During Super Saturday coverage, an all-male panel on MSNBC led by Chris Matthews cut away from Hillary Clinton’s speech to discuss how she needs to speak more softly when she’s in front of a microphone. The three men then mansplained that this isn’t a matter of gender, in case anyone was wondering.
The men decided that when Hillary Clinton is speaking in an interview, she does well. It’s just when she is using a microphone to speak to a crowd that she has issues, apparently, as she speaks up like all public speakers do when they are speaking in front a large crowd. They tried to avoid using the loaded words that hung in the air like “shrill”. But the message was obvious enough to outrage many women journalists who heard the sexist whistle.
No one asked a woman if it might be related to gender because apparently men are the experts on sexism.
Being criticized for being “shrill” and sounding “angry” is old news for powerful women. Women are supposed to be strong but not so strong that they sound “strident”. Strident is bad.
MSNBC needs to send a memo out to their hosts and panel guests that instructs them how to determine if they sound like a sexist jerk. Hint: Maybe a panel of men aren’t experts on deciding what qualifies as gendered criticism.
Here’s a little schooling on how not to sound like a sexist jerk from Time:
Avoid Describing the Sound of My Feminine Voice. Also, the Tone of It.
Women naturally have higher-pitched voices than men. Do we need to point it out? There’s no male equivalent of “shrill” or “screechy.” And I don’t believe there’s one for “nasal-car honk” tone either. And while we’re at it, let’s avoid descriptors like “whiny,” “nagging” or “complaining” to refer to women. Unless of course you’d use them to refer to a man too.
Maybe before male hosts announce something isn’t due to gender they should know something about sexism from… oh… say a woman. A panel full of men shouldn’t criticize Clinton’s voice for not being soft enough. It is sexist. It’s right next to commenting on her hair.
Sexist commentary about a politician reduces their standing among voters. This has been proven in studies. The media needs to get it together. There’s no excuse for this kind of ignorance about well documented evidence regarding what constitutes sexism. It’s not up for debate and it’s not up to a panel of all men.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.