artists was displayed accompanied by fascinating written & audio descriptions; Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzales & Marie Bracquemond.

Although the term 'impressionist' has multiple and diverse meanings, it definitely does not equate to the so-called 'Conservative' School of thought which prevailed in France during the 19th Century.
The Conservative School sought to dictate what was to be considered art by rigid formulas, not by the inspiration of the individual artist.
So, the Impressionists as a group were at a severe disadvantage when their works were evaluated during that time.
At even more of a disadvantage were the women artists who painted what were considered 'Impressionist' works.
In those days, well-bred women of important families were not even allowed out in public without a chaperone!
[Does that remind you of anyone? Like maybe Sarah Palin, whom the R's won't let appear in any forum without tutors!]
Imagine how that restriction must have impacted their ability to learn techniques under recognized Masters, choose subjects for their works, or even physically visit places that were considered off-limits to them.

One of these four women artists was actually commissioned to paint a mural for display at a World's Fair during the early 20th Century.
Although this mural has been lost or destroyed, the recollection that it was not well-received remains.
At the very time I viewed that display, a women behind me exclaimed that the main figure 'looked more like a man'!
It seems that woman artist is still experiencing some kind of disadvantage.

Women' suffrage and liberation has been a long time coming, but thank goodness it is here to the extent it is in this country!
Although vestiges of former ancient fears, customs, divisions of responsibility, prejudices and jealousies remain to be overcome, women's equality has made great strides forward.
As the the old Virginia Slims ad proclaimed, 'You've come a long way, baby'. But, there is so much more to be done before true equality between the sexes is achieved!
That is why it won't do to have women exploited so crassly as the Republicans are trying to do with Sarah Palin, who either willingly or unwittingly has allowed that behavior.
There are many people -women and men- who are much better qualified for VP -and potentially the President- of the US!
Hillary Clinton is certainly at the top of that list, but there are many other women -and men- on it.
You know, women do out-number men in this country, so if they got together they could really make a difference!
Who would most women that you know vote for?
I doubt it would be Sarah Palin.
But, as they say in politics, 'it's not the cream of the crop, it's the pick of the lot'.
I hope this election doesn't become about who can posture about phony 'lipstick' or 'petticoat' issues, but who is better qualified to lead this country forward in a respectful, enlightened and consistent manner.
It will be a big job to even dig us out of the tremendous debt that has been created by the current administration, much less repair our economy and our world standing.
That is a huge deficit and challenge that I don't believe John McCain is equipped to handle, either philosophically or otherwise.
If the 'lipstick card' is to be played, let it be for the good of our country and not some silly, temporary campaign advantage.
The way things are going, lipstick will be more of a distraction than an asset to those of us who hope for the very best from these elections!

So, what will it be?
The Conservative School with all its narrow, rigid restrictions and formulas?
Or, the Impressionists, who represent a fresh, more open -unchaperoned- approach to things that are really important?
Time will tell, but I'm voting for the latter.
Barack Obama is the President we need to have elected now.
Our future is at stake!