Thursday, June 26, 2008

Michelle Obama & Sexism in the Media.

Back in May, the Women's Media Center together with Media Matters launched a new video and online petition campaign illustrating the pervasive nature of sexism in the media's coverage entitled "Sexism Sells, But We're Not Buying It."

The purpose of the WMC campaign states that, "while Hillary Clinton's campaign has cast a spotlight on the issue of sexism, this isn't a partisan issue: it's about making sure that women's voices are present and powerful in our national dialogue."

Since the GE campaign has begun, we have seen troubling new signs of sexism rear its ugly head. And the Women's Media Center has remained vigilant. Below is an excerpt of an email I received from them today.

Dear Canadian Gal,

We hardly had time to recover from the spiteful, often sexist, barrage of sentiment against Hillary Clinton, when the assault began in earnest on Michelle Obama. Last week she made the front page of The New York Times which touted a personality "makeover," then she "surprised" observers by playing nicely with others on ABC's The View. This, as the gears of a sinister smear machine racheted up a notch, insinuating un-American, anti-white motives on her part. If reading this or any of the electoral coverage on women makes you angry - help us fight bias.

We must be vigilant here. Both sexism and racism are in play. Use of seemingly innocuous words such as "strong woman" in referring to Michelle have to be analyzed: what, exactly, do you mean by that? Speculating endlessly about implanted codes in "fist bumps" and what riotous signal they may be giving to other African Americans is an outrage. And for those who have thrilled to the prospect of spitfires going at each other for the amusement of the media and public, you may be in for a disappointment. This is what Cindy McCain said about Michelle this week: "I think she's a good woman, a fine mother we both are in an interesting line of work right now." And Michelle on Hillary Clinton: " I think that Hillary Clinton, as she said, has made 18 million cracks on the ceiling and we need to keep pushing it and pushing it. She's taken [the hits] so that when my girls come along they won't have to fight it as badly." We must reign in the destructive, woman-belittling dramas in our media. We must speak up for all women subjected to them.

We need your support so we can keep on advocating for women to be represented fairly. The WMC has been at the lead of the fight against sexism in the media. Our "Sexism Sells, But We're Not Buying It" campaign already has more than 200,000 views and nearly 6,000 signatures, demanding that networks be held accountable for language that goes over the line of acceptability.

Please sign now to be included.

For more information, please visit

------ End of Forwarded Message

If you have not yet had the opportunity to sign the petition, please do so.

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