From Name It Change It…”Sexism and Equality Don’t Mix”
Every year we like to evaluate the trends we’ve seen in political media coverage of women politicians and candidates. Sadly, in the year 2011 we found no limit to how demeaning or insulting some media outlets and personalities felt they needed to be towards women. No one says media pundits have to like the policies or actions of every female politician, but the Name It. Change It. project is about pointing out sheer misogyny disguised as mere criticism.
Throughout 2011 former Governor Sarah Palin flirted with the idea of running for president. She ultimately decided not to, making her no different than many other candidates, but some pundits and comedians, in expressing their hostility towards Palin, seem to project hostility towards women in general.
In January on the TNT program “Inside The NBA,” host Kenny Smith asked comedian Tracy Morgan, “Tina Fey or Sarah Palin?”
Of course the unspoken question was “Who would you have sex with;” one woman was Morgan’s boss and the other was a prominent national figure. The question was outrageous and demeaning to all women, but Morgan’s answer, “I think Sarah Palin is good masturbation material! The glasses and all of that … great masturbation material,” was also terrible.
As we said at the time: “When female politicians [or women in power] are constantly reduced to sexual objects, it strikes a blow against all women in positions of power and deters other women from seeking public office…. We’re not laughing.”
The sexualizing of women politicians is a not a new problem. In November men’s magazine Complex, compiled a list of the “50 Hottest Women in Politics.” Of course you’d expect a men’s magazine to provide tasteful descriptions of women they find attractive. Just kidding! Complex was looking for the “slutty,” “big-boobed,” and “uber babe” women in politics. And yes, Sarah Palin was on that list as “the most tappable veep candidate in history.” Charming.
Combining both sexualization and repugnance, in March Bill Maher felt it was perfectly fine to call Sarah Palin a “dumb twat” and said she and Michele Bachmann would split the “MILF” vote. Later in the year Maher essentially excused himself from charges of misogyny because he doesn’t think Palin is representing women, so anything he says about her as a woman isn’t sexist. Really,Bill? Because the more acceptable you make unacceptable terms, the more likely such terms will be used on other women politicians—even some of the ones you like.
You can criticize women politicians all you want (even make jokes at their expense!) but Name It. Change It. thinks it’s not too much to ask that it not be seeped it in misogyny.
Read more here at www.NameItChangeIt.org.