Bi-Partisan Sexism

(from Slate)

About Katie Heimer

I'm a graduate student of media studies at the New School. My main academic interests in the field center around issues of women in the media (both in terms of representations of and access to) and the overlapping issues of media reform and education. This website will serve as a chronicle of my progress and growth, both intellectually and personally, as I navigate my master's of media studies.
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5 Responses to Bi-Partisan Sexism

  1. naysayer says:

    there’s a three-fold presumption going on in this cartoon:

    1) democrats hate palin and bachmann for the same reasons, and in the same way, that GOP hates clinton and pelosi

    2) relatedly, the suggestion that (1) is not true has no basis in fact

    I take both of these points to be pretty tendentious, to put it mildly. Democrats dislike Palin and Bachmann because they are deeply unserious about governance, often less-than-reasonable, and generally obstructionist for obstructionism’s sake (this applies less so to Palin, who does not actually hold political office, so cannot be particularly obstructionist).

    The GOP hates clinton and pelosi because, well, the GOP is deeply unserious about governance, often less-than-reasonable, and generally obstructionist for obstructionism’s sake. Also, the GOP, it seems clear, is more sexist and racist than the Democrats.

    More importantly, however, it isn’t just “the democrats” who hate Palin and Bachmann. Palin is one of the least popular political figures in recent American history. Bachmann is in office for now, yes, but as a member of a party that has just suffered an electoral defeat of devastating proportions (of course, democrats seem not to realise this – they won! – but that’s another problem).

    so, drawing equivalence between the kind of dislike that these folks receive doesn’t seem quite right.

    • Katie Heimer says:

      Points well taken, Naysayer.

      It’s not a perfectly conceived cartoon, to be sure. But I think it brings up a good point about the reception of women politicians in politics, and how that transcends party lines. I will also say that though there are many men in the Republican party every bit as “unserious about governance, often less-than-reasonable, and generally obstructionist for obstructionism’s sake” as Palin and Bachmann, I believe that these women are painted with a different brush than their male counterparts. It’s my sense that they’re more apt to be labeled foolish, stupid, or crazy by detractors, while their male counterparts are simply wrong, or if anything devious or greedy (negative qualities, but ones which imply more of a sense of agency and intelligence). I don’t mean to stand up for Palin, Bachmann, or anyone of their ilk–I merely want to say that it seems to me that even when you get down past the fact that these female politicians from both sides of the political aisle may be disliked for different and unequally justifiable sets of reasons, the way they are disliked is more similar than perhaps your critique suggests.

      • naysayer says:

        Let’s say I concede your points (re: the *way* they are disliked) (though these are complicated empirical questions that could only be settled by an extremely close reading of many opinion polls and public discourse on the subject).

        but, OK, let’s say I concede the points: surely we can agree that the cartoon doesn’t actually get at this in any meaningful way**. it seems a stretch of heroic proportions to say that *this* is what the cartoon is *really about*. if the cartoon was out to show what you say it is, surely it would have, I don’t know, invoked the relevant comparisons you mention (public treatment of both figure’s male counterparts).

        So: can we agree that, one way or another, this is a cartoon FAIL?

        ** AND I would probably argue that in going about making its point so vaguely and ineffectually, it perpetuates (if only a little) the same silly ‘both sides now’ discourse that has hobbled journalism from doing analysis of societally useful value

      • Katie Heimer says:

        I’ll concede, as I already acknowledged, that the cartoon is flawed. However, obviously it’s not a complete failure…look at this lively debate it inspired!

  2. naysayer says:

    and by three-fold I mean two-fold! (there were originally three folds!)

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