|Posted by Jennifer L Pozner|
September 21st, 2008
If you’re in MA or NH, I’d love to see you this week when WIMN’s fall lecture tour will bring me to your backyard. I’ll be delivering “When Anchormen Attack: Gender, Race & the Media in Election 2008“ — the newest program in Women In Media & News’s multimedia lecture series (see below for program details) — at:
1. Worcester State College, Worcester, MA
September 23, 11:30am; Student Center blue lounge.
Lecture is free and open to the public.
2. Colby Sawyer College, New London, NH
September 24, 7pm; Wheeler Hall at the Ware Campus Center.
Lecture is free and open to the public.
3. Next stop: back home to NY on September 26 - 27 to speak on a panel at what promises to be a fascinating conference at St. John’s University: “Making History: Race, Gender and the Media in the 2008 Election” (click on the previous link or this PDF for registration information). As a panelist, I’ll offer a quick-hits excerpt of my larger election-year media lecture — I’m calling this panel presentation, “White Male Electile Dysfunction: Misogyny, Bigotry and the Media in Campaign 2008.”
See my prior post for a complete list of WIMN’s fall lecture tour dates — chances are good that I might be coming to a city near you in the not-too-distant future.
For the first time in history, American voters had the opportunity to choose between a white woman and an African American man to be the Democratic presidential nominee — and the Republicans have selected their first female vice presidential nominee — much to the media’s chagrin. In this multi-media lecture, I document how sexist backlash and racial prejudice have dominated and distorted media coverage of one of the most important moments in U.S. history.
When Sen. Clinton forgot to leave her breasts at home before giving a Senate speech, The Washington Post ran a 746-word article on the political significance of “Hillary’s cleavage.” The New York Times condemned Clinton’s “cackle,” pundits questioned whether an “emotional” “weepy” woman was fit to lead after she got choked up on the campaign trail, numerous commentators branded her a “bitch,” and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said he “hates” the NY politician, branding her an “uppity,” “witchy,” “scolding,” “anti-male,” “she-devil” who can “grate on some men” like “fingernails on a blackboard.”
At the same time, early campaign headlines like Time’s “Is Obama Black Enough?” were followed by a constant refrain of “Is America ready for a Black president?” from the mostly-white newsmen of CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN and FOX. ABC debate moderator George Stephanapoulos wondered if Barack’s “cool style” is “tied to [his] race,” while cable news anchors and analysts insinuated that Obama may be a “secret Muslim,” has an “angry,” “un-American” minister, and (gasp!) doesn’t wear a flag pin. Put that all together, we learned from Fox News, and we find out that Obama “has come out of the closet” as a “domestic insurgent.” Cal Thomas warned that Michelle Obama would be our first “angry Black woman first lady,” Fox News labeled her “Obama’s Baby Mama,” and the National Review featured her frowning face on a cover story headlined, “Mrs. Grievance.”
Meanwhile, within days of Sarah Palin’s selection as John McCain’s running mate, Yahoo News encouraged readers to click on the words “Her workout, eating habits” which brought readers to a Wall Street Journal Magazine article about the potential veep’s cuisine and exercise preferences, while hundreds of news outlets weighed in on her hair, her body and her “naughty librarian” demeanor… for which CNBC’s Donny Deutsch decreed Palin the ideal way to “sell a woman in power,” because “I want her laying next to me in bed.”
None of this, of course, has anything to do with how any of our presidential and vice presidential candidates’ policy positions will affect health care, education, two wars, the economy, reproductive rights, poverty or any other issue important to women, people of color, or our country as a whole. For all the talk about “race and gender” in the 2008 campaign, why has the media been focusing so heavily on the ethnicity and biology of the candidates and failing to substantively investigate Obama, Clinton, McCain and Palin’s legislative records and policy positions on crucial race and gender issues?
In “When Anchormen Attack,” I use a multimedia clip reel (which I put together with the help of WIMN’s friends at Media Matters) news footage to expose and challenge the media’s irresponsible preference for regressive stereotypes over substantive reporting. My goal is to help audiences unpack the biases underlying this increasingly contentious election cycle, helping concerned citizens critically analyze journalism and pop culture in this election year.
If you’re based on a college or high school campus and want to bring WIMN’s lecture on gender and race issues in media coverage of this historic presidential cycle to your community, please contact WIMN via this form or by emailing an inquiry to info[at]wimnonline[dot]org. There are still plenty of dates available for the fall, and winter and spring are wide open if you’d like to plan ahead.
Also, feel free to contact WIMN if you’re interested in other lectures or media trainings in our media literacy/media education program, including topics such as:
“Bachelor Babes, Bridezillas & Husband-Hunting Harems: Decoding Reality TV’s Twisted Fairy Tales”;
“Condoleezza Rice is a Size Six, and Other Useless Things I Learned from the News: Challenging Media Misrepresentations of Women”;
“Race, Class, Gender & Katrina: The Human Impact of Disastrous Reporting”;
“Women, Media & War: How Does the Silencing of Women’s Voices in War Coverage Shortchange America?”…