Who Was Really #StandingWithWendy? A content analysis of Canadian and American online news coverage of Senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster of Senate Bill 5 in the Texas Legislature
AbstractOn June 25th, 2013, Democrat Senator Wendy Davis from Texas staged a 13 hour filibuster in a special legislative session as a final effort to deny the passage of Senate Bill 5, legislation which would severely restrict abortion policies in the state. In the precedent setting event, she took both a literal and figurative stand for women’s rights and gained international media attention in the process. My research performed a content analysis of Canadian and American online news coverage of this political event. Each article was examined for: visibility of Senator Davis; gender stereotypical descriptive techniques such as gendered mediation, personalization, and sexualisation; legitimizing or delegitimizing coverage regarding the abortion policies proposed in Senate Bill 5; and supportive or unsupportive tone towards Senator Davis’s actions. The results demonstrate that Canadian news coverage presented a greater prevalence of attitudes of gender equality in comparison to the American coverage, which is consistent with prevailing social and legal standards in each country. Additionally, the results reveal the ways in which gendered mediation, which has been traditionally used as a delegitimizing tactic against femininity in the political arena, can be subverted and used in support of female politicians and issues.