'Newsweek' Cover of Michele Bachmann Should Make All Women Angry

michele bachmann newsweekThe terrifying photo of Michele Bachmann looking like a deer in the headlights on the cover of Newsweek has angered Tea Partiers and conservatives alike. Now, feminists including the National Organization of Women are getting into the debate -- even though it means defending a politician they are diametrically opposed to on most policy issues (and I can't stress enough how very, very opposed we are). So what are women so angry about? It's simple really. There's no denying it: The Newsweek cover is blatantly sexist.

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According to Terry O'Neill, president of NOW, here's why the cover is sexist:

It’s sexist ... Casting her in that expression and then adding ‘The Queen of Rage’ I think [it is]. Gloria Steinem has a very simple test: If this were done to a man or would it ever be done to a man -- has it ever been done to a man? Surely this has never been done to a man ... Basically what Newsweek magazine ... what they are saying of a woman who is a serious contender for President of the United States of America ... They are basically casting her as a nut job.

To all those who argue that there are plenty of unflattering photos of male politicians in the media -- you're correct. But the difference is this: The photos of the male politicians aren't used to explicitly to make a statement on their psychological make-up or whether they're fit for office like this one of Bachmann does. For example, check out this unflattering photo of John Boehner. It's simply a photo of him looking goofy -- but nowhere in the newspaper is there the insinuation that he is "too goofy" to be the House Speaker. (And this photo was replaced by a better one in a later edition because his supporters complained!)

And, while we're on the subject of male politicians, let's look closely at the fact that no matter how ugly or inappropriate they may act, there's a clear double standard about how they are portrayed in the media. Case in point: Howard Dean and his infamous, hideous scream during the 2004 presidential election. At the time, the headlines calmly asked, "What's Up With Howard Dean?" or "Did Howard Dean Lose It?" Nowhere did they label him "The King of Rage," which would have been entirely appropriate. Has the media gotten more bold since then or does it simply take more liberty with female candidates?

Not to mention the fact, it's tiring to hear people insist that words like "nuts, crazy, shrill, hysterical, unhinged, icy, difficult, cold" are androgynous when really they've been used over and over again to marginalize women and convince voters they aren't electable. It's clear that Newsweek wants us to think Bachmann is too nuts for office, and so they picked the perfect photo to illustrate this.

Ultimately, it's us as readers who contribute the final piece of the sexist puzzle -- even if we don't realize that we're doing it. We've become so accustomed to seeing prominent women perfectly made up on the cover of our magazines; we expect and even demand it. Newsweek, like any magazine that needs to sell issues to be profitable and stay afloat, expertly plays into this. The fact that a woman isn't looking her best is so outrageous that even if we don't buy the magazine, at the very least we've taken note.

If it were every day that a female politician made the cover of our magazines, that would be one thing; but when the only reason to highlight a woman is to make fun of her, then, yeah, you can bet we're going to "b*tch* about it.

 

Image via Newsweek

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