Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ruth Calderon, go to your room!

Last week, MK Ruth Calderon was skewered for suggesting that the Knesset install a makeup room so that female MKs can freshen up during the course of the day. Given the insignificance of her plan, it naturally became big news. Among other silliness, her party, "Yesh Atid" ("There is a future"), was referred to as "Yesh Ippur" ("There is makeup"). The Palestinian conflict and the Iranian threat took a backseat for a short while.

Some of the criticism came from other female MKs themselves. Their main point was that MKs are not putting on a show, and shouldn't focus too much on their appearances.

As a man, I tread very carefully when it comes to issues which affect the fairer sex, since I am, along with my fellow bearers of Y-chromosomes, a complete and bumbling moron when it comes to these matters. However, I don't understand the criticism. People, especially women, are judged based on their appearances. It's also possible (again, I'm going off the reservation here, so I apologize in advance if I'm wrong, which, as a man, I probably am) that (some) women aren't as confident when they feel that they need to re-powder their noses, or whatever else they need to do to freshen up. As unfair as it is, it's pretty well established that people perform better when they feel confident.

It's perfectly appropriate for female MKs to be as presentable as possible (some of the male MKs could do the same), since they'll be taken more seriously, and may actually perform better. It's not fair, but that's the way people are, and I think that even those who leveled criticism at her are aware of it (of course, the need to score points by making populist statements at someone else's expense can be a powerful temptation for some politicians).

However, I don't see the need for the Knesset to provide dedicated makeup rooms, as Calderon suggests, even if the MKs themselves are paying for the making-up. Among the amenities provided to MKs is an ensuite bathroom attached to their offices (sorry about the Hebrew; I couldn't find a suitable article in English). They should use the space given to them for freshening up their makeup when necessary, and not burden the Knesset budget to provide them with dedicated makeup rooms.

If Calderon feels the need to fix her makeup during the day, she should do so. But she should go to her room.

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