Media and Sexism: It’s Not Just Megyn Kelly

Media and Sexism

It’s ironic that the media which informs people about worldwide trends, politics, culture and events has to fight sexism within its ranks. The same media that tells us about the economic, cultural, social inequalities that women have to face every day has double standards when it comes to women journalists who have to bear the brunt of social media trolling and bullying that is completely uncalled for.

Recently, Huffington Post released a collage of video clips that shows the kind of bullying and sexism women anchors and reporters go through while on television. Huffington Post reported that on Tuesday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), accused Megyn Kelly of being “fascinated by sex”. She is not the first woman to receive derogatory remarks.

Also Read: A Reflection on Newsrooms from India’s Top Editors 

At the Women’s Ink Summit earlier this year, Deputy Resident Editor of The Hindu and former TV journalist Suhasini Haidar had told SheThePeople.TV that men are targeted for the things they do in their workplace while women are targeted for different reasons.

“They get targeted for being women, their voices, their faces, the way they look, the way they spoke instead and that actually is the core of the problem. So long as you are criticized for what you write or your story on television, it won’t matter whether you are a woman or you are a man. But when you are targeted personally as opposed to the basis of your work then that does reek of sexism and a gender bias,” she said, about trolling.

While the media business in fact fortunately does have many women lead anchors and reporters, the idea that this bars them from being subject to sexism is a wrong assumption.

A form of blatant sexism comes in when when women get married and are expecting a baby. Financial Times South Asia Bureau chief Amy Kazim told SheThePeople.TV, “I was a very hard charging workaholic woman at the age of 44. And then I was pregnant and that was amongst the vulnerable times. Because I thought everyone will say ‘Amy Kazmin was such a good journalist until she had a baby.’ …It was very anxious time for me.”
She went on to describe that pressure… Something that business news anchor Fatima Karan could also relate to. “When I announced that I was pregnant, I could sense that management signalled ‘you are history’”, she shared.

We clearly do need to hear it like it is, just as we need women in pivotal roles to inspire many others around the world to fight for their rights and have their voices heard. Shoma Chaudhary, the former editor of CatchNews, hits the nail to head when she points out the double standards that are followed in media.

“Gender stereotyping is real. When a woman is emphatic, she is emotional. When a man is emphatic, he is assertive,” she said.

These are the kinds of perspectives that need to be challenged in the media today. Women journalists have paved the way for the younger generation for sure, but it is a cycle that needs to continue. Fighting sexism is a work in progress that cannot afford to take a hiatus and hope to work itself out. We must be determined to reach that stage where gender plays no role in judging someone’s work.

Feature Image Courtesy: Iran Daily