It’s “sexist,” says National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill, in high dudgeon over Newsweek’s cover photo of crazy-eyed Michele Bachmann looking crazy-eyed. As if readers might look at the photo and suspect Bachmann is… you know, crazy. As if her on-the-record views don’t encourage this suspicion.
Bachmann said in 2004 that being gay is “personal enslavement,” and that, if same-sex marriage were legalized, “little children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal and natural and that perhaps they should try it.” Speaking about gay-rights activists, that same year, she said, “It is our children that is the prize for this community.” She believes that evolution is a theory that has “never been proven,” and that intelligent design should be taught in schools.
The above quote-out is from a recent New Yorker profile of Bachmann, carefully written and free of judgmental assertions. Guess what — she still seems crazy.
O’Neill also objected to Newsweek referring to Bachmann as “the queen of rage” and declared that no man would be labeled “king of” this or that. Maybe not, but mainstream media outlets (the New Yorker aside) routinely portray public figures in ways that reflect what they imagine their audiences think of these figures.
This has nothing to do with sexism. Howard Dean was toast in 2004 after that tape of him urging supporters to keep fighting was shown. The media portrayed him as borderline crazy, though he was anything but.
Would O’Neill have objected if Newsweek ran a flattering photo of Bachmann with a text that dishonestly portrayed her as well-educated, rational and tolerant? I doubt it.
My point is that O’Neill is wedded to tired old slogans and can’t see the forest for the trees. She should choose her battles more wisely instead of saying things that end up as talking points on Fox News.