Friday, May 25, 2007

Blogging While Blonde

There are reasons (discussed long ago in this blog) for why I have the weird blonde hair picture as part of my profile. The issue of women being defined by their hair color is of course not confined to academia. Those following the US political news of recent events in Washington DC will perhaps have noted that reports of testimony by a former Justice Department aide, Monica Goodling, seem unable to write about her testimony without reference to her hair:

Examples culled with very little effort from the news reports:

"Monica Goodling doesn’t have to worry her pretty li’l blonde head .." (

"Justice Is Blonde" (

"Monica Goodling, the blonde-ling underling to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.." (

".. when Goodling--looking demure in fresh blonde highlights.." (

" Dumb blonde: It's a terrible stereotype, but Monica Goodling really didn't do so well by the blonde and high voiced yesterday." (

".. Goodling's got long blonde locks, that were brushed straight and then curling upwards.."

And then there are the inevitable references to the movie "Legally Blonde".

I also learned, again without much effort, that her actual hair color is 'dishwater blonde'. I think that is a *nice* way of saying 'dirty blonde', but using the description 'dirty blonde' would of course be unprofessional.

The most bizarre comments state or imply that she somehow represented blonde women of the world. I am pretty sure that the last time we blonde women had our secret convention and elected representatives, she was not one of them.

There is much to criticize about this woman and her actions in her former job, but her hair color really isn't one of them.


Anonymous said...

Unrelated, but did you know Pat Robertson had a law school? It strikes me as strange that Bush hired so many from there (150). Maybe Regent U is a big campaign contributor. Isn't Yale good enough anymore?

Related, I was also put off by all the dumb blonde references - even Jon Stewart! I mean, they may as well have just said she slept her way to the top.

Anonymous said...

I was shocked too while driving along and hearing a reference to the movie Legally Blonde during the discussion of her testimony.

ACK! That is all I have to say on the subject!


lost academic said...

I am cursed with the in-between hair: it's a variation of brown or reddish or blondish depending on the amount of sunlight it gets and I get extremely angry when someone refers to me as a blonde. But why? Because it's never a good comment. Never. No one's ever had something good to say or even slightly relevant to important factors or work that related to hair color at all and especially not to that hair color. It's turned into a curse. At least I have the benefit of height--a young friend of mine recently obtained an engineering degree from Esteemed Engineering Institution through being about 5'5" and with very fine blonde hair/blue eyes...because it wasn't hard enough just being a women there in the first place....

Mr. B. said...


My post that mentioned her (Gonzo Justice: Former US Attorney Heffelfinger Publicly Reacts to Monica Goodling Testimony and Kyle Sampson Email) managed not to mention the B-word.

I don't care if she has green hair.

Mr. B.

Orhan Kahn said...

I picked up on the blonde reference in your profile picture the very first time I saw it. I have no doubt there are plenty of smart brunettes, blondes, reds and gingers.

joared said...

I just keep waiting to read all those stories where the writers go out of their way to include the hair color, or lack thereof, of whatever male about whom they're reporting.

As a redhead, we get more than our share of stereotypical descriptions, but not quite in the same way as you blonds.

virologista said...

I think some of the blonde coverage of Monica Goodling--the Slate article at least--was implying that a smart woman played into the stereotype a bit, and some not-so-smart Congressmen were taken in (sure she broke the law, but she's a sweet young thing who didn't know better!)

Travis Kincaid said...

Female Science Professor,Thank you.

I write short stories based on fiction.Your information helps me keep the balance.
My first post is scheduled February 2008.

Travis Kincaid

blueprairie said...

Why not mention her hair? She is obviously using it to help establish a poor-little-me helpless persona to get herself off the hook with Congress.

C'mon; a law school graduate and high ranking official at the Justice Dept and she didn't realize that she was breaking the law? This is an act.

And she's getting away with it.

angel nicole said...

women are judged because they are woman. if i was blonde they would probably use that to minimize me too. I am the head of a small chapter of an organization. It amazes me how men respond to me. My question is this: If I were a man would you act the same way? Most likely not. It is a shame how woman are treated, I thought that battle was fought before my birth. Apparently, the war is still on.

Anonymous said...

yeah, but this is a woman who obviously did work on her Elle-Wood hair, and used "I am just a girl" as her defense. She is 33 years old, older than me - and I wouldn't think justifying my incompetence by claiming "I am just a boy" and smiling in a cute way. Neither can Kyle Sampson, who is about the same age as Monica.

Sorry, you can't have it both ways. She gets a break because she is "a girl" - her words, not mine, and then you jump on the media for picking up on the "legally blonde" angle. That hairdo was obviously ridiculous attempt to portray her in a certain light.

gs said...

When I left academic physical science, I relinquished my office to a highly capable blonde woman (FSP, unless you've posted biographical disinformation, it wasn't you). Another blonde female had just gone all the way through the graduate program. Until I read this post, it didn't occur to me to consider their competence together with their hair color.
The issue of women being defined by their hair color is of course not confined to academia.

IMO the "commentary" you quoted invites parody or irony, not serious discussion. Is Don Imus writing under multiple pseudonyms?
How did the notion that blondes are frivolous get...implanted? Some might find it convenient for the time being.

There are reasons (discussed long ago in this blog) for why I have the weird blonde hair picture as part of my profile.

Indeed, indeed. And of course there are reasons why you're photographed from the rear. (If half of what I read is true, a human-extraterrestrial hybrid wouldn't get a second look on today's campuses. Just sayin'...)

I, for one, welcome our blonde alien overlords.

Female Science Professor said...

gs - The photograph is not of the back of my head! And I took the picture myself, and I did not use a mirror or any technical or extraterrestrial assistance..

lost academic said...

You know, reading a NYT blog today, I noticed something: Valerie Plame Wilson, also very blonde. I don't recall references to this now or before, did I miss them?