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Media representation as a whole

This week, it is time to take a look at how women in other professions interact with the media in order to acquire a larger picture of women’s public representation. A relevant and recent example of this is the February Winter Olympics that were held in Sochi, Russia. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, coverage of this year’s games showed far more equity in the time men and women received attention. In, “The Olympics are the closest to coverage parity female athletes get,” Sarah Laskow notes that the data found by Andy Billings shows a significant increase in coverage of female athletes, for at the closing of the games, “… men got 45.4 percent of clock time, women 41.4 percent, and pairs 13.2 percent.” However, Laskow mentions that simply gaining screen time is not an end-all be-all, for the content of the coverage still remains a large component of the inequitable and gendered differences in media coverage of men and women.

Nolan Feeney, a writer for The Atlantic, says the content of this coverage is still widely offensive and sexist, “… in one of the bigger dust-ups, NBC skiing analyst Steve Porino said, in a segment about how extreme the courses are for skiers, that the female athletes do ‘all of that while in a Lycra suit, maybe a little bit of makeup—now that is grace under pressure.'” In his article, “A Brief History of Sexism in TV Coverage of the Olympics,” Feeney notes that the while NBC is continually giving more screen time to female athletes, it is choosing to do so through socially accepted “feminine” sports like tennis and golf — where in Beijing those sports took 60% of all female coverage. Regardless of the official media coverage the Olympics receives, it is easy to say that female athletes across the board garners more media attention when it comes to their appearance than their performance, much like female politicians:

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Political Obstacles (Still) Facing Woman Today

“People still expect a more traditional thing from female politicians. Calling a man ambitious is seen as a positive thing. With a woman, it’s a negative.”

In a recent New York Times article, Robert Draper explores the life of Texas democrat Wendy Davis who rose to fame after a groundbreaking 11 hour filibuster last June. In “Can Wendy Davis Have It All?” Draper expresses the nuances of being a female candidate, the struggles of living a political life and her narrative for the upcoming campaign for Texas Governor. Not unlike many politicians past and present, it came about that her narrative (one of being a single mother rising from the trailer park all the way through law school), had a few fudged facts within it. Faced with extremely harsh critics, Draper explores the concept that female politicians have stricter and harder-to-meet standards when it comes to their life story and identity. Her campaign narrative, Draper states, “… was … very much the story of a female politician — and was thus fraught with choices for which male candidates are seldom second-guessed by either voters or pundits.” Divorce, raising children — these are things that never come up in a discussion of a male candidate. And so, Draper makes some interesting points while featuring Davis in a “more than just a politician light.” However, the title of Draper’s article, “Can Wendy Davis Have It All?” suggests a different gender lens, simply because we would never ask ourselves if a male politician could have a family and be successful in his career. Read Draper’s full article here and tell me what you think below.