Thursday, June 10, 2010
Watch out! Two women are running for some kind of elected office!
Ugh. It's only June, and we're in for this until November. As Mongoose just pointed out, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the huge inroads women are making in politics during this primary season. There's also one big reason not to be, and that's the gushing, cliched media coverage these women have received, especially in the case of Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman.
The news media has officially confirmed to me that there is no way for them to cover women doing things that a lot of men do without falling over in a heap of trite phrases and girl-power cliches. I am starting to resign myself that every article written about these two politicians will put them together, as though they're in some kind of "Women CEOs run for office" buddy comedy. Wonkette points out that the media cannot resist comparing "Carly and Meg" to "Barbara and Diane," two women who also once ran for office. I think we're in for a verrrry long electoral season of wardrobe dissection, dissection of the wardrobe dissection, inside scoops on how close the two candidates really are, interviews with family members about who cooks dinner, comparisons to Sarah Palin, and other things that make me wish California's political goings on could be covered as lightly by the US news media as they cover Britain and other foreign countries.
The New York Times actually ran a 1,000-word story about Carly Fiorina making a comment about her opponent's hair in between interview segments. A comment she was quoting from a message on her blackberry. Some people think she should apologize, and that the comment might be perceived as "catty." That's it, that's the story. Stretched out into 1,000 words in which they call Meg Whitman Fiorina's "BFF on the stump." Seriously--would anyone ever use that language in a story about a male politician?
Especially because these two women are Republicans, it's up to all of us to resist our own urges to be trite and cute with regard to their candidacies. We have to refuse to call them "Carly and Meg," like they're two neighborhood teenagers. We have to refuse to discuss their hair and outfits, and comments about other people's hair and outfits, and complain about any news sites that do. We don't have to like their politics (especially since neither one of them seemed to have these politics prior to priming the campaign pump). But we do have to defend their right to run for office with those politics, just like everyone else, in an equal environment, with a news media that can at least make a show of looking past their girly-girl Republican girly-ness and evaluating their candidacies. We have to fight for Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman's right to come to the table as equals. Because if they can't, we can't.