The Media: Fair or Sexist?

by Danelle on August 12, 2011 · 7 comments

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The moderator at this debate was trying to suggest the latter – that Bachmann advocates some backward and out-of-date woman’s view of equality where she cannot think for herself.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.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Julienne August 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm

The question was definitely inappropriate. Great post. The media loves to stereotype and attack both conservative and liberal women.

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Julia Anderson August 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm

If they are going to ask a question about how she and her husband relate to each other then yes they should be asking EVERYONE else about their marital relationships!

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Pamela O'Leary August 13, 2011 at 2:52 am

This is a great article. Thank you for bringing attention to this issue.

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Richard Coutu August 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Though I do respect your group for organizing to get your voices heard I feel that your cause is misguided. Michelle Bachman believes in Seven Mountains Dominionism. This was a very relevant question and Americans should know about how Michelles belief system will affect her ability to make decisions in the oval office. If anything the media has done a very poor job at covering Bachmans fanatical religious background which is not mainstream in America whatsoever. I would also like to add that as a liberal I can gaurantee you that the views expressed by tv media are not that of myself or liberals throughout America. Instead the media is biased towards sensationalism as well as promoting Statist views. Our media and government is neither liberal nor conservative. Instead they espouse the views and wishes of big business intertwined with massive government beauracracy as well as engage in shell games in order to divide the country. The first step in fixing our country is correctly identifying exactly who is standing in our way. Judging by some of the material I see advertised on this website I would say you ladies have much research to do.
P.S.- I find it distressing that your network would conflate the word submission with respect when the two have drastically different meanings.

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Carrie August 26, 2011 at 11:32 pm

The main point of the article was about gender double standards. The question directed at Bachmann didn’t bring up the 7 Mountain Dominion-the question was about whether she would let her husband (a man) control the presidency-an issue of sexism. Accordingly, that’s what the author focused on. If the reporter asked about 7 Mtns along with that, I don’t think NeW would have cried foul. But the reporter did not intentionally.

Also, where exactly did the author conflate respect & submission? She just quoted Bachmann & then talked about the double standard of women in politics. Please quote the bit where she says “NeW believes submission means respect.” Or “Bachmann’s comment is correct,” etc. Never happened.

P.S. I find it distressing that people don’t have reading comprehension skills.

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Richard Coutu August 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Well I had a really good response. So good that NEW deleted it but I will recap in case this one doesnt get deleted.
“Regardless of whether you believe Bachmann used “submissive” to mean respect or what your views of her as a candidate are” Here the author attempts to blur the issue. It doesnt matter what we believe bc words have meanings. The definition of submission and respect are completely different hence one cannot mean the other.

“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.” Here the moderator again tried to defend Bachmann by attacking strawmen. In this case she used Bachmans tax career to disprove that she is in fact free to do what she wants and not submissive to her husband. What the author neglects to tell the reader is that Bachman herself admits that she did not want to be a tax lawyer but she had to bc Marcus told her to. Explaining why she chose to follow her husbands wishes she said this
“Tax law! I hate taxes. Why should I go and do something like that? But the Lord says, ‘Be submissive, wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.’”
In other words the author used evidence of Bachmans out of date backwards religious beliefs as proof that she does not hold backwards out of date religious beliefs. LOL.
Now does the author really expect us to believe Bachman was asked this question bc she is a woman? It is obvious she was asked this question bc of the above comments. Why didn’t the author mention the quote that the question was based off of? It is indeed true that Bachman follows out of date mysoginist religious views. She believes in seven mountains dominionism, that hurricane Irene was punishment sent from God, and she is a follower of Pat Roberston and his breed of Christianity.I would leave the political analysis to those who actually do research. “The husband is the head of the wife, and that’s the way it is, period.” -Pat Robertson

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Erica Darknell April 13, 2014 at 9:26 am

I must speak out against Michigan state police and Mecosta County courts!! They are using a known sex offender to “freelance” on women. They are allowing him to abuse, drug, rape, manipulate, and much more to benefit him self from charges. I am a life long rape and abuse victim who has fell victim to the state and this sex offender while trying to search for happiness (I was leaving a 15year abusive relationship) they have built false charges on only his word and manipulation. Yet these charges are have been on going for a year causing even more mental stress beyond the fact of finding I was with a rapist who was unknowingly at the time using his rape tactics on me. This has been beyond believable and should be stopped. His victims feel they can not report him do to his “freelance position for the Michigan state police)

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