Sunday, February 20, 2011

Women and bylines - not enough says many of us!

I am ticked off today and not for the usual reasons but rather for the one main one being that it is my belief that as women in journalism we have not progressed much.  Our voices are still relegated to the Siberia of arts, style, culture - you know it as "fluff".  And for those of us who choose to explore, seek adventure and excitement we are warned or almost discouraged by our colleagues, both male and female, that bad things may happen to us.  Or, as sadly in my case, denied further opportunities because women just don't do this kind of work or that men wouldn't read it so it would not  Is that not a limiting statement regarding men or what?

I do not believe that nonsense for one second.  No, I just think there are still those individuals for whatever reason who have this need to protect some status quo and at the expense of those of us who just love our craft.  I call bullshit on your "limitating" of my opportunities based on untrue axioms, the safety one being an insult to both genders.

So what?  Bad things can happen to me in my own city for crying out loud.  Hell, as a woman I know that all too well and the "bad things" take on many forms.

Goes without saying but I will say it anyway - I have done work that many men would never do and no, I did not engage in certain activities to make a point but rather because like other correspondents before me I felt DRIVEN to do so.  My curiosity had to be satisfied and not by proxy.

As well, another belief that is false is that women do not have strong voices like men because we are unsure of ourselves.  Bullshit again.  We have strong voices but we are tired of being called bitches, ball-breakers, aggressive, strident or hysterical because we choose to exude qualities and belief in our work the same way our male colleagues do.

So in saying this RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT FRIGGIN NOW I put forth a challenge to any editors, publishers and producers that since some of you feel that there is a "dearth" of strong female voices and such out there in the wider media diaspora then by all means get in touch with this woman who has worked in BOSNIA, KOSOVO, GUATEMALA (as covering conflicts) and as one who has traveled solo in some dangerous locales, sought adventure, had a great time, has an excellent sense of humour, is a bit of a pirate?

I KNOW that folks will want to read or listen to my opinions for many already have.  I have a fan base.

Today's musings btw?  I owe thanks to the wonderful Michael Enright of CBC Radio who had a panel of publishers and editors today discussing this very topic.  I will be sending notes to one in particular once my blood has stopped boiling.

Stay tuned kids.....this woman is about to toss some pretty strong words out there and no, they will not be in jest.


Reed Solomon said...

Perhaps it's just a facet of the fact that most journalism these days IS fluff. If 98% of what's out there is utter garbage, then of course it will appear as if no progress has been made.

Recently I heard of a reporter in Egypt who works for CBS news covering the resignation of Mubarak getting raped and beaten. So I hope the diatribe on "fluff" on the CBC that angered you was not dismissive of the dangers many reporters put themselves in around the world.

Graham said...

Gender bias is still that alive and that strong eh. Ech.

Well my favourite news program for one is Rachel Maddow, because she's smart, very well informed, and says what she means and feels. You gotta take a stance. Man or woman.

If you just kinda sit there and churn stuff out and you're kind of indifferent about it then, well. Good luck to you.

If you're willing to do the work, and you do it well, and you're passionate and aren't going to back down, as displayed by Drive Goddess' little rant here, nothing should be stopping that person from succeding. You know what, if you're like that, I WANT to hear from you and about the things you've discovered.

Buuut nothin sells like fluff. And ten year old girls doing fluff covers of fluff famous people.

DriveGoddess said...

Reed, I was one of those reporters who toiled away in those far-off places - perhaps you read my piece too I do not see how you could think I was dissing Lara Logan's work...hells no. I have been appalled at the misogynistic remarks that have been made regarding her attack in that she deserved it, that women should not be doing this kind of work blah blah blah.....I hope she goes back into the field....Lara Logan coming out so to speak about her attack has brought to light a danger that many women jouralists have faced and one that is not acknowledged properly within our circle....I just hope some news agencies do not use this attack as an excuse to further limit our voices.

what many of us in the business experience on a regular basis is still around, the discrimination, denial of certain opportunities....Michael Enright's panel - it was good to hear others acknowledge the fact that it is males who dominate "serious" bylines like in the New Yorker, Harpers and Atlantic Monthly.....

On the local front, well, I could write some interesting observations about that.....