Created for and originally posted at Bitch Magazine’s Mad World Virtual Symposium
Huffington Post regularly uses women’s bodies as an internet marketing strategy to entice viewers and generate ad revenue.
Linkbait (n.): sensationalized and unrelated images and headlines used to draw viewers into other content on a website, it is often used to generate ad revenue
Related Links and Articles:
- Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s study on Huffington Post’s inclusion of women as featured bloggers – Huffington Post Mutes Women’s Voices
- Here are some great articles from women around the blogosphere criticing Huffinton’s Posts marketing strategy: The Sexist’s Huffington Post: Liberal Politics, Sexist Entertainment and Jezebel’s Does The Huffington Post Use Sexism To Drive Liberal Page Views?
- Jessica Valenti’s article about The Fake Feminism of Sarah Palin
- Similarly, racism is prevalent among the liberal left, here is Tim Wise’s recent article – With Friends Like These, Who Needs Glenn Beck? Racism and White Privilege on the Liberal-Left
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Transcript – The Huffington Post’s Sexist Linkbait Strategy
The mainstream media is so full of right wing and centrist news coverage that many of us who desire social change take to the internet to find out what’s happening in the world. The Huffington Post a so called progressive liberal newsblogs that you may have heard of was founded in 2005 by Arianna Huffington. She wanted to create a liberal counterpoint to right wing sites such as the Drudge Report. I’m all for liberal and progressive news blogs but the problem with HuffPo is they are continually throwing women under the bus. The website is dripping with sexism. Progressive politics includes issues around racism and sexism, class, disability and sexuality.
According to Alexa.com the Huffington Post is the 36th most viewed site in the US. It beats out the Wall Street Journal and the LA Times. In order to entice viewers they use a tactic called Link baiting. It’s any content within a website design specifically to gain attention. Linkbaiting is an internet marketing strategy that relies on sensationalism to bring in viewers which then generates more ad revenue.
In this case they regularly show women’s nipples, cleavage and asses in order to entice views, and they even have a section called Celebrity Skin because apparently they aren’t shy at all about their objectification. And let’s be clear now objectification isn’t just showing women’s bodies it’s using women’s bodies to sell something so in this case they’re selling “real” news stories but they are bringing people in by talking about celebrity nipples and which female politician is hotter. They often have images of half naked women right next to the “legitimate” news stories.
Or they will feature a popular news story like the one about the proposed mosque in New York City but they will use a nearly full screen image of a woman’s body stratling a stripper pole. This is fundamentally an issue about racism in America yet they’re using a woman’s body to gain attention. Since it’s a powerful image to use as linkbait, they used it repeatedly on the site over and over and over and over again.
This would of course bother me in general but I’m specifically pissed off at this site because they claim to be liberal and progressive when they are clearly not when it comes to women.
They have categories like Obama, Sarah Palin, economy, housing, Glenn Beck, the war. And then they have an Entertainment section with categories like celebrity skin, sex tapes Lindsay Lohan, Jersey Shore, and these are all readily and easily available, they show up regularly on the home page yet I have to dig in order to find Women’s Rights tucked away in the World section, which hardly ever shows up on the front page. Apparently women’s rights don’t rise to the level of importance as naked celebrities.
This is even more apparently on their Activism section which is also tucked away and hard to find because the first three featured articles are of half naked women, you can thank PETA for that one.
Because of this it’s not surprising that women bloggers on the site are also treated with a similar disrespect. Although there are female and feminist bloggers on Huffington Post they rarely get featured as news items. So if it doesn’t make it to the front page or the front page of their respective sections it’s going to get very few views because there is so much content filtering through HuffPo everyday.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting did a study that found that only 23% of featured content was written by women. I know what you are thinking, it was founded by a woman, a powerful woman and yes but Sarah Palin is also a powerful woman and look at how disgraceful she is when it comes to women’s rights. Just because it’s female fronted doesn’t change the fact that it’s structurally and institutionally excluding women from the intellectual sphere and most often only featuring women as linkbait.
The popularity of this site serves to define progressive politics and they’re saying that woman aren’t really included in any substantial capacity. Too often websites like the Huffington Post gets to claim a progressive slant while treating women in ways that liberals would be pretty pissed off about if they saw it on Fox News. Any progressive news site worth following clearly and transparently includes race, gender, sexuality, class and ability throughout the entire site, not just when it’s convenient for their marketing strategy.