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Fox News Targets Gisele Fetterman With Gross Misogyny While Also Managing to Miss a Joke

Comedy isn't dead, but it's also not on Fox News.

but cropped PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 06: (L-R) Meena Harris , Gisele Barreto Fetterman and Padma Lakshmi attend Indian American Impact GOTV Weekend Canvass Launch on November 06, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images for Indian American Impact)

Instead of hyping up failed former president Donald Trump leading up to his announcement of a third run for president, Fox News spent the day making fun of Pennsylvanian Senator-elect John Fetterman’s wife, Gisele Fetterman.

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Like many spouses and close family members of newly elected representatives, Gisele went to help her husband move into his new office and celebrated with some photos. After she posted them online, hosts at Fox News took this as an opportunity to continue to make fun of John’s working-class “look” (I hate to phrase it like that) and imply that voters chose the Pennsylvania senator-elect because of his spouse’s appearance and more.

This claim that Gisele’s looks are why John was elected is completely bizarre. First, she’s never been acknowledged by Fox at the national level. Considering the vitriol thrown at non-European immigrants by the network, her migration from Brazil feels like something more up their alley to attack. After all, the coverage today is likely to be centered on praising Texas Governor Greg Abbott busing more asylum-seekers from Texas to Pennsylvania.

However, when more closely reflecting on the works they chose to attack, it’s clear that this is just another example of a centuries-old misogynist trope: that women can be seen as a threat—be it for political/financial power or by being conventionally attractive—in relation to their proximity to a man. This is often thrown at Vice-President Kamala Harris and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (and we don’t have to celebrate either of them politically to see that). Alongside a number of other antisemitic conspiracy theories, there are people that truly think that Biden died years ago and that one of these two women is “actually in control.” Though a comparison more fitting for Gisele, honestly, would be the treatment of Michelle Obama.

Because many saw President Obama as an inefficient leader, they turned to say it was Michelle or a number of other women in proximity to him really making the calls. Now, the vitriol Michelle received was colored heavily by anti-Black racism and transphobia, and her role was a lot more public. However, I can’t discount that as a racialized young woman, Gisele is also going to be sexualized by many that want to criticize her husband. They’re really trying to paint her as something between Lady Macbeth and (Roma or Latin) Carmen, vying for political power when she’s just excited for her husband.

Grasping for straws to understand the midterm failures

Speaking of digging deeper, Fox News chose to take issue with the photos Gisele took of Fetterman’s first day in D.C. They pointed out that she was centered in the pictures, with her husband’s face cropped out of some. But if the network had done literally any research at all, they would have seen that this purposefully framed photo is a long-running joke between John and Gisele. For the past few years at least, if they are together in a photo and there is no one else in it, the 6’8″ Fetterman will be cropped out. Fox News is trying to use this to accuse Gisele of being narcissistic but in reality, it’s hilarious and adorable and reminds me of Sully and Mike from Monster’s Inc.

Fox News probably has trouble focusing on this or doing any basic research because they always want to make fun of John Fetterman’s appearance and disabilities. In the same clip above, the network that loves to rail against “elites” mocked the fact that a man wears hoodies and basketball shorts. This is a thing people wear regardless of age and gender—though I must say, many boys and men have this as their default style.

This continual bashing of John’s looks instead of his policy ideas really just shows that they are grasping at straws in making excuses for why they failed at the midterms they were expected to do so well in. In addition to pollsters being unable to reach the youth vote, Republicans made it too difficult to vote (by general voter suppression and by insisting that voters only vote in person on election day) and discounted the unpopularity of restricting abortion access. Even bored by Trump at this point, the network is focused on the one thing that can unite most Americans: blatant misogyny.

(via Twitter, featured image: Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images for Indian American Impact)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.

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