What Fresh Hell Is This?

November 18, 2009

In case you were wondering...

Yes, it was sexist of Newsweek to use this out-of-context photo and headline (there's worse inside) for their Sarah Palin cover:

And yes, this is a totally awesome photo of Hillary Clinton by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue:



Austinomoney said...

Oo lala!


Check out the best political quiz!
Best Political Quiz

TheBitterAmerican said...

Yeah,...a shapeless pantsuit! Hide her femininity top make her look of equal status to her male counterparts. The Official Wardrobe of NOW, I assume?

EdHeath said...

Agreed that the cover (including the live "How do you solve a problem like Sarah") is sexist, and that it detracts from the debate.

But let me ask this, has Palin traded on her looks to advance her career? I'm not saying she slept her way to where she is now (where ever that is) or even acted in a provocative manner. Nor am I saying that a person's objective or subjective level of attractiveness has any prima facie thing to do with their intelligence or political ability (a. I think some, maybe many, people consider Palin attractive and b. a person's level of subjective attractiveness will likely affect their experiences in life).

All that said, I really wish Colin Powell had run. Then we would have got used to the idea of an African American President without having to contend with the accusations of being a socialist or wanting reparations ("what?" the Republicans say innocently, "Obama is a Democrat").

It is unfortunate that Newsweek used a bulldozer to drive home a message that should have been delivered by a hummingbird - Palin trades on her looks.

viking67 said...

She posed for the photo. It's not like Newsweek rigged up a spycam in a locker room. You regularly scream "sexist" over trivial matters like this and totally devalue the word.

Dave said...

She posed for the photo. It's not like Newsweek rigged up a spycam in a locker room. You regularly scream "sexist" over trivial matters like this and totally devalue the word.

Yes she did pose for the photo. However the photo was taken for an article in Runners' World magazine in which Palin discusses her exercise regimen. In that context it is hardly surprising that she was wearing shorts and running shoes in the photos. (BTW, there's a great parody of the RW photo here).

Maria said...

@Ed: I think being attractive is usually a boost to anyone's career. I do think she's far to free with the whole winking thing. However, she actually played down her looks with the bun and the glasses.

@Viking: I did not realize that you were the official arbiter of what is and isn't sexist and what is and isn't trivial. Please provide me with your email address so that I can run posts by you before putting them up on the blog. I guess Media Matters, Digby and numerous others who blogged on the cover will have to contact you themselves.

@Dave: Thanks for the link. I kept hearing how she should have known that the Runner's World photos could be used elsewhere but I see that that's not what the magazine itself thought:


On the cover of this week’s issue of Newsweek is a photo that was shot exclusively for the August 2009 issue of Runner’s World, in which Sarah Palin was featured on the monthly “I’m a Runner” back page. The photos from that shoot are still under a one-year embargo, and Runner’s World did not provide Newsweek with its cover image. It was provided to Newsweek by the photographer’s stock agency, without Runner’s World’s knowledge or permission.

Bram Reichbaum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bram Reichbaum said...

"However, she actually played down her looks with the bun and the glasses."

LOL, clearly you're not a guy.

I think the sexism is mitigated a bit by the fact that not only did she pose for the pics, but to expand upon the "context": that Runners World exclusive was her premeditated grand re-entry into the mediasphere. So it was kind of her doing -- Ed's right, she chooses to brand herself like that. Not just attractive but sort of dolled-up. Imagine Charles Schumer posing with his shirt unbuttoned down to his sternum and a funky cool medallion over his chest hair.

It's the combo with the caption that makes it a little ugh.

Then again, they're selling magazines. Two rules for that are 1) bare female body parts on the cover sell better than anything else yet invented and 2) controversy sells. They probably THOUGHT to themselves, "If we run this, people will call us sexist, and blog about our magazine! And then our editors will have to be interviewed to explain ourselves! Free publicity!"

viking67 said...

Really? I thought your branding the photo "sexist" actually made you the offical arbiter. Once again, you've chosen to evade the issue with a half-assed attempt at sarcasm. I'm not surprised.

Maria said...


"However, she actually played down her looks with the bun and the glasses."

LOL, clearly you're not a guy.

Clearly she can't win. If she chose to wear her hair soft and flowing and had contact lenses, she would have been accused of playing up her looks and her sexuality. Also, clearly it depends on who's wearing the bun and glasses.

Not just attractive but sort of dolled-up.

And, if she had gone the pantsuit route she would have tons of articles written about that.

Again, can't win.

Let's not even get into the 700+ word article in the freakin' Washington Post analyzing Hillary's cleavage.

But, you are right that Newsweek gets to have it both ways: run a pic with a little skin (OHMYGOD LEGS!) while condemning her for it.

Maybe the jogging shorts actually make her look presidential...

Maria said...


I am hardly alone in thinking this. Here are other Democratic women who are equally "trivial" in their concerns:



Media Matters

Emily's List

Taylor Marsh

But, I guess that feminists should be the last ones to opine on what is or isn't sexist.

EdHeath said...

Maria, I agree that Palin is being judged on a different standard than a male politician would be, but ... let try and come at this from a different direction. Why did Sarah Palin decide to go into politics? I mean, yes, she has a generic conservative pro-business pro-family values agenda. But it strikes me that she has no specific agenda, nor an announced desire to help a specific group or even the vast mass of the population. She has taken up the issue of the decline of America, and defending rural people from us big city slickers, but I don't think she started there. According to Wikipedia, her initial concern in running for City Council was for the disposition of a sales tax. My point is that I don’t think Palin is interested in public service so much as in achieving high office. Which is likely the case for a fair number of politicians, but I would maintain that she is not as good at hiding her shallowness as most politicians (plus most politicians realize they have to address the needs of a majority of their constituents in order to be re-elected). If Palin were a man she probably would not have made it past Mayor of Wasilla.

So I agree the cover of Newsweek, including the silly line about “What to do about a problem like Sarah” is sexist as well as annoyingly silly. I think they could have accomplished more if they had published the picture from “Going Rogue” and captioned it “How many people support her because they think she is attractive?”. Of course, large numbers of people would have been offended by that but it would have been easier for Newsweek to defend themselves.

Contact Lenses said...
This comment has been removed by the author.