Gloria Steinem

Steinem on Bachmann sexism: "Borderline"

The feminist pioneer weighs in on claims that Newsweek's photo was bigoted against a female politician


Joan Walsh
August 10, 2011 8:10AM (UTC)

I wrote earlier today that I didn't think Newsweek's photo of a zealous-looking Michele Bachmann was sexist. Mainly I thought the photo was newsworthy; I also pointed to many shots of male politicians who looked similarly hopped-up.

The National Organization of Women's Terry O'Neill disagreed, saying “It’s sexist...Gloria Steinem has a very simple test: If this were done to a man or would it ever be done to a man – has it ever been done to a man? Surely this has never been done to a man.”

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Before I published my piece I emailed Gloria Steinem asking if she thought the photo choice was sexist. She got back to me after I published it. Here's what she said:

Terry O'Neill is absolutely right about my test. About the photo, I think it's borderline. It's so hard for feminists to prove that we're even-handed -- because right-wing anti-feminist women so rarely do anything defensible -- that this may be grasping at straws.

I think it's grasping at straws. Conservatives kicked off the griping about the Bachmann photo, but given the ease of finding photos of Bachmann with the same otherworldly gaze, the photo was neither sexist nor politically unfair.


Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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Michele Bachmann, R-minn.

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