Dylan Ratigan's Women's Time
By Gloria Feldt on September 19, 2009
I was feeling better about my neck.
I went to a physical therapist about the neck pain I’d been
experiencing. So a few days ago, I was distracting myself by watching Dylan Ratigan’s “Morning Meeting” on
MSNBC while I practiced the boring exercise regimen Melissa, my
therapist, prescribed. Ten reps three times for each exercise holding
light hand weights as I hang over the bed.
The segment led with a rhetorical question about whether this could
be the breakthrough time for women. La la. Heard that one before.
Dylan reported the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit was going on out in California. That’s a yawn—I went to the Fortune
Summit five years ago. And that was supposed to be the time for women.
Though I didn’t remember it making a media splash like this before.
Oh, I see. Mika Brzezinski was there—well of course MSNBC would want to highlight that. And Joe Scarborough
was on her panel, joking about how intimidated he was walking through
all those women to get to the stage—he compared himself to a character
in the John Irving novel, The World According to Garp. Cute, huh? Does he think estrogen is contagious?
The Fortune Summit story led into an interview with Karen
Finney, a Democratic strategist with visible cleavage. Why does that
still shock me when I see cleavage on a woman appearing on television?
I mean boobs are standard issue for women. And better visible women’s
boobs than some of the male boobs that, for all our progress, still
dominate the punditry.
Dylan asked Karen to comment on an article I saw yesterday about how women legislators perform better
than their male counterparts—they pass more legislation, secure more
co-sponsors, and bring home more bacon to their districts. Well, that’s
certainly not news—it’s become a regular trend story ever since the UN
and McKinsey almost simultaneously discovered a year or two ago that
once parliaments and corporate boards reach 30% female representation,
the quality of decisions improves and the guys behave better. (Maybe
estrogen is contagious.)
Karen opined that women are more collaborative about the legislative
process (a real bulletin here—no one said “catfights”!), and then
cheerily observed that we haven’t seen women involved in sex scandals
like men have notably been of late. Well, all that sex subterfuge would
make it hard for men to find as much time for actually legislating, now
Next, Dylan reported that women could equal men in the workforce as
soon as this October. Pink and blue numbers flashed on the screen to
show part of the reason: during the recession, women have accounted for
26% of layoffs while men accounted for 74%.
Hello, where have they been? This has been bubbling on recession blogs and in the feminist media for at least a year.
Dylan lobbed a throwaway “what do you make of that?” question at Karen—maybe he had a few extra seconds to fill.
She replied, “Let’s not kid ourselves. Part of this is that women
come cheaper,” pointing out that women tend to hold the lower paying
jobs, and when companies are cutting costs, they lay off the more
expensive, higher paid men. So perhaps we aren’t as close to gender
equality nirvana as it appeared.
The media critic part of me rolled eyes at how superficially this
“women’s moment” package had been lashed together without one single
new piece of information in it. I finished my exercises as the segment
But as I tucked my hand weights back under the bed, I began to
realize that the real story was one that had not been announced: The
mainstream media narrative had finally noticed and seen fit to tell the
same story women’s blogs had so long discussed amongst ourselves, while
complaining that no one else was picking it up.
Apparently someone or ones have been watching. The big story of the
day wasn’t any one of the disparate parts of this MSNBC Morning Meeting
segment. It was that the overall “women’s moment” story line has
entered the cultural bloodstream.
That’s when my neck began feeling a whole lot better, and it wasn’t just from the exercise.
Do women realize this is a game changing moment? And what are we
doing to make sure the story on Dylan Ratigan’s morning show isn’t just
another fleeting blip on the gender power screen?
You see, I’ve been tracking the MSNBC website, looking for the
segment I described so I could link to it. So far, they have posted
almost every other segment from that program, but not this one. Is
women’s news still not considered as important as men’s? Is that why
the “women’s time” segment seemed fluffy?
And, whoops, this just in from Atlantic Monthly’s the AtlanticWire via blogger Lucinda Marshall who
analyzes quite nicely the problem we face when a Top 50 list of
commentators is still almost entirely men—41 male (only two of color)
to nine female (all white), to be exact.
Guess we still have a bit of therapy to do.
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