Culture, Feminism & Sexuality

Media’s Portrait of Women at Odds with Reality

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by Lil Tuttle

Last week, the always engaging and insightful Mollie Hemingway discussed how the media’s portrayal of American women is so frequently at odds with the life realities experienced by a majority of American women. She delivered her remarks at the March Conservative Women’s Network luncheon in Washington DC.

Mollie, who is a journalist by profession, said that because she’s from the media world she pays particularly attention to the portrayal of women in media.

There is this idea of what it means to be a woman that does not actually reflect any of the women I know or that I interact with on a daily basis.  It’s very weird to have women be a big part of the conversation but have it not match the reality I, and so many other people I know, actually have.

So few women identify as feminists, but you do not get this from media coverage.  The assumption that is placed into media coverage is, ‘of course everyone’s a feminist’.

She believes part of the media problem is structural and related to its female leadership.

A  lot of women who have positions of leadership in the media today come from a certain time and place where the values that they hold are not very diverse.  It’s very hard for women who don’t share their same sort of limited groupthink on liberal ideology to rise in a lot of media [leadership] positions, and this is reflected in so much of the media coverage of women.

Moreover, these women don’t have a lot of curiosity or understanding of how other women outside their limited world might see a given issue differently.  As one example, Mollie pointed out that Kellyanne Conway has the media stumped.  Here is a highly successful professional woman who for decades had a vision and saw it through. But Kellyanne doesn’t fit the media’s preconceived image of a successful woman, so they aren’t dealing with her elevation to national leadership very well.

CWN attendees listen to Mollie Hemingway’s insights.

Media’s lack of curiosity also prevents them from an honest self-analysis about women.  She found it interesting that media has completely avoided tackling a central question about women from the most recent election:  why did so many women vote for Trump?

As thefederalist.com senior editor, Mollie works with many highly educated, hardworking and successful conservative women thinkers and writers across the nation.  These are women who balance work and family on a daily basis.  “Both successful and fertile,” they hold very different perspectives on issues that media rarely even acknowledge.

Hemingway offered this advice to young professional conservative women on navigating a world that, for the moment, seems largely hostile to them and to their perspectives.  Continue to do the good thinking and good work that brings about success.  That success only confirms that media’s portrayal of women is misguided and disconnected from reality.

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