The Media’s Double Standard For Women Candidates

Here we go again.

Women are announcing their candidacy for President, complete with detailed policies – not that you’re hearing about their policies. What you are hearing about these women are things we never hear about men.

Let’s take this by candidate:

Senator Amy Klobuchar: Reports are that she’s “difficult”, “demeaning” and “cruel” to her staff. Words rarely applied to a male politician, many of whom get labeled as strong leaders with strong standards for behaving exactly the same way.

Brace yourself for the predictable tropes of mean girl and unlikable, along with the standard of not being nurturing or motherly.

Senator Kamala Harris: “Within 24 hours of Ms. Harris’s campaign kickoff, some critics were bringing up her onetime relationship with a powerful California politician, Willie Brown — a common tactic faced by women that sexualizes them and reduces their successes to a relationship with a man.”

Why this matters is beyond me, but it’s a common tactic to link women’s accomplishments to men. Which is a no-win game for women, since men have controlled the power levers for eternity and there’s no way a woman can rise in her career without interacting with men. And let’s not pretend that sex is the issue – women are always accused of sleeping their way to the top. If the bar is set for no relationships (romantic, friendships, mentoring) with men who can help your career, then may I suggest that golfing with your boss be considered disqualify.

Brace yourself for the predictable tropes of opportunist and power-hungry. Unlikable.

Senator Elizabeth Warren: Senator Warren has been putting out bold policy positions, but you’ll be forgiven for not knowing much about them due to the media’s incessant fixation on her emails heritage. Do I think she could have handle this better? Yes. Do I think this topic is worth the endless ink spewed on it? No. All this feels very familiar, no?

Trump and Republicans spew racist, bigoted and sexist trash every damn day and the press tsk tsks and then moves on. They even deem them worthy of commenting on other’s bad behavior, while ignoring their past (and present) racist, bigoted and sexist comments. It’s like getting a condemning quote from a KKK Imperial Wizard on the Northam situation.

You’d think they don’t have anything else to cover about Warren. They choose to cover this – they love it because it’s easy and lazy. But we knew from the start that they would when this question was posed: how she could “avoid a Clinton redux — written off as too unlikable before her campaign gets off the ground.”

She faced the same thing when she ran for senate:

If indeed any changes were made now, wouldn’t Warren be accused of being inauthentic?

I’m asking her to be more authentic. I want her to just sound like a human being, not read the script that makes her sound like some angry, hectoring school marm. But I hate to say it, about politics, but we live in a celebrity-based society, so a candidate for high office is considered a celebrity as well as a political figure. And so you’re judged as a celebrity is judged: by the way you present yourself.

Male or female celebrity? There’s a difference in how they’re treated, you know.

Brace yourself for the predictable tropes of unlikable, inauthentic and shrill.

What does “unlikable” mean when it comes to women in politics? Here’s a good answer: “The claim that a woman candidate is not “likable” is a code for saying she defies our shared cultural understanding that power and authority are implicitly male, and that women who claim them are illegitimate, threatening or breaking the rules. If it were possible for Warren to be “likable”, under this rubric, it would only be if she were able to adhere to prevailing ideas of what is appropriate behavior for her sex – that is, if she were not seeking public office at all.”

Kirsten Gillibrand: It’s not surprising that the very first question of her campaign was about her likeability: “A lot of people see you as pretty likable,” a reporter told her. Did she consider that a “selling point”?

You can set your watch by this nonsense. And male candidates are never asked this question. In fact, a lot of times a man being viewed as unlikable is portrayed as strength, toughness and leadership – and, of course, ruled by logic instead of emotion.

I’m not saying that voters don’t vote on likeability. I’m saying that the press needs to stop defining women candidates on this trait, thereby implanting and emphasizing the idea (over and over again) until voters think the candidate is “unlikeable” but can’t explain why. We know why.

I’m not getting into the fried chicken nonsense and how it suddenly made her inauthentic. I’ll just point out that the same behavior made Trump authentic:

Sarah Kendzior‏Verified account @sarahkendzior Replying to @Wilson__Valdez@jmartNYT

Here’s how NYT covered Trump eating fried chicken the same way Gillibrand did — with a sycophantic oped chastising themselves for having ever questioned Trump’s choices

I don’t even remember this happening. Guess we didn’t have a thousands of articles or endless televised conversations about this.

Amanda Marcotte sums it up best:

Amanda Marcotte‏Verified account @AmandaMarcotte

There’s no way for female politicians, in particular, to “win” the stupid food tests. Hillary Clinton was asked about hot sauce, which she actually knows a lot about, and was accused of “pandering”. You don’t know something, you’re a bimbo. You do, and you’re a fake.

Hello, Gamergate!

Brace yourself for the predictable tropes on unlikeable, elitist and out of touch.

I’m just asking that we not do this again. Because this crap isn’t limited to one side of the aisle. I’m sure that makes me unlikable, but, as a women blogger, I’m use to that moniker. 😉

21 comments on “The Media’s Double Standard For Women Candidates

  1. cassandram

    The fried chicken thing was astonishing. It is as though they have no idea that we can search the internet and we remember what they say. It also tells you who their presumed audience is too, right?

  2. Oh please. Cry me a river. You were willing to derail a Supreme Court appointment over a high school yearbook and an allegation of sexual assault that was not only uncorroborated but actually denied by the alleged witnesses.

    And I’m supposed to lose sleep over the fact that some people may find it a bit offensive that Kamala Harris slept her way to a couple of patronage appointments and the start of her political career? Guess what – it ain’t tiddly winks – when you run for office your life is an open book.

    Pandy: “And let’s not pretend that sex is the issue – women are always accused of sleeping their way to the top.”

    Really? How about Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Or Lizzy Warren? Or Hillary Clinton for that matter? I don’t recall any stories about them sleeping their way to the top.

    • your penis is really small, isn’t it?

      • This joint is too classy for memes, but theres a great one from Star Trek Animated Series where Bones is attending to a hurt crewman who’s “dick fell off because a woman wrote words on the internet.” It’s a stupid meme, but literally all the response XYmaga deserves.

    • Every one of those women you named has dealt with this sort of crap. Ginsburg had a professor offer to give her a practice test only to give her an advanced copy of the actual test, cause… you know. Hillary’s accomplishments have always been touted as who she married (you know, slept with).

      Kamala Harris didn’t sleep her way to the top. She’s a brilliant women. Why would you think this? Is it because daddy got you a job? (That happens a lot with you guys)

      And your memory of what I said in regards to Kavanaugh is false. I called for an investigation. Psst… her story was never denied by the alleged witness. On the other hand, Kavanaugh is a proven liar.

    • Like you I don’t think there was sexual assault in that particular instance, because I lived in a dorm for a year and listened to the sexual proclivities of 18-21 year old males. I think he is guilty of simple assault and sexual terrorism, the idea being to make Dr. Ford think she was about to be raped. The jumping up and down on the bed meant to heighten her terror. It was her terror Brett Kavanaugh and his friend were laughing at. And you are both a fool and a cretin without compassion enough to condemn the needless, indeed, manufactured suffering of another. I spit on you.

  3. You left out Tulsi

    • Hopefully, everyone else leaves out Assad’s buddy, Tulsi as well.

      • Life has no meaning without some boogeyman in the Middle East to fear.

        • just because you can bring yourself to be cool with gassing kids to death doesn’t mean im afraid of the guy who dose it, Feodor.

          • “…gassing kids to death…” -ben

            We said that about Saddam Hussain before we put to death untold numbers of Iraqis. Tulsi Gabbard is not “cool with” repeating that catastrophe. Why are you?

            • Delecratski and Tulsi would have shrugged at Hitler and are probably holocaust deniers.

              • If all you have is redbaiting and Godwin’s Law, all you have is bupkis.

  4. I don’t know that the media focus on the personal is directed at mostly women. The media just craves what is personally curious, like Cory Booker’s bachelor status or personally reprehensible, like Trump’s womanizing. The personal is politically irrelevant, but it does sell eyeballs to advertisers.

    • they’re all literally rooting Booker along to get it.
      Men’s sexual history is lauded and women are slut shamed. Maybe Russia is different (it’s not, you ass hats legislated just how much you can beat your wives) but the idea that this isn’t a double standard is more laughable than you pretending to be an American.

      • He’s pretending it’s the same, when we know there’s a script. Doing this allows him to avoid addressing the issue. I’ve said many times, the hardest thing isn’t solving a problem; it’s getting people with a vested interest to admit there’s a problem.

        If Delacrat admits the double standard exists, he’ll have to address it. He has no incentive to disrupt a system that benefits him. This way he’ll still hold the power of deciding who the “cool girls” are. It’s easy to spot men like this. Whenever they are called out, they produce a list of women (or POC) they approve of.

        His Cory Booker example is interesting. While Booker’s bachelorhood has been discussed, it isn’t disqualifying. Imagine if a woman who has never been married or had children ran for President.

      • Not one black man in any Industry except entertainment and sports has ever been lauded for their sexual history. You folks need to separate black men from this group of political male privilege that you’re creating.

        • I dont disagree with your point, but dontcha think politics IS entertainment at this point? like it or not, it seems to be similar rules. The ones who lose are the ones who refuse to accept that.

        • cassandram

          This might just be me, but the mentions of Booker being single or noting that he doesn’t have a wife or girlfriend often feel as though they *run right up to a line* and then back off. Doubt that any single woman would avoid the speculation.

  5. cassandram

    Wonkette does a number on the nit-picking of female candidates.

    Candice Aiston on Medium wondered how we’d examine Harris’s record if we did something crazy like actually trust women. The “Kamala is a cop” narrative, for instance, probably wouldn’t gain any traction. Taking this further, we wouldn’t presume she lied about the music she listened to while smoking pot. Who remembers anything when they’re high? If you’re boasting total recall, you were sold some bad shit. We’d also believe she genuinely enjoys hot sauce and not see nefarious motives in someone pointing it out. Humanizing candidates in the eyes of voters has been a part of presidential campaigns long before women dared to run themselves. Al Gore lost to George W. Bush because people thought he was an unfeeling android who was unable to use contractions. Bush, on the other hand, was someone people wanted to “have a beer with,” and that’s why global warming will kill us all.

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