Whiteness and men are considered universal; women and color are not.
A friend told me that about 10 years ago when she was working in radio. You couldn’t play two female song writers back to back because it would be perceived as too whiny. Now, just last week a British Quarterly, Port magazine, featured an all male, all white cast on a cover story about the Golden Age of Print, making me wonder how much has changed. Here, right on the cover of the magazine is visual affirmation of what most writers and editrix know to be true: the leaders of print continue to be the same from the last Golden Age of Print Media, all hail our Patriarchs-in-Chief.
I should remark in fairness, that according to Gawker, Dan Crowe wrote to them that he did attempt to snag the British Anna Wintour of Vogue but she declined. In the same article he laments not being able to find one who was black and female (presumably Google was broken that day). Well, I think the editors of Port must agree that circulation is not the marker for a magazine’s greatness as Vanity Fair is trounced by Ebony Magazine in the United States — and it’s run by Amy Barnett, a black female editor, and the difference between Wired magazine (which was represented) and Women’s Day (which was not) is 2,555,022, paid circulation. According to the Women’s Media Centre, male front page bylines outnumber female bylines by a three to one margin.
Sherry Orter, an American cultural anthropologist wrote of the universality of female subordination as one of the true universals in the world. “The fact that it exists within every type of social and economic arraignment and in societies of every degree of complexity, indicated to me that we are up against something very profound, very stubborn.” Stubborn like the heterogeneous print industry, which given their refusal to wake up to reality and diversity I won’t be so sad to see die.
Because you see, men and women are giving up time spent with traditional media and instead engaging more with social media. “The scale of social media usage among U.S. women continues to grow, and blogs remain the go-to resource for those who want to gather information, share ideas and get reliable advice,” said Elisa Camahort Page, COO of BlogHer. Women’s voices are being amplified online, even if we still face a certain amount of gender apartheid.
In this context, Jonathan Franzen weighed in on the matter of sexism in literature, declaring to the New York Times that, “There may still be gender imbalances in the world of books, but very strong numbers of women are writing, editing, publishing and reviewing novels.” Well, men still dominated bylines in the top literary magazines in 2011 according to VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. A look at this graph from Women in The Media illustrates pretty clearly that women are not reviewing novels in great numbers.
In the print industry, there’s double-bind stubbornness as editors cling to elevate glossy pages over pixels. Women’s magazines are just that — they are for women. Ebony has a list of eight brilliant women editors. The racism and sexism through exclusion is so prevalent as to be boring in its unoriginality. If the editors of Port magazine are having trouble finding women editors, it may be due to the thickness of the glass, and vanilla ceiling.