Elena Kagan Targeted for Orientation, Appearance

Offender: Political Cartoonist Brian Fairrington

Media Outlet: Available on Daryl Cagle’s website on MSNBC.com and in publications across the U.S.

The Offense: Fairrington’s depiction of current Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan includes her wearing buttons that say “Never Married,” “No Kids,” “Boys are icky!” and “Kill Baby Kill”

NOW’s Analysis: Ever since President Obama announced Elena Kagan as his pick for the Supreme Court on May 10 (heck, even before, when she was on the short list), this impressive woman has been targeted with some seriously ridiculous speculation about her sexual orientation. Playing softball, not fitting into the traditional woman’s role of married with children, and who knows what else, are leading the media to question whether or not Kagan is a lesbian.

As we should all know by now, it doesn’t matter whether or not Kagan is a lesbian. Being a lesbian, repeat, being a lesbian is not an insult. And yet, so many in our culture still believe that it is. Lesbian-baiting is designed not only to harm the person being “smeared” but to send a warning to other women that it could happen to them, too. It’s just another intimidation tactic. And the media, with it’s love for all things titillating, goes along either dumbly or complicitly.

This cartoon is just one example of the kind of attacks a woman nominee, even in 2010, can expect. Kagan also has been taken to task for not looking like a supermodel, for daring to look like herself. Comments on Kagan’s experience, qualifications, philosophy and ideology are fair game and should give the media plenty to talk about. But her appearance and sexual orientation should be out of bounds.

Take Action: Email Brian Fairrington and tell him what you think about his cartoon.

Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director

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