Thursday, May 26, 2005

It's That Time Again!

The time to notice, with great astonishment, how few women there are as opinion columnists in major newspapers, including the New York Times. When the astonishment has abated a little, it's time to ponder the possible reasons for this drought of female voices and to conclude that the reasons they are unfathomable. And then it's time to gently point out that maybe there just aren't enough good female writers (though there's no glass ceiling against them any longer, no, and though evo-psychos argue that women are better at writing than men). Then, finally, it's time to set the topic aside until it's needed again because of low readership figures at some near future date.

That sounds bitter, doesn't it? Well, I've only been a blogger for eighteen months or so, and during this time I've gone through four waves of this crap. Hence the bitterness. Also because Mr. Tierney was hired by the Times and he's no great writer. Neither is Bobo Brooks. But there are some truly great female political writers out there: Katha Pollitt, Molly Ivins, Barbara Ehrenreich, yet none of them are deemed good enough for the Times.

My explanation for the lack of women's voices in the media is that those who have the power to decide on these things regard being a woman similar to being a bespectacled libertarian from SE Maine. In other words, "women" are seen as a specific subgroup of possible voices, on par with minor political groupings. One of those "women" is then plenty for the New York Times, or any other self-respecting major media outlet. But in reality women are the majority, of course, and doing what these guys are doing is just plain silly. It's tokenism.

It's equally silly to hire women as interpreters of the great womandom, and that's the other way this game is being played: A woman is hired to write, but only on what women think, or to interpret this weird feminine species for the rest of us normal beings. In both variations of the game, women lose; in the first because how many bespectacled libertarians from SE Maine do you really want to read, and in the second because a few interpreters of the tribe is plenty.

So I'm bitter. In a just system it would be me pontificating on the opinion pages of the Times. Or at least it wouldn't be Bobo and Tierney.