Name It. Change It.
For many years, some media critics have insisted that press coverage that refers to female politicians’ looks -- particularly when there’s no similar reference to male politicos -- trivializes and damages them in the eyes of potential voters.
Now the Women’s Media Center and She Should Run have released studies they say prove those criticisms
, developed in a joint project called Name It. Change It. In one survey, conducted online, they reached 1,500 likely voters to gauge what would happen to female candidate’s electoral chances if she were described in news stories that outlined her appearance. In another, they used an online dial survey to sample 1,000 likely voters on the effects of sexist coverage for female candidates who were white, black, Latina and Asian American.
The first survey
found that news stories that mentioned female candidate “Jane Smith" 's appearance hurt her chances of getting votes against male candidate “Dan Jones,” regardless of whether the description was neutral, positive or negative.
In fact, positive descriptions of the candidate’s appearance hurt her more than neutral ones; among respondents who heard a flattering description of Jane, she had an 11 percent disadvantage to Dan, compared to a 5 percent disadvantage after a neutral description (the two were evenly supported by respondents who heard no physical description.