I read yet another article on the lack of women’s voices in the OPED pages and felt the need to comment. To set the context please read this article in The Guardian UK by Maura Kelly. It states that males voices outnumber women’s voices by huge numbers EVEN on women’s issues. For the record, I have done a training with the OPED PROJECT ( amazing) and I have written a number of OPEDS personally. I have also met with the chief EDITOR of Bloomberg on this topic, and had many a dinner party conversation about it. Here is my quick take on the subject.
I basically agree with all that is written so the question is, NOW WHAT? First and foremost, women need to submit more. Period. We have to think of ourselves as experts ( because we are), get trained in writing an OPED well, and do it. I have heard that women are published at a higher percentage relative to submissions then men are, though I have nothing to prove it. My Bloomberg contact said that in the business area they get next to NO submissions from women on a relative basis but when they do, they are on average better written and are therefore more likely to be published. Whether this is true for publications like the New York Times, or the Washington Post, I have no idea. Regardless ladies, SUBMIT!!!!
When we see panels of ALL WHITE men, or almost all white men, talking about ‘women’s issues’ we need to be outraged and take action. Whatever that media source is they need to hear from us. The Women’s Media Center is amazing at calling out media sexism on their Media Monitoring page and we need to support them in this work.
Taking that a step further we need to STOP consuming media from places that do this, and are in general, sexist. Shame on us if we don’t care enough to take action. What then is their motivation to change? To take action tweet to Miss Representation at hashtag #notbuyingit and be more aware of your media consumption.
We also need to proactively seek out and support great media content created by women. If a woman (or a man) writes a great OPED putting a gender lens to a story that gets us to think, writer a letter to the editor in support. If you think a TV show or a blog post is awesome, post a comment and share it. When a great film for women and about women comes out go see it opening weekend, then with the DVD is released buy it or rent it. There are also many great non-profit women’s media groups to support including Women’s eNews, Ms. Magazine and WorldPulse. There is also much power in joining subscriber lists. The bigger numbers they have the more power they have. Subscribe to services like WFN news updates, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and Melissa Silversteins Women in Hollywood. (if you have some other ones to add post a comment!)
My last point. We need to OWN the whole power thing. OWN IT. As women I believe we are still afraid to really talk about power, or worse yet, claim it. As Gloria Feldt so brilliantly frames it, “it is about power to and not power over.” We all have so much power to wield and shame on us if we don’t. To add my other favorite Gloria quote, “power unused is power useless.”