Kaylee Sheppard

Hello everyone! I am finally back and am so overjoyed to begin writing again for the Beacon after a long SGA campaign season. For my first returning column, I’d like to discuss an issue that has been bothering me the last couple of weeks.

As the spread of Democratic nominees continues to grow, I am beginning to see an interesting trend in media coverage. Although we have a historic amount of women from many diverse backgrounds throwing their hat into the race, all the media can seem to focus on are the male candidates.

Joe Biden got more coverage about his possible candidacy before it was announced than our female candidates who officially announced long ago. And with the exception of California Sen. Kamala Harris, the six women who have decided to run for president are generally falling behind the men in polling and fundraising.

Now I can understand the focus on senior leadership like Bernie Sanders, but even newcomer males like Mayor Pete Buttigeig are getting more attention than long-time female leadership like Elizabeth Warren and Harris.

This trend is unsettling considering the incredible midterms that brought in the most female representatives in history. And the media was so willing and excited to cover this feat – why are we now not commending the women pursuing the highest office in the land?

These women who are running for president are experienced, hard-working, and charismatic. Yet no one seems to care. Five Thirty Eight has been tracking the media mentions of candidates, and found that mentions of male candidates have been much higher than that of female candidates.

On top of the lack of coverage, most of the media these women are getting is negative. A recent study by media watchdog Storybench found that women candidates have been disproportionately covered negatively by news outlets. But this has been a historic problem, especially in the 2016 presidential election with Hillary Clinton.

These facts don’t surprise me. I remember during this past year’s governor race in Georgia, Stacey Abrams received intense scrutiny and questions regarding her qualifications. I guess being a Georgia native, having a Yale law degree, and serving a minority leader from 2011-2017 leaves some doubts of preparedness compared to her opponent whose policy points included rounding up immigrants personally in his truck.

All the media can seem to talk about when a woman is running for office is her appearance. But I rarely see any comments regardless of a male candidate’s choice of suit for a speaking engagement.

In the wise words of Jill Filipovic, “If you think a 37-year-old whose sole political experience is mayor of South Bend is better qualified than a female senator who is a political visionary and has put forward a slew of detailed and thoughtful policies, you may have a sexism problem.” We need to start looking past gender and focus on the policy ideas the candidates have to help the Americans people.

Kaylee Sheppard is a junior majoring in American Studies and Political Science. She can be reached at ksheppa7@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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