Heck Ya That New York Times Article About Christine Quinn Was Sexist

New York Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn says the F-word a lot and the Times is on it!

In case you missed it, on Monday The New York Times ran an article “Offstage, Quinn Isn’t Afraid to Let Fury Fly” which offers details that Quinn is:

a. Loud
b. Points her finger while she talks
c. Often uses the phrases such as “I’d like to cut their balls off.”

Oh my! Apparently its newsworthy when a female New York politician gets loud, swears, or points. That Quinn does (while she is running for mayor) makes this suddenly news?

What’s remarkable is this “abrasive” profile is built almost entirely out of anonymous sourcing.

More than two dozen current and former city officials, lobbyists and political operatives recounted being berated by Ms. Quinn, but few would speak for the record, citing a fear of retaliation. They offered nearly identical accounts of their altercations, describing a rapid escalation of voice and vitriol, occasionally laced with vulgarity.

There are only two people quoted on the record, Dan Mathews, a senior vice president for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who admits to having a political disagreement with Quinn over an issue and Betsy Gotbaum. Who is Gotbaum exactly? She’s a fundraiser for another Democratic candidate for mayor. Is a rival campaign painting an unflattering picture of an opponent really surprising? Or news?

But at issue isn’t whether the things Quinn supposedly said are accurately quoted -– although she is disputing some facts such office was soundproofed because of concerns about her “angry tirades” being overheard—but that The New York Times’ decided to even write this story about the lone female mayoral candidate.

While some are linking to similar stories about other prominent male New York politicians, the story about Quinn’s temper is in the context of her mayoral campaign. Maybe men—once they are elected mayor—can say what they want to their political opponents and it’ll be perceived as strength. But women candidates who are perceived as “aggressive” typically suffer in the eyes of potential voters. (Or likely those called “controlling,” “temperamental” and being described as having “tantrums.”)

What is great is some are seeing the same things we do about the Times article.

“This story would never have been written if Christine Quinn was a man” tweeted Rosie Grey of BuzzFeed.

Jen Chung of Gothamist on twitter pointed out the subtext of the article: “Aka ladies who get mad are SCARY.”

But not everyone thinks The New York Times frame was sexist.

For example, Anna Holmes tweeted:

Then Peggy Drexler at the Daily Beast, writes that “using words and anecdotes to paint a picture of a woman that may be less than flattering, yet true, isn’t sexist.”

Even so, she might want to think about what terms and what frames are said about aggressive men verses aggressive women. “Bully” is a gender-neutral term, but Drexler asks “could Quinn be a Queen Bee?”

We’re pretty sure, as aggressive as Rudy Giuliani was, he was never called a “Queen Bee.” 


Published by Kate McCarthy on 03/27/2013

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