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Breaking news: Hot woman to run Yahoo

OPINION

July 19, 2012|By Niki Fritz | For RedEye

Yahoo has a new CEO, and she's a woman! But that's not the real news. The headliner in this story is Marissa Mayer is hot; she's like "the hottest CEO ever" according to bloggers on Reddit, who you have to assume are either 13-year-old boys or men still living with the effects of an all-boys high school.

Of course, there has been pixalized backlash throughout the ether, but there is a definite lack of shock or surprise that bloggers commented on the 37-year-old former Googlite's appearance. Although every feminist and most women would agree that these horny bloggers should learn some manners, the real shock is why has the media allowed html-worshiping Reddit geeks dictate the news cycle?

We are letting a thread that devolves from a CEO's "hotness" to the status of "alphanovember' "s boner decide the first impression the world gets of Mayer. Although I will say the thread is worth a morning coffee break read if only for its "Arrested Development" references.

Yeah some geeky guy thinks Mayer is hot. Why is that news? Because the brave bloggers of Reddit (particularly anonymous "primesuspect" who originally posted the thread) said what many, both in the media and not, think: Mayer is attractive and this should be part of public discussion.

Whether it is Hilary looking old, Michelle's too-buff arms or Condoleezza's choice in footwear, a woman's appearance is well-stomped media territory and is commonly considered public domain as well as relevant. Forbes' blogger "Girl Friday" even suggested we not be so naïve as to think Mayer's good looks didn't play a role in her success. Since women entered positions of power, the media has called fair play to evaluations of their looks.

Despite some of the absurdities of the conversation, it is a good discussion to have even if sparked by Michael Cera circa 2003 look-alikes. One of the most impressive aspects of this issue is how there were comments pointing out the double standard and scolding bloggers for focusing on Mayer's appearance. There is hope even among the ranks of Reddit.

Whether  Mayer relishes the role or not, she has become the poster girl for female CEOs in the future and has sparked a new discourse in the business world. Discussions are now exploding over motherhood as a CEO (Mayer is six months' pregnant) and the definition of a feminist (which Mayer has previously said she is not).

I truly hope that one day promotions like Mayer's won't spark this flurry of "hot or not" blog posts. I hope that one day, probably long after we have forgotten the name Yahoo--say in 2025--women make up 50 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs. But to get there we need to have these conversations first. And then maybe the boners on Reddit will calm down.

Niki Fritz is a RedEye special contributor.

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