“A Democratic race for governor that could feel like Beyonce vs. Taylor Swift,” reads the Atlanta Journal-Constitution headline to a story that ran over the weekend about democratic gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans.
Yes, two well-respected women running professional campaigns for the state’s highest office are having their work reduced to pop-star gossip that belongs in a tabloid.
“Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams are both highly qualified lawyers and leaders in the Georgia legislature. Comparing them to pop stars isn’t cute — it’s sexist and something that would have never happened to Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp,” said Better Georgia’s own executive director Bryan Long.
“The next governor of Georgia will be responsible for a $23.7 billion budget and will be in charge of the National Guard. This isn’t a Reality TV show; it’s real life for Georgians,” he added.
The AJC is certainly capable of presenting gubernatorial candidates in a professional light. Earlier this month, the AJC had a story about the friction between gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp (organizations they lead have gotten involved in lawsuits and counter-lawsuits with each other over voting rights issues). That tension got a simple, straightforward headline: “2018 race for governor could revive Stacey Abrams-Brian Kemp feud.”
There were no silly comparisons to shallow celebrity gossip or famous pop stars. The candidates, their history and the work are presented in a way that suggests both are serious candidates.
It’s well documented that media has a problem with sexist portrayals of women. When women run for office or are powerful decision-makers, coverage about political issues and leadership styles can take a back seat to discussions about their clothing and appearance or their personality traits. And that has real consequences on candidates who are women being taken less seriously as a result of these sexist portrayals.
“Next year’s Democratic race for governor in Georgia could have the feel of a feud between Beyoncé and Taylor Swift,” writes Jim Galloway.
Abrams and Evans are running to be the next governor of Georgia, and they deserve better coverage than this.