July 20, 2012 / Sexism

The Tygrrr Act in The Washington Times Misogyny Circus

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The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

Eric Golub wrote an article for The Washington Times Communities which appeared Tuesday called The Prequel to the Top 10 Ugliest Women in Politics. It seems blurring the line between serious journalism and op-ed has become a mainstay of mainstream media these days.  The Washington Times certainly isn’t the only publication guilty of it. Liberal or conservative, each side baits the other with incredulous, provocative headlines and bylines, yet readers continue drinking the Kool-Aid, nodding their heads in perfect unison. News has become entertainment and entertainment has become news.

In his “prequel” he wrote

The perpetually enraged feminists never grasped that the list of most beautiful women was about inner as well as outer beauty. The women were physically stunning, but also accomplished. Brains are sexy, and those women for the most part had brains in abundance.

The list of “most beautiful women” is from an article he wrote last month titled “The 30 Hottest Women in Politics“, where he wrote

The National Federation of Republican Women is the only reason the GOP ever wins anything as long as we live. Many of these ladies refer to themselves as “blue hairs,” but Lisa Roper is proof that the NFRW is getting younger and hotter. She is a member of the leadership, which the NFRW and men everywhere should be happy about.

I don’t think conservative women (or any women, for that matter) would be happy to hear the only reason anyone thinks their party is successful is because their bodies are what compelled men to vote for them, rather than their intelligence and capabilities. Mr. Golub – who writes a blog called Tygrrr Express – should be ashamed of himself. These women worked hard to get where they are. They deserve so much more credit than that, and so do the conservative women who voted for them.

In “10 Ugliest” he continued with

The ugliest women are not being graded on their looks. The perpetually enraged feminists can sit down and stay silent for once. This competition is totally about character, substance, empathy, warmth, and other qualities lacking in these women.

Yet, in an article he posted on Sunday, he wrote

Rush Limbaugh once pointed out that feminism was created to give ugly women a chance in society. Hot women don’t need feminism, which is why feminists despise hot women to begin with.

The problem with reading so much of this on a daily basis is we become desensitized to it and stop seeing it for what it really is. People who write it, speak it, read it, and laugh at it stop seeing the effect it has on women and girls. How unfortunate. The Keep It Real Campaign recently released its findings in a study that showed 80% of ten-year-old girls have been on a diet, 54% of thirteen-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies, and that number rises to 78% by the time they are seventeen-years-old. Young girls are being bombarded with unrealistic images setting unattainable goals.  Recognizing this, one teenager petitioned Seventeen Magazine to show fewer airbrushed images in its pages, and the editors agreed to change. Teenagers are now setting their sights on Teen Vogue.

Young girls and women need to see other women held up as role models not because of how they look, but because of who they are. Calling some of the most powerful women in our nation “ugly” only serves to devalue and degrade them. It validates the feeling that young girls and young women have that their true worth is based on how they look. We have now devolved into a society where even six-year-old little girls are getting the message: they believe they need to be sexy in order to be liked. A mom in Britain wants her fourteen-year-old daughter to get breast implants. Toddlers are being dressed up like prostitutes with the hope of winning a tiara. Adolescent and pre-adolescent girls are being taught to dance like strippers for recitals in costumes which make them appear nude.

The flip side is girls with negative body image and low self-esteem. The same article which points out the connection between the two states that girls as young as 5-years-old are worried about their bodies. The effects low self-esteem has on girls include lack of confidence, depression, and poor academic performance. Self-injury can also be a symptom of low self-esteem.

Research shows sexist language seriously undercuts a woman’s chances of being elected, more so than constituents’ disagreements with her position on issues. Women aren’t taken as seriously in the political arena whether called a MILF or a bitch. When sexism such as this is allowed in media outlets, it not only affects women in politics, it seeps out into the workplace. By normalizing bully behavior toward women in power, people who write articles about women being ugly are giving permission to men to make cutting remarks to their coworkers about their looks or their weight or their sex appeal. This crosses the line into sexual harassment territory. It creates a work environment that feels hostile toward women, and as it does in politics, it encourages those in charge to view women as less than capable, keeping that glass ceiling firmly in place.

The desensitization of society when it comes to women and how we are supposed to feel about how others view us is bleeding over from sexual harassment into sexual violence.  If we can’t take a joke about how ugly some women in power are, we certainly can’t take a joke about rape, either. A segment of our society believes it is crucial to the very fabric of our country to vehemently defend a comic’s right to crassly joke about sexual violence, without understanding the true effect rape jokes have on the the millions survivors who may be unfortunate enough to hear it or read about it. A comic’s art and First Amendment rights come before the basic human rights of feeling safe and not having to feel doubled down with shame.  There are also those who will vehemently defend Bill Maher’s right to call Sarah Palin a “cunt” or a “dumb twat”. At what point will we go backwards and begin to defend sexual harassment in the workplace?

Imagine, for a moment, a dad is sitting at the breakfast table reading this list of “ugly” women. He’s reading pieces of it out loud to his wife, guffawing and agreeing with Mr. Golub’s statement that “Ms. Thomas was hideous on the outside with an even more heinous inner shell.” Now imagine his eight-year-old daughter is sitting at the table, eating her cereal, listening to his words. He isn’t taking the time to explain to her that Mr. Golub is offended by Helen Thomas’s stance on Israel. Picture his son sitting across from the daughter. This father isn’t taking time to explain to him that the woman in the unflattering picture at the top of the article is 92-years-old. This man is teaching his children what society expects of women and what are acceptable attitudes toward women. When he reads aloud Mr. Golub’s statement that women on the Top 10 Hottest List are privately thanking him, he isn’t explaining to his son or daughter that women of that caliber should have too healthy a self-esteem and sense of self-worth to care what some silly blogger thinks.

Even when meant as satire, there are a lot of people who don’t see these kinds of articles as such. And that’s the problem. Mr. Golub’s article is just one of many we are bombarded with daily telling us our looks are our greatest asset, that our value is based on our sensuality. Even in trying to deflect us from the truth that looks are driving these lists, Mr. Golub lets us know intelligence is good because it adds to women’s sex appeal. Even when we want to be taken seriously for the right reasons those reasons are twisted into something degrading.

If The Washington Times truly “delivers breaking news and commentary on the issues that affect the future of our nation,” as their byline says in Google search results, they’ve proven it. Whether or not the columnist is a “journalist” or just a writer, publishing these articles is irresponsible and damaging for girls and women everywhere.

Below is Amy Siskind’s email to Ms. Kubin, followed by Ms. Kubin’s response.

From: Amy Siskind
To: jkubin@washingtontimes.com
Sent: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 16:42:53 -0400
Subject: 10 Ugliest Women – really!

This is thorougly unprofessional, sexist and certainly NOT journalism of any sort.  Your paper should issue an online apology!

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/tygrrrr-express/2012/jul/17/prequel-top-10-ugliest-women-politics/ 

Amy Siskind
President, The New Agenda

From: Jacquie Kubin
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 6:49 PM
To: Amy Siskind
Subject: Re: 10 Ugliest Women – really!

Your comment is duly noted Amy and in response Eric is a satirist.  He is not a reporter and while he may claim to be a columnist, I don’t think he considers himself a journalist in the traditional sense.  Eric is also a Neo Con and Jewish.  He does not care for Helen Thomas not because of how she looks, but because of how she feels toward Israel. 

If you read the piece before commenting, you would see that.  

Eric has been doing these top tens here for the last three years and while they are not written to endear him to anyone he is certainly no more mean or out of context than say Bill Mahr is towards conservatives. 

I do not always agree with a writer, however I also do not censor, say Catherine Poe, who writes Ad Lib (a very liberal column written by a past NOW president) and I will not censor Eric because he writes from a neo con position.

In reading your work, you feel it is ok to consider the “male equivalent” 

I, for example, am seriously worried about Mitt Romney’s bathing suit options.  What will we do if, God help us, he’s elected and he chooses to wear a Speedo instead of a looser, baggier type of swim suit? If he goes swimming in Germany while on retreat with Angela Merkel, she may not be able to string together two thoughts. What’s going to happen to Greece if THAT happens?  Besides, the time for a national debate about the impact of, well, support is LONG overdue and relevant to his qualifications to run as president.”

That is just a bit snarky as well.  Even suggesting that Ms. Merkle would a) go swimming with Mr. Romney and b) that to do so would cause her to lose her ability to communicate is no less offensive.  And yes,  I get that you were “making a comparison not reporting a fact” however that makes it no less snarky, or possibly offensive. 

And obviously you consider yourself a journalist, versus a satirist, whom Bill Mahr and others of his ilk have taught us can “say anything we want, for the laugh.” 

You are welcome to call me if you feel the need.

Best,

Jacquie Kubin

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