Another election, another female candidate, another sexist Newsweek cover. The latest issue of the magazine features a "crazy-eyed" Michele Bachmann, labeled the "Queen of Rage." Everyone from conservative writer Michelle Malkin to Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards have rightly denounced the cover for its portrayal of women in power as "lunatics," "crackpots," and "batshit crazy."
This isn't the first time Newsweek has come under fire for portraying a female conservative in a patronizing way. In November 2009, an old picture of Sarah Palin in booty shorts graced a pre-Tina Brown Newsweekcover under the headline, "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah?" There was a similar uproar in both the liberal and conservative blogosphere, but given that the magazine has a circulation of more than 1.5 million readers, the damage had been done. While John McCain and Mike Huckabee got dignified covers, Palin was portrayed as a showhorse.
Apparently, the hideous sexism that characterized the 2008 campaign set a precedent. Did no one remember the Hillary nutcrackers in airports, the MILF jokes about Sarah Palin, the Wicked Witch of the West jokes about Nancy Pelosi? They didn't then, and they don't now.
Malkin is right when she says the media is tougher on conservative women. Mix wishful-thinking dismissiveness of extreme conservatism with garden-variety misogyny and you get a pretty blatant bias. But this particular brand of sexism is not only wrong, it's unproductive. If publications like Newsweek really do have a "liberal bias," they have to come to terms with the fact that Michele Bachmann is a legitimate candidate, no matter her gender or her far-right politics. The sooner they stop writing her off as "crazy" and start taking her views seriously, the sooner they can light a fire under the asses of people who don't want to live in Bachmann's America.
So, some words of advice for those who want to make sure Bachmann isn't our next president: Go after her politics. Go after her anti-gay and anti-woman stances. Go after her incoherent and dangerous views on the minimum wage, evolution, and global warming. Just don't laugh her off as a psycho in heels.