Overlooked Sexism in the Media

Posted on June 24, 2011

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by Jane Dahye Kim

Castratos in the eunuch chorus – Chris Matthews

When she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs – Tucker Carlson

How do we beat the bitch? – one woman    An excellent question – John McCain

Frequent wearing of dark pants suit to conceal her bottom-heavy figure – article in The Oklahoman

What you gonna do with all that junk? All that junk inside your trunk? – Political cartoonist Nick Anderson in his animated cartoon

Would you be in this position were it not for your husband? – anchor Charles Gibson

The reason she’s a U.S. senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner, is that her husband messed around – Chris Matthews

Clinton “pimped out” her daughter – David Shuster

When she reacts the way she reacts to Obama with just the look, the look toward him, looking like everyone’s first wife standing outside a probate court – Mike Barnicle

All of these statements were said on national television or in national publications during Hillary Clinton’s run for president of the United States in 2008. Much of the sexism came from progressive voices in the media. How can these uncivilized statements be allowed on television, newspaper or any kind of media? Whether Hillary Clinton is a politician or not, as a human being, these statements should not be on broadcast. People who stated these sentences should be punished. But how come nothing has been done? MSNBC Tucker Carlson said the second statement and we can still see him on the news. Marie Cocco from RealClearPolitics wrote, “Think, for a moment, of what might happen if a well-known media personality were to say of Obama: “Every time he comes on television, I involuntarily reach for my white hood.” Would even Don Imus survive?” I couldn’t agree more.

Then I discovered that American society is more sexist than racist since more than a century ago. For example, black men were able to vote after the Civil War (1865). How about women at that time? Impossible. I found out granting black men the right to vote was ratified in 1870 in The 15th Amendment to the Constitution. The right to vote for women was granted 50 years later, in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. As one blogger said, “White men still feel more comfortable sharing power with men of color than they do with women or women of color…The first man elected to the US House of Representatives was Joseph Rainey, who won his seat in 1870. The first woman was Jeannette Rankin far later, in 1916.”

Like Susan B. Anthony, more people need to stand up against sexism. Nobody is going to fight FOR us. This should be done by ourselves. Then how should we do this? The National Organization for Women, article “Hillary Clinton and the Media: From Intelligent and Fair to Appallingly Sexist and Pointless” by Katie Heimer can be a guide. She says since sexism is still deeply inside our culture, it could be unrealistic to expect the media to be completely unbiased. Therefore, it is important to approach the news with a vigilant and critical eye. She also commented that many journalists do not know what to do with strong women, like female politicians. So they often go to old-fashioned sexism in describing women leaders. For example, scrutinizing their appearance, and concentrating on their roles as wives and mothers. Female candidates have been criticized for things that a male candidate would never take heat for- their appearance, emotions, and spouse’s sex life. To me, this seems not quite, but very unfair. Many media attacked Hilary Clinton for her hairstyle, her clothing, and so much more. On February 9th, Reuters news agency reported fashion designer Donatella Versace advised that “Hilary Clinton should tap into her feminine side and wear dresses and skirts instead of trousers.” Other female politicians too, encounter questions like how do you manage being a wife and a politician? Politician’s job is to make the country a better place to live. They are not fashion models, so media should not focus on what they wear or how they do their hair. But the media is focusing on those things and distracting the public.

Katie Heimer mentioned, “With so many reporters and columnists unable to see past Senator Clinton’s gender, it was refreshing on Jan. 22 to see Salon.com’s Tim Grieve point our the obvious: Clinton isn’t running for “first woman president,” she’s “running for president, period.”” This statement touched my heart. People should realize that the media can play and even trick people’s minds. We should not be fooled and should keep our priorities straight. She suggested writing formal letters to the editor, or sending emails to the TV or radio show, voicing concern and disapproval when sexism is found in their coverage of women candidates and leaders. The interesting part is that some of it is intentional but some “sexism disguised as facts” comes from sheer habit. But I disagree. There should be stronger action made to stop this sexism in the media.

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