Wanted (by NYT): One Woman to Represent All Feminists

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Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)

Wanted (by NYT): One Woman to Represent All Feminists

Over the weekend, the New York Times (3/18/12) published an article pondering why no one has taken Gloria Steinem's place as ubiquitous spokesperson for women's rights:

Over the last 40 years, Gloria Steinem has almost always been at the other end of the phone when some member of the news media has sought comment about a pressing issue involving women’s rights…. And that raises a question well worth asking in 2012: Where is the next Gloria Steinem, and why–decades after the media spotlight first focused on her–has no one emerged to take her place?

But is it well worth asking? Why would anyone (besides lazy journalists) want there to be just one (white, straight, white-collar) woman speaking to the media about all things woman-related? Indeed, many of the feminist writer and activists the Times' Sarah Hepola interviews express something along these lines; Steinem herself tells the paper, "It's obviously a great sign of growth and success that the media no longer try to embody the bigness and diversity of the women’s movement in one person," and the piece concludes,

As for whether there should be another Gloria Steinem, she replied, "I don't think there should have been a first one."

Yet none of this diverts the Times from its premise, or keep it from including sentences like this:

The movement has also changed in undeniable ways. The injustices that united so many under one umbrella in the '70s–no, sir, you can’t put your hand on a female employee's rear–have been replaced by a thousand shades of gray.

Right, because there weren't a thousand shades of gray back then too, and the injustices of the '70s (like sexual harassment) have been solved and "replaced." (Just curious: Is one of those shades of gray the fact that articles like this always appear in the "Fashion & Style" section?) And then there's this as an explanation:

It's rare to find the introversion and intelligence required to be an author and thinker fused with the charisma and good looks to knock it out of the park on the Tonight show.

Seriously–why isn't there a woman good-looking enough to talk about the subtle problems of feminism in the 21st century?

Julie Hollar

Julie Hollar is the managing editor of FAIR's magazine, Extra!. Her work received an award from Project Censored in 2005, and she has been interviewed by such media outlets as the L.A. Times, Agence France-Presse and the San Francisco Chronicle. A graduate of Rice University, she has written for the Texas Observer and coordinated communications and activism at the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. Hollar also co-directed the 2006 documentary Boy I Am and was previously active in the Paper Tiger Television collective.

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