Several 2016 presidential candidates were interviewed for Sunday morning's political talk shows on Mother's Day, and not one of them was asked about how they might fix America's poor standing on maternal and child health and education.
A new report ranked the United States 61st globally in maternal health, worst among developed nations. From CBS News:
Save the Children, a global nonprofit organization aimed at improving the health of children worldwide, ranked 179 countries based on five indicators: maternal health, children's well-being, and education, economic, and political status. When taking all of these factors into account, the United States slid to 33rd place worldwide, down two spots in the rankings compared to last year.
While the United States performed well on economic and educational status -- 9th and 16th best, respectively -- in addition to its poor standing in maternal health, it ranked 42nd in children's well-being and 89th in political status, as measured by women's representation in national government.
Republicans Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Ben Carson, as well as Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, all appeared on political talk shows during Mother's Day, but none of them were asked about how they might address the nation's tragic infant mortality rate, reproductive health discrimination, or the fact that the United States is the only industrialized nation without paid maternity leave.
NBC's Meet the Press tackled the topic in a Mother's Day-themed panel at the end of its show, but host Chuck Todd neglected to ask Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina about what her approach would be to correct the U.S.'s maternal failings if she were to be elected. Instead of discussing Fiorina's dubious claims about the origins of gender pay equity, the two discussed free trade, her business record, and her lack of political experience. Todd did wish the candidate a "Happy Mother's Day."
Carson appeared on Fox's Fox News Sunday, where host Chris Wallace began an interview by asking Carson about his ailing mother and asking the candidate to describe how she raised Carson out of "dire poverty" in Detroit. Carson answered that his mother encouraged him to read, and that access to books made all the difference. But Wallace failed to ask Carson how he might increase the chances for other mothers and their children to thrive.
CBS' Bob Schieffer interviewed a pair of 2016 presidential candidates on the Mother's Day edition of Face the Nation, but he failed to ask either Mike Huckabee or Bernie Sanders about policy stances affecting U.S. mothers. Schieffer pressed Huckabee on the threat of ISIS, reforming Social Security, and his past hawking of fake diabetes cures, while focusing most of his discussion with Sanders on Hillary Clinton. Sanders nevertheless took the opportunity to cite Mother's Day and raise concerns about the U.S.'s child care system, which he called a "total disaster."
Republicans have regularly opposed measures that would alleviate some of the ways the nation's current policies have failed American moms. After President Obama called for mandating paid maternity leave in his 2015 State of the Union address, Republicans "didn't join in the applause" that followed and have publicly panned the idea. The Hill further noted that current Republican leadership also opposed the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, which Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said at the time would have devastating consequences.
From the May 10 edition of NBC News' Meet The Press:
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From the May 7 edition of Comedy Central's The Nightly Show:
Boston's Metro Daily demonstrated how to improve media coverage of sexual assault, apologizing for an offensive cover story referring to victims of sexual violence as "babes" after outcry from a local anti-sexual violence advocacy organization.
Police in Boston are investigating a series of sexual assaults in the city after three incidents of groping near Boston University were reported, according to a May 5 report from The Boston Globe.
Metro Daily, a Boston-area free daily newspaper, reported on the investigation with a cover story headlined "BU Babes Beware," featuring an accompanying photo of a woman from the torso-down. Following the article's publication, Safe Hub Collective, a local anti-street harassment and safe space advocacy group publicly called out Metro Daily in an open letter to the outlet, explaining that their cover "not only trivialize[d] the serious issue of sexual assault, but display[ed] the kind of attitude and language that actually contributes to it":
By presenting an image of a headless woman, you dehumanize all women. The dehumanization of women is a key element to violence against them- when you view someone as less-than-human, as an object, it becomes easier to treat them that way. Men who commit assaults like this serial groper do view women as objects or property, which this cover only reinforces.
By referring to women as "babes," you not only sexualize them, but you patronize them. Furthermore, this is exactly the kind of violent language that street harassers use towards women on a daily basis- this kind of reporting, using the language of violence to report on violence, is harmful and potentially retraumatizing. It also serves to trivialize the nature of the assault that the victims experienced.
Metro Daily quickly responded with an apology to readers later that same day, noting that although they had intended to "raise awareness of sexual assault and harassment" in Boston, "it's clear that that is not what was conveyed" through their coverage:
We've heard from many of you about our coverage yesterday about a serial groper who has been targeting women in and around Boston University's campus. While our intention was to raise awareness of sexual assault and harassment within our community, it's clear that that is not what was conveyed with our cover and headline.
Sexual assault is a largely silent epidemic in communities worldwide that affects women, men and children. Survivors of all backgrounds should feel comfortable talking about their experiences without fear that they will be judged or blamed by others. We will try harder in our future coverage to ensure that that will happen.
In a statement to Media Matters, Safe Hub Collective founding member Britni de la Cretaz explained that she is "happy to see that the Metro responded promptly and avoided the 'non-apology" trap that people so often fall into," but that, "only time will tell if their commitment to do better will actually be one that they keep. Our hope is that, going forward, not just the Metro but all news outlets can avoid falling into reporting that blames the victim, perpetuates harmful stereotypes and, ultimately, contributes to the very violence it claims to condemn. We believe that everyone can (and should) do better."
De la Cretaz also urged media to not only provide the contact information of the police in their reports but to also include resources on rape crisis support. "I'd love to see the media do when it reports on sexual assault is provide a number to a rape crisis support hotline/local rape crisis center at the end of the piece, and not just the number to a police department," she explained. "Changing the narrative means supporting survivors of assault and that means recognizing that not all survivors want to report to the police and that, even if they do, they may need support beyond that. "
In prior reporting on sexual assault, outlets like ABC News have provided resources for those seeking additional information on rape, sexual assault, sexual violence, and crisis support.
Longtime critic of feminism Suzanne Venker claimed in a recent column that feminism and contemporary sexual mores have eliminated men's incentives to marry.
According to the Pew Research Center, the share of never-married American adults (ages 25 and older) has increased to one-in-five; double the percentage of never-married adults in 1960. The study also found that the gap between never-married men (23 percent) and women (17 percent) also increased during this time period.
In a May 5 FoxNews.com op-ed, Venker blamed feminism and changing sexual attitudes as the reason men don't want to get married. Venker asserted that "men used to marry to have sex and a family," but argued that "when more women make themselves sexually available, the pool of marriageable men diminishes." Later Venker added that feminism has made marriage unappealing to men because "there's nothing in it for them":
Men used to marry to have sex and a family. They married for love, too, but they had to marry the girl before taking her to bed, or at least work really, really hard to wear her down. Those days are gone.
What exactly does marriage offer men today? "Men know there's a good chance they'll lose their friends, their respect, their space, their sex life, their money and -- if it all goes wrong -- their family," says Helen Smith, Ph.D., author of "Men on Strike." "They don't want to enter into a legal contract with someone who could effectively take half their savings, pension and property when the honeymoon period is over.Men aren't wimping out by staying unmarried or being commitment phobes. They're being smart."
Unlike women, men lose all power after they say "I do." Their masculinity dies, too.
There was a time when wives respected their husbands. There was a time when wives took care of their husbands as they expected their husbands to take care of them.
Or perhaps therein lies the rub. If women no longer expect or even want men to "take care of" them -- since women can do everything men can do and better, thank you very much, feminism -- perhaps the flipside is the assumption that women don't need to take care of husbands, either. And if no one's taking care of anyone, why the hell marry?
Venker has a long history of attacking feminism in what she calls society's "war on men," claiming "women pushed men off their pedestal" since the sexual revolution. Venker has also claimed that "the so-called rise of women has come at men's expense. Men have been disempowered."
Media are hyping claims that Carly Fiorina's 2016 bid for the GOP presidential nomination renders the Republican "war on women" neutral -- because both parties now have women running for office -- dismissing how Fiorina's policy positions would harm women.
From the May 5 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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Twenty years after 189 countries committed to improving the status of women in the media, the United Nations has found some improvements, but little overall change.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing World Conference on Women, at which representatives from 189 countries committed to a blueprint for new global policy empowering women, known as the Declaration and Platform for Action. The Platform identified "12 critical areas of concern" for women worldwide, including the media.
In 1995, the delegates argued that the media helped perpetuate "gender-based stereotyping," and demanded that the "continued projection of negative and degrading images of women in media" be changed. Signatories committed to promoting "women's full and equal participation in the media" at all levels, from management to on-air talent, as well as promoting "balanced and diverse portrayals of women."
Two decades later, the UN has found that there "has been some progress since the Beijing Conference." Notably, "The percentage of stories reported by women has edged up in most issue areas." Women are also highly active on social media, an important force in the media landscape.
However, women are still far from equal in global media. Based on recent data from 108 countries, the UN released an infographic noting that on print, radio, and television news, men still dominate both news organizations and the stories those organizations report on:
The UN also noted that while social media has become "a sounding horn for the feminist movement," it can also be dangerous for women. According to their data, 26 percent of women aged 18-24 "have been stalked online; 25% were targets of online sexual harassment."
Media Matters research confirms that the inequality women face in global news media is a still reality in the United States. As we recently reported, white men now host all of the Sunday morning political talk shows on CNN and broadcast news, giving them a key platform to set the media and political agenda for the rest of the week.
White men also make the large majority of guest appearances. A 2013 Media Matters analysis found that gender diversity on these shows was practically unchanged over the previous five years -- and the numbers are much worse for women of color. This trend has continued since:
Female experts are also often missing from crucial media debates. In one Media Matters study, women's health experts made up only 4 percent of guests brought on to cable news to discuss key abortion legislation. Another study found that women made up only 28 percent of cable news economic guests over the course of a year. And when it comes to discussing national security and foreign affairs, women made up less than a quarter of guests in one year.
As the UN noted, many of these problems stem from newsrooms that are not diverse. Last year, when Jill Abramson was ousted from her role as Executive Editor at the New York Times, it meant that none of the ten largest U.S. papers were led by women anymore.
The UN is now asking signatories from the Beijing Conference to recommit to their goals from 20 years ago, noting that "even a cursory look at media content shows how far there is to go":
Women have an equal right to participate in public debate, including in the media, and offer insights and ideas that must be heard. Everyone deserves to live free from the burden of harmful gender stereotypes.
The media shapes our world -- but so do women, as powerful agents of change in all areas of society. It is time for media to reflect this reality.
From the May 4 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom With Carol Costello:
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After Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced she was charging six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, the Daily Caller reported on how she's a "sexy," "smoldering civil servant."
Gray's death and treatment while in police custody has sparked national outrage and contributed to riots and peaceful demonstrations in Baltimore over the last week. Mosby, who is Baltimore's chief prosecutor, announced during a May 1 press conference she had filed the charges against the officers after a medical examiner's report ruled the death a homicide.
Daily Caller Sports Editor Christian Datoc reported on the press conference by calling Mosby a "smokeshow" with "'crazy girl' eyes":
Throughout the presser, the 35-year-old prosecutor managed to maintain a fiery, authoritative demeanor AND flashed some serious "crazy girl" eyes, a combination which -- if truth be told -- I found incredibly sexy.
I wouldn't mind being unrestrained in the back of Ms. Mosby's paddy wagon.
Datoc's post also featured tweets from individuals calling Mosby attractive, writing "it looks like we weren't the only ones smitten with this smoldering civil servant."
The Daily Caller has an extensive history of sexist commentary demeaning women. Recently, the Caller's founder and Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson dismissed controversy surrounding an email his brother sent, which called New York City Major Bill de Blasio's female spokesperson a "self-righteous bitch" with "dick-fright." Previously, Caller writer Patrick Howley came under fire for inappropriate comments about a female reporter. The conservative website also published a sexist cartoon attacking Meghan McCain which featured a photograph of McCain with speech bubbles emerging from her breasts. Tucker Carlson told Politico in 2014 that the site frequently publishes "slideshows of the female form" because they "care about traffic."
Emily Miller, chief investigative reporter for Washington, D.C. Fox affiliate WTTG (Fox 5) reported on the alleged rape of a Maryland woman, repeatedly emphasizing claims that the woman was a "virgin."
According to Miller, police said a man sexually assaulted a Catholic nun during a home invasion in Prince George's County, MD on April 29. Miller's April 30 write-up of the assault on Fox 5's website noted that "Sources tell FOX 5 the victim, an older woman, was a virgin." In her televised report, Miller said "according to our sources, a Catholic nun, who was a virgin, was raped in her home last night." Miller repeated that the woman was a virgin later in the segment, saying "according to police sources, the victim was a Catholic nun who was a virgin."
MILLER: Tony, this is one of those stories you just hate to believe is true. According to our sources, a Catholic nun who was a virgin was raped in her home last night. The suspect got away, but he was caught early this morning in Northeast, Washington. D.C. police cornered the alleged rapist this morning in this apartment in Northeast. He was hiding in a kitchen cabinet. Juan Randolph, seen in these photos, was arrested and is going to be extradited to Prince George's County to face charges including rape and home invasion.
CPL. NICOLE HUBBARD: At about 10:00 last night, officers responded to the five thousand block of Sixteenth Avenue in Chillum for the report of a sexual assault. They got there and found out that the victim -- or that the suspect, Randolph, had broken into the victim's home, assaulted her and fled the scene.
MILLER: According police sources, the victim was a Catholic nun who was a virgin. She is an older woman. The spokeswoman would not comment on the sexual assault victim. She would only say this --
HUBBARD: This is just a very disturbing crime. When something like this occurs, it just really affects our entire community -- affects our police department.
From the April 30 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Media are parroting conservative lawmakers' and activist groups' characterization of the D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) as an "abortion law," an inaccurate portrayal the GOP is pushing in its effort to repeal the legislation. The law actually provides women vital protection from discrimination based on reproductive health decisions, like assisted pregnancy and even premarital sex.
From the April 29 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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A new commentary feature in the National Rifle Association's magazine America's 1st Freedom included sexist descriptions of an Obama administration official and a racial slur that is used to describe people from India or the Middle East.
The NRA's revamped website for its print and digital magazine America's 1st Freedom includes a new feature called WarriorWire. According to its description on the NRA's website, "'WarriorWire' is our conduit for the unvarnished, unedited reactions of law enforcement and military personnel to the mainstream media's spin. This space gives them the opportunity to set the record straight, correct inaccuracies and just plain vent."
In an April 28 WarriorWire column, NRA Life of Duty correspondent Chuck Holton wrote that State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf is a "spokesperson barbie [sic]," suggested that her viewpoints on terrorism had been negatively influenced by a women's studies program, and described her as a "clueless, poorly accessorized mouthpiece."
Holton was reacting to a comment made by Harf in February during an appearance on MSNBC's Hardball that linked a lack of economic opportunity in the Middle East to terrorism. Even though a similar viewpoint had been expressed by the Bush Administration, Harf was inundated with often-sexist attacks by conservative media for her statement.