• Wed, Aug 10 2011

The Editors Debate: Is Newsweek‘s Michele Bachmann Cover Sexist?

This week, some are saying Newsweek’s “googly eye” cover of Michele Bachmann is sexiest. Others are saying that’s, uh, just how she looks. Editors Jennifer Wright and Ashley Cardiff are here to explain how you should feel. Not really.

Jennifer: Alright: yes, I think the Michele “crazy eyes” Bachmann cover is somewhat sexist. I don’t–

Ashley: Wait. We can’t debate that it’s “somewhat sexist.” Because I think it’s at least “arguably sexist” even though I wouldn’t argue that it is. So, basically this debate is just going to be us saying, “Well, I mean, I can see the argument but I don’t personally find it sexist,” and then we’ll just nod a bit and awkwardly look around and then I’ll violently subjugate you with my cock and exploit your semi-nude body to sell stuff.

Jennifer: Okay. It’s sexist. It’s sexist and I don’t care because her husband tries to cure people of being gay and she doesn’t know the difference between John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy.

Ashley: Still hilarious.

"Darn tootin!' "

Jennifer: Look, I think that running an incredibly unattractive photo is a lame, easy way to undermine a female politician. It’s also a lame, underhanded way to undermine any politician. Also, Michele Bachmann should be undermined. Because she is the worst. Also, she has crazy eyes. Okay, but would this happen to a man? I think we’ve seen men’s political careers undermined because of crazy behavior Howard Dean’s “I Have A Scream” speech comes to mind. But that was behavior that wasn’t a maniacal/messianic glint in their eyes. (I threw messianic in for our conservative readers!)

Ashley: What about Newsweek‘s crazy cover of Mitt Romney, leaping mid-revelation like some emotionally unstable Fred Astaire, belting out his love of God in song?

Jennifer: The text on that read “how the outsider faith creates winners.” The text on Michele Bachmann’s was “Queen of Rage.” You don’t see a difference? Happy man, dancing, because God loves him and he’s a winner. Vs. Satan’s Bride.

"What rhymes with 'Jesus went to South America'?"

Ashley: I mean… she is the Queen of Rage. She’s enraged that straight people keep having gay babies. And those gay babies persist in wanting to get married and be considered equal. She sits on a throne of rage, forged in bigotry and lip liner. I don’t really disagree there.

Jennifer: Well, now, neither do I. However, the fact that I hate her does not mean it’s not a sexist way to portray a woman in politics. And rage is more frowned on in women than men, societally. If it was, I don’t know, Barack Obama sitting there with the text “king of rage” (which is never would be, because, come on), people would be like “yes! Yes, he’s right to be angry! The world is burning!” With Michele Bachmann the subtext is “look at Satan’s bride.” I’m sorry. That’s how the whole cover reads to me. “Look at Satan’s bride and laugh in her crazy face.”

Ashley: Newsweek does this, Jennifer. What about their Ahmadinejad cover where he looks like a cartoon villain? Or the one of John Roberts with the creepy, mischievous grin, peeking out from behind the American Flag like he’s giving himself a handie with it, just out of view? Or the one with Henry Paulson, where his frowny little bald head looks like a dick bursting forth from his shoulders?

"My dick feels gud."

Jennifer: Wow! He DOES look like he’s giving himself a handie with it! But, partly, because you put that in my brain. I would not have thought about that, especially when I read the text which reads “the regular guy who could change the supreme court.”

Ashley: What about the one of the adorable baby with the headline “Is Your Baby Racist”?

Jennifer: I mean that is how… regular guys look. Always sneaking off for a little romance with the American flag. You’re just turning this debate into “Newsweek covers I have found particularly amusing.” Because you’re sick.

Ashley: Okay, wait. Seriously, though. Newsweek makes silly covers. Remember the one where they Photoshopped Princess Di and imagined what her life would be like now?! That cartoon raisin supposed to be Diana is the only thing on a Newsweek cover sillier than Michele Bachmann.

"But my thighs were SILLY TONED."

Jennifer: Well, Diana’s life and body looked a lot like Tina Brown’s. I think she meant it as a compliment. And yes, they usually try to catch people in poses that say something about their personality, but I’m reluctant to believe that all Michele Bachman communicated to them as a human being was “look at my loony eyeballs.” It seems sloppy is what it seems.

Ashley: I mean, what else do you hear when someone says, “Gay people need to be fixed”?

Jennifer: The great American hero John Wayne Gacy! I still think it’s sexist to use her appearance to undermine her.

Ashley: Yes. Okay. I agree. But I also think Newsweek has a long and storied history of making politicians look like cartoonish monsters.

Jennifer: And I think it’s a commentary on a sexist society that as a female politician one hideously unflattering photo COULD undermine you.

Ashley: That I agree with. However, if Michele Bachmann is supposed to be “one of ours,” I don’t want her.

PEEN HEAD OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE.

Jennifer: What does Michele Bachmann believe in? Does she believe sexism exists? It seems like she should insofar as it would be personally advantageous to her.

Ashley: Jen. Look, it’s lame that unflattering photos can undermine women who have a significance separate from their appearance (like, you know, all women). It’s lame that Newsweek might be exploiting that. It’s also lame that someone who is irrational and bigoted to the point of possible mental instability should be on the cover of a magazine, promoting her specific brand of hate.

Jennifer: I mean, we can like what Newsweek did because she holds views very different than ours. But we do see what they did, right?

Ashley: It’s not different from what they do to other politicians and cultural figures. Have you seen their crazy Oprah cover?

Jennifer: So you’re contending that Newsweek is a sexist publication that just generally hates women? That’s interesting! Because seriously, the dudes look happy. Dancing happy, even.

Ashley: Jesus Jen!

Jennifer: Dancing-just-jerked-off-in-the-best-flag-ever happy

Ashley: We’re not going to get anywhere with this. Let’s agree that it was lame to run an unflattering cover of a woman just for the sake of underminding her. Let’s also agree that it’d be better if Michele Bachmann just went away and didn’t get magazine covers.

Gesticulating peen.

Jennifer: I will say I think the cover was more about undermining her as a conservative than as a woman. And I think while she would have looked nuts in the photo alone – and she really is quite photogenic, normally! – the text was a lot of the problem for me. “Queen” seems like an unflattering term when OMG THE ECONOMY IS AWFUL and rage seems “irrational.” You could read it as “look at this irrational rich person with the crazy glint in her eyes. Citoyens! To the barricades!” I don’t know. You could. Les Mis is a good musical.

Ashley: Yeah. That’s a good point. It’s a bummer how I thought she was super rational before the cover, too.

Jennifer: Like Newsweek just loves to tear down dreams. Where can we find a flag and cheer ourselves up?

Ashley: Oh, any old memorial.

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  • Jamie Peck

    I don’t think it’s sexist to choose a picture that illustrates someone’s batshit insane qualities to go with an article about how batshit insane they are. They would’ve done the same thing if a batshit insane man were running for president and actually, terrifyingly, had a chance at winning. I do love Tina Brown’s faux-naive response, though.

  • AbenaC

    I have to say, I still don’t see what everyone is making a big deal about. To me this photo is an accurate depiction of Bachman. In every photo/video I have seen she always looks like this. However, that said, Newsweek does seem to try a bit harder with male/liked politicians.

    This really shouldn’t be a problem either way, but our society still generally views/judges women by appearance. This is not totally Newsweek’s fault. They are just running an unattractive photo (I’ve yet to see an attractive one of this woman, but that’s my opinion), they are not telling us how we should react to it. It is our fault for interpreting “unflattering” as “unfit/incapable” (again, I think she’s unfit to be in charge of anything, but I digress).

  • Chickalupe

    I would just like to say, once again, that I truly enjoy when you two do these little “debates,” since they are fraught with hilarity! Keep it up, gals!

  • No More Libs

    Yes, it is sexist. Michele is a beautiful conservative woman and the liberals are afraid of her so that is why the liberal media personally attacks her in ways such as this. Enough with the personal attacks…first Palin, then O’Donnell, then Paul…can’t do this to Michele, she is both beautiful and intelligent!