Pink trains

No doubt the media love a good train wreck, especially if the train is pink and headed down the “postfeminist” track. I’d like to do my own qualitative study of the Washington Post’s and New York Time’s mention of feminism and then determine whether those articles had a positive or negative slant. Since the media influence the public, the way it paints feminism can affect the way people view this work of art, a work in progress, mind you and a work that is far from finished.

Here, in Backlash: Women Bullying Women at Work, Mickey Meece choses to focus on the minority of conflicts at work – the women-on-women bullying. Why? Oh, because their fights are just so much juicier! Plus, you can get a few snide comments in about feminism. (What feminism has to do with bullying is beyond me. I’d say patriarchy has more to do with bullying, but, hey, when do you ever see the media talking bad about patriarchy? Like this article, they choose to focus on the less prevelent issue that is more acceptable to bash.)

It’s probably no surprise that most of these bullies are men, as a survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute, an advocacy group, makes clear. But a good 40 percent of bullies are women. And at least the male bullies take an egalitarian approach, mowing down men and women pretty much in equal measure. The women appear to prefer their own kind, choosing other women as targets more than 70 percent of the time.

Wow, I haven’t seen this kind of talk since the hypocritically Black-on-Black violence speeches of the ’80s. I guess, again, it’s just no fun to talk about white men committing crime. Talking about women or minorities sabotaging each – now, that’s fun – and guilt free, too! 

Just the mention of women treating other women badly on the job seemingly shakes the women’s movement to its core. It is what Peggy Klaus, an executive coach in Berkeley, Calif., has called “the pink elephant” in the room. How can women break through the glass ceiling if they are ducking verbal blows from other women in cubicles, hallways and conference rooms?

Women treating other women badly shakes the women’s movement to the core? Wow. When was the last time MM even stepped foot into the women’s movement? The ’80s? What shakes us to the core is the brutal violence committed against women, but, hey, if you don’t interview any feminists you’re not going to know that.

And, while I have been the victim of women’s bullying, I’d also say there are a lot more serious problems women face in the workplace, too. I have faced sexual harrasment, hostile environments, leering and so forth. I’d say they gave me more concern than women’s bullying ever did. Why doesn’t MM write about those issues? If given a voice, wouldn’t women choose to discuss the more serious issues? How about child care and balancing work and family? Giving a voice to another writer who wants to paint women negatively (you’re worried about male violence, look at what you’re doing to each other!) and avoid writing about what we want to hear is soooo ’80s.

“The time has come,” she said, “for us to really deal with this relationship that women have to women, because it truly is preventing us from being as successful in the workplace as we want to be and should be.

Yeah, that’s what’s preventing us from success: other women. Don’t you agree, single mothers? Working mothers? If only women at work would be nicer, we would be far more successful.

Good grief.

If ever there were evidence of a need for representation of ALL in the media, surely this would be it. If representation is the sign of a true democracy, this is a cry for help because it is far from being representative. Few whites can speak on behalf of blacks and few men can do so for women. This article is a voice for backlash, as the headline claims, but the question is: whose?

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One comment on “Pink trains

  1. irene says:

    Great analysis, Joanie!

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