Last year in Ireland, The Independent newspaper published a report. It highlighted Helen McEntee’s success on becoming the Dail’s youngest female TD. However, it quickly points out: “but let’s face it, that high is still a paltry figure. Just 26 of the country’s 166 elected representatives are female”. Sue Ellen, a Fine Gael area rep in 2013, stated how she believes that perhaps more women would be willing to join politics if they were given more of an opportunity. Personally I feel that women are afraid of such roles firstly because we are simply more responsible in the home but also because we are wholly under-represented and even when we do have female politicians, it often appears that nasty remarks regarding women s physical appearance will be made. Back in 2011 Mick Wallace labelled Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell as “Miss Piggy”
Mick Wallace “…Miss Piggy has toned it down a bit today.”
Shane Ross: “Who’s that?”
Wallace: “Miss Piggy has toned it down a bit.”
Flanagan: “That Mary Mitchell O’Connor one. I couldn’t remember her name on Vincent Browne.”
Ross: “Was she on with you?”
Flanagan: “No she wasn’t…the one who drove off the plinth…they’d want to ban her wearing pink.” (Flanagan is referring to the incident earlier this year where Mitchell O’Connor took a wrong turn on her first day in the Dáil and drove down steps outside Leinster House)
Ross: “[Laughter]. Oh yeah, that’s right. She’s nothing sensational, she normally wears the most garish colours (trails off)…”
Male colleagues often feel the need to diminish their female colleagues. PWC came under fire when it was revealed that an internal e-mail was circulated in which 13 new female colleagues who were subsequently ranked into the “top ten” based on their looks. For more information on this click here.
Often still, the single most influential, high achieving women will be negatively scrutinized by the media in terms of their looks. The media is so derogatory to some of the most influential and powerful women in the world. This derogatory is not in any way coming solely from men. One of my favourite lines from one of the video clips on Fox News shows a female reporter and she states: “You all saw the famous photo from the weekend showing Hilary Clinton looking so haggard and….what looking like 92?!!” Yep. Hilary Clinton didn’t look picture perfect after a tiresome campaign. It doesn’t matter what she was campaigning/ speaking about. What matters is she didn’t look great. This is the most important thing. Reporters constantly play on this concept of women and their looks. In 2012 a publication in Elle commented how she was in an awful habit of pulling her hair back in a casual scrunchie while roughly the same time the French magazine had a headline stating “Hillary au Naturale” which commented on her lack of makeup. Celinda Lake sums it up quite nicely when she states: “What is just absolutely amazing is how pervasive this is and how true it is even for women reporters and the degree to which even if women try to develop just a uniform for the job we can’t seem to get off this topic,”. That topic of course being appearance. This piece has has come from this article be sure to check it out!
Erika Falk, author of “Women for President: Media Bias in Nine Campaigns also found in her publication that news reports for every female presidential candidate from Victoria Woodhill in 1872 to Hilary Clinton in 2008 has received quadruple the amount of appearance based coverage in comparison to their male counterpart. Even nowadays the notion that what is most important for any woman is how she looks with less of an emphasis on her career achievements or success.
The stronger women become in power, the stronger the backlash against them. The problem is that this is not about to change anytime soon either. There are so few women in high level positions and as you go further and further up the ladder in media, you will find that there exist only a handful of females in high end media positions, in fact only 3% of clout positions in telecommunications, entertainment, publishing and advertising are held by women.
The highly successful director, Catherine Hardwicke, director of Twilight and Thirteen to name but a few, states how she has been point blankly turned down for jobs simply because it has been stated to her that the film would be better of being directed by a male, from a males perspective, yet the directors of films such as Sex and the City, sisterhood of the travelling pants, all directed by males and there is never anything said about that. This short video here from Miss Representation captures this
Overall, it becomes clear that the struggle women face in terms of being unfairly represented by the media is having an impact on how we are taught to judge women. The full version of Miss Representation can be found here, which was brought to my attention by the blogger Wicked Tragic, so thank you for that! It really highlights all those issues and really opened my eyes! It is well worth a watch!