The Washington Post profile Monday of White House legal counsel Kathryn Ruemmler devoted a fair amount of attention to her footwear. Ruemmler, of course, is in the spotlight because of she had a central role in the scandal over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative and tea party groups. But she apparently has a love for pink and paisley stilettos, according to the Post, including pairs from designers Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin.
Amanda Hess, a writer and contributor to Slate’s XX Factor, calls foul on the Post’s suggestion that footwear offers “insight into the subject’s character,” a phenomenon seen far more often in profiles of women than their male counterparts. Hess says the innuendo is that women are wasteful and superficial. Even if that’s not the intent, the clear suggestion is that it’s odd for a woman to be in a position of power, so therefore we must obsess over her shoes. Hess writes:
A Louboutin mention functions more like an accusation than an objective detail. To be clear: If the President of the United States ridicules your subject’s shoes (as confirmed by the White House communications director), that’s a fact worth reporting. But if you’re going to go there, your shoe section requires some additional context. Like the acknowledgement of the fact that when the media focuses on a political figure’s appearance, the public rates her as less “in touch,” “likeable,” “confident,” “effective,” and “qualified.”
Did you read the profile, and did you think the references to shoes were insulting?