Media Sites Should Stop Sexually Charged Attacks

MAGGIE MONSON | Copy Chief

Politicians on both sides of the spectrum use attack ads and other negative images to discredit their opponents. These messages may or may not be ethical, but no matter what, they should not be crude or sexually explicit.

Breitbart News, a politically conservative news website, recently featured an ad with Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s head atop Miley Cyrus’ bikini-clad body. Pelosi is the minority leader of the United States House of Representatives.

The image shows Pelosi with her tongue out and bent at the waist. It used an image from Cyrus’ infamous twerking performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.

This is a disgusting attack on one of America’s most powerful female politicians.

Breitbart was trying to gain publicity, and it did so. But any website this desperate for attention clearly cannot be considered credible.

A political news website should never have to publicly degrade anyone in order to gain publicity.

Clearly the stunt worked, because I felt compelled to write this column. It only served to make the site seem like a joke, however.

People all over the web are reacting, and rightfully so.

Hopefully this national attention will help discredit the website and bring attention to the more subtle ways in which media try to discredit female politicians. A barrage of condescending, sexist and degrading words and images exist all over the Internet.

Breitbart’s response to the uproar, posted online Monday, criticized its own critics for not speaking out whenever the media degrade a conservative female politician.

Cyrus herself portrayed Michele Bachmann on Saturday Night Live in a sexual way and some media outlets have sexualized Sarah Palin in the past.

I would say their response is misguided. It is not necessarily the Democratic Party leadership’s responsibility to attack every single website, radio show or television show that degrades female politicians. This would be impossible.

The appropriate response would have been an apology. All media need to stop devaluing female politicians’ significant contributions to politics by using stereotypical tropes or sexualizing them.

The issue is not about Democrats versus Republicans. This is about taking women in leadership seriously.

Political websites do not have to be serious all the time, but this is not playful or edgy. It is disgusting. I hope Breitbart loses its supporters after such a pathetic stunt.

It is time to call media out for using such tactics.

Start looking for the more subtle ways news outlets use tired, outdated stereotypes about women to discredit their political beliefs. It is more common than one would like to think.

Start criticizing politicians for their politics and stop using gender as a method of attack.

 

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