There’s been a political kerfuffle about the photograph of Michele Bachmann on the cover of Newsweek. Perhaps you’ve heard. There have been complaints of sexism because the photograph seems unflattering. It’s the eyes. And the hed on the cover: “Queen of Rage.”
The Daily beast has a collection of the photographs from the article. I don’t think they were all used (I could be wrong about that), but they show she has a habit of holding her eyelids a little too high. Many of the images look candid and not posed. If the cover is from a candid shot, it may have been the only cover-worthy image of her from those photographs.
The posed photographs do not look much better. In fact, some of them, while possibly more flattering, are more frightening. The photograph with her hands pressed together like she’s about to pray tells me she isn’t interested in representing me or other atheists/unbelievers, even though that is part of the description of the job she supposedly wants. I get that her faith is important to her; my right to my beliefs is important to me. I respect her right to her beliefs, but I doubt that she would return the favor. To me, that’s more frightening than any silly photograph.
I wish I could attribute the photo selection to sexism. I sometimes enjoy arguing about sexism. I just don’t think it applies in this case, at least not to Newsweek. I have seen some sexist comments about Bachmann in internet comments (no, I’m not going to link to them), but those people would have made sexist comments about her regardless of how the photograph looked. And given how she looks in the other photographs, I have to conclude that that’s just how she looks. Newsweek can’t be sexist for showing her the way she looks.
I also don’t buy the argument (if one can call it that) that the same kind of photograph would not have been used if it were a man. I seem to recall some magazine photos of George W. Bush that looked like they played up the blankness in his eyes. I also remember quite a lot of fun was had at the expense of Michael Dukakis, Howard Dean and John Kerry when they ran for President, so it isn’t even all partisan.
After re-reading the text accompanying the photographs, one question I have about this piece is, why the hell aren’t Lutherans pissed off about her? Read the text accompanying photo 4 (the prayer shot):
Raised a Lutheran, Bachmann says she converted to a “living faith” at the age of 16 after attending a prayer meeting with a friend. “All I can say is that, you know, the Holy Spirit knocked on my heart’s door,” Bachmann recalls. “I literally got on my knees with some of my friends and then confessed my sins… I gave my heart to Jesus Christ.”
Is she implying there that Lutheranism is not a “living faith”? If it isn’t, what the hell is it? Is she implying that any faith other than hers is not a “living faith”? What’s the difference between a “living faith” and whatever she thinks her lost Lutheranism is?
My First Amendment Threat Alarms go off when I see or read anything about Michele Bachmann, and that has absolutely fuck-all to do with her eyes.