The Other Charlotte and I blogged mercilessly yesterday about “Hanoi” Jane Fonda, whose just-published autobiography, My Life So Far, apologizes for having posed (at Husband #2 Tom Hayden’s behest) with anti-American anti-aircraft gunnery in 1972 but not for making a fool of herself at the whim of some man or other for all the rest of the years of her life from 1938 to 2005. (See TOC’s Jane: Hanoi as Therapy and my Jane Fonda’s Endless Loop, both March 6.)   

Reader W.W. comments:

“Jane is just a real stupid rich girl. My anger is directed toward the gutless government officials who dishonored our troops by failing to charge Jane and her consort with treason when they returned to this country.”

I disagree about the “stupid” part–Jane went to Vassar, she made a shrewd bundle off the the ’80s workout fad, and she’s reported to have written “My Life So Far” all by herself, which is no mean achievement for a movie star. But she doesn’t seem to be able to quit being putty in the hands whoever gets hold of her, from sex-weirdo Roger Vadim to control-freak Ted Turner.

Back five years ago, she for once in her life did something politically incorrect: She converted to born-again Christianity in a Bible-believing black church, which caused Turner to dump her faster than you could say, “Christianity is for losers” (one of Turner’s favorite apothegms). This could have marked a turning point for Jane, inspiring her to take a strikingly original new path in life. But noooo–the newly divorced Jane immediately took up with a bunch of hardline feministas such as Gloria Steinem and Eve Ensler, and she seems to have pretty much forgotten about the Christian thing.

Compare Jane Fonda to Vadim’s previous ex-wife, Brigitte Bardot. Whatever you think about Brigitte and her anti-fur, anti-immigration crusades, she’s turned herself into a genuinely original eccentric. Not so Jane, who’s spent almost 50 years as a wind-up doll heading down whatever ideological or lifestyle path someone points her in the direction of.

Reader L.M. comments on Desiree Goodwin, the Harvard libarian who lost her suit against her employer alleging she was deemed too pretty for Harvard. One of Goodwin’s bosses had allegedly told her she was regarded as a “joke” around the library because of the tight pants and low-cut blouses she favored as dress-for-sucess outfits–so she claimed to be a victim of sex discrimination. (See my No, You Can’t Be Too Pretty for Harvard, April 6.)

Says L.M.
“It’s funny how it’s so hard to see up the social ladder, but so easy to see down. I work in the admin department of a CPA firm, and half the admin people here don’t dress very professionally. Today, in fact, one is wearing a tie-dyed, knee length t-shirt. (She was fired from her last job for being “unprofessional”–surprise.)

“Maybe they think I am hopelessly old-school for wearing blazers, full-cut slacks and below-the-knee skirts in quiet colors. But unlike them, I’m never tapped to run errands, look for lost files, change the toner, or put away groceries. The accountants treat me as a professional, and I’m sure that it’s partly because I look and act like one.”

Yes, it beats me why so many women want to be respected for their brains while dressing as if they didn’t have any. Gals, it really is possible to clothe yourself for work in a way that is both attractive and dignified–and then you won’t have to try to sue in order to get the promotion you think you deserve.