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I didn’t spend years at the University of Denver to be called Ms


July 28, 2008/9.48

While the New Zealand media did not say much about the visit of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the time—too much time spent on the Barack Obama world tour, perhaps—the fashion industry can at least be happy with TV One’s prime-time report that she indulged in shopping for Kiwi clothing while here, with local designer Adrienne Winkelmann.
   It is trivial, and it’s probably more coverage on a Condi-related item than any other broadcast here over the last week, since the Secretary popped by on Friday for a 24-hour visit.
   But the report, by a woman, did the Secretary of State no favours on several counts.
   While it’s lovely for our economy that she did indeed shop, it’s not the sort of news report that one would do if the Secretary were male. Well, at least not as part of the main programme. Human interest stuff, yes.
   But to refer to her twice as ‘Ms Rice’ I thought was plain insulting.
   I know: I called her Condi just now, which could be highlighted by some feminists as being inappropriate, but I have on occasion referred to men in positions of power by a diminutive form of their Christian names.
   But when someone has a doctorate and is commonly known for it, this either showed ignorance on the part of the reporter, the usual anti-Bush bias that one sees in New Zealand that appeals to the majority, or, even worse, sexism in a country that ?rst recognized the women’s suffrage movement.
   She has, after all, been in her position for over three and a half years.
   And now we must look nearly as bad as the whites during Birmingham, Ala.’s pre-Civil Rights era that she witnessed ?rst-hand.
   It is about respecting the person in question. The Prime Minister here, I understand, prefers Miss. The Deputy PM—a man—prefers Dr. Both are addressed accordingly in the press.
   It was a real shame Dr Rice’s quali?cation could not be recognized in the broadcast and I cannot help but think her gender had something to do with it.
   Fortunately, the same network’s web page about the story uses her full name, her surname or ‘Secretary of State’.

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Filed by Jack Yan

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