Sanford scandal stirs sexist stereotypes

The way some media has been covering South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's affair with a woman from Argentina plays into some sexist stereotypes about Latina women.

She was called a "hottie," an "Argentine firecracker" and his "Latin lover" by the New York Daily News.

Some headlines have made the obvious "it takes two to tango" or "last tango" reference. Could that be more cliché?

But something about the objectification of this woman, Maria Belen Shapur, really disturbs me. She is a successful, multilingual businesswoman.

But in every media outlet she is constantly referred to as his "mistress." It makes her sound like a kept woman and clearly she was supporting herself and her two children.

Where is the word that is the male equivalent to mistress? Technically, it's master but nobody uses that word anymore.

In the coverage, he is respectfully referred to by his title of governor. But she is "the mistress."

Why not call him what he is - a liar, a cheater, a slimeball?

The truth is there are more words for a loose woman in English than for a loose man.

Linguist Julia Penelope located 220 English words meaning "promiscuous woman," but found only 20 for "promiscuous man."
In one headline on the Miami Herald Web site, the writer called Shapur his girlfriend, which seems like a less sexist choice of words.

Clearly, the coverage is salacious and his affair only matters to the
public if he used public funds or abused his office to see this woman.

We don't need another scandal a la Bill and Monica to distract us from important issues like the economy.

She should have used better judgment than getting involved with a
married man. If he loved her so much, he should have told his wife and
asked for a divorce.

Still, I think we should show more respect for Ms. Shapur. She doesn't deserve to be stereotyped or objectified by the media.

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