1.24.2005

Today I started reading What We Do Now - the Melville House post-election "instant book" that includes a contribution by Maud Newton (June '04) on tax code - and found myself absolutely transfixed. I read at least 80% of it on a single subway ride between 96th Street and SoHo, and each essay got me more fired up than the last.

Having worked for a number of labor unions and nonprofit organizations (in what feels like a previous lifetime now), I am used to feeling keenly aware of how often contemporary political outcomes fail to bode well for progressive causes. On November 4, I felt like everything was over, like so many people who are concerned with making the world a better place. Going to see I Heart Huckabees with Elizabeth that day really helped me to put things in perspective, but that was it.

Partly because I no longer report to a cubicle, partly because Cupcake consumes my free time, partly because I just don't want to pay attention to how bad things have gotten, I've been able to totally tune out politics since November. Even though my boyfriend works for a publication that specializes in covering political media. I just don't want to hear details on all of the myriad ways that my life is less free, less independent, less unfettered by bureacracy than it was four years ago. It's like watching television news briefly during the blizzard this weekend, only to hear the reporter say, "It's really coming down."

Yesterday, I was reading The Atlantic, and there was a piece by an editorial writer for the Washington Post, and he was saying that he felt like liberals needed to stop defending Roe vs. Wade; it's a waste of time blah blah blah. And one of the questions was, "Do you think you'd feel differently if you were a woman?" And he didn't really think so. It didn't even seem like that was a concept he had ever really entertained. I thought about Cupcake, and the whole feminism thang, and what exactly the point is, when someone like that is writing for major publications - opinion leaders in our culture - and you know, not really thinking about any perspective but the one informed by his own narrow experience as an individual among billions on this tiny planet.

An essay by Women In Media & News executive director Jennifer L. Pozner in What We Do Now fleshes out my disgust with some sobering statistics:
The institutional invisibility of women, people of color and other public interest voices further skews the news. According to one study by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), of all U.S. sources interviews in the national nightly news broadcasts on ABC, NBC and CBS in the entire year of 2001, 92% were white, 85% were male, and, where party affiliation was identifiable, 75 percent were Republican; corporate representatives were regular guests, while public interest voices were absent. As for the powerbrokers behind the scenes, women are just fifteen percent of top executives and twelve percent of board members at Fortune 500 media companies, according to several Annenberg Public Policy Center reports. Worse yet, there are no women at all on the boards of Fox, Clear Channel Radio, Viacom, or The Washington Post.
Dudes: Buying Slate isn't the only way to get hip to the 21st century.

Further, Pozner slams her point home with the dead-on critique that,
If more women -- and in particular, feminists -- were writing, reporting, assigning, analyzing and framing the news, both Bush and Kerry would have been forced, more likely, to campaign on issues such as workplace discrimination, pay equity, reproductive rights, a functional financial safety net, guns, education and more. At the very least, post-election coverage would have focused on the impact of a second Bush term on these and other pressing social issues.

Instead, pundits, op-ed writers, news analysts and reporters responded to the election by telling Democrats to adopt a conservative stance on "moral values," abandon liberal politics and move to the right if they ever want to regain political power.
For a fine example of that response, casually flip though the current issue of the Atlantic [insert vomiting sound here] at a local bookstore whose bottom line you don't care about.

A better use of your time and money would be to pick up a copy of What We Do Now, because I am ready to bring it on and I could use company.

Oh yes, and one last tip for the Post: I'd rather read Black Eyed Peas lyrics than your newspaper; it bores me to tears. Here are some good ones.

xo,
Lauren
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