Sunday, June 8, 2008

An Australian Reports the Sexism in U.S. Media’s Coverage of Hillary’s Campaign

Photo credits: AFP

Ann Davies in the, an Australian online news source, takes on the tough questions about Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency, which the U.S. media will no doubt continue to avoid. We have to believe, however, that at some level our nation’s good old boys and their codependent female allies in the media must be aware of their culpability in the biased coverage that ultimately helped tip the scales against Clinton.

Davies begins:

“HILLARY Clinton's bowing out of the Democratic nomination race will almost certainly prompt a new round of soul searching about whether the glass ceiling for women in politics is tougher and less permeable than it is for minorities.

“Was it just this woman that Americans could not vote for? Was it that Americans could not stomach another political dynasty? Or is there something more fundamental in this defeat?

“Another explanation is that Senator Clinton had the supreme bad luck to come up against a once-in-a-generation candidate, who possessed not only superb oratorical skills but a message that tapped a deep yearning in America for a more harmonious society.”

Davies comments on Clinton’s concession speech Saturday:

‘“Her support for Barack Obama was unequivocal. She vowed to ‘campaign her heart out’ for him and implored her supporters to do likewise.

“But it was Senator Clinton's reflections on her place in history as the first woman who has run for president that seemed the most heartfelt.”

The Australian writer highlights what has emerged as perhaps Clinton’s most triumphant observation:

‘“Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, it's got about 18 million cracks in it.”’

Surely, the United States – “the land of the free” - must be at least a little embarrassed by the litany of sexist slurs endured by Clinton as compiled by this Australian correspondent:

“Comments by cable news MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews that she was running for president only because her husband messed around and so the party had sympathy for her, were among the most extreme.

“But there was also low-level commentary that was just as corrosive: Senator Clinton faced stories about her laugh, her pantsuits and whether her shows of emotions were authentic or a crass political device.

“Even more offensive were the souvenirs sold at airport shops, which included a Hillary nutcracker - yes, the nuts were placed between her pantsuited legs to be crushed - and T-shirts parodying the Edvard Munch painting The Scream.”

And Davies calls our attention to this reality:

“There were no similar Obama souvenirs - to poke fun at his race would have been beyond the pale in the US.”

This is what many of us have been saying for some time throughout the Democratic race: Blatant racism has become taboo in our nation, but it continues to be open season for sexism and misogyny.

To read Ann Davies’s article in its entirety, go here.

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