As you might be able to tell, it’s really not all that difficult for something to set me off. It’s been a problem. I’ve been told I need to “turn the politics off every once in a while” by my friends. But the New York Times, recently…
Well, frankly, they’ve been pretty sexist. Now, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t really expect mainstream media sources to provide actively feminist viewpoints. But in the past week or so, a couple of their articles just…*exasperated sigh*
Let’s start with this lovely article in the “Fashion and Style” section called “For Would-Be Cougars, the Prom is a Good Start.” Apparently, according to the author, a (female) high school senior dating a boy two years younger than she is a predatory “cougar-in-training.” Basically, the only response I could come up with is: “Double standard, much?” Granted, the article seems to have nary a point to make, save the claim that “would-be cougars” are a thing, and a thing to be worried about. I can come up with no better way to describe this than gender-shaming. Because, after all, the boy is supposed to be older than the girl, right? Otherwise, she’s creeping on the young boys. Out to get them. She’s supposed to be available for them college boys to score.
Not to mention that not a peep is made when the situation is reversed.
I was pretty upset. And then I found the “wonderful” article about a sexual harassment case in Silicon Valley.
This article about the lawsuit Ellen Pao has filed a sexual harassment suit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. And it opens up with a doozy: “MEN invented the Internet. And not just any men. Men with pocket protectors. Men who idolized Mr. Spock and cried when Steve Jobs died. Nerds. Geeks. Give them their due. Without men, we would never know what our friends were doing five minutes ago. ”
Really. It says that. “MEN invented the Internet.”
Otherwise, the article is quite good. I mean, it frames sexual harassment itself rather problematically (“randiness” doesn’t cause sexual harassment, and saying it’s “not the lore” seems to me to be a pretty nifty way of dismissing claims), and it gets a little weirdly tangential (“OMG, her husband has an ex-BOYfriend, we have to include that, because…well, because…”). But, overall, it treats the Pao case itself with journalistic integrity.
But there’s no way of dismissing that opening line. How about Radia “Mother of the Internet” Perlman? It’s framing like this that erases the history of marginalized people. I simply don’t understand why this line was necessary. It’s completely reactionary: “OH NOEZ, TEH MENZ R BEING ATTACKED. Let’s remind everyone who really runs the show.” When men running the show was never threatened in the first place.
Women + technology = fail. And the NYT is out to remind you.
I’ll grant that the two stories are pretty much unrelated. But I’m going to have a hard time taking NYTimes seriously about anything relating to gender for some time. And that’s the trouble I want to point out. Feminism has a hard enough time fighting patriarchy in the first place. We don’t need our news sources making things worse.