According to a March 6th article/blog stream, during a recent interview, the Texas Tribune Editor-in-Chief asked Wendy Davis, a candidate running for Governor of Texas, if she would be playing the “gender card” in the race. This sparked a Twitter conversation among men and women about playing their “gender cards” (from double standards and the pressure of gender roles to sexual violence and maintenance of the ‘white male’ status quo; I would add to those – the validity of knowledge base dependent on gender, affecting the receptivity of a woman’s perspective).
During the streaming interview, Davis took questions from the audience and spoke about a myriad of items including finance, education and women’s reproductive rights. At one point in the interview, Davis emphasized the importance of education in Texas and the responsibility she has as a public servant to assure the availability of the best education options. That was the moment the Editor-in-Chief decided to ask if Davis would be playing the “gender card” broadly over her campaign, because of her portfolio. I’m assuming by “portfolio” the Editor-in-Chief was not just referring to the issue of women’s reproductive rights, but also to finance issues, the responsibility of elected officials and education (which Davis was speaking about only moments before) . Or has education become a gender-biased issue with the social stigma that only women can be advocates and champions for the cause?
The format of this journalist’s question is a reflection of media’s manipulation of viewers or readers. Why even use the phrase “gender card?” The exact meaning of this term is not clear, leaving it up to the interviewee and viewer to figure out what should be inferred – what specifically is being asked. This is a passive aggressive interviewing technique, that bloats of bravado and tries to convince itself that it’s asking the tough questions. Unless of course, this question is asked not for the actual answer (because the question is vague and airy), but instead to evoke some controversy, maybe some turmoil to see if the answering person can be ruffled. The question about playing the “gender card” is asking something without really asking anything to create drama, skirt the important/clarifying questions, and to minimize the validity or significance of the issues discussed. I wonder if this was a conscious choice by the Editor-in-Chief or if this is the standard methodology, so rampant in media today that no one is actually aware of its abnormality.
© M.R.Collier, A Way of Your Own, 2014