Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Open Thread on Sexism and the Media

No point trying to avoid the obvious. Several of the most recent diaries here have actually become intense and fascinating debates about the legacy of sexism after the election.

Above is a word cloud of the debate so far – around 4pm EST 15th Nov.

One of the things that Obama’s election does is move discussion of race and racism into a whole new field. Unfortunately, the equally important debate about sexism remains suppressed. Hillary’s appointment to Secretary of State will not resolve this – Madelaine Albright and Condi Rice have been there before.

So consider this an open thread to see if the Moose can find a common language to discuss this, without people feeling censored, or self censored (which is worse).


  1. I must express my (probably erroneous) feelings. I believe that one of the things Obama said in his Philly speech about racism is that for years the debate had been couched negatively – in terms of oppression, victimhood and abuse. In terms of race, he effectively said the dialogue had stalled because there was an element of white guilt addressing black grievances, and that would lead to some kind of moral blackmail, or indeed silence.

    My fear is that the language of feminism expressed in political blogs is still geared around the sense of victimhood. What is required for that is empathy, but empathy alone does not address wrongs and rights. It also means that people fear to express themselves because they often feel that any disagreement will mark them as sexist (this happened with Obama’s candidacy on the race issue too). Both sides feel bullied, and dialogue stops.

    For the sake of open debate, let’s assume (with some reason) that we all hold dear the essential tenets of feminism.  

  2. NavyBlueWife

    I know that I should begin working on this, and I am at least in my mind.  I say should because apparently I have more credibility on this subject because I have a vagina.

    But the thing that I struggle with the most is that I am a woman caught in the crosshairs of this debate.  I was supposed to be supporting Hillary because we both have vaginas.  But I didn’t.  That same principle would have had to apply when it came to Palin.  Thank God I can think for myself.  The men I worked with (in the hugely man dominated world of tax law) naturally assumed that I and my female coworkers would be supporting Hillary, but none of us were.  We were supporting Obama.  When we told them that, we seemed to gain some sort of respectability in their eyes.  It was weird all around.  But I’m not going to engage in a primary wars debacle.  I was using this example to illustrate how I think the feminist meme has gone too far by limiting women to gender alone (and all things that are stereotypically female, like clothes and closets.)  Honestly, I blame the feminists taking it too far here more so than any real misogyny or sexism.

    I’m really pissed off about this, so my words are not as completely guarded (or self-censored as other Moose tell me) as I would have them.  I know that some women think that I am a traitor to my sex because I didn’t back Hillary or that I take on a tone like I am here.  Well, fuck them.  The point of the women’s movement to me was so that I could have a voice to say whatever the hell I wanted, and I think some women are going too far with this faux feminist meme from ALL sides.  I accept my title as Vagina Traitor from those women who want to silence ME.  But I want a new language, one that moves women off this damn plateau and into the 21st century.

    (no personal attacks intended on any female Moose here, so please add all appropriate disclaimers before flaming me; and I hate that I even have to add this disclaimer!)

  3. Jjc2008

    (as my first response was to a particular)….

    In my view, the amount of sexism/misogyny in the media was stunning but sadly often ignored or laughed at…….

    it’s kind of interesting to see the reaction to the media on the blogs.  I believe media personalities who were blatanly and nastily sexist are easily forgiven.  In fact, they were often given excuses.

    I believe if Imus’ remarks had only been sexist and not both sexist and racist, he would still have a job.

    I believe if those radio boys whose sign at a Hillary rally that said “IRON MY SHIRTS” had been at an Obama rally with a sign that “SHINE MY SHOES”, they would have been skewered by the media. Instead there were giggles about their “Iron My Shirts” sign.  It was deemed “immature” but that’s it.

    I believe the media remains the place for the men.  And the older the man gets, the more gravitas he is given.  The older the women, the more she is shoved off the air.

    Men like Rafferty, Matthews, Scarborough, Gibson, even Williams, the departed Russert, have/had no real counterparts that are female.  These men are middle aged, average looks at best (I am being kind), somewhat pudgy (*I am sure there are no six packs on these guys)….and their middles are somewhat pudgy.  Can you imagine a somewhat pudgy middle aged, unglamorous woman getting an anchor/pundit job on any station????

    On the woman’s side, Candy Crowley gets is a correspondent, Andrea Mitchell is occasionally given a seat during the day, and Katie (who while is middle ages is somewhat glamorous looking, is thin and is hardly representative of average).

    On the reporting……and punditry. To me their treatment of Hillary was glaring unfair and sexist.

  4. thread the attention that it deserves.  but alas im in and out this afternoon.  but ill say this, i was recently approached by a user at mydd who is a well respected obama primary supporter.

    she basically explained that now that the GE was over that she had a LOT of problems with discussing women’s issues in the progressive blogosphere and that she saw some pretty shocking things during the primary and now both in the media and online.

    i couldnt agree more.

    one of the main reasons i started blogging was for this particular reason.  if you remember most of my diaries were criticisms of the media treatment of clinton rather than advocating for her in anyway.

    in any case – i will attempt to return later tonight when i have some time to weigh in on this issue.  but being honest, in my past experiences (not at the moose) this has been a highly frustrating issue.

  5. sexism in the media…  well – its what motivated me to start blogging.  ive tried to find them on mydd – but no luck.

    in any case – im not sure what was worse this election cycle, the blatant sexism freely doled out by the press or the fact that the press has all but lost its credibility in a MSM dying world.

    i link to this dee dee myers article yesterday that pretty much nails it – and shockingly it gotr far, far, far worse from the media after this piece was written.

    its really a shame i cant access those diaries, because they were chaulk full of examples.  instead ill leave everyone with one of my favourite reminders (not in a good way) of the primaries.

    • NavyBlueWife

      I should have been more careful with my words (HA!).

      No one on the Moose has made me cry (sorry to those who have tried, just kidding, but not really if it is true).  I’ve only recently cried for real about a blog on DKos, and it was a diary posted by a woman that was essentially using a misleading article to trash the military on the very sensitive issue of rape kits.  She posted it on Veterans Day.  I lost my mind on that one and have done a bit of counseling with myself to calm down about blog world–I’m an emotional and passionate person (in case no one noticed).  We have a great responsibility with our words, and she misused hers, even if it was unintentional.  My worry was that she would create a meme that is untrue and functions to bash the military.  Memes seem to operate on the fringes of generalizations, and generalizations as a whole make me sick.  (awesome–a generalization on generalizations.)

      I was more making a joke to Brit because a few of people in my life take me as a very strong woman, and they try to break me down for shits and giggles I suppose.  The bullying rarely works, but sometimes it is so hurtful that it makes me cry IRL.  Think of that great Calvin and Hobbes series where Calvin makes Susie cry and then feels like a heel for doing it….

    • anna shane

      I’m so sorry.  I used your point to start me off, but then it wasn’t about you, just talking to you about how I see sexism.  You didn’t say one thing that could have led me to respond to you in that sentence.  I don’t know you, although I’ve enjoyed how you challenge me, and I no authority to pretend that I do in some stereo-type way.  Really, I wasn’t at all referring to you.  There are women who actually don’t know.  

      • spacemanspiff

        Think of that great Calvin and Hobbes series where Calvin makes Susie cry and then feels like a heel for doing it….

        Everything I learned in life. I learned from Calvin and Hobbes.

        2 great quotes for this conversation:

        Calvin : Sometimes when I’m talking, my words can’t keep up with my thoughts. I wonder why we think faster than we can speak.

        Hobbes : Probably so we can think twice.

        Calvin: I used to hate writing assignments, but now I enjoy them. I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog! Want to see my book report?

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