Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sex and the Committee

One of the things about living in Washington State, as opposed to Washington, D.C., is that we've reverted back to hearing about the primary campaign as if it were taking place on another planet (not that shipping this entire mess off to Neptune on the next NASA flight would be a bad idea). Catching the punditry that surrounds the election requires either getting up early on Sunday, or watching Fox News (or another cable news outlet), neither of which is really on my agenda these days. The net result of all of this is that most of the complaining that the Clinton crowd has been doing about the media's treatment of her gender has been largely abstract.

But I was reading today's papers online, and this caught my eye.

"One woman, wearing a blue 'Team Hillary' shirt, shoved a man in a suit and tie with a small Obama button on his lapel. 'We just blew the election!' another woman shouted. 'McCain in '08! McCain in '08!', a woman yelled from the back of the room. 'No-bama! No-bama!'"
"Dems seat delegates, but ignite new anger"
It doesn't take a hardcore feminist to get the feeling that someone has a problem with loud-mouthed, "uppity" women - or to get the idea that readers might wind up thinking that the only shouting was coming from female Clinton supporters. The idea that the meeting was such a one-sided affair didn't make any sense to me, even with the understanding of the culture of political entitlement that has grown up around Senator Clinton's candidacy. (Mainly because I find it hard to believe that there isn't a similar, if less vocal, culture around Senator Obama's candidacy.) So I jumped over the he Seattle Times crosstown rival, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, to see if they used the same story, or had a different perspective. It turns out they went with an Associated Press story instead.
"'We just blew the election!' a woman in the audience shouted. The crowd was divided between cheering Obama supporters and booing Clinton supporters."
"Florida, Michigan delegates will get half-votes"
Okay, that's a little better. At least you get the idea that the Obama supporters were something more than passive punching bags.

In addition to a photograph of one "Joh Winkleman of Sunnyside, N.Y.," with his fist in the air, both articles have this in common. You never see references to men shouting or being disruptve - it's either a "woman" or an "audience member." Mr. Winkleman was apparently the only man in attendance with something loud to say - although we aren't told what it was.

I have some difficulty believing that it was that difficult to pick disruptive/angry men out of the crowd. And it's not like this would be the first time that women have had something to say about something (which would somewhat justify the exclusive focus on them). I doubt that anyone in an editorial position (at the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, Seattle Post-Intelligencer or the Seattle Times) would concede the presentation of the stories is, if not overtly sexist, easily mistaken for such. On the other hand, yes, I find the stories somewhat sexist - but I'm a guy. Perhaps women would look at these stories and say: "Sexism? Where?"


JohnMcG said...

I think the Obama campaign actually encouraged it's supporters to stay away, so the first account may be closer to the truth.

Aaron said...

I'd heard that too. But I'm still not buying that it was angry women doing all of the shouting. I think that Senator Clinton appeals to voters who aren't women in the same way that Senator Obama appeals to voters who aren't Black.

TenaciousK said...

The press is a business, not a public service. As a business, it has a marketing base it likes to appease, and it thrives on appealing to the prejudices of it's consumers, and promoting stories that grab your attention.

By focusing only on women, the sexism in the article is quite covert - it's a subtle form of marginalization, where the opposing voice is heard, but from a source that the majority can implicitly discount.

Thanks for noticing. Sometimes it feels like I'm the only person who is seeing something, and it makes me feel kind've crazy.

JohnMcG said...

Well, as a pro-lifer, my sympathy for the Clintonites is somewhat limited, since the press would have you believe that any pro-lifer is either:

a.) A religious zeolot
b.) A clinic bomber
or c.) both

The there's the, "proponents claim that the research will cure cancer, AIDS, and Parkinson's, while some conservative critics called objected to it on ethical grounds."

And don't think the Clintons haven't taken advantage of this tendency over the years.