NOW says “Tell the Media: Stop Sexist Campaign Coverage”

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From an e-mail from the NOW National Action Center:

The media are up to their old tricks. One of their favorite pastimes is judging presidential candidates on superficial traits:like their hair or weight:rather than their positions on important issues. A popular feature of this brand of reporting is assessing how well politicians fit into outdated gender stereotypes.

Action Needed:

Sign NOW’s petition telling the media that the presidential election is not “America’s Next Top Model”!


With female as well as male commentators getting into the action, here are a few of the burning questions of the 2008 race, according to our friends in the media:

Is Hillary Clinton’s voice grating? Chris Matthews has gone out of his way to portray Clinton as a nagging housewife, with a voice that makes manly men cringe. On NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show on April 28, he was at it again, asking this burning question about Clinton’s performance at the Democratic debate: “Did she have the right modulation? Was she calm and grown up? Or was there a little bit of stridency in the voice still?… [W]as she shrill? Was she strident? Or was she solid?” Panelist Katty Kay from the BBC Washington Bureau responded with the absurd accusation that Clinton was “shouting” in the debate and criticized her “tone of voice.”

Is John Edwards too feminine? The recent controversy over Edwards’ expensive haircuts allowed the press to pull out the old “Breck girl” nickname they hyped during the 2004 campaign. On April 23 Adam Nagourney of The New York Times took credit for introducing the public to this slur, which originated in the Bush camp, and then blamed Edwards for keeping it going. In an April 21 New York Times column, Maureen Dowd wrote: “Whether or not the country is ready to elect a woman president or a black president, it’s definitely not ready for a metrosexual in chief.” She added: “In presidential politics, it’s all but impossible to put the man in manicure. Be sensitive, but not soft. Effete is never effective.”

Is Barack Obama’s wife emasculating? When Michelle Obama portrayed her husband as an everyday kind of guy, members of the media twisted it into a threat to his masculinity. Matthews asked his panel of pundits: “Do you think Obama wishes he could dial Michelle back a notch?” For months now, Dowd has been fretting that Obama comes off as weak, calling him “Obambi” and “a Dreamboy” and comparing him to “Scarlett O’Hara” and “a puppy.” Dowd even fires off two gender-based insults for the price of one, with: “If Hillary is in touch with her masculine side, Barry is in touch with his feminine side.” (Yes, Dowd takes the liberty of shortening Barack to Barry.)

Is Al Gore too fat to run for president? Despite Gore’s achievements, and the belated credit he’s receiving for his work on global warming, the media can’t help but snicker at his weight. In an April 15 Washington Post article titled “Gore ’08: Does He Round Up or Down?” writer Sridhar Pappu declares: “Yes, we’ve certainly seen a lot of Al Gore lately. And there’s a lot of Al Gore to see. Calling Planet Girth!” He tells us that we’ll know Gore is serious about running for president when he loses some weight. Pappu gets in a dig at Obama, too: “There are moments where one fears that if Obama were to lose any weight he’d be on the cover of Us Weekly with Lindsay Lohan.”

Even the Republicans aren’t immune to this foolishness. Dowd claims that: “The Daddy Party, sick with desire for a daddy, is like a lost child.”

These petty criticisms take the place of substantive campaign coverage, and they play on our society’s lingering discomfort with women and men who step the least bit outside traditional gender roles or violate our national obsession with body image. Does this sound productive to you? If we are to elect a president who can help turn this country around, someone who will advance rather than dismantle women’s and civil rights, then voters need real information about the candidates and their platforms.

Sign NOW’s petition telling the media that the presidential election is not “America’s Next Top Model”!

And read our recent examination on the media’s coverage of Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and other women in politics.

Take Action NOW, before another candidate lands in the White House because the press says they might be fun to have a beer with!

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0 Responses to NOW says “Tell the Media: Stop Sexist Campaign Coverage”

  1. pbr90 says:

    Nagging Housewife?
    But Imus can be fired for nappy headed ho’s.

    This dilemma of female apartheid will not disappear on its own.

    When women were made second class citizens under the Constitutional standard in civil rights cases where minorities command strict scrutiny while gender doesn’t, it was an open invitation to overlook the violence that is tolerated at government level, and harmed women immeasurably.

    The Supreme Court also needs to know it doesn’t have license to harass or berate women, using sexist standards designed to confer male preference or minority preference. That minority women who are harmed experience double doses of discrimination doesn’t make a single dose for white women acceptable.

    Managing human relations in America under the guise of equality can be undermined by perfectly legal actions as well as illegal ones. The humiliation of women through pornography violence and through remarks like that of Imus or Matthews isn’t, and shouldn’t be covered under the license of free speech – when, in fact, it is hate speech, albeit of political figures not ordinary citizens. Is Hate Speech really covered under the Sullivan standard? If so, what kind of civility is being exhibited except the license to emotionally abuse in public?

    Given the problem of domestic violence in America, this form of hypocrisy cannot stand to achieve both freedom of speech and freedom from discrimination. IF it is allowed, should not the minority candidates be using their own discriminatory remarks to describe their opponents? Can two wrongs make a right?

    Feminism itself has achieved a bad name among many men for the simple reason that it fails to distinguish the difference between feminist biology and feminist mentality. Feminist mentality is nothing more than the desire for women to achieve the same equal rights as men in expectations of citizenship and treatment. The most feminist biology can achieve is recognition that women, as females, need certain accommodations for that fact of having less strength, endurance, etc., and the right to nurse in protected public places, expectations that society who respects the biological capability of females would install.

    Feministing is seen as critical of males because there are still males who feel that men alone have the sovereignty to think, direct, and decide for women as weaklings who cannot think, direct, and decide for themselves. In theory, there is no such concept within intellectual freedom as feminism for mental capacity since women are entitled to the human rights of autonomy, and are no longer considered the property of men or the extension of men in that regard.

    As the nation’s nurturers, women have much at stake in any discussion of civil rights due to their history and the roles of mankind. Guilt of standing up for those rights should not be a place of mutual understanding for men or women.