State Sen. Scott Brown won a special election for the U.S. Senate seat against Martha Coakley, the states Attorney General, on’Jan. 19. State voters surprised the nation by choosing a Republican for a seat once held by liberal Ted Kennedy, who died in August.
Brown received 51.9 percent’of the votes and Coakley, a Democrat, received only’47.1 percent. Massachusetts voters didn’t seem to mind that the senator-elect posed nude for Cosmopolitan magazine in 1982.
When he was 22 years old, Brown, a law student, appeared in a spread when he won the ‘America’s Sexiest Man’ competition. He told the’magazine: ‘I’m not ashamed of my body. I work hard enough to keep it in shape. When you go to the beach, you automatically seek out the best bodies – female and male. Why should it be different in a’magazine?’
Had the roles been reversed, a female candidate probably would have been called promiscuous, unsuitable for office and would have a hard time getting approved by voters.
The candidate’s gender played a huge role in downplaying his past. It’s sad to see double standards are still apparent in American politics and that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.
Sarah Palin, the GOP’vice-presidential candidate in 2008, was criticized for a Photoshopped image of her in a bikini. Even when the media proved the photo was fake, she was still criticized for it, according to Newsweek.
Imagine Coakley doing a nude photo shoot for Maxim in her younger years. She probably never would’ve been elected for attorney general – let alone senator.
Brown’s party alignment helped him avoid controversy as well. If a Democrat were in the same situation, the outcome of the election would’ve been different. The GOP would be outraged about the candidate’s past and would have made sure everyone’knew about it. The Coakley campaign should’ve focused on exposing its opponent’s past and then let the public decide.
The media helped Brown win the election. The photos had been in circulation before the election, but most Americans didn’t hear about it until after the vote.
For one reason or another, the local media didn’t see this as an important part of the candidate’s past. There’s no’doubt a female candidate would’ve made breaking news with that story.
Had the Democrats exploited the photos, the outcome of the election may have been different. Massachusetts would’ve had its first female senator, closing the political gender gap in the U.S.
The Democrats also would’ve been able to maintain their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. In such an important election, they really missed a golden opportunity.
Xhenis Berberi is a senior majoring in political science and economics.