In response to the recent coverage of Wendy Davis on the cover of time, Jezebel writer Lindy West decided to write a sarcastic, witty guide titled, “How to Write about Female Politicians Without Being a Sexist Shithead.” As she (sarcastically) states in her article,
“So why do publications have such a hard time writing about female politicians? After all, it doesn’t seem THAT complicated. All you have to do is write about the stuff that the politician did without bringing their genitals and/or gender presentation into it.”
While it is worth reading the article in its entirety to fully experience how West humorously packages such a powerful message, I’ll summarize a few main take-aways:
- Their appearance, generally speaking, can and should be left out of a politically motivated article.
- Leave double standards behind (he’s bold for doing it, she’s a bitch).
- Cover what’s actually important.
While this message may come across crass at times, Alexandra Sifferlin (a Time writer) points out: “A study out of Occidental College looked at media coverage of Sarah Palin as the GOP vice presidential candidate in the 2008 and found that in the new media landscape, an even greater percentage of coverage was focused a female candidate’s appearance than it had in 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro was the Democratic veep nominee.”
While the times are-a-changin’, it’s clear these changes might not be what our culture really needs. It’s up to political journalists and their publications to move the change forward, and keep us from falling back into the dark ages.