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Rachel Joy Larris @RachelLarris
, 19 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
So most people don't know this about me, but I'm actually one of the people who put together the research that demonstrated that media citations of women's appearance effects their relationship with voters. 1/
Have you heard somewhere down the line that media mentions of women's appearance (positive, negative or neutral) negatively effect a woman candidate's standing with voters? That's from this research done with @Lake_Research 2/…
I helped put together the research on the impact of media citations of women candidates because through my work with @nameitchangeit during the 2012 I noticed how media talked about Michelle Bachmann's appearance at debates. 3/
The @NameItChangeIt program launched with research in 2010 that studied how specifically gendered insults (ice queen, princess, etc) FROM MEDIA effect women candidates for office, and it wasn't so much a shock how damaging gendered insults are 4/…
But what I found monitoring media coverage of women candidates in politicians throughout 2012 is that while there were some *media* citations of gendered insults (especially from opinion media) the news coverage wasn't leading it with. But what did pop up was appearance 5/
I was curious whether talking about how "beautiful" a woman candidate appeared (or just talking about her appearance at an event) effected voters perceptions of her. Surprise, it always had a negative effect in our testing. 6/
Now some things to keep in mind: this was just a test of how voters would react (think about voting for) a woman candidate for office after hearing a news story about her. (The testers *didn't* know what they were being tested for. 7/
Now the research I helped put together did *not* test anything beyond a voters' possible reaction to hearing a news story about a woman candidate. This was not a test about how people feel about female celebrities and appearance. Voters don't vote on celebrities status 8/
The reaction of voters in the test to hearing a news story about a female candidate for office be described physically *always* brought down their impression of her. Our research doesn't explain why, just documented the effect. 9/
I have a theory why (at least in 2012) why potential voters always thought *less* of a woman running for office after hearing her described physically -- my theory is it triggers in their brain that she's a woman...and we don't think about women in leadership automatically. 10/
It would be interesting to see if voters react differently, maybe after the 2018, if our brains won't *automatically* associate a specific type of person (male, white) with "leader" "politician" "elected official." 11/
So here's why I want to say, a news story, an opinion column, even a joke that tees off gender is going to have an effect on voters. Its a reasonable hypothesis to suggest it may work outside humans perceptions of any famous woman in any field, but here's a big but.. 12/
Something that *reminds* an audience about the gender of the target of a speech is NOT in and of itself a sexist act. Which is why I want to get to Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the #WHCADinner 13/
People might think a person who put together the research about gendered media talk about women politicians would be against all references to gender in a speech. But I'm not. Because I was studying a specific effect on a specific audience in specific circumstances. 14/
Michelle Wolf made a joke about *not* a woman candidate running for office, but someone who informs the public, and made a reference to a gendered concept (make up) but not in the course of making that the insult. 15/
Now, if the a joke is "this woman is so ugly she's hardly a woman" that is a gendered insult. Because it hinges on the idea that beauty = woman and lack of beauty is a failure. 16/
I've studied how media talk about women for a decade, I'm not looking for all speech that references gender, i'm looking for ones that cite gender concepts negatively. Saying a woman wears make-up is a gendered concept but not a gendered insult in and of itself. 17/
This is a long way to say I'm wary of those on Twitter or on TV who think citing Sarah Huckabee Sanders' eye shadow is a sexist jab because it references make up. It *does* references the fact she's a woman but doesn't combine it with her status. /18
Anyway all this goes to say that there are places where referencing a woman's make up is sexist and harmful. There are places where referencing make up is a citation of gender but not a gendered insult. Context will inform the audience what impression to take of the speech. /end
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