Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Not All Issues Are Colored In Pink

Ruth Marcus’ column in today’s Washington Post epitomizes the need for efforts such as those undertaken by the National Women’s Editorial Forum. Women as a whole really lose out when there aren’t female voices in the editorial pages…or on the campaign trail.

Marcus’ column is on Hilary Clinton, Pretty Formidable in Pink, but I think her take on even writing about candidate Clinton speaks to why sometimes a dearth of women’s editorial voices means that if there’s only one woman on an editorial board it can mean, by default, you get to write the “women issues” while men get to write about everything else.
But as a columnist who happens to be a woman -- you may have noticed, there aren't too many of us -- I understand what [Elizabeth] Edwards means. In fact, I initially resisted writing about her comments, reluctant to be pigeonholed as a "woman columnist" and not taken seriously by the Big Boys.
There was some anger directed at the Post over a fashion column last week by Robin Givhan which focused solely on Hilary Clinton’s cleavage. Ms. magazine even sent out an e-mail asking people to write to the Post:
Women politicians' clothes, hairdos, weight, and other physical characteristics have been the obsessive focus of journalists ever since women first began holding public office in this country. We've had it!

Let the Washington Post know that sexist coverage of Hillary Clinton or any women politician is unacceptable.
Without a concerted effort to call attention to their coverage major media organizations won’t even be aware how they treat women politicians and women voters’ concerns differently from men’s. When editorial boards should beging to show a more equitable balance between men and women (instead of a sometimes token one or two). Its not enough diversity to have one token female voice on an editorial board (or a news room or a campaign bus or a cable TV show) to provide a “woman’s perspective” on femaleness and politics. Such lack of diversity can end up limiting the sole female voice to a virtual ghetto, deigned only fit to comment on supposed female-centric topics. Women make up 50 percent of the planet and there’s no reason we can take up 50 percent of an editorial board either.

--- Rachel Joy Larris

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