As an office made up primarily of women, we can attest to the fact that we are inundated with stereotypes about women and their roles in society from a very young age. Many of these stereotypes were negative, limiting and incredibly degrading. This plays into how women are treated at work, home and in the public eye. As you know, Joe Biden recently announced Kamala Harris as his running mate. Whether you agree or disagree is irrelevant to this blog. In 2016, we watched a Presidential race like none other unfold on our TV screens, social media, emails, texts, etc. and we witnessed hateful, disgusting, revolting attacks made on the only woman running, Hillary Clinton.
Jennifer Mercieca, a historian of American political rhetoric, stated in a BBC article describing the race between Trump and Clinton, “I’ve seen both candidates attacked based upon physical characteristics, both attacked based upon personality traits, both attacked based on past decisions. The one element that separates the two is that Clinton is also attacked for being a woman, and Trump is not attacked for being a man.” Welcome to our Ted Talk on the treatment of women in the media. Shall we continue? If you are still having a hard time following along, take a moment to go to any of the hundreds of articles published on the Biden/Harris ticket and read the comments. Do you notice a common theme?
We got sucked into a Twitter thread the other day about women who would duck into their corner stores (bodegas) in NYC to escape being harassed by men. Think about how specific that scenario is, and yet hundreds of women responded with their own equally jarring stories. You might think, “Well, that’s just awful, but what does it have to do with sexism in the media?” When people see men in seats of power who treat women with such contempt, it sets a precedent that this behavior is acceptable and encouraged.
“Not to Sound Sexist, But…”
Let us give you another example. Recently, Congressman Ted Yoho called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “fucking bitch,” which was witnessed by a journalist. This is important to note, because the world will choose to not believe a woman unless there is video, multiple witnesses and they have never had a parking ticket or infraction on their record. Otherwise, they’re just ‘asking for it.’ We digress…instead of Yoho apologizing, he denied it, stating he has a wife and daughter. In other words, inferring he could never be so insulting because he is related to women. This is almost as bad as stating you are not a racist because you know people of color. It’s utterly ridiculous. What makes this situation interesting is AOC shrugged it off and only chose to address it when Yoho admitted no wrongdoing. Check out her speech here. As women, we are used to being called names. Words like bossy, bitchy, intimidating, aggressive and overbearing are used when referring to our leadership style, while men are considered driven. The sad thing is it doesn’t even phase us, which is entirely the point AOC made in her speech on the House floor.
We’d love to present you with a tidy, neat conclusion to this blog, but there isn’t one. The fact is we are long past due in changing how women are referred to, spoken about and treated in the media…hell, in the world.