Women and Politics

A blog from WCF about the state of women and politics

Sexism is in the air: Martha Coakley called Ice Queen and Mean Girl

I guess a historic candidacy deserves a historic level of sexism. As potentially the first woman Senator from Massachusetts, Martha Coakley is undoubtedly in for a world of good old fashioned sexism in politics.

And thanks to a Boston Herald columnist, Martha Coakley has already been served her first large helping of it.

Recently, Martha declined to answer a campaign finance question during a press conference. Unfortunately, Boston Herald columnist Lauren Beckam Falcone saw this as an opportunity to hit Martha with sexist rhetoric, calling her an “ice queen” and “mean girl.” And, maybe my favorite, “Mean Martha.”

Does anyone call President Obama names when he declines a reporter’s question? Or even any male politician for that matter?

Aside from the pure absurdity of the use of middle school insults (and Glee phrases?) to describe a Senatorial candidate, perhaps the most disheartening aspect of this attack is that the name-calling is coming from a woman. A woman who tries to use the same sexism she’s employing to draw pity upon the fact that a female reporter was treated “as if she’s invisible.”

I get that a columnist has to be “edgy” and “creative” in their writing…but, Ice Queen, really? Isn’t there a line somewhere between a catchy post and tearing down your own gender?

As Women for Coakley points out, these kinds of incidents don’t just hurt Martha Coakley—they are detrimental to all women. In response to the column, Women for Coakley decided to focus “on the women whom this incident actually hurts: women who have no newspaper column, no press conferences, no voice.” They go on to write that:

This hurts the single mother with no healthcare who needs her viewpoints represented in healthcare debates. This hurts the female office worker who hears men in the next cubicle laughing about the headline and wonders how she can possibly ask to be paid as much as her male colleagues in such an environment. This hurts the female engineer who wonders how she can ask her co-workers to tone down the sexual innuendo of office conversations and the unwelcome comments about her figure without being labeled an “ice queen.” This hurts the idealistic teen girl who is inspired to study government and to someday run for office, but doesn’t know whether our society really accepts powerful women.

Through this column, the Boston Herald and Lauren Beckam Falcone have effectively told women and girls that there is no place for them in elected office because if they run, they’ll be ridiculed. Ridiculed not even for their policy or ideas, but merely for being a woman.

How long will we as a society allow these kinds of archaic sexist insults to continue? Ladies, haven’t we come further than this?

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