Media framing hurts female candidates

by Shayne Jones, Staff Writer

Kamala Harris smoked weed. Amy Klobuchar throws binders. Elizabeth Warren is a liar.

Joe Biden is “the kind of guy you’d like to have a beer with.” Bill Clinton is “uniquely powerful and compelling” to talk to. And Donald Trump? He’s “America’s edgiest comedian.”

The 2020 race for President of the United States is pussy powered and boldly female–but bold also is the sexism that trails doggedly at its heels.

Harris isn’t a Democratic frontrunner because she’s dynamic and enterprising or because of her extensive experience as a district attorney, attorney general and now U.S. senator; she (obviously) owes her success to being “young… [and] attractive.

Hillary Clinton is “crooked,” Nancy Pelosi is “petty” and I’m fed up. It is overtly evident that we live in a sexist society. Sexism in politics isn’t new either; in fact, sexism is the sole reason that this country has not yet had a female president.

The media’s often myopic focus on female candidates’ less “favorable” qualities skews their portrayal as professionals on a spectrum that wasn’t fair in the first place.

It is already challenging enough for a woman to be elected to a position of power and then doubly challenging to be respected in that position.

According to Stanford research recently re-reported by the Washington Post, “in 2010…voters regarded ‘power-seeking’ women with contempt and anger,” but “saw power-seeking men as strong and competent.”

Why the disparity?

In large part, I blame the media (what?! A journalist is blaming the media?! Please, just bear with me.)

Journalistic framing occurs when media outlets consciously decide what part of the news they want to highlight, omit or contextualize in the pieces they post.

Full disclosure: I’m framing right now.

The dangerous part is that most people fail to recognize this framing or, worse yet, aren’t aware that it is a reality.

Framing like this allows right-leaning organizations to push their agendas with “real evidence” to back them up and liberal outlets to do the same.

Quotes are taken out of context, gestures misinterpreted (or biasedly interpreted) – and then you end up sitting at the kitchen table wondering if you would be insane for voting for a person who throws office supplies at her employees.

Media framing is not necessarily bad, but is a force that flies all too often under the radar.

In this 2020 campaign race, I urge you to read the news with a trained eye and listen to your podcasts with concerted objectivity.

You don’t need to vote for a female candidate come the primaries or election day. You don’t even have to like any of the female candidates. However, be aware of the media bias that permeates political coverage and often casts women in an unfairly negative light.

I can’t write sexism away, as much as I want to. It is here to stay until we as a society can collectively agree and actively resolve to abolish it.

All that I ask, is that you give the females a chance to prove their worth.

Because worthy they are.

Shayne Jones is a junior studying journalism.