Forbes censors article on women and the media as being “too controversial”

Tom Watson left Forbes because they decided to pull this story about WAM! (Women, Action & the Media). What a hero – to stick up for your morals and beliefs and give them more priority than a paycheck. We need more journalists like this.

<script async src=”https://static.medium.com/embed.js”></script><a class=”m-story” data-collapsed=”true” href=”https://medium.com/@tomwatson/sexism-and-the-media-as-election-heats-up-are-we-nearer-to-tipping-point-for-equality-a7d94d9a1280″>Sexism And The Media: As Election Heats Up, Are We Nearer To Tipping Point For Equality?</a>

Note: I have resigned as a contributor to Forbes.

Yesterday, I posted this interview with Jamia Wilson of Women, Action & the Media, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “building a robust, effective, inclusive movement for gender justice in media.” I consider her work, and that of feminist organizers everywhere, to be vitally important to the field of social entrepreneurship and to public life.

The editors found it inappropriate for the section of Forbes I have contributed my Social Ventures column to for the last three years — and they removed it this morning. I strongly disagree with their decision and we have parted ways.

NOW’s Media Hall of Shame

I have one little word: Ugh!

Newsweek Glamorizes Women’s Submission

The article attempts to support its premise with the not terribly precise estimate that “between 31 percent and 57 percent of women entertain fantasies where they are forced to have sex” (according to Psychology Today).

Picture for a moment a mainstream magazine arguing that men feel there is something “basically liberating about being overcome or overpowered.” Imagine a male author positing that men have an “incandescent fantasy of being dominated.” And try, just try, to envision that cover with a blindfolded male model.

Is it paranoid to suggest that Newsweek and Roiphe intentionally portray women as fearful of equality in order to grease the wheels for rolling back their rights? Is it too extreme to suggest that the cover image and the article work together to convey the message that women want to throw in the towel on being in charge of their sexuality and their lives in general? Would it be going too far to characterize articles like this as contributing to a cultural environment where it’s not so bad when men physically assault women, even rape them, because that’s what women really want?

Roiphe argues that feminists are “perplexed” by the persistence of dominance/submission fantasies, but when Gloria Steinem tries to explain it, Roiphe shrugs her off, writing that “maybe sex and aggression should not, and probably more to the point, cannot be untangled.” Sure sounds like a writer with an agenda that’s hostile to women’s empowerment and safety. Not to mention the fact that Roiphe never asks why men might want to dominate and hurt women, and what that might say about them.

Mother’s Day round up

Happy Mother’s Day to all – to those that have children, to those that have lost children, and to those that care for children.

When we hated mom – NY Times article by Stephanie Coontz – provides an historical account of motherhood from a (feminist) sociological perspective. Feminism, Coontz explains, has improved the lives of women (and men) – but, hey, we knew that! Interesting to note, though, society’s disparaging view of protective mothers:

Momism became seen as a threat to the moral fiber of America on a par with communism. In 1945, the psychiatrist Edward Strecher argued that the 2.5 million men rejected or discharged from the Army as unfit during World War II were the product of overly protective mothers.

From the Washington Post, we have an article on racism…onMother’s Day. Granted, I don’t get a home copy of the Post, but this is all I could find in their daily email of headlines. It seems some media outlets would rather celebrate anniversaries (Freedom Riders, David Goldman reuniting with his son) rather than Mothers. I object to racism too, but when can we get national discussions going on sexism? They can even be combined. But, as one writer pointed out, it’s worse to be a racist than a rapist. Both should be despised.

Freedom Riders, 50 years on,  see today’s youth as disconnected from racism

The heartless way Conservatives treat young women who choose to have babies by Amanda Marcotte

Everytime I think the Republicans/Conservatives couldn’t get any worse, they surprise me with their renewed spirit of misogyny. Gotta give it to them for disguising hate with “fiscal responsibility.” There’s always some reason to put women’s issues on the back burner…or to just burn them.

The girls were arrested for holding a sit-in to protest the closing of their school, the Catherine Ferguson Academy, which was established to serve students who are pregnant or mothering.  The school provides day care and parenting classes, and focuses on getting students to college and giving them skills that help future self-sufficiency.  Supposedly “pro-life” conservatives should not only be supporting this school, but demanding that every high school in the country provide these services to teenage mothers.  After all, these girls did what anti-choicers ask of them.  They chose to have their babies.  And now the very same conservatives that wax sentimental about “choosing life” are working to shut down the educational opportunities of young women who did what anti-choicers want, by having their babies.

Don’t forget the women who’ve had injuries or their lives cut short from the men that supposedly loved them and fathered children with them – and, please, don’t forget that it’s more often when these women do the “right thing” that they get injured or killed (far too many people, including feminists, blame the victim for “staying” with an abuser) –

Man charged with ambush slayings of ex, her dad

Orange County prosecutors have charged a 36-year-old man with murdering his ex-wife and her father after they came to his home to take court-ordered custody of the couple’s 7-year-old daughter.

Ex-wife. She left him. They came to take court-ordered custody. Court must have granted dad custody if they came to take her back. It wasn’t enough to kill the ex-wife. He killed her father, too — he shot them both in the backs, the coward.  This 7-year-old just lost her mother (and grandfather) in the week leading up to Mother’s Day. 

Roughly 3 women die every day in domestic violence in this country. This week alone, we’ve lost 21 women, many of whom were mothers.

Candlelight vigil for murdered mother of four

Fresno – Four kids are dealing with the loss of their mother after a murder-suicide in southeast Fresno Tuesday.

The kids were joined about 100 family members and friends Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil.

They gathered on Shields Avenue, the spot where 28-year-old Jennifer Puentes Chatman died, after her ex-boyfriend, 34-year-old Richard Haynes, shot her.

She is the victim of a deadly domestic violence dispute.

This article also ‘blamed the victim’, saying she had chances to leave, but didn’t. But – why didn’t she? Because he threatened to take or kill the kids? Because she feared sharing custody with him or worse, losing custody all together? Because she didn’t have faith in the justice system? Because she feared not being believed? Because women are in greatest danger when they leave?

 Mom with cancer loses custody of kids

This 37-year-old stay-at-home mother lost custody of her 2 children because she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She lives in North Carolina. The father is taking the kids to Illinois. Nice. What a Mother’s Day.

No woman, no cry – Oprah is offering this documentary for free for the next ten days. It discusses death during childbirth.

Mothers rally for fairness in courts

Lori has spent the last eight years fighting the courts for custody of her two children. It began, she said, with her accusing her then-husband of abusing their 3-year-old boy and year-old girl. It ended with him gaining custody and her getting visitation rights.

“He drained me out,” said the 47-year-old Westfield woman, who declined to give her full name for fear it would hurt her future custody chances. She can’t afford a lawyer and has to represent herself after spending more than $100,000 in legal fees over the years.

She was a housewife. He is a lawyer. She has little money. He has lots.

It is a formula that legal experts and advocates say creates a lopsided matchup in the courtroom for custody cases – one in which the mother most often loses.

It looks like HE takes HER to the cleaners – then, why, oh why, does the media portray the opposite?

And, remember, there’s a candlelight vigil tonight from 6-9 pm in front of the White House (see post below).

Happy Mother’s Day to all — Let’s work towards improving the very lives that give us life

New York Times’ film critics discuss films with female violence

Not as interesting as I thought it would be, but worth a read:

Gosh, Sweetie, that’s a big gun

MANOHLA DARGIS It’s no longer enough to be a mean girl, to destroy the enemy with sneers and gossip: you now have to be a murderous one. That, at any rate, seems to be what movies like “Hanna,” “Sucker Punch,” “Super,” “Let Me In,” “Kick-Ass” and those flicks with that inked Swedish psycho-chick seem to be saying. I like a few of these in energetic bits and pieces, but I’m leery of how they fetishize hyper-violent women. Part of me thinks the uptick in bloody mama and kinder-killer movies is about as progressive as that old advertising pitch for Virginia Slims cigarettes, meaning not very. You’ve come a long way, baby, only now you’re packing a gun and there’s blood on your hands (or teeth).

This part resonated with me most; it’s by Dargis:

It’s tricky whenever a woman holds a gun on screen, even if the movie is independently produced and the director is female. I’m glad that “Meek’s Cutoff” exists and that Kelly Reichardt is making a new film every few years — long may she direct. I complain about the representations of women, but I’m more offended when in movie after movie there are no real representations to eviscerate, when all or most of the big roles are taken by men, and the only women around are those whose sole function is, essentially, to reassure the audience that the hero isn’t gay. The gun-toting women and girls in this new rash of movies may be performing much the same function for the presumptive male audience: It’s totally “gay” for a guy to watch a chick flick, but if a babe is packing heat — no worries, man!

To my surprise, I’ve become a fan of the TV show ‘Nikita’- I say ‘surprised’ because I don’t like violence – not even as “entertainment” – but somehow I tune in every Thursday night to see Nikita kick ass. I think it’s because I need to see female representation – especially of empowered, strong women. It actually reminds me of when I was a child, growing up watching Charlie’s Angels. I thought those gals were awesome. And, somehow – in all those years in between Charlie’s Angels and Nikita – there have been few – very few – females fighting for justice. That’s pretty sad.

Racism, Trump’s sexism

Take a look at Anna Holmes’ column in the Washington Post about Trump’s sexism – and, while I understand Holmes has a column in the Lifestyle section – doesn’t sexism deserve a more news-worthy section? Would the WaPo place an article about racism in the Lifestyle section? Perhaps sexism, like racism, is considered a “lifestyle”? Hmmm…

Column:  Anna Holmes on Donald Trump’s sexism

Holmes provides sufficient evidence of Trump’s evidence but I particularly like these 2 conclusions:

his utterance lay bare the modus operandi of the unreconstructed misogynist, in which women should be sexy, but not sexual (just as airlines once required of stewardesses, the Miss USA organization denies entry to contestants who have ever been married or “given birth to, or parented, a child”); a willingness to relinquish autonomy over one’s fertility is both an asset and a job requirement; and female worth is quantified not by character or accomplishment but by hip-to-waist ratio.

and

Perhaps this legacy of unapologetically gleeful misogyny — not his reputedly shady business practices or his absurd questions about President Obama’s birthplace — will end up being Trump’s electoral Achilles’ heel. Despite his protestations over the years that he “loves” and “respects” women, the fact of the matter is that whatever their party identification or their positions on the economy, foreign policy or abortion rights, women don’t take kindly to being defined by their body mass index, their mothering skills or their supposed disposability. (“People change their positions all the time, the way they change their wives,’’ said Trump confidant Michael Cohen earlier this year as a way to explain his boss’s newfound animus toward abortion rights.)

She ends:

Not that Trump cares. “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of [expletive],” he told a writer for Esquire in 1991.

Ewwww! (also see: comment about his daughter’s body – double ewwww)

And here’s an article in AlterNet (probably not their lifestyle section) about Trump’s racism:

Obama’s Mama vs. The Donald’s

By implication of skin color, Donald Trump is more inherently American than Barack Obama.  Which would come as a real shock to Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, a white woman born and raised in the American heartland of Kansas.  Trump’s mother, on the other hand, was an immigrant from Scotland.

There is nothing more fundamentally anti-American than parsing out shares of American identity based in proportion to skin color.  By any definition of the values and ideals of our nation, Barack Obama is as much or more an American — an inheritor and perpetuator of the American Dream — than Donald Trump who was born with America and everything else served up on a silver spoon.  And the undocumented migrant mothers who are toiling in our nation’s fields today so they may create a better future for their children are arguably just as American as Barack Obama’s mother. 

Too often, we treat American identity as a tangible birthright given only to some rather than an aspirational dream available to all.  Yes, one has to be a citizen to be President — and Barack Obama (unfortunately) was forced to prove that previously and re-prove it again.  But one does not have to be a citizen to be American.  The America for which our ancestors fought and for which we continue to fight for today is not simply the soil onto which you are born but the spirit in your heart — the idea that all people are born equal and should have equal opportunity, that this hallowed nation shall be a place on earth where people from all walks of life can pursue their dreams together. 

Come to think of it, I think I heard more hallaballu about Will & Kate accomplishing the American dream of rags-to-riches than I did for Obama. Go figure.

(Fat) Male privilege: Weight Watchers finally targets men

Where have they been?

Why the fat guy should lose his privilege by David Sirota

This is a significant question in a country whose debilitating weight problem is more male than female — and “more” means a heckuva lot more. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost 70 percent of men are overweight, compared with 52 percent of women. Yet, somehow, 90 percent of the commercial weight-loss industry’s clients are female, and somehow, this industry hasn’t seen males as a viable business. How can that be?

And he soon answers:

…The real explanation for the gender disparity is found in a chauvinist culture whose double standards demand physical perfection from women while simultaneously celebrating male corpulence.

Read on, he makes great points!

Study shows gender differences in films from 2008

You know, I could probably count on my hands how many times I’ve seen a naked male in films – it’s almost unnatural that they’re clothed and their female counterparts aren’t. How often are you naked while your partner is clothed? This study shows – no surprise – that women in films from 2008 were pretty, skinny, partially clothed or naked. What is surprising is that this includes TEENAGERS.

Exclusive: Hollywood gender gap persists in 100 top-grossing films

Perhaps what was most disconcerting was the physical emphasis placed on 13- to 20-year old females.  Our data show that teenaged females are far more likely than teenaged males to be depicted in revealing apparel (39.8 percent of teen females compared to 6.7 percent of teen males), partially naked (30.1 percent to 10.3 percent), physically attractive (29.2 percent to 11.1 percent), and with a small waist (35.1 percent to 13.6 percent).  Again, chest size and presence of an ideal figure did not vary meaningfully with gender.

Overall, the findings suggest that males and females are differentially valued in motion pictures.  Despite the fact that it is 2011, females are still far less important or esteemed than are males, particularly behind-the-camera.  When they are shown on screen, females are prized for provocative (or noticeably absent) attire, attributes of their physique, and prettiness.  This is also true of teenaged females. The hypersexualized focus on teens is disquieting, given that exposure to objectifying media portrayals may contribute to negative effects in some young female viewers.  Such depictions may also affect young male consumers, by teaching and/or reinforcing that girls/women are to be valued for how they look rather than who they are.

Gender in the news

I think this is a great post:

Teaching boys feminism by Ileana Jimenez

My dream as a result? That whole generations of young women and men will never experience and/or perpetuate everything from street harassment to rape; frat boy misogyny to workplace discrimination; bullying of queer kids to the banning of LGBT soldiers in the military. All of these issues connect along lines of gender and sexuality, power and politics. If we teach gender justice to all young people, we might just make lasting institutional change

How’s this for a headline?

How Disney invaded American childhood to shill worthless crap to our kids

Kinda interesting – but I thought it was more interesting for the visual differences…it allows you to mix and match boys and girls ads:

Gendered advertising remixer application

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?