Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Looking For A Few Good Women...

To man the progressive media positions. See how I snuck "to man" in there? The impetus for this post comes from Carolyn who posted a list of men and women in progressive media and then posted the same list on Kos and on Democratic Underground. The few responses were interesting, to say the least, and the three e-mail messages Carolyn posts are thoughtworthy, too, though perhaps not in the sense their writers intend.

Carolyn's lists make the point that there are many more men in the progressive media than there are women. Her lists are not comprehensive or scientifically created and she omits bloggers, for example, but nobody would argue that a carefully done study would find more women than men among the progressive pundits.

Why are there not more women? And does it matter? Perhaps not to this e-mail writer:

The lists almost made me laugh. First of all, the vast majority of men listed I have never even heard of! Me, a dyed in the wool liberal media wonk. Contrarily, I have at least a passing acquaintance of almost all of the women. What that list also tells me, is that the opportunity for a woman to break into the progressive media as a woman is a hell of a lot easier than for a man! Think about that, "you" have only a few women to compete against, men have a lot more other men. Before you say, "But 'I' am also competing against the men." that would only hold true if "you" were gender blind, and the hiring authorities were. Obviously, neither are.

See! It's easier to be a progressive female pundit! You get to compete in the pink category and you don't have to be as good as the boys. Plus, you get to be more famous.

The major problem with this argument is that it would only work if all the employers had fifty percent of their jobs earmarked for women and fifty percent for men, and if they really only looked at people of one sex when they are hiring and if women really are less qualified to begin with. Lots of ifs there.

Another e-mail writer explains the relative scarcity of women as a natural result of women not applying for the good pundit jobs. Women are not interested in politics, or women are not trained in journalism or women are busy taking care of babies. Perhaps, though the majority of journalism graduates are now women, so the argument that women are not adequately trained doesn't wash. Whether women are less interested in politics is a tricky question to answer, because we have framed politics in a way which doesn't have to be. Politics doesn't have to be about two moose attacking each other with the hoary antlers clashing, it doesn't have to be about humiliating the opponents, it doesn't have to be all about baseball metaphors or war metaphors or about corruption. Politics could be defined as the management of common matters, and I bet that many women would be interested in that. In any case, there are women who like to clash antlers, too, and men who do not. The taking-care-of-babies argument is always used for women's absence from every possible field, except for childrearing but even there the experts appear to be men, so I wouldn't take it terribly seriously. After all, babies don't stay babies for the woman's lifetime.

I'm not sure why there aren't more women telling all of us what to think. I'm doing my little share to change that. But it would be possible to do a proper study to find out what keeps women from becoming the soul of the progressive media.

But maybe we shouldn't have such a study. The last e-mailer to Carolyn might think so:

It must be terrible to be so insecure and have such low self-esteem. All you feminists are alike. You feel so very threatened and intimidated by anything that is male-dominated. Why is that? People like you make me ashamed and embarrassed to be a woman. I couldn't care less if something is dominated by males. How come it bothers you so much? What is the big deal? Who cares? You and your ilk act as if it is always a bad thing for something to be male-dominated. What is really pathetic about you is that you act as if you live in some fantasy world where you expect everything to be equal. People are not equal. They never have been, and they never will be. As much as you hate to admit it, men and women are DIFFERENT! THEY ARE NOT EQUAL! The world has never been equal for everybody and it never will be. Why can't you accept that and stop living in a dream world?...

Ok. I better go out and have my breasts replaced by inflatable balloons.