The Independent newspaper produces a shortened version of its daily paper called The i. It’s a shortened version of the news so we can assume it contains everything the newspaper, which prides itself on being independent, considers important. Despite what I am about to say, I have it delivered every day!
An Alien’s Eye
As an experiment for a course I’m running, I have taken two consecutive editions of the The i and looked at them through an imaginary alien’s eyes (or to be totally honest, through a feminist prism) assuming that my alien knew very little about how our society worked, but did know we had two genders.
My alien would most definitely conclude that men in our society were considered far superior to women. Most of the stories are about men. Most of the pictures are of men. The fashion/social (ie least important) part of the newspaper features women heavily. And usually the last few pages of the newspaper, Sport, feature no women at all. Women don’t do Sport it seems. Occasionally women do get a mention in the Sport pages but they have to be exceptionally good, ie Olympic medal winners or hopefuls, to get a look in. Women’s sports per se are rarely covered.
No doubt the paper’s editor would argue that they are just representing society as a whole. But can that be good enough for a newspaper that calls itself Independent? I expect better. And it truly wouldn’t be that difficult; look at these examples:
It has a regular feature called the Opinion Matrix where it has 6 columns with 2 sections in looking at current issues. And Tuesday’s issue had six pictures of men…Of the 13 journalists commenting 2 were female.
It has a feature called the twittersphere where it picks up interesting comments from Twitter. Of the 10 listed the final one was Sarah Millican, the only female. Twitter is full of women saying interesting things! – @JaneCWoods since you ask! It also had a feature of The New Ages of Man. This was illustrated by 7 pictures of, you’ve guessed it, men! No doubt the paper will say it was making a reference to Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man and I am missing the point…
What I am missing is opening a newspaper and feeling it is as relevant to me as it is to my husband. I don’t want gender segregated newspapers, and I don’t want a patronising ‘let’s do an issue focussing on women on their achievements’ like we’re some separate race- although you can be sure there will be plenty of that on International Women’s day.
It’s a cliché but sadly still true. Women are held to different standards. I am reminded of a fabulous quote from a female professor at Cambridge University (apologies, I never got her name) who said:
“We’ll know we have gender equality when half of all senior posts are filled by women – and then half of them are incompetent”.
Be Truly Independent and Less Male Centric
I simply want editors to take a less male centric view of the world and maybe expand their address books to include a few more women who can comment, play sport, etc. The images we are presented with are so important ( see Do Women Need Role Models?) and so powerful and this male centric approach does nobody any favours. So come on The i, surely it’s time for a few changes?
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Photo Credit: Sanja Jgenero
Posted on March 7th, 2012 by Jane