Male Aides Carry Female Politicians' Purses. What Is Happening to This Country?

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Writing about women's fashion in politics is a tricky proposition, as the Washington Post learned last week. But Ashley Parker almost pulls it off in her piece for the New York Times fashion pages on the complicated relationship between female politicians and their purses. Parker analyzes the symbolic power of the growing presence of this particular fashion accessory in the halls of political power. Then, all of a sudden, Parker gives more than six paragraphs to sexist griping about female politicians who dare treat their male aides like they are there, gasp, to provide assistance. A sample:

When Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican, represented Texas in the Senate, she had her purse trotted through the Capitol by a rotating cadre of young male aides, to some raised eyebrows.

But now some version of the so-called “purse boy” is almost commonplace.

On the first day of this session, a young male aide to Representative Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat and House minority leader, juggled the coats of female members as he tried to snap a group photo. And on the night of President Obama’s State of the Union address, Representative Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, was trailed through Statuary Hall by a male staff member holding her bag.

The only reason to include these passages is if you believe that it's emasculating for a man to provide assistance to a woman. It's hard to imagine any article tweaking the noses of male politicians who have assistants of either gender carrying, say, the boss’ briefcase. As Think Progress notes, personal aides to male politicians, such as President Obama's right-hand man, Reggie Love, are also called something: body men, which certainly has a different ring to it than purse boy.

We have a historic number of women in Congress this term. These women have power over our economy, laws, and military. These women also have purses, and, cool, the Times wants to tell us what they look like and contain—how big, what color, what stuff goes in which compartment, etc. These women also have assistants. These assistants sometimes carry the purses. This is, in the end, quite unremarkable.

After tornadoes devastated Moore, Oklahoma, many organizations are doing what they can to help.Members of a northwest Missouri church wanted to do their part to give back, and after much help from other congregations, a small idea, gained an outpouring of support.

"It's something that the community has really taken to, they've all felt good about what they've done, the other churches have really been interested and excited about it and I'm just thrilled to death," said Judy K. Sprake, Deklab Christian Church.Several volunteers from ten area churches are stuffing handbags with personal items for women.

It was a dream for Judy Sprake to reach out and make a difference for those who lost everything in the Moore."I was really hoping to get 100, and as of a few minutes ago we have over 375, it's just beyond all expectations. We were so overwhelmed that we called some more of our members to come in and help too," said Sprake.

Vicki Sampson serves at two area churches, and both showed an outpouring of support for the cause."The two congregations we serve at only have about 60 members total at both congregations, and we brought in over 90 purses," said Vicki Sampson, Dekalb volunteer.

Each purse is filled with a variety of items."There's soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, body lotion, shavers, some bibles, decks of cards," said Sampson."It just seemed like something good that we could do, that was different," said Sprake.

An idea that started in one church quickly grew beyond it's congregation, and with the helping hands of many, hundreds of lives will be touched in Oklahoma.


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