In this week’s Wednesday 5: the barrage of scrutiny and criticism that women anchors and reporters constantly face; Tina Fey runs the world (in case you didn’t know); male writers still outnumber female writers in major literary publications; an end to Women’s History Month?; and Sandra Day O’Connor on the high stakes of her appointment to the Supreme Court.
For Women Anchors and Reporters, A Constant Barrage of Scrutiny and Criticism
Our favorite media watchdog, Women’s Media Center, is back with a powerful piece this week, “A Tale of Two Journalists,” by Crissinda Ponder. The article lays out two very different responses by news organizations after two female journalists publicly took on harsh viewer comments. Meteorologist Rhonda Lee ,who worked at KTBS in Shreveport, Louisana, was fired after responding to a racist Facebook comment by a viewer who referred to her as “the black lady” and wrote that she “needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair.” Lee’s response included, “Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty.” Conversely, a viewer wrote an email criticizing plus-size anchor Jennifer Livingston of WKBT in La Crosse, Wisconsin, noting she shouldn’t “consider [herself] a suitable example for [the] community’s young people, girls in particular.” Livingston in turn was supported by her station in issuing an on-air response. “You know nothing about me but what you see on the outside; and I am much more than a number on a scale.” Very similar situations, and yet two very different institutional responses and outcomes. Click here to read more on the scrutiny women anchors are subject to, and the growing debate on responding to viewer comments.
Who Runs the World? Tina Fey, of course!
If you watched the Oscars, you were probably wishing it was hosted by Tina Fey instead. Well, don’t hold your breath, because apparently she’s not too interested in the gig anyway. In fact, the demand for the 42-year-old actress has never been greater since she recently retired from 30 Rock. Mary Elizabeth Williams writes in Salon that “At a moment in a Hollywood career when a woman is often relegated to what a character in The First Wives Club referred to as the ‘district attorney’ phase, Fey has never looked more like a full-on, A-list leading lady.” Beyond her own leading-lady status, she’s paving the way for a whole generation of funny women who now have a model for how to be both charming and witty despite the current culture of comedy epitomized by films like Hangover.
Read more at “Tina Fey: She’s on everyone’s A-list, including Hollywood’s” at Salon.com
Male Writers Still Outnumber Female Writers in Literary Publications
Not that we needed a study to tell us the obvious, but here it is anyway: According to a report by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts entitled “VIDA Count 2012,″ male writers still outnumber female writers in a number of major literary publications. Some of the more startling examples are Harper’s, with book reviews written by 3 women, and 28 men, and The New York Review of Books, with book reviews written by 215 men and 40 women. The New York Times Book Review came closer to gender parity, with book reviews written by 327 women and 400 men. What are the watchdogs to do? The writers of the report offer:
While it would be incredibly easy to begin by lambasting national publications. . . for their gross (& indecent) neglect of female writers’ work, I fear the attention we’ve already given them has either motivated their editors to disdain the mirrors we’ve held up to further neglect or encouraged them to actively turn those mirrors into funhouse parodies at costs to women writers as yet untallied.
The End of Women’s History Month?
Karen Swallow Prior, a professor of English at Liberty University, recently wrote in The Atlantic that “Women’s History Month seems superfluous and tacky, like an ’80’s perm.” It’s not that it’s not needed, she says, but it’s the relegating of a national celebration to a single month of events and programs that is the issue. “Women’s past accomplishments (and failures) deserve to be studied, appreciated, criticized, and otherwise actively engaged,” says Prior, “not passively cheered in a banal annual celebration.” And she’s not critical only of Women’s History Month; the criticism applies to African Americans or Jewish Americans or Asian Pacific Americans and other countless honorees. “It’s a two-sided coin: The honor it bestows marks, yet also perpetuates, [the groups'] marginalization.”
Do you agree? We at WVFC are glad to have those History Month designations; without such a “news peg” there’s no way we could bring up the stories of, say, Sojourner Truth, or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, or Frances Perkins.
Read more at The End of Women’s History Month at The Atlantic.
Sandra Day O’Connor on the High Stakes of the Supreme Court
In this week’s dose of inspiration, we share with you a segment from the groundbreaking three-part documentary MAKERS: Women Who Make America. Here, Sandra Day O’Connor, the First Female Justice at the U.S. Supreme Court, talks about the high stakes of her history-making appointment to the Court. And, if you have three hours of downtime, watch the full documentary at www.makers.com/documentary/