Open-Mouthed Shock at Sexism in Huffington Post’s Clinton Caption Contest

Yesterday, the Huffington Post Politics section invited readers to tweet captions for an AP picture of the Secretary dancing in South Africa.  The problem is that the picture showed Hillary Clinton with her mouth open inviting suggestive responses that the Huffington Post then preceded to spotlight.

The article included a slideshow of the Huffington Post’s “favorites,” including these:

“Oh, so thats how you keep your husband from cheating” - @keiyadriver

“Bill, look! I’ve been practicing!  Love me again?” - @JPSmithers

And their top pick (seen above): “Sec. Clinton, give us your best Monica Lewinsky impersonation.” - @ericmiles

It’s frustrating that so many people’s instinctive reaction when asked to caption a picture of a woman is to invoke a sexist joke.  But the real problem is when a media outlet then chooses to promote tweets that are sexist and sexually degrading to the Secretary of State. That goes a step WAY too far.  The Huffington Post is helping to perpetuate a hostile media environment for women politicians and provides a huge audience for sexist drivel.

There were plenty of ways a caption contest didn’t have to immediately devolve into the obligatory sex jokes about Secretary Clinton. Our favorite caption suggestion is this one.  And how great are these GIFs of her dancing?

But when posts intend to objectify and sexualize a female politician and promote sexist comments, it’s not fun anymore. There’s a clear line between poking fun and being sexist (we here at Name It Change It call it the reversibility test) and yesterday, the Huffington Post definitely crossed it.


Published by Kate McCarthy on 08/09/2012

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