Claws bared and lipstick impeccable, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin accuses the media of rampant sexist comments. Sound familiar? Well, it should. Hillary Clinton, former candidate for the Democratic nomination, accused the media of this exact crime during her campaign.
Just five months ago Clinton chastised the media as a whole for lies and comments completely unrelated to her campaign against Barack Obama. Callous remarks colored television and computer screens, drawing attention to Clinton’s pantsuits, laugh and gender rather than the issues.
“Examining her personality quirks is more fun than deconstructing her stance on Iraq,” wrote Howard Kurtz in an article for the Washington Post.
What is most disturbing about this statement is that many journalists felt this way. Choosing to overlook Clinton’s experience and the campaign, they brutally attacked this candidate simply for being a woman.
“She’s never going to get out of our faces … She’s like some hellish housewife who has seen something that she really, really wants and won’t stop nagging you about it until finally you say, fine, take it, be the damn president, just leave me alone,” said Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, of Hillary Clinton and her run for the White House.
“…Hellish housewife…” Yes, you read that correctly. Now that isn’t sexist at all?
For months newspapers and radios were permeated by countless remarks like this. After Clinton debated Obama, political and social commentator Mike Barnicle compared Clinton to “everyone’s first wife.” Others compared her to Glenn Close’s character from “Fatal Attraction.”
For those non-movie buffs, that would be the sadistic woman who boiled the rabbit alive. What a perfect comparison, because when I watched Clinton fight for our country all I was thinking was, “Wow, I can’t believe she hasn’t slaughtered any household pets lately.”
I’m glad people can really focus on the issues. It gives me great hope for the future of political journalism. Who would ever write about the facts on combating candidates when Clinton’s “shrill cackle” could be talked about to no end.
Not every other candidate was portrayed as a saint at this time either, but I do not recall hearing Obama, John McCain or Rudy Giuliani being called “hellish husbands” or “ball-busters.”
Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is fairness we can believe in.
Nevertheless, this is the past. Whether the media’s skewed perception of Clinton’s fight did or did not have a part in the fact Obama is the Democratic nominee is beside the point.
Today the new “Hillary Clinton” is Sarah Palin (and I use that comparison very lightly). Palin is now facing some of the troubles Clinton herself fought through just a few months ago.
The self-proclaimed “pitbull with lipstick” is now being bombarded with accusations that seem to have no actual footing in a political forum. At the forefront of these attacks are questions asking if the possible vice president is neglecting her family as she fights for her aspirations.
Palin, mother of five — the youngest of which has been diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome — is now under fire from some quarters. Scolding her, they say that being a parent, especially to a child with special needs, takes an inordinate amount of time and she would not be able to put enough of her focus into both the country and her family.
Are these attacks on Palin simply coded messages for “stay in the kitchen where you belong”?
Regardless, let me point out that Obama, father of two girls, has never been attacked in this way, nor were any of the other candidates. The fact that a candidate, whether Democratic or Republican, male or female, is a parent should stay in their home and out of our newspapers.
Sexism is beneath us as a country. It is nothing more than a petty ploy to sell more subscriptions. If you want to challenge politicians, look at their platform. Don’t attack someone based on gender; instead, attack them because they want to keep polar bears off the endangered species list so they can drill in their habitat.
In short, candidates should be judged on their platforms and their plans for the future, not on whether or not they have two X chromosomes.
Matthew Shutler is an LSA freshman.