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Posts Tagged ‘Women’

I was recently putting together a list of female journalists (no, not just for fun, although it was quite fun), and I’m reminded yet again of how much of a boy’s world journalism is. Except, these days it’s not so much that there aren’t any female writers out there, or that there’s just the one His Girl Friday smacking around the befuddled sexist male reporters in the newsroom. There are women – awesome, brilliant, gifted writers whose articles are always thought provoking and sometimes game-changing.

The problem is where you find them. If you go to the top newspapers, a large percentage of the women you will find there are writing in the Lifestyle sections: food, fashion, design, real estate, women’s issues. I’ll repeat that last one: Women’s issues are in the lifestyle sections. Because men’s issues are, what? Business, Tech, Politics – those all get their own section. But women’s issues are something other, and nebulous, so when you have someone writing on them at all she (and it’s always she) gets stuck in Lifestyle.

Salon, though I’m a fan, is one of the worst perpetrators of this marginalization of “women’s issues.” They have some of the best in the business writing on beats like gender, women in politics and global women’s rights – and they get stuck in the “Life” section. The brilliant Rebecca Traister’s pieces are lumped together with sex advice columns and TV reviews (ok, sometimes she wrote the TV reviews – but then again, TV reviews aren’t always crap.) Last month I spotted one of these juxtapositions that was so ridiculous I had to archive it.


Foreign affairs, violent anti-choice rhetoric, and…smelly beds? It’s like eating a box of Oreos and suddenly pulling out a graham cracker. Neither are bad, necessarily, but they don’t belong in the same box.

And this is their idea of “Life”?

Not to say that Salon is all bad on the women’s empowerment front. The editor-in-chief is Joan Walsh (at least until she steps down in the near future to pursue book projects – and is replaced by a man. Sigh.). They do have smart women writing on interesting and important topics. But compare the number of writers with a Y chromosome on the editorial staff of the Life section (one – the advice columnist, which is awesome in its own right – out of four) to the number of male writers on the News/Politics and Tech/Business sections (four out of four).

This, my friends, is where the rub lies. So, let’s get more women writing, more women being published in the “hard news” sections, and get “women’s issues” out of the Lifestyle sections. Who’s with me?

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…No, not that one.

Maybe it’s because my new job is in the male-dominated tech industry (heck, it’s in an industry, which is weird and slightly earthshattering for me)…

Maybe it’s because having said job has chilled, just a bit, my outrage over the popular conception of the “20-Something Slacker Generation” – my piece about which still hasn’t gotten much beyond “Arrggghhhhhh, everyone is so stupid!”, and therefore has not seen the light of the interwebs…

Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading Rebecca Traister’s fabulous new book on women in the 2008 election, Big Girls Don’t Cry, one line of which, about Hillary Clinton’s perceived vs. actual “willingness to kowtow to assholes” has been stuck in my head for days…

Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about feminism lately.  And I don’t seem to be the only one.

The Nation is full of feminism (vrai and faux) this week.

There’s a new version of Wonder Woman coming to televisions sometime soon.  Produced by the guy who made Ally McBeal.  (Oh dear).

The “enthusiasm gap” between Republican and Democratic voters in the midterms seems to be linked to a gender gap in likely voters.  Some hypothesize that this is because men tend, on a whole, to be more conservative than women (and conservatives are more hyped up this election cycle.  In case you haven’t noticed.).  Others think its because men completely lose their minds and sense of self if they lose their jobs, while women, naturally, don’t really care about work and are totally fine being laid off.  Because, what, it lets them go back to the things they really want to do, have dozens of babies and take care of their menfolk?

The Sarah Palin-created “Mama Grizzlies” are trying to claim not only feminism, but Susan B. Anthony (that’s nothing new), and smart girl-ness.  (I am so offended by so much of that, but I’m going to save it for another day)

But, thankfully, in solidarity with all of us smacking our foreheads about all of that, the ladies of EMILY’s List say, “Oh, Please.” http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2010/08/17/emilys-list-targets-sarah-palins-mama-grizzlies/

And a couple of “chick-lit” authors raised holy hell started an interesting and wide-ranging discussion about the gender divide within the elite world of “literary” novels, and the high-profile reviews of them.  And so Franzenfreude was born.

Even as some bemoan the current crop of younger feminist leaders, with their blogs and their heels, I say the conversation is alive and well, and that’s saying something.

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