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Are you a lady with lady opinions on issues that affect ladies?

Then shut your stupid ladyhole, stupid lady, because no one cares what you think about that lady stuff. At least, that's what the traditional media thinks, according to an analysis by The 4th Estate and shown in the infographic above.

The numbers are stark, but not exactly surprising. When it comes to coverage of issues that directly affect women, the beacons of traditional journalism—the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Sunday talk shows—clearly subscribe to the Darrell Issa school of thought: that the people best qualified to talk about women are, in fact, men.

Rep. Issa, you may recall, held a congressional hearing in February about the president's new policy mandating that health insurance providers cover birth control without copays. This, as we know, made Issa and his fellow Republican men in Congress, as well as his friends at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (aka, the Catholic wing of the Republican Party), have a very sad sadness of sad. So sad that they needed to have an all-male hearing to share their sad feelings and console one another about how women's access to affordable birth control will simultaneously destroy the republic and bring forth armageddon. And, most importantly, make them very sad.

The No Girls Allowed rule at the Issa hearing was so shocking, given the subject, that even some in the traditional media tsk-tsked it. But the following Sunday, when the Very Serious People of the beltway sounded off on the morning shows on this very subject, none saw fit to feature women as guests, though some were allowed to join the menfolk in roundtable discussions:

Additionally, of the five women included in roundtable discussions, four were non-partisan, allegedly unbiased reporters, while the men across the table from them included former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie, on Meet the Press, and conservative columnist George Will and conservative television commentator Lou Dobbs, both on This Week. Only former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers could be considered an opinionated counterpart to those three partisan voices.
Even when the media is talking about women, and about issues and policies that directly affect women, and even about the absence of women from the discussion, they still don't think women should actually be included in that discussion.

Take the New York Times, for example. The editors of our newspaper of record have published editorial after editorial decrying the Republicans' War on Women, but they're still turning to men most of the time for their opinions and expertise. Not that it's breaking news that the Times has its own woman problem. It's just further evidence that even when an outlet acknowledges that there is an assault on women, it doesn't make the connection between the legislative assault and the absence of women's voices in the media to address that assault.

Two years ago, Meteor Blades spent an agonizing 16 months analyzing the Sunday morning shows and found them to be "dominated by men, whites and Republicans, particularly right-wing Republicans[.]" Since then, nothing has changed—except for the first time in a long time, maybe ever, women (or "caterpillars," as the nice Republican menfolk call them) have been front and center in political discourse for several months, which you would think just might be an opportunity for the guardians of the fourth estate to seek out women to see what they think about all that. But alas, no. The fact that the national discussion has turned to women does not mean the media feels compelled or obligated to expand its pool of commentators and experts. Should we invade Iraq? Ask the menfolk. Should women have access to birth control? Ask the menfolk. Are women's rights under attack? Ask the menfolk. Regardless of topic, regardless of the carefully measured outrage of the editorial pages, it is still He Who Has The Penis Who Has The Answers.

Another study released this week by the OpEd Project found that even the editorial pages are dominated by men, and while women have slightly more prominence in digital media—you know, in the great meritocracy that is the gender-blind, color-blind internet—those lady bylines are largely restricted to lady subjects. As Erika Fry at Columbia Journalism Review reported:

But while women’s opinions were better represented in digital media, they were more than twice as likely to focus on “pink topics”—the “four F’s” (family, food, furniture, fashion), plus women’s and gender issues—than in the traditional media, where about 14 percent of women’s op-eds were “pink.” These statistics suggest a silo effect online, with writers speaking more frequently to like-minded (or like-bodied) individuals—a concern that has been much lamented within the political media landscape, but less so with regards to gender, race, and class. This development would seem to hark back to the days of the “ladies pages”; while there is nothing wrong with women writing on “pink topics,” it’s the relative lack of women’s voices on non-pink topics like the economy and politics online that is problematic.
In other words, women are occasionally allowed to offer their opinion, as long as they keep it to unimportant "pink" topics like the latest fad diet or what's new in window treatments or how to empower yourself with a pair of $500 stilettos. And those pink topics are narrowly defined. Abortion, birth control, women's rights—these, apparently, are not pink topics. Family planning, it seems, does not qualify as a "family" topic suitable for women to discuss. You may be permitted to offer your thoughts on where to take your family for a summer vacation or which lunch box is right for your child, but more serious family matters—like whether you should be allowed to plan your family and under what circumstances and how much it should cost? Nah. That is far too important a topic of too much "general" interest to leave to the ladies of the pink ghetto. Better to leave such conversation to the Very Serious Men Whose Opinions Matter.

Yes, yes, as the lady haters are quick to point out, we've come a long way, baby. But we're still underrepresented in our government, in boardrooms across America, in the economic recovery hecovery, and in the national meta conversations about why all of that might be. It's a shameful stain on traditional media that even conversations about women are still being held mostly by men. We can't possibly hope to eradicate institutional discrimination, not to mention cultural misogyny, if we can't even get our voices heard. But that's the lesson from this week's reports: Shut up, little ladies, and stick to not-of-general-interest pink subjects, so Very Serious Men can tell us what we should think about ourselves.



This week's good, bad and ugly below the fold.

  • Ahem:
    About one-third of American women believe there is a broad effort under way to limit their access to reproductive services including contraception, family planning and abortion, according a poll released on Thursday.
  • Poor Susan G. Komen for the Cure, still facing the consequences of abandoning women's health care to promote an anti-woman agenda:
    Andrea Rader, a Komen spokeswoman, estimated Saturday’s [Global Race for the Cure] turnout at 26,000 to 27,000. The D.C. event, one of the largest in the country, drew 40,000 participants last year, and in previous years has had up to 60,000 people join the walk.
    And yet, the forced birthers still aren't happy:
    [A] group of anti-abortion protesters holding graphic abortion photos stood near the beginning of the walk. A Komen spokeswoman said the protesters have appeared at several walks held in other cities this year.
  • Are you a female college graduate aged 39 or older? Congratulations! You've hit your pay ceiling:
    By the time women reach age 39, their wage growth pretty much stops altogether. The typical female, college-educated, full-time worker at age 39 earns about $60,000 — the same amount received by female, college-educated, full-time workers at age 50, 60 and beyond.

    College-educated men, meanwhile, continue getting raises until about age 48, when their pay plateaus at about $95,000.

    Ain't equality grand?
  • Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns—the very same Stearns who launched a bogus "investigation" into Planned Parenthood that Komen used to justify cutting off its funding—thinks women who have abortions should face criminal charges:
    MATTHEWS: So it should be a criminal matter for the woman as well as the doctor?

    STEARNS: I think so. You are killing an embryo and in some cases you are killing an embryo that is four or five months into gestation.

    Nothing says "pro-life" like taking mothers away from their children (yes, most women who have abortions are mothers) and tossing their asses in jail for obtaining a legal medical procedure.
  • Know what else should be criminalized? Pregnant Muslim women, apparently:
    Al-Qaeda may have infiltrated the womb.

    In a speech on the floor of the House last week Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert warned about an insidious plot by terror organizations to infiltrate the US with pregnant woman.

    According to Gohmert, the plan is that women would give birth to terrorist babies who can then return to wreak havoc on the US once they come of age.

    "It appeared that [the terrorists] would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby," Gohmert said. "And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. [...]

    And then one day, twenty, thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life," he said.

    As Angry Black Lady says:
    ARE YOU LISTENING, CITIZENS!?!?

    BROWN ANCHOR BABIES ARE GOING TO KILL US ALL!!!!!

    This is happening, people. This is not a drill.

    Look around you. Do you see any pregnant brown people? REPORT THEM. Their uteri contain the next Al Qaeda disciples! They are terrorists breeders! And they must be stopped at all costs.

  • If only our War on Terror included our very own homegrown domestic terrorists:
    "There's a history of terroristic violence by anti-abortion extremists, up to and including murders of doctors and clinic workers," Rachel Maddow said on Friday night, reporting on suspicious burglaries and fires at two women's health clinics in Georgia.  

    It looks like that violent history's new chapters are being written in tandem with the continual legislative incursion on reproductive rights.

    Friday, the day of Maddow's broadcast, was the very same day the healthcare providers at Women With a Vision, a provider in New Orleans that serves the most marginalized members of the population, woke up to find their offices charred and blackened, their equipment, files and resources devoured by flames. [...]

    And yes, much anti-choice violence falls under the definition of terrorism, randomized violence meant to target civilians and instill terror. Women arriving for a pap smear scared that their clinic will be set on fire; AIDS patients showing up to get treatment and finding the doors of their clinic shuttered; pro-choice doctors writing in to a newspaper refusing to sign their names because of the repeated death threats they receive. These are some of the fallouts of such violence.

    It's been three years since Dr. George Tiller was assassinated in his church by "pro-life" terrorist Scott Roeder. We've seen several terrorist attacks on women's health care providers—in Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, Louisiana—and still, our government refuses to call it terrorism. How can we expect to end it when we don't even acknowledge it exists?
  • You know what isn't the best way to prove your party is the pro-woman party and it's the Democrats who are waging a war on women? Jay Townsend, spokesman for New York Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth does—now. And this ain't it:
    Listen to Tom. What a little bee he has in his bonnet. Buzz Buzz. My question today…when is Tommy boy going to weigh in on all the Lilly Ledbetter hypocrites who claim to be fighting the War on Women? Let’s hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won’t abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector.
  • Nauseating:
    Groups opposed to abortion rights are turning charges of a GOP "war on women" against Democrats who are opposed to legislation meant to ban sex-selective abortions.
    That would be Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks' wet dream of a bill, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), which would throw doctors in prison for performing sex-selective or race-based abortions. Of course, since more than 90 percent of abortions in this country are performed before the sex of a fetus can be determined, this is obviously an extremely non-existent problem and we must do something immediately to put an end to this practice that isn't happening. As for protecting fetuses of color from their homicidally racist mothers of color ... yes, let's get on top of that ASAP too. In case it ever happens.
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to bring the Paycheck Fairness Act up for another vote next week, so we might finally be able to end the wage gap and ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work. Tell your senators to stand up for wage equality.

Now go forth, sluts, and raise hell.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 04:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by Pro Choice, Abortion, and Sluts.

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