Name It. Change It. Condemns 50 Shades of Grey Question Posed to Women Running For Senate

On Friday, October 19, 2012 this statement was released to the public:

On Wednesday, the sole debate between U.S. Senatorial candidates Kirsten Gillibrand and Wendy Long was moderated by journalists from Time Warner Cable’s YNN and NY1 networks. But in a final “lighting round” of questions posed to both candidates, YNN anchor Liz Benjamin asked whether each woman had read the sexually graphic novel Fifty Shades of Grey by British author E.L. James.

The Name It. Change It. Project partners find the question both deeply sexist and highly offensive not only to the women running for office but also to all voters in New York. The Name It. Change It. Project is a collaboration between the Women’s Media Center and She Should Run that holds media accountable for sexist coverage of women candidates and politicians.

Julie Burton, President of The Women’s Media Center said, “As a moderator, Liz Benjamin was entrusted to ask these candidates about issues affecting the voters of New York. Her question about Fifty Shades of Grey, a highly sexualized work of fiction, trivializes the democratic process and by its sexist nature hurts all women who run for office. If two men were running for the Senate would she have asked if they had subscriptions to Playboy?”

The Name It. Change It. Project’s research demonstrates that sexist media coverage negatively impacts women who run for office.

“We’ve already seen how post-debate media coverage is focusing more on this question than on issues of real substance in the election,” Burton said. “This is a prime example of how sexism hurts women who run for office. The YNN network and Liz Benjamin should apologize to the candidates and to the voters of New York.”


We urge viewer to get in touch with Liz Benjamin ( and YNN (also via Twitter @CapitalTonight) to let them know that this question wasn’t appropriate to and in fact was deeply sexist. 


Published by Kate McCarthy on 10/19/2012

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