Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Women Pols -- of Both Parties -- on Receiving End Sexist Attacks

Last week, it was Sarah Palin who Newsweek editors put on the cover of a newsweekly in running shorts to coincide with the release of her memoir, Going Rogue. The editors argued that the photo was the most "interesting" one they could've selected from the thousands of Palin to place on their cover.

The cheap shots at Palin -- which were not about her policy positions -- prompted me to write this column about how powerful women pols like Palin and Hillary Clinton, when she was running for president, have been subjected to sexually oriented attacks which don't get lobbed at their male counterparts. (I also complained that, if you actually go around and tell people that it's wrong for women to be judged by their bodies, make-up, clothing and sexual attractiveness, you're obliged to object when women on both sides of the political aisle are subjected to it.)

Now comes this photographic commentary from Time Magazine: A Photoshopped image of a female Democratic senator with a pretend glob of semen in her hair, a la There's Something About Mary. A male journalist decided it'd be funny satire to depict Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, whose vote is considered pivotal to the health care legislation, looking like Cameron Diaz in the slapstick movie. Broadsheet writer Tracy Clark-Flory wrote this about it thusly:

"On November 19, the image was posted to The Page blog, which is written by Mark Halperin, and ran with the caption, 'Senator Landrieu's latest position on proceeding on health care debate here.'

As Media Matters points out, this only adds to 'a broader, sexist right-wing narrative that the U.S. Senator from Louisiana is, as Glenn Beck put it yesterday, 'a high-class prostitute' engaged in 'hookin' -- all because she lobbied Senate leadership for expanded Medicaid funding for Louisiana in the Senate health care bill in what was characterized by the media as an exchange for her 'yea' vote to proceed with floor debate on the bill.'

. . . So fellas, you've already illustrated her with ejaculate in her hair and called her a prostitute -- what's next? I shudder to think."

Over on the Huffington Post, the response went a little something like this, ". . . Mark Halperin is the worst and should be publicly scorned."

I do, however, disagree with Media Matters when it argues that this "sexist narrative" is applied to women only by conservatives. It's applied to women by women and men from both sides of the political spectrum, and to pretend that it's only conservatives who do the sexist attacking is turning a convenient blind eye.

Image credit: Broadsheet.

No comments: