The other day I submitted a written piece to a progressive media outlet. They didn’t publish it. In fact they didn’t publish any work by women on that particular day. They have published some of my work in the past, so presumably my writing is, in general, up to their standards and they did publish other pieces on the same topic that day, they just happened to be written by men.
On average, about 20% of the authors that get published on that site are female. That is not an okay number. I’ve brought it up with them before and have never gotten a sufficient answer. To me as a writer it is demoralizing because I don’t know if they rejected the piece because they didn’t like it or because they prefer to publish men–they’d never cop to that, but the evidence does indicate a bias that they don’t seem interested in addressing.
But this isn’t about me and it isn’t just about them. The problem is pervasive in progressive media, some are taking steps to address it, some aren’t, but the problem persists and sorry, it isn’t really progressive if it is sexist. So here is the challenge:
During the celebration of Women’s History Month in March, give women the column inches. Deliberately turn the tables and turn over the majority of your space to women. Try it for a day on March 1. If the world as we know it doesn’t come to an end and there isn’t a mass emasculation of men, try it for another day–still there? Keep it up for the month and then resolve to once and for all do what it takes to reach gender parity because your current policies that leave out women’s voices are demoralizing and damaging and misogynist and it is way past time to get beyond that paradigm.
In the meantime, suspecting that there is a snowball’s chance in hell that this challenge will be heeded, I will continue to produce and support women-informed media because without it, our voices are inadequately heard.
Just as I finished writing the above came news that the Media Equity Collaborative has received a major gift that will be a significant boost for feminist media:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Anonymous Donor Steps Forward To Advance Feminist Media and Deepen Its Public Reach
Valentine’s Day, February 14 —
Media Equity Collaborative has a secret admirer. An anonymous donor has contributed $20,000 toward the research, development and outreach of this new initiative. Media Equity Collaborative emerged in 2007 to broaden the support for the over 350 feminist gender justice media organizations, outlets and projects that provide the primary public platform for feminist voices, gendered thinking and advancement of womanist ideas.
Excited by this affirmation of their work directors of Media Equity have mapped out an ambitious plan of action over the course of the next six months as they continue to seek additional support. Completion of a Theory of Change on gender justice media will strengthen the perception and depth of the necessity of gendered centered media. Stepped up outreach via groups like the National Council of Women’s Organizations will serve to heighten awareness about the critical role of using women’s media outlets in spreading the messages of hundreds of feminist service organizations. Media Equity will craft a pilot to serve as a bridge with a core of feminist media outlets and a specified group in the larger women’s movement to deepen the dynamics of a national public relations campaign.
Further, Media Equity will commit a portion of the funds to regrant efforts in the field. The fledgling initiative hopes to double this proportion of support to the field by creating a match through some on-line funding vehicle.
To both strengthen the reach and transfer knowledge and leadership to younger women, Shireen Mitchell, founder and executive director of Digital Sisters, based in Washington DC, and a long time Girl Geek, will take on a larger role. She joins Ariel Dougherty, initiator of Media Equity, to enhance the ability of this practitioner lead fund to play a critical evolutionary role in reaffirming feminist gendered creative space that is essential to fundamental transformation in the lives of all people, not solely women.
Media Equity Collaborative is a sponsored project of International Media Project, where Executive Director Lisa Rudman of National Radio Project (producer of Making Contact) also serves to guide this initiative. In 2008 Media Equity was awarded a $30,000 grant from Social Science Research Council (regrant funds of Ford Foundation) to do a survey of the field, examine sustainable funding models and hold a meeting of the field. Inspired Legacies under leadership of Tracy Gary and Media Equity have partnered to encourage donors to support the building of the gendered media public sphere.
Congrats to Ariel, Shireen, Lisa and all–this is huge and must needed!