In this election season, WVFC has kept a sharp eye on the top women candidates — and on the often-sexist treatment by the media of women running for office. Now, with Election Day around the corner, we wanted to share the most recent news from the Name It. Change It. campaign. We agree with them wholeheartedly: the more we call out the media on sexist framing of women candidates, the harder it’ll be to dismiss it as “just a joke” or “just politics.” Their recent web posting says it all, so in the spirit of spreading the word, we’re passing it along here in its entirety.  –Ed.

With the midterm election just one week away, sexism against women candidates is accelerating towards an all-time high. At the Name It. Change It. campaign, we’ve had our work cut out for us, fighting to curb misogynistic media coverage case by case. In fact, we’ve responded to 13 incidents in the last two weeks!

We’ve found sexism everywhere–from opposition attack ads to magazine cover illustrations, from television pundits to “private” conversations, from men’s magazines to iconic fashion publications. We’ve been hard at work, standing up against misogyny directed towards all women leaders, whether they are State Senators or former Vice Presidential Nominees, Republicans, Democrats, or even Green-Rainbow Party candidates. Name It. Change It. has embraced its mission to help all women running for office, irrespective of their political party–because an attack against one woman is an attack against all women.

Sexist jabs have become so rampant that we’ve uncovered some surprising perpetrators: women themselves. In recent weeks, female candidates have engaged in gendered mudslinging by urging their male opponents to “man up” or accusing male leaders of lacking “cojones.” Even the California NOW President approved the characterization of gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman as a “whore.” Sexist slights, no matter who uses them, perpetuate a toxic political environment and reinforce the barrier to women’s political participation.

Though we continue to be frustrated by ubiquitous sexism, we are also tremendously inspired by the strength and resilience women candidates have shown by taking a stand against sexist attacks. Thanks to you, together we flooded the WRKO station in Boston with hundreds of calls, while MA State Treasurer candidate Karyn E. Polito reprimanded the crew of WRKO’s Tom and Todd Show for discussing her “tight little butt” on air. And all total, Jay Leno received 1.372 emails after making an inappropriate oral sex joke. NC State Senator Margaret Dickson was joined by women leaders and organizations in a press conference denouncing her opponent’s sexist attack ad, and U.S. Congressional candidate Krystal Ball made headlines across the nation for her valiant response to media sexism. Even our own WCF President/CEO Siobhan “Sam” Bennett, who faced breathtaking sexism in her bid for U.S. Congress in 2008, proved her valor when respondingd to a blogger who reposted a deeply misogynistic quote about her.

Name It. Change It. not only combats sexism in the media against women candidates, but empowers women in media and politics by encouraging them to stand up for themselves and for all women. During this last week leading up to the election, we’re asking you to tell your friends join us in taking a stand against misogyny by reporting and responding to sexist media coverage. Together, we can work to create a more equitable political environment and a more inclusive media landscape.

Start the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.