Cross posted on genfem.com
I went to a screening of PBS’s “Women, War and Peace” at the Feminist Majority Foundation in Los Angeles last week, followed by a conversation between Mavis Leno, Gayle Lemmon and Katherine Spillar. It was my first feminist event in LA and I assumed the crowd wasn’t going to be as hardcore as the feminist crowd in New York, but I could not have been any more wrong. It was possibly the most accomplished room of women I have ever been in. Everyone had written a book, shot a documentary, started a nonprofit, or in some cases, all of the above. These women knew their stuff and they were very much aware of the power of their own voices.
Among the many interesting things Gayle Lemmon discussed was a strategy to increase coverage of women in media. The strategy is simple: Click on stories about women. In the new media world, clicking is voting. “You click every single time and it’s a vote,” Lemmon said. It’s so obvious, but somehow I never thought about it that way. “You are being watched more than ever,” she explained, “and you are weighing in to a larger extent than ever.” The part that she didn’t say but I added in my head was: Even if you don’t read those articles, click on them anyway. We know that this is how news decisions get made and we must take advantage of that knowledge to get women’s stories heard.
The truth is, Facebook status updates comprise much of my news consumption. I get sucked into insipid slideshows about what dresses Michelle Obama has been wearing. But I realize now that if I’m not casting my vote with page views (and time spent) for articles about women, I’m perpetuating our society’s fixation on men as protagonists.
It’s extremely difficult, by the way, to find stories about women. When you’re done reading this, go to nytimes.com and see if you can find any. When you search “women” you’ll get mostly Style section pieces. The same search on wsj.com yields hard hitting journalistic pieces like “Sarah Jessica Parker and her Akris Ai Bag.” But keep looking and you will find stories about women in business, women in politics and women’s health. And whether or not you have the time or inclination to read them at that moment, click on them. It’s a tiny bit of activism that goes a long way.