Women Politicians and the Media-Pa

Maria Braden, Author
Maria Braden, Author University Press of Kentucky $25 (248p) ISBN 978-0-8131-0869-8
Hardcover - 235 pages - 978-0-8131-1970-0
Hardcover - 242 pages - 978-0-8131-7069-5
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University of Kentucky journalism professor Braden's survey of the media's portrayal of female politicians is complete, reflective and, most of all, thought-provoking. The author uses illustrations from the political lives of women dating back to Jeannette Rankin, the Montana Republican who became the first woman elected to Congress in 1916--four years before national suffrage. Presidential hopeful and Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith, whose career spanned 32 years in the House and Senate; 1984 Vice-Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro; and former Texas governor Ann Richards are among the many women chronicled here. Braden addresses the media's craving for novelty and conflict in reporting, and how this journalistic tack often skews the depiction of female politicians in the news. Male and female journalists too often describe a female candidate by her appearance and by courtesy titles. There are several examples of a double standard for women in public office, one that of legislator Bella Abzug, who was often trashed in the media for her tough, aggressive demeanor--qualities often viewed as admirable in her male counterparts. Current media attitudes toward female politicians are also explored--""They may still be described in terms of their relationship to a husband, father, or child. And no matter how serious they are, they are still trivialized by media coverage focusing on how they look or sound, what they wear, or how they style their hair."" The passing of Barbara Jordan during the reading of this book made the author's point painfully clear. Among her many accomplishments, Jordan was a member of the House Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach President Richard Nixon. In 1976, she also became the first African-American and the first woman to give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Despite these achievements, on the day after her passing, the headlines were so laden with references to the quality of her voice that the unknowing would have believed a famous singer had died. Illustrations. (May)
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