Our newspaper of record doesn't have the best record on women.
According to the New York Times, how often she sleeps with her husband in a month is relevant to understanding Hillary Rodham Clinton, the potential presidential candidate.
According to the New York Times, successful women ought to beware that their success is an obstacle to finding a man.
Feminism's biggest issues are reduced to mommy wars and how to best communicate with your children's nanny.
And when it comes to covering sexual assault against women, too often, the Times blames the victim.
So this noxious column, titled "Women Find Their Voice — On One Side of the Aisle," by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa, who frequently writes on "the female factor," isn't exceptional; in fact, it's par for the course at the Times. The gist of her article is this: The only women who've found their voice in politics are on the Republican side of the aisle. Democratic women, on the other hand, haven't.
Few if any female Democrats have emerged as major political voices in the ramp up to the 2012 elections. Perhaps this is partly due to huge losses the party’s liberals suffered in the midterms last November. Perhaps it is due to a dearth of progressive thinking in an era of conservative politics. And perhaps most of all, no Democrat could be expected to run against an incumbent Democratic president.
Torresgrosa casually tosses aside that last possible explanation, which is, of course, the explanation: no Democrat, female or otherwise, is going to run against the sitting president of their own party in 2012. (And no, anti-choice terrorist Randall Terry doesn't count.)
But for Torregrosa, that fact is but a footnote in her hypothesis that there are no Democratic women interesting enough, or fiery enough, to merit attention. By her calculation, the 12 Democratic women in the Senate and 47 (soon to be 48, thanks to Kathy Hochul's impressive upset this week) in the House simply don't count.
She casually mentions, and quickly dismisses, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Patty Murray, Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Maria Cantwell, Amy Klobuchar, Debbie Stabenow, Claire McCaskill—all of whom are better voices for women than batshit crazy Bachmann or unemployed half-term governor Palin. But none of them count, apparently, because none of them are willing to run—or at least pretend to run—against President Obama in 2012. They are all, according to Torregrosa, too "moderate and pragmatic," which apparently means too boring, to cover.
And then there's this:
Why are the Republican firebrands like Ms. Bachmann and Ms. Palin, and even their fellow rightist Nikki Haley, the first female governor of South Carolina and a familiar face on the cable networks, commandeering so much attention?
Why, Torregrosa wonders, do only Palin and Bachmann demand media attention? That's a good question—for the media. And, of course, for the Times and for Torregrosa herself. Why doesn't she write about any of the Democratic women she so casually dismisses? Because none of them are interested in competing in the Miss Firebrand Pageant of 2012? Because when it comes to covering the politics of the day, women are invisible if they aren't spewing fiery incoherence on Facebook and Twitter or starring in CNN-sponsored infomercials for the most radical wing of the Republican Party?
Torregrosa does not even mention Rep. Jackie Speier, who in February delivered a passionate speech on the floor of the House in defense of protecting women's reproductive rights. Rep. Speier's very personal speech was both fiery and passionate—and, unlike any speeches by Torregrosa's preferred "firebrands," it also was a strong defense of life-saving health care for women—an issue that affects more than half the country and is, apparently, the top priority of House Republicans, who continue to pass bill after bill after bill on the subject.
Rep. Speier's speech made its way around the web, but Torregrosa apparently deemed it too "moderate and pragmatic" to merit her attention.
Of the many women serving in elected office (the majority of which are, and have always been, Democrats), none merit column inches like Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber because they're just too "more moderate and pragmatic," and, according to an anonymous "New York political insider," it might be because "Democrats care more about the messenger and Republicans more about the message."
Let me repeat that: "Democrats care more about the messenger and Republicans more about the message."
Got that? It's Republicans who care about substance over style. That's why in 2008, they thought a woman, any woman, on the presidential ticket would appeal to disaffected Clinton supporters who had nothing in common with Palin but anatomy. That's why John McCain wanted a woman on his VP short list. Because it was all about the message, not the high-heeled, lipsticked, winking, starbust-inspiring messenger.
Yeah. Right. And I've got a bridge to nowhere to sell you.
Yes, of course it would be nice to have an unapologetic, get-in-your-face Democratic woman or two who every now and then seized the limelight to advocate for women's issues. But I'll take our current crop of "pragmatic" Democratic women over the anti-woman "firebrands" who think busting the old boys' club is just a convenient campaign slogan, while they fight to roll back the very accomplishments that the "pragmatic" women Torregrosa dismisses have been fighting for since long before the Republican Party thought it could slather its misogyny in lipstick and call it feminism.
The New York Times may consider what a victim was wearing a relevant data point in a story about rape. But it isn't.
The New York Times may think that the hardest decision women face today is whether to give up a high-powered, high-paying career in order to land a husband and hire a nanny. It's wrong.
And the New York Times can claim that American women searching for strong female voices to represent them are limited to choosing between Sarah, Michele, and Nikki, because Democratic women are too
boring pragmatic. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is that our paper of record has a woman problem. And no amount of lipstick, even if it's called "the female factor," can disguise the porcine pages of the New York Times.