Look who’s talking

Cross posted

Via Blue Milk, the astonishing statistic that even on issues relating to women, such as abortion, and contraception, men are quoted around five times more than women.

Among 35 major national print publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, men had 81 percent of the quotes in stories about abortion, the research group said Thursday, while women had 12 percent, and organizations had 7 percent.

In stories about birth control, men scored 75 percent of the quotes, with women getting 19 percent and organizations getting 6 percent. Stories about Planned Parenthood had a similar ratio, with men getting 67 percent, women getting 26 percent, and organizations getting 7 percent.

Women fared a bit better in stories about women’s rights, getting 31 percent of the quotes compared with 52 percent for men and 17 percent for organizations.

I’ve been thinking about issues of representation, and voice, and presence, and diversity, of late, mostly in a recent op-ed I wrote for the Dom Post, but also in just an idling sort of way, thinking about who gets to write columns for our major newspapers. I tend to read The Dominion Post and the New Zealand Herald. In the Dom Post, I can think of two women who have regular opinion columns there: Tracey Watkins and Rosemary McLeod. Watkins is a political reporter, and Rosemary McLeod is a feminist writer in the same sense that Chris Trotter is a left wing writer (see The Dim-Post for an explication of this). The New Zealand Herald lists four women among its eleven opinion writers: Dita di Boni (parenting, politics of parenting, parenting while female), Audrey Young (politics), Fran O’Sullivan (business and politics), Kerre Woodham (life, parenting, stuff). Plus there’s Claire Trevett (politics), and Shelley Bridgeman (if you can think of a category for her let me know), though their Sunday line-up is fairly XY oriented, especially with the recent replacement of Deborah Coddington by Rodney Hide. Even so, overall, there are noticeably more men than women, especially so in the Dom Post.

Way way back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when I first became aware of feminism, and first started seeking out feminist voices, I would never have dreamed that we would still be fighting to get an equal share of the national discourse.

3 responses

  1. I read this too and it scared me a lot, have we really changed so little as a society or are media circles still old boys clubs?

  2. Don’t you know that men know better than women? So therefore we need to ask their opinion about abortion and contraception. And periods too I suppose. And the menopause. Well anything and everything really. [sorry, I couldn't resist it - because, people not just men sadly, really do think that]

  3. Funnily enough I came to reading this just after having posted a comment on a media website thanking some bloke for telling us what women wanted. He had, apparently, been far too busy and important to ask any women their opinion on this topic. Just as well he already knew the answers, eh?

    Don’t forget the wonderful Tapu Misa at the Herald – worth all the rest of them out together.
    The DomPost hasn’t had a good columnist since Linley Boniface left them to work in corporate PR – had they paid her what she was worth, she might still have been delighting us with her humour and insight.

    Which leaves a gap in the market for you, Deborah – strength to your arm!

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