WMC releases media guide for gender neutral coverage of women candidates and politicians

Throughout the years, we’ve written pretty extensively about sexist media coverage and the chilling effect it has on women-identified candidates and politicians.

That’s why I’m so thrilled about the Women’s Media Center’s newly released Media Guide for its Name It. Change It. Project. The Guide (click for PDF ) works to identify, prevent and end sexist media coverage of women candidates and politicians.

The guide is specially formatted to teach members of the media how to avoid injecting sexism into their own coverage and how to spot sexism in others’. And it’s pretty rad!

The guide is chock-full of research, which I think makes it a strong and highly useful document. One section in particular stands out, which points to data showing how sexism not only can cost women an election, but discourages them from running at all.

It’s hugely important to use data to change minds and illuminate problems. But let’s be real- most of us don’t really need elaborate case studies, statistics, or polling to know how much of a problem sexism in the media really is. Studies aside, many of us can speak from personal experience about experiencing sexism or gender shaming ourselves, or witnessing it happen to our friends, family, or favorite politicians. I can personally remember one instance of being warned never to appear drinking in public if I wanted to run for student government in college (I did run, and won, and had a celebratory beer afterwards with my friends in public, on campus.)

All this to say, huge kudos goes to the Women’s Media Center for yet again standing up to this huge problem with gusto and grace.

Citing useful concepts and tools like the “rule of reversibility” (test the suspect phrase by applying it to the other gender and seeing if it would still work), the guide makes the case and provides the tools to abandon terms or story frames of women candidates that wouldn’t be written about men.

It uses examples of past instances of sexism in media to illustrate the full scope of the problem, and highlights case studies to show that sexism has consequences, and we all have a role to play in eliminating and counteracting this injustice.

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