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Cross Posted on Amplify

There has been a raging debate the past few days about women’s roles on The Daily Show, starting with a Jezebel post that accused The Daily Show and Jon Stewart of being sexist. The discussion has began to get to the larger point of women’s contributions to the news media in general, but so far the back and fourth has been petty, shallow, and largely unhelpful.  I think the topic of women on TV is a VERY important discussion to have, but it should not be about what Jezebel said, or what sexy maid costume new Daily Show correspondent Olivia Munn wore on her old show, or any of the petty back and forth between for-profit media outlets (of which jezebel is one.)  Because that is not what this is about.  This is about making news media work for a modern era.

I am a 17-year-old guy, trying to figure out my place in the world, and almost nightly I turn to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to be filled in on the day’s news.  These shows help me understand the world.  The only way in which I am able to hear about anything beyond my immediate sphere of daily existence is by turning to media outlets, so it is extremely important that we address the issue of who controls the information we receive.

A fair, intelligent, substantive discussion about the roles of women (and minorities) in our media has not yet emerged from this whole ‘The Daily Show is sexist’ debacle. Why does it matter if women or other minorities are fairly represented in media? Because as we face a whole host of global and societal problems, the perspectives of people other than white men are crucial to authentically and effectively address the world’s challenges.

Whether it be the issue of female genital cutting in Africa or rising sea levels in India, poverty in Durham, North Carolina or violence and hatred in Israel and Palestine, an “old boys club” of white, American men alone will not do the job.  We need all hands on deck; we need many perspectives and viewpoints. This means it is crucial that women have a large contributing role on shows such as The Daily Show, and if the only positive thing that emerged from the Jezebel article was help me realizing this fact than at least it did some good.  

As we move forward, the news media needs to understand that the world is changing, and the current model of male-dominated news is becoming less and less useful. For me as a young person, I want to see a world where women contribute equally to reporting and discussing every issue on the news.

Is The Daily Show an oppressive force against women? Of course not.  Do they have an obligation to continually seek new perspectives and opinions, including hiring more ladies to write and report stories? Yes.  

Check out Slate's article on how feminist blogs like Jezebel gin up page views by exploiting women's worst tendencies.

WSJ's recap of the back and fourth between TDS and Jezebel

And of course The Women Of The Daily Show Speak, which went up on The Daily Shows website a few days ago.  

Dan Jubelirer is a 2010 Netroots Fellow at Amplify, a youth-driven community dedicated to promoting sexual health and reproductive justice.

Originally posted to TeenAdvocateDan on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 07:49 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    Dan Jubelirer is a 2010 Netroots Fellow at Amplify, a youth-driven community dedicated to promoting sexual health and reproductive justice.

    by TeenAdvocateDan on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 07:49:52 AM PDT

  •  Nice to see (5+ / 0-)

    a guy who is thinking about 'women's issues' without blowing it off as not his to worry about.  Keep it up.

    The party of No is well on their way to becoming the party of nobody. Alan Grayson

    by Leftleaner on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 08:00:14 AM PDT

    •  Men focus on womens issues a lot (0+ / 0-)

      The womens movement has been very successful. This young man was brought up in a society that rewards men for focusing on womens issues, and you did that just now. Do you see anyone focusing on mens issues? Do we even think men have issues?

      Women make up the majority of TV viewers and the electorate. If they want something they can make it happen. The abundance of males in many positions has as much to do with female viewing habits as it does men. Women dominate day time viewing but male host remain quite popular. They are often sensitive, empathetic men who almost always cover womens issues. Perhaps they exemplify what women would like in a partner, male friend, or father figure.

      We have many women's networks. A&E, Oxygen, WE, and Oprah's network is on the way. Women are not under served on television. Their issues are far from ignored. Men's issues on the other hand don't even exist as a matter of distinct importance. Few discuss the massive prison population, the low graduation rates, or the epidemic of male on male violence. It seems if bad things happen to men it's some how considered normal, but if it happens to women a social movement is required.

      I think an adjustment in our attitudes is in order if men are to be helped. Jezebel is just making noise to get page views, just like salon does a lot of the time.

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mamamedusa

    Check out Slate's article on how feminist blogs like Jezebel gin up page views by exploiting women's worst tendencies.

    What are those worse tendencies? Do tell.

    The Teabaggers are the GOP base

    by stevej on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 08:07:23 AM PDT

    •  read the article! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      earicicle, edtastic, CS in AZ

      http://www.slate.com/...

      basically, that Feminist sites SHOULD be having an authentic conversation but instead tend to be overly controversial to rile people up so they get paige views.  And the line"exploiting women's worst tendencies" isn't mine, that is the sub-title of the article.  GO read it!

      Dan Jubelirer is a 2010 Netroots Fellow at Amplify, a youth-driven community dedicated to promoting sexual health and reproductive justice.

      by TeenAdvocateDan on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 08:14:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it is a piece of shit (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peacestpete, edtastic

        TDS was created by women,most notably, Liz Winstead. There are lot of women on the TDS staff, 30 women, to be exact.

        Production is just as important as the writing. Line producers, segment producers, floor.

        "My case is alter'd, I must work for my living." Moll Cut-Purse, The Roaring Girl - 1612, England's First Actress

        by theRoaringGirl on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 08:59:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I now present, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peacestpete, edtastic

          THE LADIES OF THE DAILY SHOW:

          Teri Abrams-Maidenberg, Department Supervisor, 11 years
          Jill Baum, Writers' Assistant, 4 years
          Samantha Bee, Correspondent, 7 years
          Alison Camillo, Coordinating Field Producer, 12 years
          Vilma Cardenas, Production Accountant, 14 years
          Lauren Cohen, Production Assistant, 1 year
          Jocelyn Conn, Executive Assistant, 4 years
          Kahane Cooperman, Co-Executive Producer, 14 years
          Pam DePace, Line Producer, 14 years
          Tonya Dreher, Avid Editor, 4 years
          Kristen Everman, Production Assistant, 2 years
          Christy Fiero, Production Controller, 13 years
          Jen Flanz, Supervising Producer, 13 years
          Hallie Haglund, Writer, 5 years
          Kira Hopf, Senior Producer, 14 years
          Jenna Jones, Production Assistant, 2 years
          Jessie Kanevsky, Department Coordinator, 5 years
          Jill Katz, Producer/Executive in Charge of Production, 4 years
          Hillary Kun, Supervising Producer, 9 years
          Christina Kyriazis, TelePrompter Operator, 14 years
          Jo Miller, Writer, 1 year
          Jody Morlock, Hair & Make-Up Artist, 14 years
          Olivia Munn, Correspondent, 1 month
          Lauren Sarver, Associate Segment Producer, 5 years
          Kristen Schaal, Correspondent, 2 years
          April Smith, Utility, 14 years
          Patty Ido Smith, Electronic Graphics, 12 years
          Sara Taksler, Segment Producer, 5 years
          Elise Terrell, Production Coordinator, 6 years
          Adriane Truex, Facility Manager, 12 years
          Juliet Werner, Researcher, 1 year
          Kaela Wohl, Wardrobe Stylist/Costumer, 2 years

          It's also a pretty ethnically diverse staff, too

          "My case is alter'd, I must work for my living." Moll Cut-Purse, The Roaring Girl - 1612, England's First Actress

          by theRoaringGirl on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 09:02:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Overly controversial? Really? (0+ / 0-)

        Please pause and consider how this framing-- that Jezebel's writers are being what?  Too mean?  Irrational?-- plays on some very old narratives in gender communication.  Think of the words "shrill" and "hysterical," as well as the phrase "you're just being emotional."

        Please read the original piece at Jezebel and point out to me at what point the author makes a statement that is counterfactual or an assertion that is unsupported by evidence:

        The Jezebel piece

        What's so "controversial" about that?  Other than the content, which points out that one of our favorite shows is guilty of perpetuating some ugly old patterns of gender privilege?

        •  Clearing one thing up... (0+ / 0-)

          I am not saying that the article was too controversial.  I am saying that we need to have a REAL conversation about this, and that the back and fourth was instead about "What the jezebel post too mean?"  Gave the link to the Slate article so that readers could follow what I am talking about.  

          Try to think deeper than the he said she said thing, and get to the real substance of the issue. What are womens roles in the news media? What issues do they tend to cover? What changes should be made?  That is what I am trying to get at in this diary.  

          Dan Jubelirer is a 2010 Netroots Fellow at Amplify, a youth-driven community dedicated to promoting sexual health and reproductive justice.

          by TeenAdvocateDan on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 11:51:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm so glad someone picked up on the framing there.  Nothing like characterizing feminist critique as "catfight" to derail any conversation about whether The Daily Show really does perpetuate media patterns that are not helpful to women.

  •  I don't follow entertainment news generally, and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, earicicle

    I haven't seen The Daily Show every day this week, so I somehow missed this, and this diary is the first I've even heard of this controversy. I also read your links.

    I really like Olivia Munn and my husband and I both think she is hilarious. We never heard of her before she appeared on TDS, but we love her. Actually we both commented last time she did a segment that she's just as good and sometimes even funnier than Sam, and we love Sam! And we said it's good they got a new funny woman as a correspondent, and wondered if Sam is going to phase out now that she is having another baby. Anyway, we like Olivia and are thrilled she joined the show.  I think it sucks that that blog attacked her as not deserving the job.

    We also love TDS as a show and think they do a great job at what they do. It's a comedy show, though, not the news. They do not have any "obligation" in my opinion to cover any specific issues from any and all perspectives. They have an obligation to be funny, and they do it primarily by highlighting and satirizing the ridiculousness in our politics and what is presented as news on "real" TV news shows. As long as they are funny and insightful and have interesting guests, I will be a loyal fan. I love Jon Stewart and I don't think he deserves this gossip, but I'm sure he'll survive it.

  •  Thanks for the diary, Dan. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, edtastic, Vacationland, CS in AZ

    I hadn't heard of this dust-up. I think TDS does a great job of covering issues from a variety of perspectives. They often tear apart the dominance of Old White Males, and the OWM point of view, in both politics and the media. They don't necessarily need more women correspondents to do so (I say this as a woman), but more women writers certainly couldn't hurt.

    The larger issue is that women have had long had a tougher time breaking into comedy--as performers AND as writers. I think Jon Stewart actively supports women in comedy. Jezebel claiming that TDS is sexist? Of course the blog just wants more page views. Sad...because Jezebel does do some good coverage of sexism in the media.

    Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

    by earicicle on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 08:40:44 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for paying attention to this. (0+ / 0-)

    But it sure would be nice if you'd linked to some of the actual feminist critique that was going on.  It's possible to simultaneously appreciate the comedic genius and political necessity of The Daily Show and point out the ways The Daily Show perpetuates some really unhelpful gendered power relationships in media.

    So here's the original piece at Jezebel, and here's another critique written in response to the "those mean feminists at Jezebel are just being big meanie-heads" commentary.

    Really, truly, there is some legitimate criticism to be made of a media program that pretty clearly, obviously, employs very few women in influential roles-- and when it does, hires a woman whose media persona consists of playing to ditzy-fuckbunny type.

    •  Wha? (0+ / 0-)

      Really, truly, there is some legitimate criticism to be made of a media program that pretty clearly, obviously, employs very few women in influential roles-- and when it does, hires a woman whose media persona consists of playing to ditzy-fuckbunny type.

      Have to disagree. What you're saying seems to be in reaction to the hiring of Olivia Munn (presumably that's the "ditzy fuckbunny"? I don't know - I don't think of ANY women involved in this show as fitting that description), rather than a reflection of the fairly considerable list of women involved in the show's production (see list posted above).

      Are you saying that there are relatively few women in influential on-camera roles? Well, sure, it' would be nice if exactly half of their correspondents had XX chromosomes, but until then, I think we do a disservice to the small army of women who write and produce the show. Samantha Bee has been very vocal about what a female-friendly workplace it is. The days of showdowns between Craiggers and Lizz W. are long gone; I honestly don't get the sense of ongoing oppression from the many women that continue to work there.

      •  Incluential and high profile roles (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mamamedusa

        being on camera roles and writers.  And the place being Sam Bee- friendly doesn't mean it's a good place for all women.

        "As scientific knowledge advances, it does not mean that religious knowledge retreats." - horse69 on the bnet recon C&C board

        by lonespark on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 09:42:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not nearly as interested in (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          edtastic

          what the women who are still there have to say about how woman-friendly a place it is to work as I am in what the women who've left the show have to say about the degree to which it was a hostile work environment.

          I thought the Jezebel article did a decent job of addressing the various reasons a media production like The Daily Show might fail to put women in credited positions of influence, without attributing misogynistic intent.

        •  No job is good for everybody (0+ / 0-)

          Different people might be happier in different places. We should not homogenize the work place into one tolerant form to please everyone because different people will still not be pleased by that single form nor will that form be best suited for all jobs.  

          Being accepting of different superficial or physical attributes ,YES.

          Being accepting of every form of character or personality, NO.

          There are tough women to be the wardens, and sensitive men to be kindergarten teachers. We don't have to make job fit the personality when there are other people are a better fit.

  •  Hope this gets a lot more discussion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mamamedusa

    I haven't had the chance to watch TDS much lately, but their response was still disappointing as hell.  Really dismissive.  And the history with Kilborn is sickening but that's nothing against anyone working there now.

    The discussion at Pandagon was good.  The article at Jezebel was good, too.  

    "As scientific knowledge advances, it does not mean that religious knowledge retreats." - horse69 on the bnet recon C&C board

    by lonespark on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 09:40:19 AM PDT

    •  agreed... (0+ / 0-)

      I hope this all gets more discussion, and that it focuses on the real issue at hand and not a he-said-she-said type of thing.

      I think someone can think about this in two ways: An issue of rights and respect (is TDS a hostile workplace for women?) or an issue of how much value these shows are contributing to society (more of what my post focused on). They are both equally as important, and very related, and I hope both sides of the issue continue to be explored.

      Dan Jubelirer is a 2010 Netroots Fellow at Amplify, a youth-driven community dedicated to promoting sexual health and reproductive justice.

      by TeenAdvocateDan on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 12:00:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You might be interested in (0+ / 0-)

    Pandagon's take on the issue (they're a good place to start reading online feminism) -- here's their response to the TDS thing, and here's some commentary on that Slate article.

    As always, there's as much value in the comments as in the essay.

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