The Media and International Women’s Day

The Media and International Women’s Day

Adrienne BoettingerThursday,6 March 2014

The Snap:

Ask omniscient Google how many newscasters are women and you’ll be answered with links to “hottest cable news anchors,” “most sexy newscasters of all time,” and important issues like the hair, makeup and fashion choices of female reporters. What happened during NBC’s coverage of the Olympics (other than awkward luging by Matt Lauer and Al Roker)? Meredith Vieira became the first woman to solo host primetime coverage of the games courtesy of Costas’ raging pinkeye; her appearance was celebrated as a major milestone. At the current pace of things, it will take until 2085 for women to reach parity with men in leadership roles in government/politics, business, entrepreneurship and nonprofits. Don’t get us wrong; things have improved in the past 100 years. But have they gone far enough? (Hint: the answer is NO)

The Download:

Gentlemen, you may be tempted to think women in the media (and media’s portrayal of women) doesn’t concern you but think again. Women make up over half the population. Y’all have women in your lives in some capacity: mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, sisters, friends, etc. Start thinking of how women are treated as something that is happening to your significant others and will eventually happen to your daughters, and you’ll quickly see that you can’t afford not to care about this issue. Not when girls as young as 6-years-old are beginning to see themselves as sex objects, based on a combo of media influence, parenting and religion.

The majority of news columnists are old white men. Seriously, there are four times as many male columnists as female columnists at the three biggest newspapers and four newspaper syndicates. That’s not just sad in terms of equality it’s also boring as shit. Although we all like for people to agree with us, everyone having the same background and writing about the same things from the same point of view is about as exciting as watching a Capitol Hill press conference on the latest thing Congress hasn’t accomplished.

Female journalists writing on controversial topics seem to be targeted more frequently and viciously than their male counterparts. Oftentimes, this criticism attacks the journalists’ appearance rather than the substance or expertise of the reporting. For reasons we will never fathom, far too many online comments on articles and blogs by female writers often include threats of physical and sexual violence.

So what’s the answer? Sadly, there is no magic wand we can wave to make gender equality a reality. But it’s time for all of us to take ownership of how society treats women and girls. It’s time to refuse to reward media outlets who only perpetuate stereotypes. As we get ready for International Women’s Day on March 8th, it’s time for us women to not allow ourselves to be reduced to our looks — whether by other people or the misogyny we practice when we look in the mirror and only see flaws. Be better than that for your daughters, sisters, mothers, and most importantly for yourselves.

Take Action!

Hat Tips:

TodayVarietyWomen in Media Annual ReportNew York TimesTimePacific Standard, Image Credit: Flickr

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