As part of National Women's Editorial Forum's project to monitor Op-Ed pages of newspapers across the country, I have been reading the opinion section the New York Times for several months and have been very discouraged by the lack of women authors. The names of women rarely appear as bylines, and when they do, there is usually only one, most often one of the Times’ two female staff columnists. So, imagine how ecstatic I was to see that all of the four op-eds posted in today’s New York Times featured women authors. Then I discovered the topic to which the entire page was devoted: the Elliot Spitzer sex scandal.
One author is a woman who sympathizes with Spitzer’s wife, Silda, having gone through a similar predicament herself. The second author wrote with a male author to explore the myth of the victimless crime, discussing the consequences of the sex-for-hire industry and publicity faced by the prostitutes themselves. The third author is a former sex worker, and the fourth author is a syndicated columnist uses Elliot Spitzer’s poor choices as evidence as to why America should elect a woman president, as if that would eliminate infidelity among male politicians.
Not to discredit the voices of these women, but I find it interesting that the only time I’ve ever seen women dominate the commentary section in the nation’s paper of record is when the topic is sex, prostitution, and dishonorable conduct by a married male politician.
This is why it is so critical to monitor women in the media. Tracking the behaviors of local, state, and national publications allows us make valid plausible arguments in defense of the absence of women in the commentary continuum. You can help us by letting us know what’s on the op-ed page of your local newspaper. It’s easy to do through our Web-based form.
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--Sui Lang Panoke