Friday, December 28, 2007

The Lady and the Tramp

Two headlines in USA Today demonstrate two paradigms for young women. First, the sad news of Benazir Bhutto's assassination in Pakistan. Then, the word that "Britney Sizzles Up Celeb Chart," and the subheading, "She's bald head and shoulders above all the other headline hotties."

They are different stories about very different women, but both are tragic: Bhutto's life was taken away with violence, and Britney is frittering away her life with hedonism.

As USA Today, notes, for Britney Spears to win the "heat index," she had to beat Angelina Jolie, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and other celebutantes. These are the women whom our culture touts as role models.

That's why Benazir Bhutto was so extraordinary. To be sure, as a politician, she had her flaws; to some, she symbolized corruption.

As a woman, however, she gave a counter-example to little girls around the world that they could aspire to be more, to do more than Britney and Paris.

Bhutto showed that beautiful women can be smart; she never "played dumb," or hid her intellect. And she showed that beauty need not degenerate into narcissism. She was tough enough to compete with and stand firm against some of the world's worst thugs. And yet she was never, to allude to Barbara Bush's description of Geraldine Ferraro, that word that rhymes with "rich."

Britney and Paris made headlines for failing to wear underpants and then flashing the paparazzi. Bhutto, in contrast, epitomized that quaint term, "ladylike."

But most of all, we will miss Bhutto's bravery, her willingness to risk her life for the sake of her country. She demonstrated how to live life by the courage of one's convictions. Britney, on the other hand, illustrates a life devoid of any convictions.

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