Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sexism Might Sell, But We're Not Buying It

Original Link:

Sexism is one of those tricky things that has a tendency to be subtle.

Until, suddenly, it isn’t. Suddenly, sexism becomes so overwhelmingly in-your-face that you just can’t deny it.

For many of us, that moment was reached sometime during this presidential primary, when we all watched the mostly male media grapple with covering the first serious woman presidential candidate in quite awhile. With networks and cable news networks chasing ratings in this historic presidential election, sexism seems to have become the coin of the realm. Yet even as the evidence mounts up that there is something fundamentally wrong in the current media conversation, we found that many people weren’t convinced.

So we decided to send a message to consumers and media executives:

Sexism Might Sell, But We’re Not Buying It

Along with our partners in the women’s movement, the WMC created a video to document just some of the too-numerous-to-mention incidents of sexism in the media. Title “Sexism Sells, But We’re Not Buying It,” the video compiles 30 incidents (hardly an exhaustive list) from CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and NBC. We want to make it clear: the WMC doesn’t endorse candidates, but we are concerned about the portrayal of women in the media.

We know that media companies today are under tremendous pressure to build audiences and drive ratings, but this type of vulgar, sexist commentary is not the way to do it. Women wield tremendous financial power in the United States. In fact, with a purchasing power of more than $7 trillion a year, women purchase 82 percent of all products and services in the U.S. Our message to media companies: if you think that sexism sells, think again, because women in America are not buying it.

As our new video shows, the media’s sexism is not specific to a candidate or campaign. But the presence of a woman, front and center at last on the national political stage, brought light to a media grappling with ongoing problems of diversity. The Women’s Media Center was founded in 2005 to combat sexism or bias in any form in the media. As this video show, women continue to face obstacles in the media, whether behind the scenes or in front of the camera.

Earlier this year, we joined NOW, the Feminist Majority, and the National Women’s Political Caucus to speak out against the particularly egregious remarks Chris Matthews made about Hillary Clinton’s campaign, when he said that “the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around” (MSNBC's Morning Joe, January 9, 2008). Speaking for more than 15 million women across the United States, the coalition secured an on-air apology from Matthews, and assurances from NBC executives that steps were being taken to address the situation. Yet the situation persists, which is why The Women’s Media Center is taking this next step, releasing a video and launching an online petition campaign to allow women to speak out against this continuing sexism.

The Women’s Media Center is working to make sure that issues of gender and media do not slide to the backburner. To join our campaign, visit

One of the ways that we work to combat sexism in the media is by training and promoting more women to participate in the media dialogue. Through our Progressive Women’s Voices program, we train and support women to speak out on a variety of topics. Apply today to join us; the deadline for our next class is June 12.

No comments: