Sexism is a selective phenomenon for much of the media. It seems even satirical or light-hearted content, when produced by conservatives, has the amazing ability to acquire the label while even the most vitriolic and derogatory liberal writings can avoid it.
RightWingNews, the popular conservative blog, surely knew it would garner some disdain from the left in publishing its 2010 edition of the "20 Hottest Conservative Women In The New Media." Right on cue, Newsweek weighed in with accusations of "gender hypocrisy." Full disclosure: NB's own Dan Gainor was one of the judges.
One of the top 20--Lori Ziganto, aka "Snark and Boobs," of RedState and NewsReal, among others--took to publicly shaming the magazine for its own show of hypocrisy: implying that women (or maybe just conservative ones) must be intelligent or attractive, not both. Of course this is all from the same magazine that published the cover at right.
"I suggest that once you are officially out of work and have more free time," Ziganto wrote, referring to Newsweek's pending sale by the Washington Post, "you look to yourselves and your esteemed colleagues and take on your own sexist hypocrisy."
Though there is a long history of sexist attacks against conservative women by major media players, one need not even recall past coverage to get a dose. Just head on over to the Huffington Post's entertainment section. The three lead "stories" (as of early this afternoon) show Miley Cyrus sexing up her underage act by simulating a lesbian kiss, a scantily-clad Jennifer Lopez spanking Tom Cruise at the MTV movie awards, and an enlightening piece on "Who Went Low-Cut Best"--i.e. showed the most skin--at the awards ceremony. Scroll down a bit to see how "Christina Aguilera's Crotch Lights Up The MTV Awards".
That is just a snapshot of coverage from the most popular liberal blog on the Web. Yet somehow RWN manages to undermine the credibility of all conservatives who don't condemn the piece to comment on women's issues, all by taking a day out of the 365 it spends producing tremendous political content. Either that, or Newsweek is once again dealing in double standards.
For her part, Ziganto recalled, and in doing so revealed quite the double standard, that Newsweek had no such disdain for a piece in Playboy Magazine last summer. The article listed 10 women the author would like to "hate f--k." The Playboy piece was the inspiration for RWN's annual list.
New Yorker writer Guy Cimbalo wrote in Playboy (screenshot via RedState) last year:
Obama promised us the dream of post-partisanship—a cuckoo land where party affiliation and factional animosity were forgotten. Turn on cable news or open any newspaper, however, and you’ll quickly discover that the dream has yet to materialize. But there is a way to reach across the aisle without letting principles fall by the wayside. We speak, naturally, of the hate f--k. We may despise everything these women represent, but goddammit they’re hot. Let the healing begin.
Cimbalo followed that magnificently non-sexist (if Newsweek's judgement is the measure) statement with a list of women he despises, all--predictably--conservatives.
Many new and old media outlets (though not Newsweek) were rightfully outraged. Ed Morrissey conveyed the abhorrence of Cimbalo's attacks in suitably strong terms:
Playboy likes to claim that it prints pictures of naked women as a means to empower them. Uh-huh. It seems that Playboy and Hugh Hefner only like to empower women to the extent that they’ll take off their clothes, but when they open their mouths and have an opinion … well, then it’s time to roll out the demonization…
Let’s be clear about terms here. A “hate f--k” sounds like something perhaps just short of rape, but degrading enough to entertain the perverted twerps at Playboy. The fact that the magazine published this piece of effluvium should be enough to show that everyone in the editorial process, from the writer to Hef himself, don’t want women empowered. They want silent sex objects, and when confronted with women whose opinions differ from theirs, want them humiliated.
NewsBusters's sister organization the Culture and Media Institute selected Cimbalo's attack as the most "Disgusting Attack on Conservative Women," but the nine others were also reprehensible. Where were Newsweek's accusations of "gender hypocrisy" and sexism in each of those?