Did you catch the Republican Presidential Debate in Iowa yesterday? If not, by now websites, blogs, and newspapers have updated you on the general outcome. Newt Gingrich took on the media, Ron Paul was the odd duck on foreign policy, Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain threw in a few funny lines, and the rest held their ground fairly well.
Almost all of the questions served as a function to demonstrate the candidates’ political, social, or economic platform, but there was one in particular that served as an attack–not only in the personal sphere, but in the gender category, too.
Towards the end of the debate, a Washington Examiner moderator read from one of Michele Bachmann’s previous quotes (in 2006) and asked if she would be “submissive” to her husband during her presidency.
Bachmann handled the attack saying “I respect my husband, and he respects me as his wife. That’s how we operate our marriage. We respect each other. We love each other.”
Regardless of whether you believe Bachmann used “submissive” to mean respect or what your views of her as a candidate are, it should be clear that the question did not belong in the GOP presidential debate. Gingrich, for example, was not asked to disclose anything about his three marriages nor was Romney interrogated about being Mormon. Those questions are personal and more importantly, a waste of time that could be spent discussing the real problems America faces.
Media – the so-called defender of all people and most progressive outlet – has time and time again shown that they are not on the side of women. During Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, Sarah Palin’s vice presidential bid, and now Michele Bachmann’s presidential bid, the media continues to cross lines to suggest women are shrill, overly emotional, and incapable of making decisions themselves.
The moderator at this debate was trying to suggest the latter – that Bachmann advocates some backward and out-of-date woman’s view of equality where she cannot think for herself. Obviously, that is not the case — she is an attorney, a successful congresswoman and running for president.
Sadly, all the other attacks on female candidates expose the same type of gender-degrading and irrelevant implications, showing that media and maybe society has not quite shed itself of sexism.
What can you do to change this? Speak out, stand firm in your beliefs, and defend women in politics, media, everywhere against sexist attacks.
The question Bachmann was thrown at the debates was out of line, and whether you are liberal, conservative, libertarian or apathetic, I hope you encourage fair coverage and actively discourage cheap attacks like this one.