Counting Out Women


That misogyny still plagues the American news media is not up for debate – at least not among people with the merest faculty for critical thought, the basic ability to count the numbers of men and women hosting, reporting, and guesting on news shows, or even in possession of eyes or ears and the capacity to point themselves in the direction of MSNBC’s daily politics show Hardball.

Chris Matthews is a repeat offender, failing on many days to get through an entire hour of his show without making an ignorant or overtly prejudiced comment about women. He leers at his colleagues, gropes other talkshow hosts, debates whether Ann Coulter is hot, makes tired castrating feminist jokes, refuses to confront sexism on his own show, and has been routinely disrespectful or overtly hostile to Hillary Clinton and other women in politics. Eric Boehlert has documented that misogyny is, in fact, a pretty sweet business for Matthews.

Yesterday’s show was no exception, as Matthews discussed the stimulus package (or, as he calls it here, Obama’s "big package") with Robert Wexler, a Democratic congressman from Florida, complaining that the money allocated for family planning is just a bunch of "odds and ends and cats and dogs".

Congressman Wexler why isn’t it just, why isn’t it just what we thought it was going to be…infrastructure, roads, bridges, stuff that everybody agrees on needs to be fixed and creates real jobs for real people that pay decent salaries. Why don’t we spend all the money on that stuff that people can see rather than all these odds and ends and cats and dogs?

According to Matthews, the only thing "real people" can "see" are infrastructure projects and the jobs they create – which, as has been pointed out by Linda Hirshman and discussed by Echidne here, are jobs that will disproportionately benefit men. Funding for family planning (arguably) primarily benefits women, rendering it, in Matthews’ estimation, a pointless waste of money.

Subsequently, after Wexler explains that family planning "saves, if done correctly, an enormous sum of money down the road in the healthcare system" – Matthews ignores wholly that planned and wanted children born to non-addicted women who seek out prenatal care are generally healthier children, dismisses out of hand the importance of choice, and instead accuses Wexler (and, by extension, the Democrats) of advocating "a policy of reducing the number of births".

I’m for abortion as a right and all that. It’s all right. But why should the federal government have a policy of reducing the number of births? I don’t know why the federal government has an interest in that. They have an interest in freedom and people making choices but I just heard a case made by Congressman Wexler that it was in the national interest to have fewer kids. I don’t understand that.

"It sounds a little like China," he notes, conflating the Democrats’ plan to provide women a breadth of reproductive choices with a state-mandated reproductive limitation which has resulted in the mass murder and abandonment of female infants.

It’s like a crêpe of misogyny, double the deliciousness, with a flaky pancake of ignorance wrapped around a gooey inside of unapologetic enmity.

That Matthews’ misogyny infects his work is not just problematic because it leaves viewers with any sense of egalitarianism and fairness reaching for the remote; it also makes him flatly bad at his job. It’s factually incorrect that the Democrats’ proposal is anything "like China", and it’s an authentically retrograde opinion to hold that funding family planning is not an essential expenditure, reflective of someone profoundly out of touch with the realities of modern American women’s lives, experiences, and needs.

And, as we speak, Matthews has opened tonight’s show on the same note. Everything about the news is old again, in the hands of Mr Hardball.

There is an inherent conflict in someone presenting the news (root word: new!) and clinging defiantly and pathetically to opinions of women that were already old when I was born nearly 35 years ago. Put him out to pasture already, MSNBC.

This post was originally published in and is copyrighted by guardian.co.uk.

 

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

  • z3ncat

    It’s like a crêpe of misogyny, double the deliciousness, with a flaky pancake of ignorance wrapped around a gooey inside of unapologeticenmity.

     

    Best. Line. EVER.  I will never be able to face crêpes again.

     

    After reading (and agreeing) with this, I do have to wonder, though…  As much as I’d love to see Matthews & his misogyny gone, is he really the problem, or only one of the symptoms – or both?  Are we still at the point societally where even if Matthews were gone, he’d be replaced with someone with the same opinions, the same attitude, and the same misogyny because that’s what the majority want to hear?  And if so, how do we (both a general and specific ‘we’) change that?

  • alexm

    I agree with z3ncat that the problem is sadly so deep… I can’t stand the show Family Guy.  Can someone explain to me why it is funny when Peter Griffin ties up his wife Lois and confines her in the trunk of a car, or asks his daughter Meg to put a paper bag over her head because she is so ugly?  The same television show portrays Meg as so sexually unappealing that she begs criminals to rape her so that she can have sex.  It is outrageous that this misogyny passes for humour in 2009.

    The personal is political.

  • invalid-0

    …..Maybe because misogyny is so embedded in our culture (and the majority of other cultures as well), I give some people a pass on slights towards women’s worth–they just can’t seem to help themselves, and they don’t mean harm. They’re just stuck in a 70s mindset. But Chris is the MSNBC’s quarterback in the Misogyny Super Bowl who is beating the other team with a 48-0 score. So thanks to Melissa for calling women-disparaging Chris out.

    …..He is such an embarrassing excuse of a human being–a train wreck. Besides the fact that he’s a macromisogynist, he approaches most topics as if he has a bee in his bonnet to which he demands everyone’s attention. It’s as though his wild, irrational blusterings are saying “Now top that!”

    …..What is maddening about him is that he has made political points with which I agree now and then. But I really think that’s because he’s trying to appeal to a more liberal audiance, considering the success of Olberman and Maddow who are committed to progressive ideals. Deep down, chronic misogynists like Chris are conservative. When Dubya had high approval ratings (that he pissed away over the years), his biggest fan was Chris. He often admired Dubya for his manly qualities.

    …..I can’t bear to watch him, and I cringe that he’s from my state, Pennsylvania. Chris is downright backward.

  • pcwhite

    There is an inherent conflict in someone presenting the news (root word: new!)[...]

    HAH! I giggled effervescently at this line.  Your entire piece was fabulous, but I think this is the point where the snark hit critical mass. :)

     

    what kind of world is it where people like Matthews have jobs? sigh…

  • joe-sonka

    We’ve sent over 800 emails to Hardball’s producer asking for an apology and correction of the misinformation that Chris Matthews spewed last week.

     

    Click here to send one.

  • invalid-0

    Most Americans were rightly repulsed at comments by Nany Pelosi and now this other politician to the effect that we can save money by eliminating people. Only 38% supported lifting the Mexico City Policy. And a majority would eliminate 98% of the abortions done in this country (when you add up those who support abortion rights only in cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother, and those who would restrict it more, you get a clear majority according to opinion polls).

    You are outside the mainstream precisely because you are wrong. Killing people isn’t the answer to poverty. Contraceptives aren’t either. We need to value every human life and recognize that it is sacred, and that people aren’t the problem.

    Would you like to know what I call “misogyny”? A policy of supporting abortion, which results in people sex-selecting their children, which almost always means that their daughters are executed in favor of sons. I don’t hear a peep on this website about that.

    Opposing the culture of death isn’t misogyny. It’s respect, it’s love. It’s rationality.

  • invalid-0

    Excuse me Matthew what planet are you from? The last time I looked we the people are very much THE PROBLEM!!! You obviously have not read everything either. Something was mentioned in an article about India forcing women to abort female fetuses and were regarded less if they did not produce males only. What about your DEATH WARS innocent people are murdered and left homeless. What a typical right wing hypocrite!!!!

  • invalid-0

    Excuse me Matthew what planet are you from? The last time I looked we the people are very much THE PROBLEM!!! You obviously have not read everything either. Something was mentioned in an article about India forcing women to abort female fetuses and were regarded less if they did not produce males only. What about your DEATH WARS innocent people are murdered and left homeless. What a typical right wing hypocrite!!!!