“It is my understanding that when you accept public positions you are under the scrutiny of the media, political opponents and ‘john public’; your character should be unblemished and, of course, devoid of any past infraction with the law. Any perception that your character is dubious or that you have questionable qualities that may breach the office’s code of ethics has the propensity to bring that office into disrepute and damage your reputation…”
The following Letter to the Editor rejects the characterisation of the backlash against Chaguanas Mayor Vandana Mohit for leaked photos as misogynistic bullying. It was submitted to Wired868 by Salaah Inniss:
I have heard many defending newly sworn-in Chaguanas Mayor Vandana Mohit due to some racy photos currently trending on social media. They are even suggesting that there is some shady individual wanting to punish her for personal reasons, or a political party for political ones. They suggest that she is being targeted because of her age (being the youngest Chaguanas mayor), or that Ms Mohit is subject to character assassination and misogynistic attacks, all aimed at damaging her reputation and credibility.
Now, perhaps I’m reading this wrong, or maybe my values are skewed, or I’m just too old-fashion when it comes to persons who lack integrity, morals and just pure decency. Persons with ambitions to ascend to public high office are required to have untarnished characters, be good role models and be able to inspire others to follow.
It is my understanding that when you accept public positions you are under the scrutiny of the media, political opponents and ‘john public’; your character should be unblemished and, of course, devoid of any past infraction with the law. Any perception that your character is dubious or that you have questionable qualities that may breach the office’s code of ethics has the propensity to bring that office into disrepute and damage your reputation.
Remember when Garvin Simonette was to be sworn-in as a minister to replace embattled MP Marlene McDonald and, at the 11th hour, had to decline the position because of a DUI charge in the United States? Surely, we must know that having a good character, ethical behaviour and moral qualities is the standard for persons wanting to hold public office.
Further, I’ve read that to cover up the steamy photos of Ms Mohit, persons in some quarters are saying that it is a blatant attack on her character and is misogynist by nature. Misogyny…wow! That is such a sensitive term, which today as eclipsed words like sexism and chauvinism. To just use the term ‘misogyny’ willy-nilly, especially in this situation, it seems to me, is unfitting.
For example, if it is in fact misogynist, then is there empirical evidence to suggest that Ms Mohit is being punished because she has in some way challenged the patriarchal status quo of this office? Or that those photos were taken under duress by some rejected male to extort or coerce the young lady?
If it is the latter, then it was poor judgment on her part to allow herself to be photographed, especially in this age of social media, when the risk is greater since people can use your photos and text messages to exploit, threatened or subject you to cyberbullying.
To add to these scenarios, were those photos taken as selfies? Because if they weren’t, then the mayor-elect must know who took the photos and when those photos were taken and may have a legitimate reason to report to law enforcement because she did not give consent for their publication.
This fiasco surrounding the mayor-elect demonstrates to me that we continue to have double standards for politics or integrity in public life. We are selective when we take sides for our own selfish reasons. We ignore what is right and try to justify it with weak arguments and fallacy.
Ms Mohit, while she has a right to her privacy, the job that she is elected to is a public one, which demands certain morals, ethical standards and integrity. I am sure that when the current president of our republic took up office, the requisite to hold such a position would entail a person of sound morals, who possess strong ethical values and above all who is able to acquiesce to the code of conduct so befitting of the office.
However, for me, it is not a witch-hunt, nor should we now attach a ‘scarlet letter’ on the mayor-elect to shame her for this transgression or puerile judgment. But this should be a lesson for all those women, and even men, whose ambition is to hold public office. They should ensure that their character is clean, and they can stand up to any scrutiny.