Study Finding We Are Done with Gender Bias Omits Important Data
Setting aside for the moment the 2008 misogynist media gauntlet run by Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, in 2012, a woman was conspicuous by her absence on any major ticket. Therefore, the pronouncement that gender bias is a thing of the past is premature since we will have no basis for comparison until a woman once again stands for the Presidential nomination. Only then will we see how the media responds – and if gender bias has truly "all but disappeared."
Earlier in the year, brilliant tumlbr ads featured Secretary Clinton in dark glasses texting from the seat of her G-6, portrayed affectionately as the ultimate "badass." Yet, though she was not running for office, she made international headlines and received myriad questions about her longer, less fashionable, hairdo. She also made the domestic and international press when she appeared at a press conference sans makeup. The headline read: “Hillary Au Naturale.” Let us not forget Secretary Clinton’s visit to Columbia where she had the audacity to stop her breakneck schedule for one half hour to down a beer in celebration of a colleague’s birthday. She was dubbed “Swillary” and “an embarrassment.” In presidential politics, it adds to a male politician’s cachet if he is the type of man we would like to have a beer with – but a woman having a beer? How déclassé!
The moment President Obama secured re-election, the trending twitter hashtag became #Hillary2016. Now that we are looking to the possibility of her running once again, the unusually glowing press she enjoyed for the bulk of this past year (which also served to help Obama’s re-election chances with women, by the way), have given way to a something more mean spirited.
The New Yorker just this week featured two articles offering negative characterizations of Secretary Clinton. The undercurrent in both pieces was 'when will we finally be rid of her and will she cut her hair? –Along with the horrid “ego driven and power hungry” mantra that haunted her years ago. No one would have dared to describe Barack Obama this way, despite the fact that he had only two years in the Senate before running for the toughest office in the world. We are still not done accusing Hillary Clinton of this crime.
Maureen Dowd, continuing her Hillary obsession in her latest New York Times column, just referred to Secretary Clinton as a “Hitchcock blonde” –i.e., ice runs through her veins. Dowd intimated Hillary would cut anyone off at the knees who stood in her way. Ambassador Susan Rice is allegedly Secretary Clinton's current target in the “catfight” Dowd has cooked up. Here again is the implication of the “conniving” mantra that haunts women, not men.
Since Ambassador Rice is currently a candidate for Secretary of State, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough just instructed the Republican opposition to attack her on the basis of her “temperament” – what does that mean, exactly?
It could not have escaped these researchers' attention that 2012 was once again billed as “the year of the woman.” Big media aided the current administration driving home the message that there is a "war on women." Since President Obama dearly needed women's votes to put him over the top (he got them), I suspect the pundit class who favor him in great number, made sure to calm their woman bashing. They would not dare to do otherwise, lest guilt by association hurt President Obama's re-election chances.
Again, we will not know until the next election cycle if and when a woman steps up to contest for the Presidency how she will be graded by the media or the public. A woman having the ultimate last word in our country would be something new – and threatening.
As to Ms. Graham's optimism, the true cause for celebration will be when the American people "bash back." If the media try painting Hillary as an "ego driven, aging, resentful female," as she was called in the past, it will be up to the American people to cry foul. Sexism is but a tool in the media's big bag and this behavior will evaporate only to the extent that it no longer finds a home with us.
Anita Finlay is the author of Dirty Words on Clean Skin: Sexism and Sabotage, a Hillary Supporter’s Rude Awakening, now available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon.
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