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I’m newly converted to reading Finweek, and looking forward to f inally getting embroiled in the world of business.
My f irst experience of the magazine was, however, marred by Dr Gavin Symanowitz’s article Corporate sluts: why the ratings agencies should be closed down ( Finweek of 14 March 2013).
I found the header and introduction to the story incredibly aggressive and demeaning towards women. Symanowitz’s glib, snarky story about the two prostitutes says much more about his own prejudices than it does anything at all about ratings agencies.
His tone of voice implies that these “sluts”, these “whores” lack a certain basic humanity and thus cannot be allowed, or don’t deserve, to express themselves or take ownership of their lives, experiences and – by implication – their chosen professions and their own bodies.
I didn’t f inish reading the article, I just couldn’t be bothered to learn more about Symanowitz’s world view.
I have no tolerance for any kind of female bashing – we live in a toxic stew of a country where patriarchy, stereotypes, rape culture, and skewed values and norms already devours way more than their pound of f lesh.
I’m surprised that no-one at Finweek picked up on this, or commented on it before it went to print. I also really hope that this type of bias isn’t indicative of the general tone of content to come.
Dr Gavin Symanowitz responds: First, let me assure you that I have nothing against prostitutes. They provide a legitimate service between two consenting adults, and they have every right to offer that service. In fact, I’m of the strong opinion that prostitution should be legalised, so that their rights can be better protected. Just because I wouldn’t use their services, doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to offer them.
I’ve read the article again and I think it’s a big leap to go from the word ‘ whores’ (which is a recognised English word in the Oxford dictionary and is in common usage) to inferences of female-bashing and being demeaning to women. If you read the article without imposing your own world view, you might come to a different conclusion, as did the majority of the other readers.
The aim of the story about the prostitutes at the beginning of the article was to provide a picture of how the ratings agencies work, and to educate the reader about some of their practices. Just like a prostitute wouldn’t sleep with her clients if they didn’t pay her, so the ratings agencies wouldn’t provide the ratings that they do if their clients didn’t pay them. The aim of the story at the beginning was to create a different perspective, and a story is usually more powerful than simply spelling it out for the reader. The story was certainly not about any agenda regarding women’s rights, which f irstly I don’t have, and secondly would have detracted from the main message of the article. The article was about ratings agencies, not prostitutes. If you read the rest of the article, you’ ll see what I mean and you might come to a different conclusion.
In fact, I share your outrage about the unforgivably high rate of rape in this country, which is simply unacceptable. In fact, recent events have spurred me into action to do something about it. My company has developed technology, which provides an effective evidence-based reporting mechanism for people to report rapes they’ve witnessed, which should lead to higher conviction rates. The challenge is getting the appropriate authorities to use it, and to cover all the legal bases.
In conclusion, I encourage you to read the article again with an open mind and without lashing out. It was certainly not my intention to attack women’s rights and I apologise if that’s how you interpreted it.