Reporting on Michele Bachmann's Migraines Isn't Sexist

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
July 19 2011 12:05 PM

Reporting on Michele Bachmann's Migraines Isn't Sexist

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The Daily Caller has an article up today alleging that Michele Bachmann suffers from debilitating migraines, and that to control the migraines, she's popping pills like Tic Tacs. A former adviser tells the Caller: "When she gets ‘em, frankly, she can’t function at all. ... She carries and takes all sorts of pills. Prevention pills. Pills during the migraine. Pills after the migraine, to keep them under control. She has to take these pills wherever she goes." Bachmann's spokeswoman says that the congresswoman does have migraines, but that they are not incapacitating, and that they're controlled with medicine.

Former DoubleX contributor Noreen Malone has a roundup of various women commentators who say that the Daily Caller article is gender biased, because migraines are a condition that is more associated with women. Mother Jones writer Clara Jeffery tweeted: "2 to 1 that Bachmann's pill popping = advil and estrogen. It's called menopause, people. Survived by powerful women all over the world."

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While Jeffery might be right to be on guard for possible sexism in the coverage of Bachmann's medical condition, the initial coverage in the Caller isn't biased. Recall the hysteria surrounding John McCain's health and pill-taking: In the run-up to the 2008 election, pundits were fretting about his bout with melanoma and worried that his Ambien use might cloud his judgment. It's possible that the Caller article was just a bunch of disaffected former Bachmann cronies dissing their former boss. But if Bachmann really does have debilitating migraines that put her out of commission for days at a time, that's relevant, gender-neutral information.

 

 

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.

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