Pundits are split on whether or not Newsweek’s decision to run the unflattering (we can all agree on that, right?) picture of presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was sexist.
Why is it so hard to figure out? I think it stems from the way the media has conditioned us to think about and view women. When so many young, female characters on television are sexualized, when even the most beautiful women in the world are airbrushed, when we see too few images of strong, athletic women and when so much of our news comes from the male point of view, we struggle with what is reality, what is media manipulation, how we view other women and what we’ve come to expect of how the media views us.
And then add politics to the mix and things get even more distorted. With such small numbers of women participating in politics, the media turns the few women who do into Everywoman. Remember, for example, how a vote for Hillary Clinton was portrayed as a vagina vote, not a vote for a candidate? President Obama caught on camera calling someone a jackass was an on-air gaffe. But Carly Fiorina caught mocking her opponent’s hair was mean girl behavior. More than one man running for president from a political party is called a candidate pool. But more than one woman is a cat fight. So is it any wonder that determining whether Newsweek chose a crazy-eyed image to match a crazy candidate or whether the magazine chose to create an unstable portrait of a woman running for president, gives us pause?
What do you think? Is the Bachmann Newsweek cover sexist?