The Representations of Female Politicians in the Media
by barackobama on April 15, 2015 - 5:02pm
Just a few days ago, Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her 2016 presidential bid for the Democratic Party and this came as no surprise. However, what did come as a surprise was the overwhelming amount of negative attention Clinton received as a female politician running for office. Just days after her announcement, polls popped up online asking if people believe the United States is ready for a female president. Just hours after her announcement, journalists were writing articles about the Ms. Clinton’s age. And just seconds after her announcement, the hashtag “#WhyImNotVotingForHillary” was trending on Twitter across the country. On Twitter, a large majority of the reasons people were choosing not to vote for Ms. Clinton were because of her gender and/or were gender related. In all of these media outlets, Hillary Clinton’s sexuality is placed above any and all other cards she could be potentially bringing to the table.
As shown in the film Miss Representation, the representations of female politicians in the media are most certainly not ethical. The film includes clips of news anchors interviewing and speaking of female politicians in ways that are rude and insulting to these women. First, a news anchor is shown speaking of Hillary Clinton, calling her, “so haggard and looking ninety-two years old” (Miss Representation). Second, another news anchor is shown interviewing governor of Alaska and then Vice President candidate Sarah Palin, asking, “breast implants – did you have them or not because that’s all over the Internet about you in mainstream media” (Miss Representation). The film also includes a panel of men speaking of Nancy Pelosi’s breasts and depicts several derogatory headlines published about female politicians, including Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice (Miss Representation). The film points out the extent to which American media is derogatory and limiting towards the most powerful women in the country and how this is a direct reflection of how all women are viewed in the United States.
The trending hashtag “#WhyImNotVotingForHillary” is also a fantastic example of the abuse of women in the media. Amongst many of the derogatory tweets about Hillary Clinton, one includes the hashtag with a picture of Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton’s mistress, and the text, “Monica 2016 – I got the “job” done when Hillary couldn’t” (Machine Gun Kelly). Another tweet includes the hashtag alongside the sentence, “I don't want feminist rallies outside of Starbucks” (Scourge). Both of these tweets are alluding to Clinton’s sexuality or the sexuality of her supporters instead of the ideas and solutions to America’s problems that she’s come up with in order to improve the country. While scrolling through this trending hashtag, it becomes quite obvious that a large majority of people tweeting #WhyImNotVotingForHillary are speaking in terms of her sexuality and have decided not to vote for Hillary Clinton because of reasons pertaining to her sexuality.
As we know, these derogatory and insulting representations of female politicians would not occur had these women been the opposite gender. Unfortunately, we still live in a world that places greater emphasis on a woman’s outward appearance than her thoughts and ideas. Although this may not be the case, as in many people, even a majority of people, may place a greater emphasis on a woman’s interior than exterior that is not how the media portrays women. And since the media and social media outlets are such integral parts of our lives, they manage to dictate how we view the world around us; therefore creating a world that places more emphasis on a woman’s looks than her thoughts. Although this is unfair, unethical and sexist towards all women it is especially abhorrent when speaking of some of the most powerful women in the entire world who have no intention whatsoever of using their sexuality for advancement in their careers. This form of portrayal demeans a woman’s integrity as a professional and is therefore extremely unethical.
Machine Gun Kelly (captainkkelly). "#NotReadyForHillary #WhyImNotVotingForHillary." 15 April 2015, 7:25 a.m. Tweet. https://twitter.com/captainkkelly/status/588302151539150848
Miss Representation. Dir. Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Vigirl Films, 2012. DVD.
Scourge, John (scxurge). "i don't want feminist rallies outside of starbucks #WhyImNotVotingForHillary." 15 April 2015, 7:04 a.m. Tweet. https://twitter.com/Scxurge/status/588296918389936129