Target: New York Post writer Candice M. Giove
Goal: Apologize for sexist criticisms of New York assemblywoman Naomi D. Rivera
Bronx assemblywoman Naomi D. Rivera found herself in trouble recently when media outlets discovered a secret, private Facebook page she had been keeping under her middle name as “Daniela Rivera.” The contents of the page are damning, indicating a long-lasting romantic entanglement with Tommy Torres, a man 8 years her junior who she put on her government payroll despite little evidence that he did any professional work for her (Torres was working two other jobs at the time). The page shows the two of them together in photos starting in 2009, a year before her divorce was finalized. Though it is important for public figures to take responsibility for what they put online, regardless of their desire to treat a page as “private,” some of the language used in the Post’s criticisms goes past expressing concern over the potentially unethical nature of her relationship with Torres and edges into slut-shaming. Rivera is snidely described as a “swing voter” and roasted for a somewhat sultry photo accessible to the public where her clothing shows the top of her lacy red bra.
Nothing posted on the Internet can truly be considered private, and Rivera’s Facebook page undoubtedly raises questions which need to be answered. But focusing on her willingness to display and be comfortable with her body, rather than her unethical actions in putting her lover on government payroll for no apparent reason, goes at the situation from the wrong angle and buys into an unfortunately sexist narrative. Ask Candice M. Giove, the writer of the post, to apologize for her language and get discussion of the assemblywoman’s actions back on track.
Dear Candice M. Giove at the New York Post,
A recent article you posted at nypost.com described the scandal surrounding the recent unveiling of Bronx assemblywoman Naomi D. Rivera’s “private” Facebook page, which featured photos of her in potentially compromising situations and evidence of a longstanding relationship between her and a man 8 years her junior who she placed on government payroll. The information on the page is damning, and under the circumstances it is difficult to comply with Rivera’s desire for the Facebook page to be considered private. However, the language used by you in your article about Rivera edged extremely close to slut-shaming.
Rather than focusing your criticism on the fact that she was involved with one of her staffers who may not have even been doing any work for her to earn his spot on her payroll, you pointed many of your criticisms at Rivera’s open displays of sexuality. Describing the assemblywoman as “sultry” on her Facebook page and including a photo where she showed the top of her red lacy bra, your article bought into an unfortunate sexist narrative in which a woman who is unapologetic about who she chooses to sleep with and how she chooses to display herself automatically becomes a whore.
Please issue an apology for the language you used in reporting on and criticizing the “private” Facebook page of assemblywoman Naomi D. Rivera. Holding public figures accountable is important, but it is equally important to make sure that they are held accountable for the right thing, and that accusations of being unethical stick to the actual unethical behavior rather than becoming sensationalist.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Flickr via wallyg