Earlier today I joined Mother Jones writer Kate Sheppard on CTV News Channel to talk about the way that some news media and blogs have been portraying the women involved in the recent scandal around David Petraeus. I can’t embed the video clip but you can watch it online here if you’re interested.
I wanted to pull out some lowlights of the media portrayals, in case there are any readers who haven’t seen how widespread the sexist stereotyping was. Here are some of the most common ways the main players have been portrayed, along with responses from writers like Sheppard.
Hollister (Holly) Petraeus, a.k.a. The Woman Who Let Herself Go and Had it Coming
Perhaps the most oversimplified woman in this situation is Holly Petraeus, the David Petraeus’ wife of 37 years. As pointed out at the Daily Beast: “Holly took the traditional notion of an Army wife to a new level, building a legacy and reputation of her own even as her husband oversaw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and rose to lead the CIA.” In addition to being Petraeus’ wife, she has an important job at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau helping protect military members and their family from financial fraud. She has an interesting history as a tough, smart, caring “Army wife” who has always been there for the troops. But god forbid that should get in the way of a salacious story. It’s much easier to reduce her individual achievements and identity to one easy story: that she “let herself go” in the looks department and was thus partially to blame for her husband’s cheating. Read more