Campbell’s comments are out of touch with modern feminism

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In the past, Kim Campbell very much represented the way forward for women in Canada and continues to hold influence across the country to this day. Unfortunately, many of her ideas, such as how women should dress, haven’t aged quite as well. 

Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell recently admonished female news anchors who wear sleeveless dresses on the air, calling them “demeaning.” On February 13th, Campbell tweeted, "bare arms undermine credibility and gravitas!" She’s subsequently faced plenty of criticism for her comments.

Women have always faced a power imbalance in the workplace. At the height of Kim Campbell’s political career, not showing any skin was a legitimate way to be taken more seriously. Today, the approach to female empowerment has moved away from attaching credibility to a woman’s wardrobe. 

What’s the most peculiar about Campbell’s comments isn’t that she’s talking about women, or even women in power like herself. She’s solely speaking about women in media and seems to convey there are a different set of rules for a woman on a TV screen. 

When it comes to highly-visible women like reporters and newscasters, the content being communicated is seen as secondary to how they represent themselves. Maintaining professionalism is important in many fields for both men and women, but her comment isn’t about professionalism. It’s critiquing women who show their arms on television.

Many would defend Campbell’s rhetoric because she’s from a different generation, having grown up surrounded by different values and opinions. But Campbell isn’t some long-dead, far-off historical figure. She’s a baby-boomer who’s lived through the progress in women’s rights that’s made it publicaly unacceptable to judge a woman’s credibility on her appearance and sexuality. Being modern enough to use Twitter, she should’ve picked up the idea somewhere along the line that having arms no longer qualifies as a sin against feminism. 

— Journal Editorial Board

 

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