Press Release: Media Guide for Gender-Neutral Coverage of Politics

Press release, in its entirety:

WMC Releases Media Guide for Gender Neutral Coverage of Women Candidates and Politicians

March 26, 2012

Contact: Rachel Larris at rachel@womensmediacenter.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Today the Women’s Media Center releases a new Media Guide for its Name It. Change It. Project, which works to identify, prevent and end sexist media coverage of women candidates and politicians. The Women’s Media Center’s Media Guide to Gender Neutral Coverage of Women Candidates + Politicians (click to download) shows members of the media how to avoid injecting sexism into their own coverage and how to spot sexism in other’s.

Julie Burton, President of the Women’s Media Center, says “This guide was created to show journalists and other media professionals how the use of even subtly sexist language affects woman candidates’ success in the political arena.”

The Name It. Change It. project, a joint partnership between the Women’s Media Center and She Should Run, addresses sexism in the media directed at women candidates, politicians and high-profile individuals.

“With the release of this guide, the Women’s Media Center hopes to make the use of all sexist language both recognizable and unacceptable in politics,” Burton says.

Gloria Steinem, Co-Founder of the Women’s Media Center, says, “Studies show that like bullying, the trivializing sexism used against women candidates makes voters not want to associate with them. The problem is that sexism itself is viewed as trivial. This guide makes its seriousness clear, and helps reporters be fair by using parallel language for both female and male candidates.”

The Women’s Media Center’s Media Guide to Gender Neutral Coverage of Women Candidates + Politicians features groundbreaking research by Celinda Lake on the affect of media sexism on women candidates, as well a glossary of terms from Rosalie Maggio’s Unspinning the Spin: The Women’s Media Center’s Guide to Fair + Accurate Language, which provides definitions, background information, and suggested alternative uses for many loaded and politically incorrect terms.

Robin Morgan, co-Founder of the Women’s Media Center says, “Media sexism is used against women candidates and elected officials of all political viewpoints; it isn’t limited to one political party, and the Name It. Change It. project fights that sexism wherever we find it. We hope that members of the media sign our pledge to treat all subjects with respect, regardless of gender, and to create an overall media culture in which sexism has no place.”

“This shouldn’t be a radical notion,” Morgan says. “Giving women unequal treatment in media coverage is plain bad journalism–and its bad for democracy. Hopefully with this guide and the continuing work of the Name It. Change It. project, more members of the media will understand why this is important to them.”

The Women’s Media Center’s Media Guide to Gender Neutral Coverage of Women Candidates + Politicians is available for free download onWomensMediaCenter.com and at NameItChangeIt.org.

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Victim blaming in the media regarding the IMF chief’s sexual assault case

This is from the Women’s Media Center and it contains a link to a petition to protest the media’s rampant victim blaming:

“Dominique Strauss-Kahn may have more to worry about than a possible prison sentence.” That was the first sentence in an article in the New York Post today about the IMF Chief accused of sexually attacking a woman in a New York City hotel. The article then proceeds to “out” the alleged victim for living in an apartment building for people and families living with HIV/AIDS. This type of coverage does nothing to help hold an alleged rapist accountable and only contributes to victim-shaming and stigmatizing people living with HIV/AIDS – With no respect for the accuser’s medical confidentiality or the confidentiality of the residents in that building. Further, they repeatedly refer to her as maid, rather than a victim, and highlight her immigration status and race. The New York Post should be ashamed for framing their coverage of sexual assault about concerns for an alleged attacker, rather than the impact of a violent sexual assault on a woman at her place of work. They also printed this quote:

“One high-powered lawyer, who was among those trying to reach her to offer to rep her, said ‘She could make $6 million, maybe more, just by shutting her mouth.”

As heinous as the NY Post’s piece was, they’re not the only ones who are guilty of harmful coverage. The Daily Beast ran this commentary by Bernard-Henri Levy in which he questioned the alleged victim’s legitimacy:

“I do not know—but, on the other hand, it would be nice to know, and without delay—how a chambermaid could have walked in alone, contrary to the habitual practice of most of New York’s grand hotels of sending a ‘cleaning brigade’ of two people, into the room of one of the most closely watched figures on the planet.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, The American Spectator published this despicable piece by Ben Stein yesterday, in which he ranted:

“The prosecutors say that Mr. Strauss-Kahn ‘forced’ the complainant to have oral and other sex with him. How? Did he have a gun? Did he have a knife? He’s a short fat old man. They were in a hotel with people passing by the room constantly, if it’s anything like the many hotels I am in. How did he intimidate her in that situation? And if he was so intimidating, why did she immediately feel un-intimidated enough to alert the authorities as to her story?

People accuse other people of crimes all of the time. What do we know about the complainant besides that she is a hotel maid? I love and admire hotel maids. They have incredibly hard jobs and they do them uncomplainingly. I am sure she is a fine woman. On the other hand, I have had hotel maids that were complete lunatics, stealing airline tickets from me, stealing money from me, throwing away important papers, stealing medications from me. How do we know that this woman’s word was good enough to put Mr. Strauss-Kahn straight into a horrific jail?”

After all this media coverage, all women (and men) may have more to worry about than the possibility that an international leader is guilty of sexual assault. This type of coverage reinforces the power structures that legitimize sexism and rape, and works directly against the elimination of sexual violence in our culture. In a country where a woman is sexually assaulted every two minutes, such pieces do real harm.Tell the NY Post, the Daily Beast, and the American Spectator that media have a responsibility to work towards the elimination of rape culture and sexism – Not to legitimize it!

Send a letter by clicking here: http://www.change.org/petitions/media-stop-victim-blaming-and-shaming-in-coverage-of-imf-chiefs-alleged-sexual-assault

Change.org

Study shows gender differences in films from 2008

You know, I could probably count on my hands how many times I’ve seen a naked male in films – it’s almost unnatural that they’re clothed and their female counterparts aren’t. How often are you naked while your partner is clothed? This study shows – no surprise – that women in films from 2008 were pretty, skinny, partially clothed or naked. What is surprising is that this includes TEENAGERS.

Exclusive: Hollywood gender gap persists in 100 top-grossing films

Perhaps what was most disconcerting was the physical emphasis placed on 13- to 20-year old females.  Our data show that teenaged females are far more likely than teenaged males to be depicted in revealing apparel (39.8 percent of teen females compared to 6.7 percent of teen males), partially naked (30.1 percent to 10.3 percent), physically attractive (29.2 percent to 11.1 percent), and with a small waist (35.1 percent to 13.6 percent).  Again, chest size and presence of an ideal figure did not vary meaningfully with gender.

Overall, the findings suggest that males and females are differentially valued in motion pictures.  Despite the fact that it is 2011, females are still far less important or esteemed than are males, particularly behind-the-camera.  When they are shown on screen, females are prized for provocative (or noticeably absent) attire, attributes of their physique, and prettiness.  This is also true of teenaged females. The hypersexualized focus on teens is disquieting, given that exposure to objectifying media portrayals may contribute to negative effects in some young female viewers.  Such depictions may also affect young male consumers, by teaching and/or reinforcing that girls/women are to be valued for how they look rather than who they are.

Press release: Women’s Media Center statement on the Arizona shootings

The Women’s Media Center just released this message:

Women’s Media Center Statement on the Arizona Shootings

The Women’s Media Center (WMC) is stunned and saddened by the attack on Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and her staff and supporters. As media cover this tragic story, they have a special responsibility NOT to legitimize violent rhetoric that targets and attempts to silence women leaders and progressive voices. The Women’s Media Center will continue to monitor the coverage of this story, and encourages media to make the link between hate speech and violence, and to condemn violent rhetoric. 

Vitriolic, sexist, and racist language is a form of hate speech and bullying. Examining recent political intimidation can shed a light on the toxic political and media landscape in which the Arizona shootings took place. Here are some highlights from the past two elections that paint a broader context and help us analyze this tragedy. See recent examples here.

To speak with WMC Board Member, author, and activist Gloria Feldt about the lessons learned from this horrible episode, contact the press contact above.Read her moving piece here, in which she explains that this incident is less about decrying our declining civility and more about teaching everyone from their earliest years how a democratic government works, because we are our government.

Our hearts go out to the victims of this violence, and hope that through critical examination of the cultural factors that produce such tragedies, that we prevent them in the future, because violence against one woman is violence against all.

Press Contact: Yana Walton – yana@womensmediacenter.com or 212.563.0680