March 8 was International Women’s Day, this year marked by a Women’s Strike—a coordinated day of action, not limited to work stoppage, that organizers said was intended to highlight how women’s work, contributions, and humanity continue to be undervalued.
With an avowed misogynist in the White House, the day got more media attention than it usually does. We saw stories about events around the world and interviews with participants. Some women-focused websites offered no new content as a show of support; we’re told MTV‘s nearly all-female social media staff stayed out, and the network turned its logo upside down, making the M a W. And, the Washington Times (3/8/17) reports, women anchors on MSNBC and CNN “showed their leftist leanings by wearing red.”
What we didn’t see was media taking the day as a chance for serious self-reflection. Or conversation about how their portrayals of women and absences contribute to continued discrimination. The most recent data from the Women’s Media Center tell us that men write 62 percent of the stories in the top 10 papers, they write 58 percent of the content at four top online news sites, 62 percent of wire stories and, in nightly broadcast news, men are on camera 68 percent of the time.
In a piece for The Nation (3/7/17), strike organizers Tithi Bhattacharya and Cinzia Arruzza stressed that the New York City rally would feature no celebrities, instead foregrounding “the women you don’t usually see in the media.” If media keep missing opportunities to look in the mirror, that won’t be any less necessary next March 8.