This is a fabulous (and depressing) chart, from the ladies of statette.
1) By “top 10” we mean in terms of circulation.
2) This only includes business, news and opinion columnists.
3) Here are the sources:
Isn’t the reason we need these feminist sites because women’s issues and news are still marginalized, while things pertaining to men are still classified as general interest? Because big, important things like, say, making and raising human beings, are still considered something only ladies read about? Along with not insignificant matters like gender equity, body image and, often, sex? We don’t get the space to report on and discuss these things in traditional, mainstream sections so we rely on women-only sections to get the job done.
Well it seems like that after six years of running Broadsheet, the editors are ready to take these issues out of a feminist context and present them as, gasp, news. If the editors stick by their word, Salon’s great arsenal of writers will bring their feminist point-of-view to the publication’s arts, culture and news coverage; at Salon, feminism won’t be a niche perspective or a specialization, it will be the ubiquitous standard. While it is to soon to know if that will be the case, it is ultimately what I think we should all be shooting for."
The Forward’s Elissa Strauss on why we should celebrate the demise of Broadsheet.
Today in Things we Love: “The PROSTITUTE who saved Puerto Rico!” (Or, in Which We Learn That Men’s Magazines Used to Really Love Exclamation Points.)
Check the amazing gallery of vintage men’s magazines on Buzzfeed today. Among the ridiculous headlines:
- United Nations Report: Free Love is Killing Prostitution!
- One of Every Two Wives has Extra-Marital Sex! Does Yours? Seven Ways to Find Out For Sure….
- “I Got All the Women I wanted for $50 a Month!”
- The PROSTITUTE Who Saved Puerto Rico!
And among the not so ridiculous:
- Should we legalize marijuana?
- What’s Wrong with American Men?
But our personal favorite is Sir! (which is actually kind of a rad name for a magazine), cause they ran the following three cover lines on one single issue:
- Your Sweetheart and Abortion
- Why Call Girls are That Way
- Are You Taking a Chance with VD?
With “the roof having fallen in” on Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report, as Howard Kurtz puts it in today’s Washington Post, it’s Rick Stengel’s Time Magazine that’s become, as Stengel puts it, the newsweekly “category of one.”
So how does Time manage to stay profitable while the rest of us drown? Various ways. But one of them has to do with talent—male talent!
While he had to trim the roughly 200-person staff by a quarter over four years, relying more on freelancers, he has assembled a team of high-profile writers. These include a spate of journalists from The Post, including Michael Grunwald, David Von Drehle and Pulitzer Prize winner Barton Gellman. Stengel also brought in Mark Halperin from ABC, Michael Crowley from the New Republic and, most recently, Fareed Zakaria from Newsweek.
Time has lost a few big-name contributors as well, including Michael Kinsley, Andrew Sullivan and Bill Kristol. And Stengel, a speechwriter for Bill Bradley’s presidential campaign, has no prominent conservative to balance liberal columnist Joe Klein.
Maybe we’re a wee-bit sensitive here, but, um, we get it, OK? Great—really great!—men have kept Time going. But what about Nancy Gibbs, who wrote the—as Kurtz describes it—“fascinating look back at the cultural impact of ‘The Pill’”? Or Aryn Baker, the controversial author of the magazine’s recent Afghanistan cover, who Stengel once called “dazzling”? Honestly, the same men making the same decisions and writing about the same men making those same decisions just gets old. Which brings us to this question: could more women have saved Newsweek? More on that to come.
We know what it’s like to get called out by Jezebel. When we wrote about institutionalized sexism at our own magazine—and in media in general—we were called out for being non-inclusive. It stung, both cause we liked them, and because they gave us no props whatsoever for sticking our necks out and getting our magazine to publish a story critical of the treatment of women at our own magazine. It felt like we were deemed unworthy of speaking up. Like doing so put us at risk of public shaming, so we should have therefore kept quiet.
Well, Jezebel is at it again. This time calling out The Daily Show for the lack of female representation. Irin Carmon writes:
[The Daily Show] is also a boys’ club where women’s contributions are often ignored and dismissed.
It’s a pretty serious accusation to level at place you’ve never worked. Not surprisingly, the women of the show responded, saying, among other things:
The truth is, when it comes down to it, The Daily Show isn’t a boy’s club or a girl’s club, it’s a family - a highly functioning if sometimes dysfunctional family. And we’re not thinking about how to maximize our gender roles in the workplace on a daily basis. We’re thinking about how to punch up a joke about Glenn Beck’s latest diatribe, where to find a Michael Steele puppet on an hour’s notice, which chocolate looks most like an oil spill, and how to get a gospel choir to sing the immortal words, “Go f@#k yourself!”
We get why they’d want to say F-U to someone who purports to tell you your own reality. It’s belittling.
But there’s some truth to Carmon’s criticism. There are not enough women (or minorities) on camera there, or at virtually any other night show, or in media in general. Plus, amidst these conversations, everyone seems to forget that the show is a spoof of the largely white, male dominated nightly news.
Ironically, the reasons for this are best expressed in the original post. Carmon quotes a former Daily Show writer who says:
“I don’t think Jon is sexist. I don’t think that there is a double standard at the Daily Show. I do think that by the time it gets to the Daily Show it’s already been through the horrible sexist double standard of the universe. You’re not hiring someone right out of school. By the time they get to the candidates of the Daily Show, the herd has been thinned by the larger societal forces.” Of the greater talent pool of comedians, she said, “All that’s left are white men and Aziz Ansari.”
Hey, we’re journalists, we get that this kind of nuance isn’t quite as catchy as sweeping allegations of rampant sexism. But what really bothers us is that Irin spends all of forty words responding to the letter penned by the show’s current female staffers. She, well, ignores and dismisses them.
All of this reminds us of the backlash against Tina Fey, who was accused of “not being feminist enough.” It’s an ongoing problem—one of missing the forest for the trees, we think—which threatens to spin into an increasingly inclusive, nit-picky, and, ultimately, alienating conversation.
Sure, it’s important to keep challenging each other. But it’s also important to hear each other. And let us speak for ourselves.
(PS: why does everyone keep forgetting about Kristin Schaal, above? We went to a Halloween party at her house many lifetimes ago and it was SUPER fun.)
In light of CNN talking head-to-be Kathleen Parker taking a brave stand on how Obama does things in “a woman’s way,” the Awl’s Choire decided to take a look at the ol’ Awl inbox, where people pitch stories. The emails from men, he says, are pretty direct,” while the women are falling all over themselves with apologies.
Inquiry letter from a man:
“Do you take pitches? Should I just write something and send it? Do I have to tickle the balls? I want to write for the awl, dammit.”
Inquiry letter from a woman:
“As an long-time admirer of your site (and non-too-frequent registered commenter), I’ve been too shy to pitch as I’ve never felt like my work measured up to your fine standards.”
Inquiry letter from a man:
“Can you offer a word of advice regarding how submissions work, desired timetables, what you like the pitches to look like, and so forth?”
Inquiry letter from a woman:
“I’m sure I’m going about this all wrong, but I couldn’t find any sort of submission area on the site. What I’m wondering is, how does one go about becoming a contributor to The Awl?”
This is quote appalling, actually. And sad. Why do women insist on apologizing for everything they do? We have a friend, the most direct, confident person we’ve ever met (like, really, ever—we imagine him in a tiny business suit as a child). Whenever we’re feeling less-than-confident, we think, What Would Adam Do? And we pretend we have a dick.
Now if there was ever a time to read Rachel Simmons’ Curse of the Good Girl, it’s now.
Pixar is no stranger to accusations of gender bias—nor is Hollywood, obvs—but Ms magazine is the latest to point a finger at the production company, this time for sexism in Toy Story 3. With help from the The Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media, Ms gives us the following data:
* Out of 7 new toy characters, only one is female—far worse than the 3-1 average in children’s media as a whole.
* The boy’s mother is a) nameless and b) a nag.
* The film is peppered with jokes about how women should be quiet, are hilarious when they say something smart, and really only care about romance.
* Ken (of Barbie and Ken) is portrayed as an effete closet-case who writes in sparkly purple pen but defends his manhood by whining, “I am not a girl toy!” The take-away: the worst thing you can be is a girl. The second worst thing you be is a gay boy.
This nice little photo montage, brought to you by Film School Rejects, is a great sampling of all our favorite Pixar leads. But… ahem: where are all the women?
A piece on Jezebel yesterday tackles the lack of women at the Daily Show, revealing that, while Jon Stewart may positively lovable on air, one former executive describes the “huge discrepancy between the Jon Stewart who goes on TV every night and the Jon Stewart who runs The Daily Show with joyless rage.” Ouch.
In one oft-told story, apparently Stewart threw a newspaper or script at the show’s co-creator Madeleine Smithberg, because he thought her work sucked. But Smithberg doesn’t think Stewart is sexist. As she puts it:
“By the time [a person] get to the candidates of the Daily Show, the herd has been thinned by the larger societal forces.” Of the greater talent pool of comedians, “All that’s left are white men and Aziz Ansari.”
So Stewart may not be sexist, but clearly the system is.
Our esteemed colleagues Pat Wingert and Barbara Kantrowitz write today about recent examples of very public girl-on-girl, or, in these cases, woman-on-woman meanness, including Carly Fiorina’s “oh my God her hair is so last season” comment; Meg Whitman’s rumored shoving of a female subordinate; and, of course, the Real Housewives of New York City, who are pretty much mean to each other 24/7.
They talk to Rosalind Wiseman, the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, about the grown-up lady meanness, who said:
“In our culture we get rewarded for mean-girl behavior, so we see adults behaving in ways that we typically assign to teens … Getting attention is the most important thing.”
It’s unsettling because it’s totally true. Ugh.
But it’s not all bleak. There’s something we can do:
But Wiseman says that paying attention to bad behavior just reinforces the idea that even successful women are superficial. “When you are being entertained, your defenses go down,” she says, and “you’re absorbing the message that women are stupid and inconsequential.” Not only does it “dumb us all down,” she says, “but, more importantly, it makes us expect less from others and expect less from ourselves, and allows this kind of behavior to be normalized.”
So, ladies, let’s try not to be amused by intra-female meanness, k? Tks.
Politico’s got a good roundup today of the lack of women on the Sunday talk-show circuit, based on new data from American University showing that women made up just 13.4 percent of lawmaker appearances on the Sunday shows this year.
Thus far this year, the five major Sunday shows — including NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “Fox News Sunday,” CBS’s “Face the Nation,” ABC’s “This Week” and CNN’s “State of the Union” — have had 148 appearances by congressional lawmakers. Of those, 128 were men and 20 were women.
Ouch. So naturally, the blame-game begins: Is it sexist bookers? Is it not enough women in Congress? Is it women being difficult? Researchers and press-secretaries have accused network bookers of a “men-in-suits” mindset, while the network producers say there aren’t enough women to book. And the women they do try to book, they say, are just so damn difficult to pin down! “I’ve probably asked her 25 times,” the female executive producer of “Meet the Press” says of Nancy Pelosi. “She is just unwilling to do it.”
As for the rest of ‘em…
Sen. Claire McCaskill goes home almost every weekend to Missouri, where family plans often take precedence over Sunday shows. Sen. Olympia Snowe tries to appear via satellite from her home in Bangor, Maine, but it’s a small media market with few studios. Pelosi, Feinstein and Boxer — all key women — live on the West Coast, which would mean that even if a remote shot were possible the taping would have to be early, putting them in the chair as early as 6 a.m. for some shows.
As Politico has written before, there aren’t enough women on Capitol Hill, for sure. But just so we don’t let the media get away squeaky clean, a quick Equality Myth rundown of exactly how shitty media of all formats is doing when it comes to showcasing women.
NEWSWEEK: In 1970, the year 46 women sued the company for gender discrimination, 25 percent of the magazine’s editorial masthead was female. As of March 16, that number was 39 percent—with an overall gender breakdown that’s roughly equal. To its credit, NEWSWEEK has looked critically at itself—in particular, with this story, published earlier this year. But, still: a mere six of NEWSWEEK’s 49 cover stories last year were written by women.
THE WASHINGTON POST: n 2008, an internal Post newsroom study of 1,200 Post stories found that women had been the focus of just 18 percent of them. The same analysis found that “men are quoted almost three times as often as women in the paper.” Last month, the paper sparked a minor blogosphere frenzy when various commentators noticed that, among the Post’s featured columnists on its websites, there were, well, a whole lotta middle-aged white men staring back from their headshots. (Also, there was this.)
NPR: In a piece earlier this year called “Where Are the Women?,” NPR’s ombudsman took to the Web to call out the organization for its painful lack of female commentators. NPR does well when it comes to female hosts—three of five of its major shows are hosted by women; the org has a female CEO and head of the news department. But when it comes to commentators and outside voices, it’s a different story. Of the station’s 104 shows between April 13, 2009 and Jan. 9, 2010, just 26 percent of the 3,379 voices paid to appear on air were women.
Late-Night TV: When David Letterman’s sex scandal was blasted across every paper in town, various outlets reported on the sobering reality that there was not a single female writer on “The Jay Leno Show,” Letterman or “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.” Conan’s obviously no longer on the air (and we happen to know that one woman was promoted to writer at Letterman shortly after the scandal) but, um, still.
Sources Overall: A recent report from the Global Media Monitoring Project found that worldwide, women make up only 24 percent of the people “interviewed, heard, seen or read about in mainstream broadcast and print news.”
Bylines overall: Meanwhile, no matter that women have been the majority of college journalism majors since 1977, female bylines at 11 of the top political and intellectual magazines, as assessed by the White House Project, are still outnumbered by whopping 7:1.
Media Power Overall: A 2007 study by Free Press found that while women comprised 51 percent of the U.S. population, they owned less than 6 percent of television stations and 8 percent of all full-power commercial broadcast radio stations.
(Ed’s Update: For the record, SheSource—a database of 500-plus women experts on virtually every topic, maintained by the Women’s Media Center—is a great resource for combating this reality. Check it out, we should have thought to include it earlier!)
Who are we forgetting?
Well hot damn, Robin Givhan. We know you won a Pulitzer and all, but our jaw straight-up dropped when we read this headline, from Sunday’s Washington Post Style section: “Elena Kagan goes on Supreme Court confirmation offensive in drab D.C. clothes.” Wow! (And is there such a thing as non-drab DC clothes?) But then, there’s the caption, showing Kagan looking perfectly professional, complete with a pair of pearls, next to Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “UNUSUAL: Most women, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, cross their legs when sitting, but not Kagan.” Double wow.
Givhan goes on to say that, in matters of style, Kagan is “unabashedly conservative,” and the piece is an attempt to convey, as Tim Gunn puts it, the semiotics of style—the idea that every part of your wardrobe says something about you. (Sexy equals stupid; dowdy equals wise.) As Givhan puts it, “Tied up in the assessment of style—Kagan’s or anyone else’s—is the awkward, fumbling attempt to suss out precisely who a person is.” Which is undeniably true. But in this case, Givhan’s attempt is exactly that: awkward, fumbling, and just plain offensive. She writes:
In the photographs of Kagan sitting and chatting in various Capitol Hill offices, she doesn’t appear to ever cross her legs. Her posture stands out because for so many women, when they sit, they cross. She does not cross her legs at the ankles either, the way so many older women do. Instead, Kagan sits, in her sensible skirts, with her legs slightly apart, hands draped in her lap. The woman and her attire seem utterly at odds. She is intent on being comfortable. No matter what the clothes demand. No matter the camera angle.
If Wikipedia weren’t telling us that Givhan is in her 40s, I’d chalk it up to grandmotherly tendencies. But beyond the idea that we’d never analyze the leg-crossing, “drab” attire of Justice Alito (though Givhan has criticized John Roberts for being too well put together), beyond the fact that, as Daily Intel points out, Kagan actually does cross her legs, there are three great ironies to this piece:
1) That it comes out the same day the Washington Post ombudsman reveals that accusations of gender bias at the Post are working against efforts “to retain or attract a critically important readership group: women.”
The ombudsman cites four particular stories that have drawn widespread feminine ire: the recent cutting review of (Newsweek editor Jon Meacham’s) PBS public affairs program, “Need to Know,” in which author Tom Shales declares that cohost Alison Stewart, looks, during a “fawning” interview with Bill Clinton, “as though she would have been much more comfortable in Clinton’s lap”; A recent column that said Rielle Hunter had spoken “blondely”; a description of Sarah Palin that referenced her “pumps and black nylons”; and a 2007 story about Hillary Clinton, again by Givhan, that focused entirely on her cleavage. In that piece, Givhan writes that Sen. Clinton’s slightly V-shaped neckline was “unnerving” and “startling,” especially for a woman “who has been so publicly ambivalent about style, image and the burdens of both.” She added, “[I]t was more like catching a man with his fly unzipped. Just look away!”
2) That the Post’s own internal Stylebook says that “References to personal appearance — blond, diminutive, blue-eyed — should generally be omitted unless clearly relevant to the story.” It cautions to “avoid condescension and stereotypes.” Yeah, this is a fashion story—we know. But still kinda funny, right?
3) And now for the final irony, care of Getty Images, and our beloved Newsweek photo editor Kathy Jones. Robin Givhan! What on earth are you doing at fashion week without crossing your legs?!
Washington Post Ombudsman on Gender Bias: ‘We’re Losing a Critically Important Readership Group—Women’
In Sunday’s Washington Post, ombudsman Andrew Alexander takes on the ongoing criticism of his newspaper for sexism—most recently, for its cutting review of the new PBS public affairs program, “Need to Know,” in which author Tom Shales declares that cohost Alison Stewart, an award-winning journalist, looks, during a “fawning” interview with Bill Clinton, “as though she would have been much more comfortable in Clinton’s lap.”
Shales apologized last week, but Alexander goes on to cite other stories in which the Post has been accused of sexism: A recent column that said Rielle Hunter, John Edwards’ mistress, had spoken “blondely”; a description of Sarah Palin that referenced her “pumps and black nylons” and said she “sashayed” into a courtroom and smiled “demurely”; a 2007 story about Hillary Clinton that focused entirely on her cleavage.
“References like these don’t typically prompt canceled subscriptions,” Alexander writes. “But the consistent negative response to them surely works against efforts to retain or attract a critically important readership group: women.”
In 2008, an internal Post newsroom study noted a drop in female readership that “began accelerating in 2003.” The study also said a content analysis of roughly 1,200 Post stories found that women were the focus of only 18 percent of them, although they comprised slightly more than half the area’s population. The same analysis found that “men are quoted almost three times as often as women in the paper.”
How to solve the problem? Well, you could follow the Post’s internal Stylebook, which says:
“References to personal appearance — blond, diminutive, blue-eyed — should generally be omitted unless clearly relevant to the story.” It cautions to “avoid condescension and stereotypes.”
Or you could check out this gem, from the Newsweek library, on nonsexist writing. Perhaps more rationally, we could, um, put more women in power. A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism finds that only 30 percent of news stories include even a single female source, and only five of 20 magazines considered “thought leaders” have ever had a woman in the top editorial spot.
To be fair, the Washington Post is better than most: founded by Katharine Graham, the paper has a female publisher, managing editor and deputy managine editor.
But we could still be doing better.
Ladyfriend/colleague Sarah Ball got us thinking about Maureen Dowd’s column in today’s Times, in which she takes on the White House use of “unmarried” to describe Elena Kagan. The question, Dowd asks, is when does a woman go from single to unmarried? “Single” carries the connotation of eligibility and possibility—single gals are fun! Like Sex and the City!—while “unmarried” implies a sad, lonely old spinster. Perhaps attractive women can be single at any age, but if you have a weight problem and bad hair, the assumption,” Dowd writes, “is that you’re undesirable, unwanted—and unmarried.”
In their eager effort to squash the rumors that Kagan is gay, Dowd writes, the White House has effectively landed themselves in a “pre-feminist fugue.” “
You’d think that they could come up with a more inspiring narrative than old maid for a woman who may become the youngest Supreme Court justice on the bench.
There are too many things that disturb us about the Kagan sexuality obsession to name, but, to begin, the strange way her friends and colleagues (and the White House) have chosen to trumpet her sexuality. Really, Eliot Spitzer, she’s straight, but you didn’t do her? Really, Harvard roommate, you’d talk about “who in our class was cute?” Really, she had an endearingly ditzy streak?
Remind us why we’re having this conversation?