promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

Newsweek cover exposes Palin’s legs, media sexism

In media, politics, women's rights on November 17, 2009 at 10:59 pm

I’m not a big fan of Sarah Palin — in fact, I’m not a fan at all. Palin, like Bush before her, is a neo-con, hell bent on spreading democracy by military might while at the same time ridding the world of evildoers. The fact that Palin is a neo-con is no secret. She’s openly declared support for the Bush Doctrine and has suggested a national “Loyalty Day” to reaffirm loyalty to America. She is a big-government, neo-con nationalist, make no mistake.

However, there was one issue I did often agree with Sarah Palin on: Her unfair treatment as a female politician by the media. Let’s face it, during the 2008 presidential race the media was more concerned about Palin’s measurements than it was with her male counterparts’ voting records. Being an attractive female hindered Palin. I’m sure it was difficult for voting males to focus on her message while staring at her (insert body part).

Of course, the sexist treatment wasn’t limited to the GOP. On the flipside, Hillary Clinton was made fun of for what was considered her unattractive figure. Her hips were the butt of many jokes accompanied by her pantsuits. And who could forget the hilarious Hillary “Nut Cracker” doll. Funny perhaps, but insulting. Evidently, a strong woman is an oddity and something to be made a spectacle of.

If little girls across America learned one thing from the 2008 race, it was that they can either be the attractive bimbo or the not-so-attractive other b-word.

But unlike these women’s campaigns, the sexism hasn’t ended with the election of President Barack Obama. His wife, Michelle Obama, shocked the world by donning a sleeveless dress and exposing her arms in her first official photo as first lady — proving that sexism exceeds both ideological and racial boundaries.

The most recent example of media sexism is this week’s cover of Newsweek which shows Palin in a pair of short-ish black shorts and fitted red jacket standing next to an American flag. At first glance, it’s not clear exactly what Palin is wearing or why she is wearing it. Perhaps if Newsweek wouldn’t have cut off her running shoes, it would have been more clear Palin was dressed as a runner.

The photos were originally shot for the magazine Runner’s World. In context, the photos were tasteful and made sense. The majority of pictures showed Palin in less-attractive attire, posing with her son and stroller.

But of course, Newsweek chose the one photo where Palin donned shorter shorts, hair down, legs exposed. And when accompanied with the headline, “How do you solve a problem like Sarah? She’s bad news for the GOP – and for everybody else too” the cover’s intent becomes clear: disrespect. Newsweek’s merger of patronization and female sexuality is nothing new.

In defense of the Newsweek cover, editor Jon Meacham explained the magazine’s choice:

“We chose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover, which is what we always try to do,” he told CNN Tuesday. “We apply the same test to photographs of any public figure, male or female: does the image convey what we are saying? That is a gender-neutral standard.”

My question for Meacham is this:

“What exactly were you trying to convey and how did short shorts and legs help you convey that message?”

  1. Jessica,

    You and women politicians have my sympathy but I sure don’t know what to do about it. Maybe limit all photos to only neck and up pictures?

    I would love to see a Margret Thatcher look AND act alike. No running shorts or V-necks in those photos. Even a neck up pic would have all the males thinking about matters other than sex.

    Though I must admit they would still grumble about the f… President, no matter how they were photographed.


  2. “You and women politicians have my sympathy but I sure don’t know what to do about it. Maybe limit all photos to only neck and up pictures?”

    Maybe more people could try and not be objectifying creeps? I mean, I could make catty remarks about how attractive male politicians are, but somehow I can button it up for civility’s sake.

    For us, it’s damned if we do, damn if we don’t. We gotta be sexy, but we also gotta be modest, and the goalposts are in constant motion.

  3. Kaje,

    If “faith is crap” no wonder your goalposts are in constant motion.



  4. Anson has a point, Kaje. If you give yourself over to Jesus, at least you’ll know your place.

  5. Kaje,

    If you are looking for concrete answers to anything you best try a parallel universe somewhere. You won’t find it in this one. Show me someone who knows Absolute Truth and I will probably see a fool (or maybe a politician which I guess is an oxymoran)


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