FE­MALE FO­RUMS

Ev­ery­day opin­ions and per­spec­tives.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

A NEW Washington Post blog, She the Peo­ple, is pro­vid­ing women with a forum for writ­ing on pol­i­tics, news and cul­ture.

It is aimed at en­cour­ag­ing and en­abling women to be­come more po­lit­i­cally en­gaged.

But why do women need a sep­a­rate blog to write about pol­i­tics?

Jes­sica Valenti of Fem­i­nist­ing. com ob­jects to the tag- line, the world as women see it, which she says not only reeks of gen­der essen­tial­ism but pro­motes the idea that women’s opin­ions and per­spec­tives aren’t nor­ma­tive, but some­how other than real, ev­ery­day opin­ions.

One critic of The Washington Post sug­gested be­ing hon­est and re­in­stat­ing the quaint women’s sec­tion of last- cen­tury news­pa­pers, where the girls could share recipes, cut out dress pat­terns and dis­cuss debu­tantes, just like their great­grand­moth­ers.

There’s tongue in cheek there, but there are a lot of blogs cater­ing to those in­ter­ests too and leav­ing the news out al­to­gether. Here in Australia, Fair­fax Dig­i­tal has launched a new site for women, called Dai­lylife, which re­ceived an im­me­di­ate back­lash on Twit­ter, where it was named Dai­ly­wife.

As Jeremy Sear writes in Crikey, ‘‘ the prob­lem isn’t so much hav­ing a gos­sip site, or sus­pect­ing that women will be the ma­jor­ity of its readers’’.

The prob­lem, Sears writes, is ‘‘ shov­ing se­ri­ous sto­ries that af­fect women into the gos­sip area, as if they’re not real news’’.

In its de­fence, with ed­i­tor Sarah Oakes ( for­mer ed­i­tor of print ti­tle Sun­day Life) at the helm, Dai­lylife does have some in­tel­li­gent writ­ers in its sta­bles.

Gen­der and so­ci­ol­ogy writ­ers Rachel Hills, writer and critic Clem Bas­tow, psy­chol­o­gist Tanveer Ahmed, co­me­dian Corinne Grant and The Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald’s Amy Corderoy and Stephanie Wood have all con­trib­uted ar­ti­cles.

If the tide of equal­ity is turn­ing in jour­nal­ism, it’s turn­ing slowly. The fact is that there is a lack of women writ­ing news ar­ti­cles and mak­ing news in the world of the me­dia.

Only 24 per cent of news sub­jects the peo­ple in­ter­viewed, or whom the news is about, were found to be fe­male in 7000 news sto­ries and 14,000 news sources in 42 coun­tries ( Global Me­dia Mon­i­tor­ing Project, 2010).

Only 16 per cent of all sto­ries fo­cused specif­i­cally on women ( Global Me­dia Mon­i­tor­ing Project, 2010).

Even if news is dom­i­nated by male writ­ers and male sub­jects, that’s no rea­son to opt out al­to­gether, par­tic­u­larly for women writ­ers who can help change this.

If news sites want to en­gage more women readers, they need more women writ­ers on the main page, in the opin­ion sec­tion, in the news it­self, and writ­ing about more than women’s is­sues, cos­met­ics ad­ver­to­ri­als and in­ter­vie­wees who are more than ‘‘ page- three girls’’. She the Peo­ple: The Washington Post’s new pol­i­tics blog for fe­male readers ( the pol­i­tics sec­tion for men and oth­ers re­mains on the main site). wash­ing­ton­post. com/ blogs/ she- the- peo­ple Ms. Mag­a­zine: The web pres­ence of fem­i­nist fron­trun­ner Ms. Mag­a­zine, the web­site boasts the most ex­ten­sive cov­er­age of US and in­ter­na­tional women’s is­sues. ms­magazine. com

▼Wom­ens enews: A non- profit news ser­vice cov­er­ing is­sues of con­cern to women and their al­lies and pro­vides a woman’s per­spec­tive on chang­ing public pol­icy. wom­ense­news. org The Glass Ham­mer: An award­win­ning blog and on­line com­mu­nity cre­ated for women ex­ec­u­tives in fi­nance, law, tech­nol­ogy and big busi­ness. the­glassham­mer. com

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