Politics 12 April 2019
Ahead of the 2020 elections, Harris Faulkner is using her role as a journalist to address some of the recent and recurring topics polarizing the Democratic and Republican parties. This Sunday, Faulkner leads her second town hall in Iowa to source perspectives from the American people on some of these trending topics, which continue to increase in relevancy ahead of 2020.
"When things start to grow across the nation, it becomes more than just a topic you cover," says Faulkner on her daily responsibility of reporting in the current political climate. “It becomes the fabric of what people will take with them when they go to the polls."
The FOX News anchor of Outnumbered Overtime, expects her second town hall to tackle the impact of the #MeToo movement on the 2020 election, the Democratic Party and the rise of socialism, yet she is also open to discussions based on what people have to say.
“We need to gather how they see it because that's all that matters," Faulkner shares. “It's not a matter of for or against, but rather the principles within these topics that both parties need to be aware of."
We had the chance to chat with Faulkner ahead of her town hall (airing at 8pm/ET on Sunday, April 14) about the impact of town halls, importance of listening, and the significance of the media ahead of the elections.
Tell me more about the town hall.
Town Hall America is something that my team and I fashioned last year. We wanted to pick issues affecting people all around America, and actually listen to them. If we're covering the border, we need to go to a border state. That's why I want to go to Iowa, not just once but three times in 30 days—we know the world will be focused on them as they begin to caucus. I've positioned myself as a keynote to hear from so many people, particularly women, and I want the few questions that I ask at the town hall to reflect that they're being heard.
What do town halls mean to you?
It's important that we talk and listen to each other. The one thing my mom used to say that resonates with me everyday is, 'Don't talk when other women talk.' We tend to be active listeners and say 'uh huh' but then we miss a lot, so try to be silent when you listen. She wasn't a political lady, but she was a big believer in people working together.
What is the layout of this town hall?
This talk will be in a barn but in round style so people will be able to see each other; I love that people can make eye contact. To me, that causes accountability, a richness of discussion, of possibility and opportunity to say, 'I don't agree with that, here's my perspective' or to say, 'You know what, we're nothing alike but wow, listen to that.' I like to gather before and after a town hall to make myself available to those conversations. I will be covering this through the next election and I want to start with openness.
Why do you think it's important to have these conversations?
We have such an interesting conversation going on right now with the #MeToo movement—who would have thought that anything could have competed with health care?
The situation with former Vice President Joe Biden is just one of the conversations that's lit up in the past few weeks, but it's important that we come at these issues with more than just emotion.
The current president has done something for the elector—to build that political energy on both sides of the isle. If people don't vote, how can they approach making their lives better? I've seen more HR departments put out notices to not talk about politics in the office. I've never seen that before—everyone is talking and feels like they want to be informed.
What do you think are the most important topics facing women for 2020?
The #MeToo movement and healthcare.
Also, being able to take advantage of where we are with the number of jobs available. It's one thing to go out and get one of those numerous jobs but if you talk about injecting women into the work force in a meaningful way, it includes all of us being able to reach up and pull up to hold positions in a higher place—and to be able to continue to reach. If we are going to change the parameters of how women are treated in and out of the work force we need to have more women at the top.
What do you want to tell female voters or women looking to get more involved in these topics?
My speech is less on politics and more on how we see ourselves rising. One of my principles is to be picky with who we are around—our 'squad goals.' We probably all need to fire some people in our inner circle who don't want us to do our best.
To segway that into politics, women vote in higher numbers per capita than men; we have a lot of power at the polls. We cannot be marginalized. We each have our own life perspective.
I'm a mom, I'm a black mom, I'm a wife, I'm working and balancing, not perfectly, but with all my heart and all my passion. I am not the same woman as someone who has the blessing of more children than I do and is choosing to homeschool those kids. We are different but in one way we are the same; we are powerful and when we go to vote, we are everything. That's why it's important to hear from all walks of life.
What should the media be doing more of in lead up to the presidential elections? What about less of?
I think that we should be doing less pontificating and more reporting. I know this is the day and age of quick bait on Twitter, but let's concede the fact that people will read your Tweet if they are following you because they are your followers—let's just concede that and go after the actual facts. We [journalists] play a role in America that is special, not only constitutionally special, but it's important because people are living their life at such fast speed that they may miss something—so we have a service.
America is a special place but we have to protect it. So when you ask me what should we be doing: drive hard in the lane of news and journalism—political news is a part of that—get in your lane and drive hard.
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."
women in business women empowerment women entrepreneurs women supporting women female entrepreneurs female leaders makeup lookism gender bias attractiveness attractiveness bias makeupless working women corporate women beauty standards beauty culture success in the workplace femme fatale business woman