I’ve been doing some local work with the Miss Representation campaign, and in conversations with like-minded activists, we always come away with some interesting commonalities. Girls and women internalize no shortage of sexism, and it manifests itself in subtle ways. While talking to a couple other local representatives, we recalled how we’d all gone through tomboy phases, where we actively distanced ourselves from everything girly (including other females), subconsciously seeking approval for being unlike “most girls.” It wasn’t until I discovered feminist literature that I realized I was falling into the profile of “I’m The Only Smart Girl In The Room Non-Feminist.”
That particular phase came flooding back to me while watching interviews with Katie Couric in Miss Representation. I was 18 when Couric came to the CBS Evening News Program as anchor and managing editor, and I didn’t know much about her aside from her work at Today. Without ever watching her broadcast, I felt quite confident in my assessment of her as a “Barbie”, pointing to her attire and highlights as proof positive that she must be a bimbo. I shudder to think of it. Never mind her considerable tenure (fifteen years) as a national political correspondent, I was content to let my own internalized sexism – helped along, surely, by terrible media coverage of Couric – shape my opinion of her.
I’m sure there’s a lucky bunch of women and girls for whom this sort of thing was never an issue, because they learned to recognize blatant and coded misogyny from an early age. I wish I could’ve been part of that club. Most women I know, though, have to repair a lot of the damage retroactively. So, here’s my public apology to Katie Couric. It takes constant self-evaluation to remind ourselves to treat each other with more compassion and understanding than kyriarchal media narratives believe us capable of.