Sexist eye on the news: Egypt

The Opinioness of the World asks, “… if 20-50% of women are protesting, why aren’t we seeing that reflected in the images shown on the news websites and networks?”

People often overlook women in protests or wars, as if they are absent or invisible.  Yet women protest, and sometimes fight in combat, alongside men.

Instead, we get this typical crowd scene shot:

From the Associated Press

From the New York Times comes this image and explanation:
“A protester consoled a woman during a demonstration.”

About-Face asks,  “Who’s to say this woman isn’t a protester, too?” Looking at this picture without a caption, I would think it depicts two protesters either celebrating together, or consoling each other. But the default position for much of the media is the sexist view: The man is acting, the woman is passive.

It’s on a far smaller scale, but to this day I remember reading a newspaper article describing a gunman attacking a cab driver who had two female passengers in the back. The writer, who was not at the scene, described the women as “cowering in the back seat” during the attack. He did not say this is what witnesses said, or what the police said or what the women said. And he was not there. So I wrote to him, I couldn’t help myself. I asked him how he knew they were cowering. Maybe they were trying to get out of the car, I suggested. Maybe they were talking to the driver, helping him to get through the crisis. Maybe they were screaming. There were lots of things they might have been doing, but because they were women, this writer had assumed they were “cowering” and had written it as if it were a fact. Maybe he watched too many mainstream movies and TV dramas. We should all call out sexist assumptions in the media when we see them, big or small.

If you’ve seen any similar assumptions in the media lately, please tell us about them!


  1. Right on, Sister Erin. Thanks for that post. And thanks to the women and men of Egypy.To quote another brave woman:Today, I am crying tears of joy and victory instead of tears of sorrow and anger.Thank you, my friends in Egypt–our deepest congratulations from Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox and the people in the US that know the truth.With love, peace, deepest respect and complete solidarity.

  2. The sexism goes even deeper according to Mary Rogers at CNN

  3. No doubt about it. Thanks for posting this.

  4. Also worth noting in this regard is this film festival

  5. Readers, the film festival, Women's voices for the Muslim World, was this weekend in LA. There is a link at that site that allows you to watch the films. There are some very interesting films there. Check it out!(PS. Sorry you got trapped in the spam folder for a day Weniger Gottsquatsch.)

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