Offender: Brigid Schulte, “Fresh Look at Martha Washington, Less First Frump, More Foxy Lady”
The Offense: Writer Schulte describes the common image of Martha Washington as:
frumpy, dumpy, plump, old . . . fusty . . . withered . . . stodgy . . . mousy, fat . . . double-chinned Old Mother Hubbard . . . tired . . . dull homebody and more.
NOW’s Analysis: The article reinforces the message that a woman, no matter what her other qualities, must be “hot” and that her value is rooted in whether or not men are “sexually excited” by her. It is stunningly biased against women of a certain age and size. One of its main points appears to be assuring readers that this nation’s “dashing and virile” first president did not marry an old lady for her money. Schulte helps to make an unmistakable link between the impression that George “loved her deeply and the assurance that Martha was “quite a beautiful woman in her younger years.”
Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director