Making a Difference
by Gabe Sim, Grade 7
The Peck School
As a maturing girl, it is difficult for me to stand back and watch how our society has damaging effects on women. Sometimes I wonder, why is the “good woman” stereotype pictured as someone who works at home, takes care of the children, and obeys her husband? Why is a “bad woman” depicted as a cruel being that speaks up against the majority? With these unspoken stereotypes restricting women, it is difficult for them to attain an important place in the government. The media describes and discusses men and women running for leadership positions in America differently by unjustly focusing on women’s physical attributes and personalities.
The media dissects female politicians and chooses the superficial sections that they want to display to the world. Characterized by the constant flow of physical traits from news broadcasts and articles, Hillary Clinton persevered when running for the Democratic nomination for presidency in 2008 but ultimately lost her party’s nomination. Coverage included her “tone of voice, style of dress, and her eyes welling up with tears” (Wakeman). In contrast, Barack Obama’s coverage focused on his accomplishments and credentials. By informing voters about women’s physical attributes and men’s accomplishments, journalists do not allow voters to learn about women’s experiences as a politician, ultimately directing the vote toward a male candidate. In spite of being depicted on social networks, television, and radio by her clothing, plastic surgery, and grating voice, Nancy Pelosi looked beyond the comments and became the first female Speaker of the House in 2007. The media’s focus on physical attributes, like Pelosi’s Botox and Armani clothing, take away attention from women’s accomplishments, but female politicians need to fight against sexism in the media so that their achievements can be known.
The media decides how to present the delegates running for office, choosing to emphasize females’ personalities. When campaigning in 2008, Jonah Goldberg and others remarked that Hillary Clinton was “cold and calculating” (Crowther). If she were a man, these insults would not have even been said. Men and women agree that we are all equals, yet women are kept out of power with disrespectful tactics. This is because unjust people want to make female candidates look foolish and incompetent, all the while belittling them until all power rests in male hands. For example, media also drags in Nancy Pelosi’s personality. Glenn Beck directed a sexist assault on Pelosi’s “poker face” and gestured to show what it looked like (Fox News). T.V. hosts, radio hosts, and journalists would never do this to a man, but they think it is okay to bring in irrelevant information about a woman running for office.
Imagine a world that has a balance of female and male leaders, a world without a double standard for women. In order to achieve that balance people have to be willing to change. One person cannot achieve this balance; the answer lies in everybody’s loyal support. Slowly but surely, one person at a time can make a difference.
Beck Issues Sexist Attack on Pelosi's "poker face". Perf. Glenn Beck. 23 February 2010.
Conservative Media Figures Attack Speaker Pelosi. Perf. Conservative Media Figures. Media Matters. 2009.
Crowther, Ashleigh. Sexist Language in Media Coverage of Hillary Clinton. 12 December 2007. 20 March 2012 <http://mediacrit.wetpaint.com/page/Sexist+Language+in+Media+Coverage +of+Hillary+Clinton>.
Seelye, Katharine Q. Media Charged With Sexism in Clinton Coverage. 13 June 2008. 20 March 2012 <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/13/us/politics/13women.html?pagew anted=all>.
Wakeman, Jessica. Sexist Media Coverage of Hillary Clinton. 27 April 2008. 20 March 2012 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jessica-wakeman/on-sexist-media- coverage_b_98869.html>.<