OpinionSexist media prefer dating gossip to career data from women

ETC StaffJanuary 31, 20144512 min

Taylor

Taylor Parsons, Life Editor

Cut the sexist fluff. As journalists, we’re to present readers with the facts. It’s our responsibility to remain unbiased and ask the big questions. So, it’s a sad sight when media members fall flat interviewing notable women.

Sexism is alive and well. If you’re a successful man, interviews are about your success, how you got there, and how the public can be you — that’s what is reported. Publications want you to speak your mind. The public wants to hear your opinions, no matter who’s offended.

Now, if you’re a woman being interviewed about your success, get ready to talk about everything but your success. Prepare to deflect “fluff” questions. Your interviews will noticeably revolve around “tell the people what they want to hear,” rather than “tell us what you want the people to hear.”

The people, evidently, want to know what you’re wearing, about your family, your best diet tips, your personal trainer’s name, and how much you hate your female competitors.

The above might sound unbelievable.If the media were being that overtly sexist, surely something would be done about it. Well, media can be crafty that way. It’s slipped into your brain in small doses over time, and you grow immune to seeing it – like Wesley grew immune to iocane powder in The Princess Bride.

Several examples of this subtle sexism occurred within five days this January, all affecting notable women.

On Jan. 21, 19-year-old tennis player Eugenie Bouchard simultaneously became the first Canadian to reach the Australian Open semifinals and second Canadian to do so in a Grand Slam, after defeating Ana Ivanovic. Following her win, a TV reporter asked Bouchard the following:

“You’re getting a lot of fans here, a lot of them male. They want to know: if you could date anyone in the world of sport, of movies — I’m sorry they asked me to say this — who would you date?”

Bouchard, visibly embarrassed, blundered out her answer — Justin Bieber. The camera panned to the visibly disappointed crowd.

Just days before,at the 2014 Screen Actors Guild awards, Mayim Bialik, known for her role as Amy Farrah Fowler on the hit TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory, was asked by reporters if, being on a show about brainy nerds, how many people actually think she can solve calculus?

The result was cringe-worthy as Bialik reminded her interviewers that she in fact has a Bachelor of Science degree, as well as a doctorate in neuroscience.

“I was actually trained in calculus for several years. Yeah, I’m a neuroscientist. You may not have known that, but, yeah, I can do calculus.”

On Jan. 17, the Toronto Star released an interview with Toronto MP Olivia Chow to promote her new book My Journey. The article is certainly in Chow’s favour, eventually going into the heavy depths of some of Chow’s trials and tribulations, yet is absolutely littered with fluffy tidbits you would have never found in the story of a male MP.

The very first lines of the article read: “Olivia Chow welcomes guests to her large Victorian home looking calm, cool, and stylish in a canary yellow blazer and slim black pants.” Immediately after, Chow warns a photographer he mustn’t go into the corner of her living room, or he’ll uncover her Christmas decorations. The horror!

Later still in the article: “More revelations come to light when a reporter suggests setting up in the dining room. ‘I didn’t clean up in there,’ she protests as she herds her three indignant cats.”

The writer then proudly boasts that Chow “doesn’t pretend to be entertaining queen Martha Stewart” and that her house reflects it.

Now that we’ve read about four paragraphs to confirm that Chow is a delicate little cherub with three cats, a sense of style, but unable to maintain a house – the Star finally mentions her accomplishments.

Now, call it sexism, call it ignorance, or call it plain old bad journalism, but whatever it is, it needs to stop. You wouldn’t ask Donald Trump his favourite sexual position and you wouldn’t have commented on Jack Layton’s living room, so don’t subject women to these same questions.

Cut the sexist fluff. As journalists, we’re to present readers with the facts. It’s our responsibility to remain unbiased and ask the big questions. So, it’s a sad sight when media members fall flat interviewing notable women

Sexism is alive and well. If you’re a successful man, it’s your success, how you got there, and how the public can be you — that’s what is reported. Publications want you to speak your mind. The public wants to hear your opinions, no matter who’s offended.

Now, if you’re a woman being interviewed about your success, get ready to talk about everything but your success. Prepare to deflect “fluff” questions. Your interviews will noticeably revolve around “tell the people what they want to hear,” rather than “tell us what you want the people to hear.”

The people, evidently, want to know what you’re wearing, about your family, your best diet tips, your personal trainer’s name, and how much you hate your female competitors.

The above might sound unbelievable.If the media were being that overtly sexist, surely something would be done about it. Well, media can be crafty that way. It’s slipped into your brain in small doses over time, and you grow immune to seeing it – like Wesley grew immune to iocane powder in The Princess Bride.

Several examples of this subtle sexism occurred within five days this January, all affecting notable Canadian women.

On Jan. 21, 19-year-old tennis player Eugenie Bouchard simultaneously became the first Canadian to reach the Australian Open semifinals and second Canadian to do so in a Grand Slam, after defeating Ana Ivanovic. Following her win, a TV reporter asked Bouchard the following:

“You’re getting a lot of fans here, a lot of them male. They want to know: if you could date anyone in the world of sport, of movies — I’m sorry they asked me to say this — who would you date?”

Bouchard, visibly embarrassed, blundered out her answer — Justin Bieber. The camera panned to the visibly disappointed crowd.

Three days before,at the 2014 Screen Actors Guild awards, Mayim Bialik, known for her role as Amy Farrah Fowler on the hit TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory, was asked by reporters if, being on a show about brainy nerds, how many people actually think she can solve calculus?

The result was a cringe-worthy as Bialik reminded her interviewers that she in fact has a Bachelor of Science degree, as well as a doctorate in neuroscience.

“I was actually trained in calculus for several years. Yeah, I’m a neuroscientist. You may not have known that, but, yeah, I can do calculus.”

On Jan. 17, the Toronto Star released an interview with Toronto MP Olivia Chow to promote her new book My Journey. The article is certainly in Chow’s favour, eventually going into the heavy depths of some of Chow’s trials and tribulations, yet is absolutely littered with fluffy tidbits you would have never found in the story of a male MP.

The very first lines of the article read: “Olivia Chow welcomes guests to her large Victorian home looking calm, cool, and stylish in a canary yellow blazer and slim black pants.” Immediately after, Chow warns a photographer he mustn’t go into the corner of her living room, or he’ll uncover her Christmas decorations. The horror!

Later still in the article: “More revelations come to light when a reporter suggests setting up in the dining room. ‘I didn’t clean up in there,’ she protests as she herds her three indignant cats.”

The writer then proudly boasts that Chow “doesn’t pretend to be entertaining queen Martha Stewart” and that her house reflects it.

Now that we’ve read about four paragraphs to confirm that Chow is a delicate little cherub with three cats, a sense of style, but unable to maintain a house – the Star finally mentions her accomplishments.

Now, call it sexism, call it ignorance, or call it plain old bad journalism, but whatever it is, it needs to stop. You wouldn’t ask Donald Trump his favourite sexual position and you wouldn’t have commented on Jack Layton’s living room, so don’t subject women to these same questions.

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