Coleburn responds to media criticismPosted on February 4, 2014 | by Christina Coleburn
Washington Square News published the latest installment of my weekly opinion column on Feb. 3. I discussed Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis in conjunction with claims that the GOP has waged a war on women. The piece has generated a great deal of controversy since its publication, even being highlighted on a conservative news radio station. At present time, my article has received 28 comments, many of which express discontent with the content and structure of the piece. In light of these critiques, I wanted to take the opportunity to clarify my position and any miscommunications that I may have conveyed.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am noting that the piece was originally published under a title I felt was inappropriate. When I first read the title, which I did not choose, I immediately contacted our management team to select a more apt title. I do not believe that all GOP members are sexist toward Wendy Davis — that assessment is intellectually dishonest. My point is that a few prominent conservatives, like Erick Erickson and Todd Kincannon, have made derogatory remarks that perpetuate the notion of a war on women. I did not intend to debate whether the war actually exists. Still, polling figures show that Republicans have trouble connecting with female voters, which is why Davis, a woman who is in contention with the right, was used as my primary example. This does not mean that I completely agree with Davis or endorse the discrepancies in her biography. For the record, I largely disagree with her abortion policy and believe critiquing the discrepancies is fair. What I take issue with is resorting to sexism instead of engaging on policy.
Another critique I received was that I deliberately ignored misogyny against conservative politicians. As I wrote in the comments forum, any form of sexism against a woman who seeks to serve her country and run for office is disgusting and reprehensible, regardless of her political leanings. This statement applies to Gov. Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter and other conservative women who have received less-recognized attacks. I am fully aware that both liberals and conservatives can hold misogynistic views. While I agree that sexism against Republican females should be more greatly discussed, my particular piece was not a medium where it could be effectively explored. My focus was the war on women, whether real or imaginary, and how it affects the GOP. The topic of general sexism — toward women who lean right, left or in between — should be reserved for a separate opinion where it can be properly discussed.
Ultimately, my goal in composing my weekly column is to facilitate productive discussions. While the response to my article was initially overwhelming, I am glad to inspire an open conversation. Debating means that we care about the course of our government, our representatives and the future of our country. It means that despite our differences, we share a common goal. Although my perception of the GOP’s image may differ from a reader’s, the fact that we engaged in a productive discussion speaks to our concern for the issues. In the end, that is enough for me.
Christina Coleburn is a deputy opinion editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.