Published on The Daily Femme – Thursday, July 7, 2011
Contributed by Annamarya
Women and politics don’t mix. At least, that’s the way it seems when you take into account how they’re regarded by the media and public alike. Need an example? If you search “Michelle Obama” on Huffington Post, this is what you get–five out of the ten results on the front page deal with her looks and style and not the social work she performs as First Lady. Need more? Just take an hour out of your day and scour different feminist blogs or the Internet itself. You’ll have more than enough examples to satisfy your curiosity.
So it’s really no surprise that Fox News’ Cal Thomas is coming under fire for his sexist comment regarding Congresswoman (and presidential candidate) Michele Bachmann and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. The above clip, which is from FoxNews.com’s “Behind the Breaks” video of the July 2 edition ofFox News Watch, shows Thomas and his roundtable panelists discussingBachmann’s statement on how she won’t give in to the media’s need to see herself and Palin “come together and have a mud-wrestling fight.” Instead of turning the conversation into a serious discussion of what Bachmann touched on–the prevailing unspoken expectation that two opposing women in politics will engage in “catfight” mudslinging–Thomas took the moment to declare how he’d rather see them “Jell-O wrestling.” Sure, a female commenter notes that such sexual objectification is “where the mind goes,” as noted by The Frisky, but that’s where the discussion ends. Period.
I’m not disappointed in Thomas’ “joke” or that the other panelists didn’t regard it as an opportunity to discuss sexism and politics because it’s what I’ve come to expect from pundits of all stripes (and to be disappointed would mean I have some sliver of hope that pundits would rise above such verbal shallowness). I am, however, upset that, while it angers me, it comes as no shock. Have we accepted such sexism for so long that it’s just become a part of daily routine? Other than calling them out and expressing our distress, how else do we hold these members of the media accountable for their lack of respect? According to a May 27 post on Feministing, Texas State Rep. Senfronia Thompson spoke out against a sexist Texas Civil Justice League flier, enraged by the “disrespect for women in the legislature.” But is that enough?
What do you think, our dear Daily Femme readers? What else can we do?