Look who’s talking

Your Working Girl wants to take a peek stateside this week to see how her sisters are fairing in the land of the free.  Since the Republican gains in the mid-term elections in 2010, individual states have been cutting funding to women’s clinics, forcing women to watch ultrasounds of prior to having an abortion and generally causing terror in the minds of millions of women by chipping away at their access to contraception.   She has to confess to her Gentle Readers that she is concerned.

Although the story has not been widely or consistently reported by most news agencies, Rachel Maddow has been closely following it on her top-rated prime time show on MSNBC in all its horrifying detail for the past year.

  • Texas cut state funding to Planned Parenthood, resulting in the closure of more than 50 clinics and shutting off access to health care for 130,000 women.
  • Because of strict new laws, the only abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio – the state’s most populated city — may be force to close this month
  • North Carolina’s governor signed a controversial, restrictive abortion bill into law this week, forcing the state’s last remaining abortion clinic to lose its licensing
  • In June, the Texas legislature was voted on a bill to further restrict access to abortion.  That’s when the world heard of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis.  She filibustered the vote when she spoke for 11 straight hours — no eating, no bathroom breaks and no straying off topic, live streamed and watched by hundreds of thousands.

According to Salon.com “in the first half of 2013, lawmakers enacted 43 pieces of legislation restricting abortion access – as many as were enacted during all of 2012.”

Jeffrey Toobin, the only talking head left on CNN with a bit of sense in his head, weighed in on the battle with a New Yorker piece this week, Daughters of Texas.  The article included an interesting portrait of Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood of America and the daughter of former Texas governor, Ann Richards.

But the most riveting angle in his story was how Republican politicians are building their Conservative bona fides, growing their political cojones on the backs of women’s reproductive rights. (Irony takes no prisoners.)

This pretty picture has been brought to you courtesy of the redistricting that has happened in Republican-governed state legislatures, resulting in whole districts, or ridings as we say in Canada, that are almost entirely Republican.  That means the political battles waged among Republicans are in the primary stage (party nomination stage in Canada) not during the actual elections, since these districts are perceived to be sure Republican wins.

That means they have to out do each other on the scramble to occupy the rightest of wings in order to secure their base – a base skewed to older, rural religious white males.  Anti-abortion and contraception talk gets them all jacked up.  They back the guy that shouts the loudest about legislating barriers to women’s health care.  Heaven knows why, but it’s likely pretty creepy.

So where are the women in this political landscape?  There must be more women besides Cecile Richards and Rachel Maddow in on the front lines of this campaign.  Where are they?

Not being sourced by the media it appears.

In a study by the 4th Estate, a US company that monitors media sources, women are not well represented in political media.

Between November 2011 and May 2012, they found:

  • 81% of quotes about abortion were by men.
  • 75% of quotes about birth control were by men.
  • 67% of quotes about Planned Parenthood were by men.
  • 52% of quotes about women’s rights were attributed to men, 17% to associations and groups and 31% to women.

In general, 87% of the quotes in print media election stories were attributed to men and 84% of those quoted on the television news were men.

Op/Ed stats are no better.  A study of The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal over three months in 2011 revealed that:

  • 80% of the opinion/editorials were written by men
  • 89% of economic commentaries were written by men
  • 87% of columns on international politics were written by men
  • 86% of those on social justice were written by men
  • 84% of those on national security were written by men
  • 47% of those on ‘women’s issues’ were written by men

Would a Gentle Reader please call 911?

Surely what we have here is an equity in media emergency.

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  1. […] The month of August is such a glorious month to toss around statistics.   It’s hot, the days are long and the mind drifts.  Just when it’s too humid to turn the page of a book, there’s always the click of a mouse.  And from there, you can go anywhere.  With all modesty (aside), Your Working Girl finds the numbers she’s been churning out this month about women’s representation in the media frightfully interesting. Click here for a refresher. […]

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