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Women Journalists Are Not Their Bodies– Yes, Even When They’re Pregnant

Bust magazine’s blog recently drew my attention to the incredible sexism towards Kristi Gordon, a Global News TV anchor who’s currently pregnant. In a recent segment of the show, as well as a typed statement, she talked about some of the commentary she’s received via email from viewers. Here are just a few excerpts:

  • “Wearing tops that cup your baby bump are not very flattering. There are many maternity tops that are flowing and professional looking. Please be more professional.”
  • “BUY some DECENT clothes and have more respect for the unborn child, you’re not the first pregnant woman. OMG.”
  • Cover up or take time off.”
  • Hussy!”
photo from DailyMail.uk

Men and women alike still think that they have the right to comment on and control other women’s bodies, especially the body of a pregnant woman (what could be more traditionally-womanly than that?) But as Bust’s Princess Weekes responded to that second comment: “So we should show respect to the unborn child, but not to the woman who is pregnant. Funny huh?”

Journalists aren’t actors or models; the vast majority never walks down a red carpet. Lately, actors have been calling out the news media for their undue emphasis on appearance when it’s their work that should be the focus of discussion. I agree with this trend; it’s absurd that their dresses and workout regimes are discussed more than their acting. At the same time, Hollywood and fashion have a history of being interwoven; journalism is an entirely different game all together. Journalists seek truth and report it. It’s vital to our country’s conscience, but it’s not glamorous at all.

With so few women getting on air or in print at all, it’s disappointing that once they get there, they are harangued by degrading comments. The Columbia Journalism Review cited the Women’s Media Center 2014 report last year to bring attention to women’s lack of representation in the news media. “Despite the increasing prominence of women’s sports and female sports fans, sports editors are 90-percent mate, and 90-percent white,” they wrote. Men still account for two-thirds of American daily newspaper newsroom staff, with women comprising 36 percent, a number that has remained largely unchanged since 1999…. Minorities consistently comprise 12 to 13 percent of American newsrooms overall.”

Gordon had a supportive news team that decided to address this sexism on air, but if she hadn’t had allies— it matters that her co-hosts are both young and that one is a woman— her qualms may never have made it on screen at all.

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