Three female senators call NYT coverage of Sinema’s clothes ‘sexist’

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) speaks to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) as she leaves the Senate Chamber for votes regarding judicial nominations on Wednesday, October 27, 2021.
Greg Nash

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) on Friday criticized The New York Times for a string of pieces related to fellow Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Ariz.) clothing.  

The three female senators pointed to four stories recently published by the Times — one style section piece published last month and three opinion section pieces in the past three weeks from one writer — saying they “cannot imagine The Times printing similar pieces on the fashion choices of any of our male colleagues.” 

“Senator Sinema is a serious, hardworking member of the Senate who contributes a great deal to the policy deliberations before us. Your repeated focus on how she dresses, rather than what she says and does, is demeaning, sexist and inappropriate,” the senators wrote in a letter to the editor published Friday

Asked about the criticism from the senators, Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman for The Times, said, “the aim of our Opinion coverage is to invite intelligent discussion from informed people with a diversity of opinions and ideas. We believe in open debate and always welcome reactions such as the Senators’ letter to the editor.”

Sinema acknowledged the op-ed in a tweet, adding: “Work Hard. Be Yourself.”

In a still largely buttoned up chamber, Sinema’s penchant for patterns and bold colors stands out on the Senate floor. It’s been the source of a steady stream of articles from several outlets, including attempts to analyze Sinema’s politics through her fashion choices.  

And while it has earned her praise, it has also sparked criticism, including when some progressives interpreted a photo Sinema posted of herself earlier this year wearing a ring that said ““F— off” as a response to them. 

Sinema’s office has a policy of not commenting on her clothing. Amid criticism earlier this year of Sinema’s vote against a $15 minimum wage, where she quickly got pushback from using a noticeable thumbs down, they also told The Huffington Post that “commentary about a female senator’s body language, clothing, or physical demeanor does not belong in a serious media outlet.” 

Sinema, in a recent interview with Politico, also called stories about her clothing “inappropriate.” 

“It’s very inappropriate. I wear what I want because I like it. It’s not a news story, and it’s no one’s business,” Sinema said. 

Shaheen, Collins and Murkowski referenced Sinema’s remarks in their letter to the editor. 

 “We couldn’t agree more,” they added.

Updated 4:30 p.m.

Tags Jeanne Shaheen Kyrsten Sinema Lisa Murkowski Susan Collins

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