By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
This should come as no surprise to anyone. There’s a paucity of women politicians on the Sunday morning news shows, according to Politico.
I launched my PBS weekly women’s news talk program, To the Contrary, because this used to be just as true for female panelists on network TV almost two decades ago (when To the Contrary first aired, 19 seasons ago). Now there are more female panelists and guests, but for some reason female politicians are hard to book. The Politico article describes what a hard time bookers for the Sunday morning network news show have trying to book a coveted interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Those close to the speaker describe her as extremely busy, trying to make as much time as possible for television appearances. But I believe there is much more at stake.
Every time progressive female politicians appear on TV, they are bashed in other media—online and elsewhere. Speaker Pelosi is one of the most capable, powerful speakers in (recent) U.S. history, having pushed through Congress healthcare reform. Whether you support healthcare reform or not, it is something Democrats tried for more than a half-century to produce, but failed at, until Speaker Pelosi succeeded. The media and perhaps more importantly, the American public, have conflicted views and double standards about women in power. That became supremely obvious to me when then-Sen. Hillary Clinton ran for the Democratic presidential nomination. She was lambasted in ways that no man would ever have to endure, called a she-goat and worse.
When are we going to get past our misconceptions about powerful women? We call them sharp-elbowed, unattractive, banshee-like, and so on. I fear we won’t get beyond those negative stereotypes unless and until women unite behind a movement to destroy them. And that, my friend, is not happening anytime soon.