Misogyny in Media: Reporting on Female Politicians

By Kessa Albright

“She scares me. I cross my legs every time she talks,” Tucker Carlson, MSNBC political correspondent, infamously said on his show Tucker July 16, 2007.

Political leanings aside, anyone can agree that media coverage of Hillary Clinton is still tinged with misogyny now during her 2016 presidential campaign. Sexist comments concerning Clinton may not be as obvious as Carlson’s during her 2008 presidential campaign, they still are still being made.

From The Washington Post comparing Clinton to an old, musty car  to Maureen Dowd declaring that she killed feminism, there are still issues in the way the media talks about women politicians such as Clinton.

In an attempt to correct the problematic ways that the media covers Clinton’s campaign, a group called The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Super Volunteers contacted journalists in March 2015 with a request to stop the coded language they use in their writing.

“Already we have seen the coded language of sexism and innuendo used by major news outlets and we are not happy,” founder John West said in an email to The Huffington Post.

West and volunteers warn not to use phrases such as “tired,” “entitled,” “over confident,” and “will do anything to win,” in order to uphold egalitarian news elements.



Washington Post writer Joel Achenbach made this statement to describe Hillary Clinton’s performance at a primary debate in 2007. “She came perilously close to going on a tirade,” Achenbach continued. “Volume is critical in these things.”


To further eliminate sexist political coverage, the “Name It. Change It.” campaign has published a guide to reporting on female politicians. The project is a nonpartisan effort on behalf of the Women’s Media Center and She Should Run organizations.

“We work to identify, prevent, and end sexist media coverage of federal and gubernatorial women candidates, elected politicians, and high-profile public officials of all races,” the guide states.

According the “Name It. Change It.” guide, sexism in the media is one of the biggest problems women face today. Their research with the Lake Research Partners shows that voter confidence decreases with increasing sexist media coverage.

“Sexism, even mild sexist language, has an impact on voters’ likelihood to vote for a female candidate and on how favorably they feel toward a woman seeking office,” the guide states. “It also affects perceptions of trustworthiness and effectiveness.”

Research that the organizations conducted concludes that voters are 57 percent less likely to vote for a female candidate after hearing sexist remarks.

With a real possibility of the United States electing its first female president, media coverage of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton should reflect the progress the nation has made in regards to women in politics and groups like the Women’s Media Center, She Should Run, and the HRC Super Volunteers are making it their mission to change the misogynistic language used while covering female candidates. 

This entry was posted in #UWEauClaire, Blog Post, cj 222, CJ222, Diversity in Journalism, Education, Journalism, Political Media, Press Freedom, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Misogyny in Media: Reporting on Female Politicians

  1. Mary s says:

    Loved this! Very true.

  2. hillarysmith7 says:

    I am really interested in this topic, especially with all the examples you included about how institutionalized the language, behavior, and expectations for women are. The subtleties of language and how misogynistic the media really is are both important and relevant, and the example of Hillary Clinton is a strong one to use due to the new frontier she could be ushering in and the implications her campaign and possible win holds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s