June 12, 2008

Focusing In On Sexism


First of all, I couldn’t be more pleased that a conversation about sexism in the media seems to be taking shape now that Hillary has withdrawn.  At The BAG, both racial and sexual stereotyping has been a primary focus here, starting well before the Hillary – Obama contest.

Which brings me to this image the NYT ran yesterday illustrating its story on the debate over Hillary’s media treatment.  Given the context, I think the isolation on Hillary’s chest, framed by a bevy of microphones, is actually pretty brilliant.  The close up offers the hypothesis — through the anatomically-narrow framing — that Clinton was often targeted, or taken on, specifically for her gender.  (The fact that she is cut off at the neck makes the contributing point that, for the sake of really having the conversation, Hillary’s personality might well be left out of the discussion for the moment.)

And then, I think the photo is even more interesting than that, what with those phallic little microphones poking around and the fragment of the stern-looking female face (as if a projection of Hillary’s reaction to being objectified, or the sentiment of the female journalist feeling caught in a testosterone-driven industry) just behind.  There is even the question of whether a sexual analogy is to be made in the positioning of Hillary’s hands — or whether that is sexist of me for seeing in the first place?

(slightly revised. 9:20 EST)

image from: Media Charged With Sexism in Clinton Coverage (NYT)

Also recommend: The Sex Speech (Kristof – NYT)

Katie Couric’s response (CBS blog)

(image: Jacob Silberberg for The New York times.  March 2008. nytimes.com)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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