Re: Beauty should be seen, not heard

Maggie Jaffe (mjaffe@MAIL.SDSU.EDU)
Wed, 22 Jan 1997 09:50:00 -0800

Dear Sixties People & Rachel Martin:

In response to Rachel's query: I don't find "the contrast between the pure
white female iconized here and the real grubbiness of life on the street in
Hashberry rather dissonant." Rather, I see that as business as usual.

The Barbie or Harmony doll reminds me of the 1968 Miss America pageant
where the sweet-faced winner rather breathlessly called for the end of the
Vietnam War. What a stink that created. But that's in accord with a
serious double standard in American culture: if sexy, attractive women are
politically vocal, they seem to bear the brunt of harshest criticism.

Would Jane Fonda be so maligned if see was a plain Jane rather than a buxom
Barbarella? Did Jean Seberg's beauty and relative success fuel J. Edgar
Hoover's wrath when he discovered that she supported the Black Panthers?
Seberg was literally driven insane by COINTELPRO. Her friends considered
her paranoid at the time, but she knew that she was being followed, that
her phone was tapped, that her every intimate gestures were closely
observed. At the inquest for her suicide, her ex-husband Romain Gary
insisted that the FBI "destroyed" her. (Interestingly, Hoover was
extremely anxious about anyone discovering that he himself was "mulatto").
Vanessa Redgrave also created a furor when she supported the PLO.

I might be way off the mark here, but I do think that American culture
demands that beautiful women, especially, express gratitude for all the
adoration and to shut the fuck up about politics.