Ladies First

“Ladies First.”  “Rachel Alexandra Defeats Boys in Preakness.”   Or, as put it, “Rachel Alexandra, Meet Anna Wintour” because when women compete they are held to different standards.    “So are fillies too fragile to compete with the guys in the big races?  They are treated that way.”  Hmmmm.   Similarly the legendary Vogue editor, Anna Wintour (aka the “Devil” in “The Devil Wears Prada”) was interviewed by 60 Minutes’ Morley Safer about the business world in which she competes, and was asked repeatedly about her bitchy (and at least in the movie highly unsympathetic) demeanor.  “Would Safer dare ask Donald Trump or Richard Branson if they were bitchy because they of their no-smile, hard-nosed business attitudes?” 

The huge surprise in Rachel Alexandra’s upset wins and the potentially sexist interview with a leading business figure reminded me of something I heard on a TV talk show a few weeks back as the world responded in delighted shock that Susan Boyle could sing despite her less-than-attractive looks.   Why are we surprised that someone who doesn’t look like Kelly Clarkson can compete based on her magnificent voice alone?     

So…why are we shocked that a filly can race and win?   Why are we surprised that someone who isn’t emulating a teen rock star’s glam-style can sing?  Why should a woman at the top of her field be judged differently than men at the top of theirs?   

Because these outstanding champions are still among the few who are each doing it in her own unique way — far exceeding what was expected of them!

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