Sunday, September 07, 2008
Sexism is alive and well
So, following Hillary Clinton's less than stellar performance in the Iowa caucuses, many media mistakenly asserted that her campaign for the presidency was over; however, her skill as one of the most powerful politicians in America and her subsequent performances in the elections post-Iowa, quickly proved how wrong her media critics were. Following Iowa, Gloria Steinem wrote a powerful and accurate editorial detailing the many reasons that a woman is never a front-runner and asserting that the single most restricting factor in American society is gender; considering that many women alive today were born before women even had the right to vote, Steinem's argument seems quite compelling. While, I've already briefly posted about the ethicality of sexism in the media, recent coverage of Gov. Palin, continues to demonstrate the sexist nature of American society. Gov. Palin's clothing, her makeup, accessories, shoes, hair, etc. have all received critiques and actual news coverage. Even, CNN devoted almost 8 minutes of coverage to the aforementioned items, and then almost laughably decided to have a panelist discuss whether or not such coverage was sexist. While talking about whether or not such coverage is sexist, which it is (if you disagree try and think of the last time you heard any of those items discussed about men or when men are ever questioned about their ability to govern and still be a parent), is a worthwhile and important, media should realize that simply talking about sexism while engaging in it is still wrong. It matters little that for 30 seconds out of 8 minutes, sexism is considered as a possible problem, those individuals reporting for media outlets have an ethical obligation to do more than simply talk about sexism; they have an obligation to quit engaging in sexist discrimination. By placing emphasis on Palin's pumps more than her politics, media outlets perpetuate the harmful myth that women are only important in terms of their sex appeal, or at the least are primarily important because of it. By engaging in sexist coverage media not only fail to fulfill their obligations and functions in our society of providing important and accurate information, "they" also dehumanize women and in turn dehumanize everyone. While I am not an advocate of universal ethical codes, I do think it is a safe bet that in almost every situation, and especially every situation media workers would find themselves in, abstaining from behavior that treats individuals as less than anything except fully human is ethical and failing to do so is unethical.