Friday, March 27, 2015

13 Words, Coded Sexism? or What....

Looks like quite a few people are talking about pile-on of negative words toward SOS Clinton in the media. Quick clarification, more than 13 words were noted, NYT writer only posted 13.

Yesterday a Hillary Clinton supporter sent out some tweets to a NYT writer and a letter (citing Peter Daou's piece about anti-Clinton memes) to over 100 reporters that he was aware of a number of words that have been repeated ad nauseam in articles related to Hillary Clinton in a way that we haven't seen of other candidates. And lo and behold.. DRAMA LAMA DING DONG!!! Lol. Fox, Rush, all conservative blogs, even ABC. I couldn't believe someone called out all those words! Was fantastic to hear and see everywhere...

After the supporter sent the letter a NYT writer then tweeted about the letter, described as being done "derisively" by Peter Daou, highlighting some of the words:

polarizing, calculating, disingenuous, insincere, ambitious, inevitable, entitled, over confident, secretive and "will do anything to win", "represents the past", "out of touch"…

Turns out there words including some of the more obvious sexist ones like "petulant", "musty", but those were not tweeted out by the NYT writer.

The NYT writer tweeted out those 13 words were called "coded sexism" by the supporter and the text that the supporter would be "watching" for them. And that is why the heyday ensued, conservative blogs mockingly suggesting this was about word policing.

I have to admit I had to pause because most of the words tweeted didn't specifically jump out at me as sexist (although sexism and sexist are different). I had to really go through the words to see what was sexist about them even though I am well-aware of the double standard usage of them for Clinton and no one else with such frequency and diligence. But the one that struck me the most was "ambitious". Aren't all political candidates in national politics? And then I was brought back to the very first time I heard Hillary Rodham Clinton's name. "Baking cookies". Do we all remember what question she was asked?

"Why did you decide to have a career?"

You would have to be some kind of nut to not realize how sexist that is.

Basically, why did you have ambition that men should have. (Although they were practically asking her why she even left the house, wtf).

Insincere also strikes me a little. First of all, I do personally find her sincere but that's because I watch her wonkiness and her serious moments, to me there is no insincerity there. But secondly, whatever others are seeing, she's a politician, so I don't know what planet of sincere politicians these media writers must be on for her to be the exception.

Maybe "entitled" too. Sorta feeds into that idea of someone being haughty. Never heard that word about another politician. It's weird, hard to tell after a while are these words because she's Hillary Clinton or because she's a woman. maybe using belittling language that's easier to use against a woman that they're happy to use because that woman happens to be Hillary Clinton. 

Do I think *all* the words are coded sexism, no, but that's not what Daou's piece even implies, it implies that SOME of the words are sexist, and some are just anti-Clinton memes regularly being pushed by the media. And I agree. But the fact is, things like "musty smelling" and NYT drawing her as a dead witch, is sexist and misogynist.

ANYONE who lived through 2008 saw the sexist vitriol. Even Fox news anchor Kurtz mentioned it while talking about the "13 words". And *if* some of the current negative focus is on her because of some seething resentment that a woman this "ambitious" cannot be taken down, then maybe all those pile-on negative words have more to do with gender than is easily seen at face value. And the more I read through articles, the more the language would seem unnatural if said toward a male politician. Honestly, I don't know and I would probably need to see some scholar break it down for me for me to see more of it. But make no mistake about it, I've seen plenty of sexist stuff been written about SOS Clinton, ranging from blatantly sexist to things about Hillary Clinton that you just wouldn't write about a man.

But I do know for sure, as you can tell by the title of my blog, they are loaded, negative narrative words that the NYT and others consistently pepper through their stories when writing or talking about Hillary Clinton. And sexism or not, that's not journalism, it's biased, ugly, narrative pushing. You see in my articles I often include which "bonus anti-clinton meme words" are in the articles right below them, and they are similar to the words mentioned by Peter daou and John West.

As for "watching you", I certainly hope so. I hope that people keep their eyes peeled for this type of narrative shaping and meme pushing. It's why I started writing this blog. I hope people keep their eyes and ears open, look for all those words (and others). Are they conveniently in opinion columns? Are they couched in "others have said" (give me a break). Because once you learn to read narrative, you'll never be able to undo that, and you'll know the difference between fact and opinion.

I also tweeted the NYT writer. Mine she didn't share. I respectfully said I found them to be more about narrative than sexism.

And whatever we attribute the words to, clearly he, I and others find the endless littering of these words in news articles about a former Flotus, former State Senator, Former Secretary of State unacceptable. Good on ya Mr. West.

Update: Wapo writer, Aaron Blake, weighed in and makes a few points I have to share:

"Calculating" is almost completely something used to attack Clinton or describe the attacks on her. The same goes for "disingenuous," "insincere," "entitled," "secretive," "over-confident," "represents the past" and "out of touch." These are all loaded words  and not terms used casually by mainstream media journalists like Chozick to describe a politician.
 Thank you sir for noticing !!! that these words ARE used for her!! But the point where he's wrong is that mainstream "journalists" don't use them. They do.
The same cannot be said for some other words. "Polarizing" is a word that has long followed Clinton, as has "ambitious," and "inevitable."
And some of these words should indeed be reined in -- if not necessarily for the reason this group wants.
Hear that, narrative pushers? Reign them in, they're not journalism.

And while we're at it, go ahead and retire "inevitable," too. We've been talking about it for a while, sure, but it's probably been overdone (not too mention it aims to predict the future). Now it's all about whether Clinton gets any capable primary opponents. Until then, call her a huge favorite and leave it at that.

HALLALUJAH. Will anyone listen? Doubt it, but A-freakin-Men.

Thank you, Mr. West.


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  2. Thank you for this blog! The former SOS is regularly called all kinds of names by so-called journalists. Some of it is ,no doubt, out of sexist motivation. Whatever the motives, they should be told to STOP by all of us. This is not censorship. It's the public holding reporters accountable for treating one public figure so disrespectfully while giving others a complete pass.