Daily Caller is on the Fashion Beat!

Today, as yet another news outlet covered yet another candidate, clothing was framed as a crucial detail because she was a woman. Even in the midst of a rather complimentary article, certain members of the media coated their coverage with some sexism.

When Linda McMahon, GOP Senate candidate for Connecticut, visited the Naugatuck Senior Center Alexis Levinson of the Daily Caller described her thusly:

McMahon, dressed in a brown blouse, black skirt, and knee high black suede boots with a short heel, made her rounds at the senior center open house, deftly weaving around booths and slow-moving seniors.

Yes, McMahon wore clothes and walked around in them. The unnecessary information detracts from her position on budget cuts affecting seniors—the reason for her visit. But even more troubling is the placement of the sexist details.

When the media writes about women, they often set the scene with physical descriptions more suitable for fiction writing. To be clear, clothing should only be mentioned if it’s culturally or symbolically important news. (Hint: clothes are rarely important political news). By describing McMahon’s outfit, Levinson was emphasizing her appearence over her issues.

Why must readers know what a woman politician is wearing before they learn what she said or did? (If you want to see how ridiculous dropping in a mention of men’s clothing reads check out Washington Post’s Erik Wemple’s regular demonstrations).

Levinson said McMahon “received a warm welcome. One woman ­­told her she was even more beautiful in person.”

Besides lengthy paragraphs devoted to their personal style, women in politics are often judged like contestants in a beauty pageant. Congratulated for being attractive, and chastised when they are not, these compliments (or criticisms) are also sexist.

While the “shaking hands, giving hugs and patiently posing for numerous pictures” Levinson captures is all part of the game, comments about what onlookers found aesthetically pleasing should come from the fashion police—not political journalists.

There’s plenty of information to consider during a campaign. So why, in a story about a candidate “pitching her business experience,” would her shoes matter?

 

Published by Kate McCarthy on 09/19/2012

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