Women Without a Clue | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Women Without a Clue

Lakshmi Chaudhry writes for Alternet about women in the media:

Maureen Dowd recently made the startling discovery that she is indeed the only woman in The New York Times' roster of nine columnists. This sad state of affairs naturally inspired Dowd to dwell at length in a recent column on her own courage to be "mean."

"If a man writes a scathing piece about men in power, it's seen as his job; a woman can be cast as an emasculating man-hater," she writes, describing the many travails that can befall the rare woman who finds the gumption to be, well, exactly like her. The self-congratulatory reverie concludes with a patronizing call to "find and nurture" the many "brilliant women" still toiling in obscurity.

The paucity of female writers is not exactly news. Caryl Rivers and Alicia Mundy have long noted the preponderance of testosterone in leading newspapers, especially in the post-9/11 era, when women's voices have become scarcer still with the increased focus on the so-called "Big Issues" like war and terrorism. During November, 2002, only 14 of 92 bylines in the opinion pages of the Times were women. In that same year, Dennis Loy Johnson found that 80 percent of all New Yorker articles are written by men, while women are pushed mainly to the back pages. And this in a magazine with a majority of female subscribers. That editor David Remnick has since hired Caitlin Flanagan as a staff writer to rail at length against feminists – even as she espouses the benefits of domestic virtue – can hardly be described as an improvement.

There's much to bewail about the lack of diversity in journalism. The classrooms in journalism schools may be filled with women, but most will be pushed into soft news beats such as lifestyle or culture. And few of them will ever make their way to the top of the masthead in a national newspaper or magazine.

Previous Comments


a woman can be cast as an emasculating man-hater," Reminds me of Wilson Carroll saying he was being "browbeaten by a liberal woman" on this site last year in a discussion about rap music. ;-) Also, anyone else notice that The Clarion-Ledger doesn't have a single woman columnist on their serious columnist roster: Agnew, Stringfellow, Salter ... Come on, Ledge, there must be women journalists who have something hard-hitting to say over there. Why not let them? They do manage to find room to run Ann Coulter, however.


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