Another election year has begun, and with it so has the equal media coverage of the nation’s male and female politicians. It’s 2012 after all, so the fashion choices and physical appearance of our female political candidates are as irrelevant as those of their male counterparts, right? Using sexist language and objectifying women is so. . . 1985, right?
Unfortunately not, and it’s not just men’s magazines that are the culprits. New York Magazine’s profile of Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren included the phrase, “Warren, who is 62 years old with big blue eyes, a blonde bob, and a wardrobe of cardigans and turtlenecks, looks every bit the professor.” Or how about this bit of sexist snark from The Huffington Post, which was written, lamentably, by a woman: “When her (Bachmann’s) numbers went down she should have brought down her neckline. Might have helped.”
With liberal outlets like The Huffington Post (whose editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington is otherwise hailed as a champion of feminist causes) being one of the worst offenders, it’s hard to know how to effectively tackle the problem. Which is where Name It. Change It. comes in. Name It. Change It. is a non-partisan project of the WCF Foundation, Women’s Media Center, and Political Parity. Their mission is as simple as it is Herculean: to expose and eradicate sexism directed against female political candidates regardless of their political affiliations. As the name implies, the first step of this process is to identify sexism when it occurs. For an excellent explanation of the organization by the WCF Foundation President and CEO, Sam Bennett, I encourage you to watch this clip on Fox News.
With all the pledges out there this political season, surely the most uncontroversial is the Name It. Change It. media equality pledge. And as a reader and voter, don’t just sit at home fuming and feeling helpless when you read something like “Michele Bachmann raises the fashion bar for female politicians,” name it and change it!
For more information, visit the Name It. Change It. website at www.nameitchangeit.org.