By Kristin McLeod
The negative portrayal of women in the media is not a completely new concept to anyone who has basic access to the Internet or news. However, a slight spin on this situation involves looking at women politicians’ negative representation in the news media, which receives significantly less news coverage.
A recent study published in the Political Research Quarterly compares articles written about male politicians and female politicians. They found articles that focused on character traits and appearance in women more than men. Although female representation in politics steadily increases, media exposure often concentrates on irrelevant issues including style and physicality while their beliefs and policies are overlooked. Nina Bahadur from the Huffington Post focuses on the differences between male and female politicians in her article.
One of the most recent victims of media harassment was Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin in 2008. The media sexualized Palin with an article headlining “America’s Hottest Governor”.
New sources undermined her political views, and instead emphasized her family life, body and personality. The issue grew as the media highlighted her daughter’s pregnancy. Ultimately, the public was more aware about her personal life instead of her commitments and responsibilities as a possible future vice president.
Democratic presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton faces a similar situation to Palin. Despite her strong qualities as a presidential candidate, the media attacks her for being “old, worn down and less sexual compared to Palin” in an article here. The two candidates outfits were even criticized and compared to each other.
Famous satirical TV shows, like Saturday Night Live, constantly ridicule the current political candidate. However, their harshness intensifies towards female political candidates, especially regarding their mannerisms and personal life.
At a time that is advancing to end stereotypes, gender roles, double standards and discrimination, how can our generation end the inequality that is being perpetrated by one of the most public influencers of all time? Although there has been progress towards women’s equality, more work is necessary for fairness between male and female politicians and their media portrayal.