Overshadowed by Men: Women’s Voices Nowhere to be Found in 2012 Election News Regarding Women’s Rights
By Amy Gill,
When it comes which issues were of importance in the 2012 Election, there is no doubt that women’s rights fell under that category. From equal pay to access of contraceptives, issues regarding the rights of women have been widely argued and talked about throughout corporate media. But if you thought women were the ones arguing and discussing over the rights of their own bodies, you were quite mistaken. On an issue that has to do with the rights specifically of women, they are the ones who are watching men tell them how they are, where middle- aged males attempt to be the authority on matters that do not nearly pertain to them.
The fact that we follow, abide by, and vote for a leader of our country who is continually male is difficult enough when it comes to fighting for women’s privileges, but having a male majority talk about these issues in basically all aspects of the media as well? Now that’s just plain backwards. From journalists who publish these topics in printed media to the Bill O’Reilly’s and Anderson Cooper’s of Fox News and CNN, the media personalities who debate these issues on air and online are not the women themselves; they are men. According to a study conducted by the 4th Estate, more than half of the sources that are quoted when discussing women’s rights are men. Not only did they focus on printed coverage, but TV news as well, where they calculated that “’Hardball’ (MSNBC), “Special Report” (Fox), “Face the Nation” (CBS) and “State of the Union” (CNN) are all stations that continue to be comprised of more than seventy-five percent male guests (mediafreedominternational.org).” If dominating the topics of economics and politics wasn’t enough, feeling the need to handle the issues of women’s rights seems to be important to them as well, where they believe they have the knowledge and power to discuss these subjects regardless of the fact that they are not women.
It isn’t that women are not able or present to talk about these issues, but that men are the ones called upon to discuss them. Despite women’s roles being prevalent in corporate news and industries throughout the country, they are still in the background when it comes to their own rights and equalities. We have watched men be the dominate bearer of news on television and every other form of media when talking about important issues regarding the election, but them telling women what’s right and wrong in terms of their own bodies is where the line should be drawn. Men are the ones who articulate what others have to say about women’s rights, where they are quoted and front and center as news anchors. So the question is, who are they getting this information from that they are repeating in the news?
Rights concerning women are prevalent on both sides of the political spectrum, where Obama and Romney fight women’s votes by catering to them in terms of how they handle women’s rights. In a pro-choice and pro-life debate, these candidates could not be more opposite in what they believe. However, they still have one thing in common; they are both men, telling women what is right. Women have fought long and hard to receive the rights that they have today, but what seems to still be a controversial topic is the rights of their own bodies. Being equal to men is what women strive for, yet they are still being told what to do when it comes to having children or attempting not to. The fact that there exists the debate on how women should treat their own bodies is outrageous in itself, but the possibility of having crucial components of women’s health care being eliminated is ludicrous, especially when the decision is in the hands of a man.
Organizations such as Planned Parenthood and other family- planning clinics have had a huge positive impact for women in the US. The fate of these helpful institutions that support and supply women with necessary health needs has been placed in the hands of men, where they are attempting to control and in some cases, eradicate them. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, conservative or liberal, there is no denying that health care facilities such as Planned Parenthood benefits women, especially in reproductive health care needs. The fact that men are attempting to have a say in what stays and what goes in terms of this makes no sense considering they are only a step in the means of reproduction. It is the woman who controls and decides what happens after, and it is the woman’s body that is being threatened and controlled by men as they try to regulate women’s health care. Who are they to say what a woman can and can’t do with her body? Women are the ones who enable population to occur by giving birth, and the fact that men are attempting to enforce laws that limit a woman’s choice regarding her body makes little sense.
The issue is not about pro-life or pro-choice. It’s not about your stance on Planned Parenthood or regulating rights on women’s health care. Each of us has our own opinion about how women should treat their bodies. At the end of the day, the issue isn’t about what side you are on. It’s about men deciding that they are the experts on women’s issues; that they are the ones who get to discuss and argue their side about them. That statement in itself shows that that idea is skewed. Corporate media portrays issues concerning women’s rights from a man’s point of view. Countless times we see the media quoting and representing men that talk about issues that do not pertain to them. It is evident that there is a large gender gap when it comes to the topic of women’s rights in the 2012 Election. As if fighting for rights as a woman wasn’t difficult enough, we have seen that woman cannot even speak for themselves.
Again and again we have seen the unequal effects of living in a “man’s world,” where women are tossed on the backburner. This is just another example. Men are the ones who have not only decided that they should be the ones to talk about important topics, but that they are the ones who should implement laws and regulations regarding them. It is true that corporate media reports issues regarding women’s rights, but it is not women who are called on to talk about them. As Megan Carpentier, writer of the article Men Are Even Experts on Women in the Mainstream Media, reminds us,“The minute more than a handful of dedicated women are paying attention to abortion, birth control, the fight to retain access to either or even our right to vote, the mainstream media calls in the male cavalry to explain our bodies and rights to us (rawstory.com).”
Amy Gill is a fourth year student at Sonoma State University. She will be graduating in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology.