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Media Gender Bias: Not a Myth

June 6, 2008
N. Lukanovich

The democratic nomination is clearly over, and I'm downright bummed to see the dream of a woman president washed down the tube. After all, women make up at least half the population, isn't it about time there's a President that isn't testosterone dominant?

The loss would be easier to bear if had been a fair fight. Are Americans more racist or sexist? It's a toss up, but what's blatantly clear is that most in the media, ruled by men, with at least ten male pundits for every woman (who needs to keep her job), are careful not to sound racist, but are often overtly sexist. It's one thing for a woman to be a senator, but a woman president? Not on for the 'boys club'.

The spin that sexism had nothing to do with Hillary's downfall flew so thick and fast I needed wipers for my glasses. Almost worse than the constant barrage of ignored sexist commentary has been the claim sexism doesn't exist anymore and even if it does, it didn't effect the contest between the two historic candidates, because 'she comes with a lot of baggage so it isn't really sexism', and she lost 'because of a bad campaign'.

It doesn't really matter if Hillary Clinton was a three headed monster with enough baggage to fill ten freight containers and the worse run campaign in the history of democracy, sexist comments are sexist comments. They are no less damaging or denigrating than racist comments.

The media, powerful and influential, can be an enormous ally or foe. Barak Obama became the great savior: the relief amongst pundits was palpable; there was a viable male contender other than John Edwards, who clearly had no more chance than an atheist to be elected president, what with him being a trial lawyer and incessantly speaking on behalf of the poor.

Hillary had to endure cracks from other politicians, pundits, and broadcasters about "thick ankles", and "too much cleavage", one senator said he felt "castrated every time I'm around her", she was accused of "pimping out her daughter", and Chelsea will "wind up with a posterior like her mother", and "it's time for Hillary to hang up her pantsuit", broadcasters said she reminded voters of their mothers "when she speaks, men hear 'take out the garbage'", buttons displaying her photo with the words "I hate Hillary" and a jack in the box called "The Nutcracker" were sold, she was accused of being "too tough", and then after her voice wavered while talking to New Hampshire voters, she was attacked for having "crying fits". At one rally, someone held up a sign that said "Iron My Shirts". I could go on, but the point's been made.

But when I foolishly dared to google 'sexism in democratic nomination', it was difficult to find articles about the sexism; I had to dig through masses of articles full of outright hatred towards anyone who dared to note the sexism, and some of these articles were written by women.

Why is it that every time a woman points to evidence of sexism, she is called a whiny bitchy shrew playing the victim card or a ball busting bitch, instead of a heroic fighter for equal rights and respect? Not only are men who fight against oppression considered heroes, but when they go so far as to commit violence, even to murder innocents, they are often called 'freedom fighters'.

Sexism is such a deeply embedded part of tradition and religion, many women themselves are sexist and defend sexist views, whereas it's difficult to find people who are racist against their own race.

It's time for women to dig their head out the sand, or at least stop their own virulent attacks on women who have their heads fully out of the sand and are speaking out. It's bad enough that we have to contend with misogyny from men in the media, it's unbearable that we should have to endure it from women.

For those who would deny that gender had anything to do with the nomination I would ask these questions: if Hillary was a man would she have lost? If Obama was a woman, could he have made such a rapid rise in politics or be compared to John F. Kennedy? Can you name one female icon in America who was considered to be a great leader? How many Americans can name even one of the suffragettes?

Does a woman have to be a movie star or pop star to be an American icon? Why is it easier for a woman to attain wild popularity as a politician's call girl, than as a politician?

It's difficult to understand why so many democratic women, who when faced with two candidates with similar policies, chose to support the man, even though he had less experience and lost every debate, rather than the woman who has done more for women in America than any other woman in recent history, just by fighting this campaign and not quitting when she was told to quit. She has proven that a woman can be tough as nails and not because she is like a man, but because she is a woman.

I can't help but wonder how long we will have to wait to see a woman in the oval office as Commander in Chief of the dominant world power. The impact on young girls and women everywhere in the world would be immeasurable.

It's a crying shame that two historic candidates were competing against each other in the same nomination contest, and a disappointment for women who thought their time had finally come, but on the upside, if Hillary Clinton was going to lose, at least the winner was a black man and not a white man, and history has indeed been made.

I, like many other women, am still hoping that Hillary Clinton will be on the ticket as Barak Obama's running mate, as this would also be historic. Come what may, I certainly hope that Obama will win the presidential race, and that the media will continue to support him through the national campaign. I know that Hillary Clinton, gracious as she is, will be his biggest supporter and work as hard for him as she would for herself.


Last week's COMMENTS:

re: Not Really Polygamy
Right on! The Voice of Freedom!
Maggie



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