Election 2012 Sexism Watch #5: Bachmann Denies Sexism

From The Factor, September 26, 2011:

O’Reilly: “Do you think you’re being treated differently because you’re the only woman in the race?  Here you’ve got eight sweaty guys – they’re all sweaty – and then you’re there.  Are you being treated differently because you’re the only woman in the race, do you think?”

Bachmann: “You know I don’t think so. I’ve never felt that way. I grew up with three brother and no sisters.”

O’Reilly: “So there’s no gender bias, anything like that?”

Bachmann: “No, I grew up with three brothers and no sisters. That’s the best preparation for politics that any girl can have.  I don’t feel in any way that I’m discriminated against. I’m just grateful to be able to be in the race. I think it’s wonderful…”

O’Reilly: That’s refreshing to hear.  Remember Hillary Clinton when she ran last time [scoffs], ‘you know, I’m getting hammered because I’m a woman….’ You don’t see it that way.”

Bachmann: “I don’t think so. All of us have to go through this.”

Where to begin with this video. O’Reilly reduces men to “natural” brutes with his two kidding-on-the-square comments that the male primary contenders are “eight sweaty guys.” Bachmann then affirms this idea with her contention that growing up with three brothers prepared her for politics, insinuating that she is well versed in responding to (naturally brutish) male behavior. Can I get a “boys will be boys” here?

Then, after Bachmann draws a clear distinction in the way boys/men and girls/women behave, she claims that she is not being treated differently because she is the only woman in the race. “All of us have to go through this.”

There’s pressure for Bachmann to not complain about the (obvious) sexism she faces for fear of being labeled a “victim”/weak, even though it has likely already cost her the candidacy. O’Reilly’s effusive praise of Bachmann’s denial of sexism — “refreshing” — is evidence of this pressure.

O’Reilly then scoffs at Hillary Clinton’s claim that she faced sexism in the 2008 election, despite ample research finding that she did (here, here, here, and here), and egregious examples, including audience members yelling and holding up the sign “Iron My Shirt” at several campaign events:

Iron My Shirt

Being the first candidate to have a nutcracker made in her likeness:


Rush Limbaugh asking about Clinton, “Will this country want to actually watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?”

Author Marc Rudov speaking on Fox News: “When Barack Obama speaks, men hear, ‘Take off for the future.’ And when Hillary Clinton speaks, men hear, ‘Take out the garbage’” (in a mocking high pitch).

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews describing Clinton’s senatorial victory speech: “It can grate on some men when they listen to it, fingernails on a blackboard. . . . How does she do it without screaming? How does she do it without becoming grating?”

Washington Post reporter Joel Achenbach writing that Clinton “needs a radio-controlled shock collar so that aides can zap her when she starts to get screechy. She came perilously close to going on a tirade.”

MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson featuring Republican strategist Roger Stone, creator of the anti–Hillary Clinton 527 organization, “Citizens United, Not Timid”—or C.U.N.T.

“Progressive” Air American radio host Randi Rhodes declaring at a network event that Clinton and former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro were “fucking whores.”

Some of the most egregious examples of altered, degrading images of Hillary Clinton that littered the Internet during the election can be found at Women-America (trigger warning: nudity, pornography) and in this video montage:

Perhaps O’Reilly was channeling Chris Matthews who asked, “Is Hillary out of line for painting herself as a victimized woman every time her male rivals criticize her? And do we want a president who plays the gender card every time her opponents attack her?”

Presidential candidates run with the knowledge that they will be attacked, but can O’Reilly honestly say that Clinton wasn’t getting hammered because she was a woman given this mountain of evidence? It’s great that O’Reilly is giving face time to a female presidential contender, but his mocking dismissal of sexism on the presidential campaign trail hurts Bachmann and future female contenders.

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