Washington Post Reporter Is Amazed When Kyrsten Sinema Doesn’t Like His Labels

The sub-head of Manuel Roig-Franzia’s Washington Post story on newly elected Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is that her story “can’t be told with labels.” Except that Roig-Franzia has a lot of labels for Sinema: hectoring, pouty, huffy.

It’s clear Roig-Franzia first conceived of his story as “Sinema: Congress’s First Bisexual” and she didn’t want to play ball with his framing of her work. So she disagreed and suddenly Roig-Franzia has a whole lot of labels to put on her.

…when Sinema is bothered, she isn’t that fun-loving, self-deprecating, laugh riot with the quirky ways. She can turn lecturing, hectoring, defensive, accusatory, pouty and curiously repetitive. Even a softball question about how her sexual orientation has informed her thinking about public policy — she was, after all, the architect of a successful campaign to block a same-sex marriage ban in Arizona — peeves her.

“Lecturing,” “hectoring,” “pouty.” That’s a lot of sexist labeling because she didn’t want to be defined as the “Bisexual Congresswoman.”

But Roig-Franzia wants his readers to know that Sinema talks, a lot. Not that he cares about her point, in fact her vehemence just proves he’s the one who’s right.

After listening to Sinema go on for 20 minutes or so, one has to wonder: If she keeps this up, isn’t it possible that all these huffy and lengthy protestations about her sexual orientation not being a big deal end up making it into, well, a very, very big deal, indeed?

Not only does Roig-Franzia categorize Sinema with a series of insulting descriptions, he also tags her as a “lover of designer clothes” and that she “owns more than 100 pairs of shoes,” and that she’s asked how she does her blond hair. Not to mention the fact that “Prada” is name-dropped twice in the story. Has any reporter at the Washington Post asked the male freshman Congressmen how much they love clothing and what brands they wear?

If Roig-Franzia had chosen to look, he might have seen some sexism in how some other have tried to define Sinema. He has a quote from Arizona activist, Randy Parraz, in his story, which reads pretty sexist.

That ended with her raising her voice, almost like a small child who didn’t get her way,” Parraz recalls. “You’re talking to someone who thinks she knows everything. It’s her way or the highway.”

This isn’t the first time Parraz seems use sexist descriptions to categorize his disagreements with Sinema. If you read the column that Roig-Franzia quoted about Sinema “lodging a Prada pump in her esophagus.” (Also kind of a sexist turn of phrase, and not even a very clever one) the self-same Parraz told the columnist:

"It's her thinking she can say anything she wants, that she's the smartest person there, and everyone's got to accept it."

That just reads to me like a man who can’t take an argument from a women who disagrees with him.

Today was the first day of the newly elected 113th Congress. It’s a Congress with a record number of women in it.  The Washington Post should make sure they do not cover the 98 female Congresswomen any differently than the 437 male members. And if they need a refresher course, we have a handy-dandy Media Guide to help them.

Published by Rachel Larris on 01/03/2013

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