Men are even experts on women in the mainstream media

By Megan Carpentier
Thursday, May 31, 2012 14:36 EDT
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It’s no secret that the political news cycle this election has been dominated by women’s issues: from the right’s War on Women to the re-ignition of the Mommy Wars to the right’s declaration that there’s really a war on conservative women, women’s votes are turning into as much of a political battleground as their bodies often have been.

So you’d think it would be a good time to be a woman pundit-writer. You’d be wrong.

Evidence compiled by the OpEd project shows that women opinion writers are only sort of the go-to source for print editors when they’re writing about family (they comprise 60 percent of the bylines), gender (55 percent of the bylines) or style (50 percent of the time). The rest of the time, men’s bylines far outpace those of women. Women fare slightly better in online-only outlets (33 percent of bylines compared to 20 percent) but find themselves even more likely to comprise the majority of bylines about gender, style, food and family than in traditional media outlets.

But when issues of gender and family intersect with politics, a study by The 4th Estate shows that most mainstream reporters, bookers and hosts turn to the standard political interlocutors: men.

Have a look at their chart, which looks at who gets quoted in newspapers and who appears on TV or gets booked on the radio when the topics are abortion, birth control, Planned Parenthood and women’s rights:

Men are already the go-to talking heads in the mainstream media when the conversation is about the economy, national politics, the media, national security, science, law, technology, education, religion and even social issues — regardless of whether the platform is old media or new. But the minute more than a handful of dedicated women are paying attention to abortion, birth control, the fight to retain access to either or even our right to vote, the mainstream media calls in the male cavalry to explain our bodies and rights to us.

No wonder women “don’t read” about politics.

["Woman Writing At Desk" on Shutterstock]

Megan Carpentier
Megan Carpentier is the executive editor of Raw Story. She previously served as an associate editor at Talking Points Memo; the editor of news and politics at Air America; an editor at Jezebel.com; and an associate editor at Wonkette. Her published works include pieces for the Washington Post, the Washington Independent, Ms Magazine, RH Reality Check, the Women's Media Center, On the Issues, the New York Press, Bitch and Women's eNews.
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