"Who cares that she's gay."
When Sharice Davids, an openly-gay Native American Democrat and a former Mixed Martial Arts fighter, was projected to win over Kansas' contested 3rd District, most media outlets touted the victory of diversity and the uniqueness of Davids' story. But this just didn't cut it for the captious liberal Twitter.
In a Wednesday post that has already garnered over 90,000 likes and almost 20,000 retweets, gynecologist Jennifer Gunter -- a self-described "women's health advocate" and a "sexpert" -- criticized The Hill for giving Davids short shrift.
Even though The Hill successfully packed a string of inspiring (and click-enticing) facts about Davids -- her sexuality, the fact that she'll be the first Native American Congresswoman, her MMA career -- into a single headline, Gunter considered it to be a touch sexist, because... it didn't mention that Davids is also a lawyer.
"I HATE it when they leave out a woman's academic credentials," Gunter wrote.
I HATE when people leave out a woman’s academic credentials— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) November 7, 2018
Gunter's gripe alludes to what some see as society's misogynic habit of omitting women's professional titles.
Of course, the fact that The Hill's headline didn't recapitulate Davids' entire resume doesn't quite mean that her accolades were ignored. The Hill's article pellucidly notes that Davids is a lawyer in the second paragraph, and that she was a White House fellow in the third.
OK, seriously...who cares that she's gay. Why is this an issue with the press any longer? I'd rather know that she has a good plan, has skills and knows how to lead.— Steve Brokaw (@8888SEB) November 7, 2018
What, you didn't know? A liberals ask is that the media stop focusing on identity and diversity so much and instead start evaluating politics by issues and merit.
Why is her sexuality placed at a premium over her professional qualifications I wonder?— Kiran Manral (@KiranManral) November 7, 2018
Other commenters pushed back, abiding by a faint recollection that diversity is rather a progressive concern.
It’s not about it being an issue, it’s about representation. It’s about giving young kids hope that if they wear one of those titles that they have a chance to be in a position of power a position where they can make a difference— 픰픥픞픫픢 (@shaebuttahh) November 7, 2018
To which Gunter responded, Sure -- but why did we need to know that Davids' an ex-MMA warrior?
I am all for that. They had room in the tweet to mention she’s a lawyer, they went with ex-MAA instead— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) November 7, 2018
One might want to respond that Davids' MMA experience is a delightful factoid, much more endearing than her law degree, and therefore irresistible to news writers.
Instead, one commentator who
Well, I would argue that the MMA thing is also important in that it indicates Sharice is patient, tough, & hardworking enough to compete in a male-dominated profession whose marquee show wouldn’t even publicly accept female fighters until 2012. But I’m in favor of mentioning both— Julie Kedzie (@julesk_fighter) November 7, 2018
Few were convinced, though.
We already know women are more effective in Congress than men. Mentioning she's a lawyer - for a job that involves, you know, writing laws - seems like a relevant thing. I think it says something about the media that I learned it from a gynaecologist instead of a journalist.— Kevin Lyda (@lyda) November 7, 2018
"I think it says something about the media that I learned it from a [gynecologist] instead of journalist," wrote commenter Kevin. He's correct, it does say something. But considering that Davids' career was detailed in the body of the article, what it says pertains mostly to the lazy and uncritical reading habits of media consumers.
But at least one guy, equipped with a commonsense grasp of how media works, managed to softly reprimand the entire thread, while simultaneously maintaining a note of positivity. Be like Matthew.
I think it didn’t make he headline because every second politician is a lawyer, being Aboriginal and a MMA fighter, that’s newsworthy! Congrats to her!— Matthew Sheppard (@Msheppard08) November 7, 2018
Adaam James is a senior editor at Pluralist.
You can argue with him on Twitter.