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Women and Opinions
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Dahlia Lithwick has an article today about the "dustup over the number of female opinion writers on the editorial pages".

She starts out with a roundup of different columns on the subject, including Maureen Dowd, who she says "made the very nice point last Sunday that women opinion journalists are often lambasted as emasculating bitches for savaging male subjects". Yeah, nice point.

Lithwick also says that while a good discussion on the subject is taking place in the blogosphere by both genders, the male editorial writers in newspapers are avoiding the subject like the plague.

Perhaps male columnists are just not interested in this issue because it doesn't represent the sort of "hard news" they're used to commenting on. More likely, they are terrified to opine on the debate because the inquiry is so fraught with the possibility of career-terminating levels of politically correct blowback—à la Larry Summers—that they deem it better to hold their tongues and wait for the storm to pass.


And so a clutch of women are left on the pink margins of the page, to wring our hands and, well, discuss among ourselves. The subtext will thus remain that anyone choosing to speak out on this is somehow hysterical or overemotional; that this is not a "serious" problem since serious people (i.e., men) aren't addressing it. All of which practically guarantees that nothing will be done about defining, measuring, or redressing the issue in the long term.

So just because editorialists in major newspapers aren't writing about it, the discussion isn't taking place? Weird, since she goes to the trouble to link to so many good blog discussions. Perhaps this is symptomatic of the inability of older media forms to adapt. I don't think blogs will replace old-fashioned news reporting, but I think they can go a long way toward replacing the editorial page. Opinions are like assholes, so they say, but I'd rather read one that can link to their primary sources to make their point, are instantly accountable, and can post a correction within 1 minute. I read blogs all the time, and I hardly ever read editorials anymore.

As to the point of fewer women on the editorial pages, and even in blogs, where there is no real barrier to entry, the prevailing sentiment is that women just don't like to spar verbally. It may be true that women are less likely to smash heads directly, but if the corollary is that women are less opinionated than men, I'd have to disagree on that one. If they don't want to spar, fine...start up a blog and disable the comments (or don't read them).

I guess I'll tend to be one of the callous guys who don't really see a problem here. If the problem is entry into the hallowed halls of newspaper editorial sections, I'd ask why you'd want to be part of a dying breed anyway...start a blog.

I also find it a bit ironic that Dahlia Lithwick is writing this piece, since I read her and link to her stuff all the time. Her coverage and interpretation of proceedings at the Supreme Court are good stuff. I linked to her just a couple of weeks ago, and I do it all the time.

Anyway, what was the problem again?

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