Different Sexes, Different Media

Allen, Martha. “A RADICAL VISION FOR WOMEN’S MEDIA.” Off Our Backs 37, no. 1 (2007): 17. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20838763.

This list delineates the eight differences between “men’s journalism” and “women’s journalism.” Appearing in the feminist Off Our Backs magazine, the article has a clear bias in favor of women. The list was developed from Martha Allen’s doctoral dissertation, “The Development of Communication Networks Among Women, 1963-1983.” This is significant because Allen herself was never a writer for Off Our Backs, her work was merely used in developing this list. Without reading Allen’s dissertation, it is impossible to know how closely the list follows her own dissertation, and how much of it had a spin put on it by the editors at Off Our Backs.  From the name of Allen’s dissertation, it is likely that it was influenced by Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, speaking of the shared experiences of women who desired more from life than being a housewife. The list itself is aimed at explaining why women’s media is better than men’s. Although the differences between men’s and women’s media span a variety of topics from the press they cover to the hierarchy of the media organization, the unifying factor is that all the differences paint the women’s media in a positive light, showing it as better, less biased, and more fair to women than the traditional “men’s media.” The irony is that the women themselves who wrote this article are demonstrating their own bias, clearly favoring women’s intellect and abilities over men’s, using small quotes from a doctoral dissertation out of context to prove their point. Even as they denunciate the bias in the mainstream media, they seem blind to their own prejudices.

However, simply speaking of “men’s media” as the mainstream media reveals a much more subtly form of sexism in the media. It is assumed that the mainstream media, that which is normal and accepted, is controlled by men. There are many facts backing this up (Women’s Jobs in the Media), and Ross points out in Gendered Media that women portrayed in the media are more likely to be shown as victims of violence (Ross 115), yet openly accepting that the status quo is to have men control every aspect of the media is almost to give implicit consent to it. By speaking of a men’s media versus a women’s media, this article reinforces the idea that men control the mainstream culture of the day. Rather than trying to integrate, Off Our Backs decided the easiest way would be to simply leave and forge their own version of the media.

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