Fresh Look at Martha Washington? More like Same Old, Same Old

Offender: Brigid Schulte, “Fresh Look at Martha Washington, Less First Frump, More Foxy Lady”

Media Outlet: The Washington Post, ran on the front page on 2/2/09VAW 2009 Hall of Shame

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.”

Take Action: Tell Michael Abramowitz, Washington Post National Editor, what you think about Schulte’s article.

Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director


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