Name It, Change It: Sexism In The Media
It’s only been a mere handful of weeks since the U.S. Women’s World Cup team ignited jubilant passion among a large population of girls who looked up to the players as role models. In fact my daughter got to revel in that passion by attending a Women’s Professional Soccer game, where she got to see the likes of World Cup stars Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe play as crowds of female and male soccer fans clamored for their autographs. I especially loved seeing a young teenage boy wearing a Hope Solo jersey.
I was thrilled not just for my daughter, but for my sons to see such displays of athleticism and power.
Then along came sexist garbage spewing from the national media again, trampling all over those positive, you-go-girl vibes: The debasement of presidential candidate Michele Bachmann with an intentionally unflattering Newsweek cover and a sexually exploitative photo of Bachmann eating a corndog . . . the latest in gender-based commentary directed at the only female in the presidential race. (Photos of Texas Governor/GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry eating a corndog have now surfaced, but only after the hullaballoo regarding the Bachmann image.) Throw in the new academic study which found that women are wildly and disproportionately sexually commodified in pop culture media and all those positive feelings about women’s success created by the U.S. Women’s Soccer team went down the tubes. How damned depressing.
Didn’t we already deal with this kind of retro baloney after what Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin went through in 2008 when they were on the receiving end of all manner of harsh critiques based on their gender? University of Kansas researchers who analyzed the tone of the 2008 presidential race found that both Clinton and Palin were often subjected to sexist commentary, frequently focusing on their bodies: “Palin’s attractiveness resulted in frequent and varied references to her ‘sexiness,’ whereas Clinton was viewed as not feminine enough in pantsuits that covered her ‘cankles.’” They provide example after example of hideous media behavior. (Clinton, now the U.S. Secretary of State, was recently maligned by a famous fashion designer who said, “I think she’s confused about her gender . . . all these big, baggy menswear tailored pantsuits.” It never ends.)