Sexist language in media is certainly nothing new, and in America it is … well, there really aren’t words for it. I think the uploader of the video hit the proverbial nail on the head when they stated it was at fever pitch. Anyone watching Australian TV – especially the morning shows such as Today will see this sexism in its full force. This video from the Women’s Media Center in the US starts with a Fox reporter (who else?) defending a Rappers lyrics “well, a ho is a ho”. It then cuts to a MSNBC reporter doing his best to make a female reporter feel uncomfortable as he gets her to lean into the camera… to tell her how good she looks – effectively undermining her position as a professional. This reminds both her, and the viewing audience, that she as a female is not to be taken seriously, as her looks are more important than the job she is doing.
As we see, it isn’t the first time this Hardball guy – Chris Matthews – has reduced a female to her appearance, rather than focusing on her job performance. Cut to a FEMALE reporter then commenting on the clothes worn by female politicians in the US, rather than their policies. A woman. Tearing down other women. Anyone else thinking about many articles dedicated to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s haircuts, or Gillard’s clothing vs that of our Governor General Quentin Bryce? Honestly, I am more interested in Gillard’s immigration and asylum policies (or lack thereof) to care whether or not she prefers getting about in a pants suit. I certainly dont recall much ink devoted to Ruddys short back and sides, or Howards witchetty grubs crawling over his face… (but look! I found some!)
This kind of language surrounds us in our everyday lives from the minute we get up and put on the morning news (or asinine early morning news show such as the aforementioned), until well into prime time evening. That is just assuming you are tuned in, and not walking around being assaulted by billboards, magazines, and storefronts. Placing a woman’s appearance over her ability to do her job undermines our effectiveness in our chosen roles, and as active participants in society, however, this is business as usual. The Media holds the most sway over the opinions of the people who consume media in all its forms – print, audio, visual – which is probably 75% of the population ( I cant find the statistics, but I figure I am probably understating it…just a little).
When we reduce a woman’s ability to do her job to PMS, mood swings and appearance, we are in big trouble. A lot of it sounds like the arguments and stereotypes thrown against second wave feminists in the 1960s and 70s to try to dissuade sympathy and support (No-one wants to support butch hairy legged lesbians who are just narky that they couldn’t get laid, amiright??? – of course I am not!). Of course, when the majority gets scared, what do they do? They tear people down. Watch the video. I only wish we could have Australian videos likes this. Trust me; I am trying to learn how to use video editing programs!