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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

“Gender Stereotypes” Does Not Mean What Maureen Dowd Thinks It Means

posted by on June 25 at 13:20 PM

I’m a little late getting to this (no time to Slog these past two deadline days), but did folks read the Public Editor column in last Sunday’s New York Times? The column poses the question that’s suddenly trendy now that Hillary Clinton is safely out of the way: Did sexism color media coverage of the Clinton campaign? Specifically, did it color the NYT’s coverage? The answer, Public Editor Clark Hoyt concludes, was mostly no — except for one notable exception: Editorial columnist Maureen Dowd, whose columns

were so loaded with language painting [Clinton] as a 50-foot woman with a suffocating embrace, a conniving film noir dame and a victim dependent on her husband that they could easily have been listed in that Times article on sexism, right along with the comments of Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle, Tucker Carlson or, for that matter, [William] Kristol, who made the Hall of Shame for a comment on Fox News, not for his Times work.

What I love is how he lets Dowd hang herself—and how effectively she does so.

I’ve been twisting gender stereotypes around for 24 years,” Dowd responded. She said nobody had objected to her use of similar images [uh, not true] about men over seven presidential campaigns. She often refers to Barack Obama as “Obambi” and has said he has a “feminine” management style. But the relentless nature of her gender-laden assault on Clinton — in 28 of 44 columns since Jan. 1 — left many readers with the strong feeling that an impermissible line had been crossed, even though, as Dowd noted, she is a columnist who is paid not to be objective.

So, by feminizing male politicians so she can call them fags (or “chick,” or “weak sister,” or “Breck girl”, or “effete,” or “Scarlett O’Hara,” or “so feminized … he’s practically lactating,” or a “debutante”) Dowd is actually twisting gender stereotypes! Same thing for when she calls female politicians icy, manly, ball-busting bitches. Ridiculing men by calling girls isn’t sexism—it’s editorial license. Good to know.

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I never really liked Maureen Dowd. I tried reading Are Men Necessary? back in the day, but found it loaded with so much stereotyping language (ie, women are obsessed with shoes, etc) that I couldn't finish it.

Posted by saysdivision | June 25, 2008 1:36 PM

is there a filter on slog for ECB sexism articles??

please tell me how to activate it if there is!

Posted by high and bi | June 25, 2008 1:43 PM

Right on, ECB. As usual.

Posted by Suzi | June 25, 2008 1:49 PM

@2. Um, yes, there is. It's called "if you don't like it, then don't read it, and most definitely do not comment on it". Since you (presumably) can read the title and the author of the post, it's pretty easy to skip.

It's what I do with Jen Graves art posts and Charles' architecture posts (which I'm usually not interested in), as well as the Reading Tonight posts (since I don't live in Seattle).

Posted by Julie | June 25, 2008 1:52 PM

Maureen Dowd is annoyingly annoying. But, she has red hair. I could almost nominate her for "Crush of Shame". But, no crush, just shame.

Posted by umvue | June 25, 2008 2:13 PM

Your one-sided schtick is insulting, ECB.

Posted by Fonky | June 25, 2008 2:15 PM

Maureen Dowd's column is one of the reasons I subscribe to The NYT, even though she occasionally appears in The Seattle Times, to which I also subscribe. That she offends doctrinaire humorless harpies adds to her appeal.

Also, it is always a pleasure to look at and listen to Dowd when she appears on television.

Posted by Luigi Giovanni | June 25, 2008 2:45 PM

You might enjoy this little gem of an analysis on MoDo, Erica.

Posted by Clarkf | June 25, 2008 3:38 PM

i don't k ow if ecb enjoyed it, clarkf @8, but i did. pretty much nails her.

Posted by ellarosa | June 25, 2008 5:34 PM

Hey ECB!

Great job jumping on the MoDo-is-sexist bandwagon! Still looking forward to an original insight from you on this meme. Anytime now, I'm sure.

In the meantime, at least you're here to chronicle others' analyses.

Posted by oneway | June 25, 2008 7:00 PM

We'll re-defeat NO-Bambi in November!!

Posted by clintonsarmy | June 25, 2008 8:33 PM

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