Women's Voices and the Democratic Presidential Debate

By Christine Cupaiuolo — July 25, 2007

This post was meant for Tuesday — apologies for the delay!

The CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate Monday night included questions from women about gay marriage, race, healthcare and — from a Planned Parenthood staffer — whether the candidates had ever talked to their children about sex education, using medically accurate and age-appropriate education.

They were terrific — and though I very much enjoyed the format, ultimately I agree with Alessandra Stanley’s point that “over all, the evening turned out to be a showcase for video-savvy viewers, not a showdown between candidates.” With few exceptions, the candidates delivered overly safe, polished responses.

The blog Real Women, Real Voices did the numbers and discovered that “of the 39 viewer-submitted questions aired by CNN, 30 featured men speaking and only 12 featured women. (One question, #33 showed four clips, two women and two men.)”

The post also links to the video for each question.

Jenn Pozner of Women in Media & News has more analysis on the under-representation of women here. “The fact that YouTube and CNN would bill their debate as a bold new step for participatory democracy yet would so significantly underrepresent women’s participation is another indication that media accountability is needed even in this brave new world of online communication, despite the much-ballyhooed gender equity it was supposed to bring,” writes Pozner.

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