Why Are Men Doing All The Talking On Women’s Rights?
This may sound like an old cliche, but it’s true: it’s a man’s world. Look around… it’s really not hard to see that we live in a society that is dominated by the male half of our species. From the worlds of entertainment to politics to the corporations who are selling us our make-up and our tampons, it’s primarily men who are pulling the strings and making the decisions.
If you need further evidence of this “man’s world,” I urge you to ponder these statistics: in the media, men are quoted five times more often than women on stories about women’s issues such as abortion, birth control, and Planned Parenthood. This is according to a study done by The 4th Estate, as seen in an article on The Daily Beast.
Here are the facts in more explicit detail:
“Among 35 major national 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.
Men didn’t just dominate stories on women’s issues, the study found, but stories on all election topics, including the economy and foreign policy. Among individual publications, men had 65 percent of quotes on general election topics in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune. Men had 67 percent of quotes in The Washington Post and 76 percent in USA Today.”
It’s no surprise that men rule the media. That fact is, unfortunately, to be expected… but for men to be in the overwhelming majority of the individuals talking about women’s rights is simply horrifying.
Since when is it men who are the “experts” on women’s health, women’s bodies, women’s organizations and women’s liberties? Why is the media turning to men when seeking quotes and information on topics such as these?
The reason these statistics are so scary is because the media is the driving force in shaping the way we see our world. For the media to present women’s issues through the lens of men does nothing but distort and belittle those issues, a distortion and belittlement that seeps through to every corner of society. Instead of letting us speak for ourselves, the media is having men speak for us.
Do men understand what it’s like to be a woman, the constant struggle of living in a society that works against them on the basis of their gender? Do they know what it’s like to have to deal with the pain, hormonal irregularities and health risks that come with using birth control, and even worse, the possibility that they won’t have birth control easily available to them at all? Do they know what it’s like to face an unexpected pregnancy? Do they know what it’s like to be called a “slut” and completely demeaned because they enjoy having sex? And most importantly, do men understand what it’s like to have to fight tooth and nail for the rights to make decisions over their own bodies? If men think that they can accurately convey our issues to the media and to the world, they are quite mistaken.
Why aren’t all the brilliant, outspoken women out there the ones being interviewed about our rights, about abortion laws and birth control policies and Planned Parenthood?
According to the same article by Abigail Pesta,
“Sometimes it takes a quantifiable analysis to be able to show that the voices represented are still not balanced, and this is especially frustrating when stories are focused on women’s health and women’s rights topics,” said Joy Bacon, a co-founder of The Gender Report, a research group that monitors gender representation in Internet news. “It’s just another reason why we need more women in all sectors, including the media and healthcare, so there are more expert sources to turn to in the first place.”
We desperately need more female voices in the media, and more media that cares about women and speaks with them in mind. This, my friends, is one of the reasons why I started Feminspire. Yes, we cover topics like the latest fashion trends and our favorite beauty products, but Feminspire is so much more than that. We are a media outlet that is comprised solely of female voices. We are young women who have a lot to say and who are tired of being spoken for. Through Feminspire I hope that we can bridge the gap in the media, just a little bit, or at least become a place where women can go to feel understood and respected.
While the statistics in this article disturb me, they by no means discourage me. I see this as an opportunity for myself, for Feminspire, and for the amazing women I work with to become part of the effort in changing the way things work. And I hope that you, our readers, will see it as an opportunity to join us in making the world a more fair and equal place for women. It starts by speaking up, by understanding and by supporting each other, and it starts here.
Written by Rhiannon Payne
Header image courtesy of The Daily Beast
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