Tag Archives: Fox News

Fox News’ Big Whoops + Suzanne Venker’s Latest

If this doesn’t make your Saturday, I don’t know what will. In the latest insufferable piece by Suzanne Venker (more on that in a moment), Fox News accidentally selected a photo of a same-sex couple to illustrate an article about the value in traditional gender roles. They’ve since changed the photo to, literally, the boy/girl stick figures that adorn bathroom doors (if that’s all you’ve got left, I think it means we’re winning), but luckily Jessica Valenti nabbed a screen shot before they figured out their awesome error.


From Jessica Valenti


The article this excellent photo used to sit atop is classic Venker. If you’re not familiar with her work, imagine all of the least logical things you’ve ever heard anyone say about gender roles, all the worst mischaracterizations of feminsim past and present, all of the broadest stereotypes about men and women, and give that lumpy ball of icky ideas a pulpit.

Her piece is called, “To be happy, we must admit women and men aren’t ‘equal.'” A few key ideas, though please, by all means, read the whole gd mess.

The complementary nature of marriage—in which two people work together, as equals, toward the same goal but with an appreciation for the qualities each gender brings to the table—has been obliterated. Today, husbands and wives are locked in a battle about whom does more on the home front and how they’re going to get everything done. That’s not a marriage. That’s war.

Feminism didn’t result in equality between the sexes – it resulted in mass confusion. Today, men and women have no idea who’s supposed to do what.

Prior to the 1970s, people viewed gender roles as as equally valuable. Many would argue women had the better end of the deal! It’s hard to claim women were oppressed in a nation in which men were expected to stand up when a lady enters the room or to lay down their lives to spare women life

That’s enough of that, I think.

A few notes in response:

  • Replace “Gender” with “Person” and You Have My Attention: She writes about appreciating each gender for what they bring to the partnership table. If we swap that out for “person,” you might get me on board. I’m not saying there are not statistical differences in skill sets and preferences between genders, but I’m arguing that the variation between Man 1 and Man 2 is probably just as great as between Man 1 and Woman 1. In other words, bucketing ourselves by gender in order to make a partnership work is pretty likely to fail. So she wants to stay home with kids, great! But what if he’s the one who cooks? Oh no! How will we ever bring our best gendered selves to this marriage! Instead, bucket yourselves by, oh I don’t know, what you’re good at, what you prefer, what your logistical and emotional bandwidth can bear, what you compromise on, etc. All of that requires more communication than assuming she of the ovaries will be the nurturer and he of the big muscles will be the provider.
  • Protectionism and Pedastalism Are Not Equality. We’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth remembering. If your primary argument is that ladies were treated more delicately back in the day, and that more of them survived the sinking Titanic (yes, this is actually in her essay), don’t you think that’s pretty weak? I do not want men to stand for me when I enter a room. I want them to listen to me when I talk. I want to be part of the conversation. I want to be an equal player in decision-making. They can keep sitting, that’s just fine. As for holding doors open, I have no strong feelings about who should enter buildings first, all I know is that if I’m carrying something heavy, help me out, you know?
  • Mass Confusion Isn’t the Worst Thing – I will give Venker this; I think there is a lot of confusion out there about what it means to be “manly” or “womanly” in this day and age. I write about gender on the internet and much of the feedback I get is about “not knowing the rules.” Should a guy pay for a date? Should a girl let him? If she offers to split should he accept? How do you flirt with objectifying? Is a little objectifying okay, especially if we all do it? This shit is confusing! And it should be! The change I want to see is for the conversation to reorient from how do I treat this person because they have XX or XY chromosomes to how do I treat this person like a human, i.e. with respect for their agency, their preferences, and their stated desires.
  • Every Partnership Isn’t Going to Look the Same – And this is also a good thing. In most of her writing, Venker consistently ignores non-hetero couples. It kind of makes sense; if you’re whole money-making MO is to be the voice of reason on traditional gender roles, you kind of have to cross your fingers and hope no one asks you about all those other couples that don’t have the parts that help you know what they’re “supposed” to do. But by ignoring same-sex couples (or any other non-Cleaver family arrangement), Venker is taking the rhetorical easy way out. Plenty of people have to negotiate the “mass confusion” she speaks of because there are no existing structures for who should do the laundry and who should pay the bill. These people have figured out ways around this horror show of a rules- free existence, and I think we heteros can take some lessons.

Okay, so I’m done with that. She gets me a little riled up, you know? Can we go back to making fun of Fox?

Related Post: Things that are not the opposite of misogyny

Related Post: Can we get some historical context please?



Filed under Gender, Media

Guest Post: “Do good journalists report the news or do they make fun of others?”

It’s been a week of awesome guests here at Rosie Says. Ryan on the Slaughter work-life balance article, Alex’ international edition of So What Do You Do Exactly, and now frequent guest-poster Sara on the SCOTUS health care decision and media spin. Remember her? She reads the news a lot and knows more than me and has graciously offered to do the Rosie Says selective-coverage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) decision:

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Like approximately 866,000 other people, I spent the morning glued to the SCOTUSLiveBlog of the Supreme Court decisions, waiting for the ruling on the ACA. Once it came, coverage was fast, furious, and ridiculous. I have a lot of thoughts about the decisions themselves that make me sound like I think I’m a pretentious constitutional scholar, and most of the reading I did was parsing the decision, discussing its impact on things like the Anti-Injunction Act, Medicaid, and future challenges to the Commerce Clause that might make enacting social welfare laws more challenging. But, try as I might, I couldn’t avoid a lot of the meta-analysis. There were two examples that seemed to highlight how utterly focused we are on the things that matter least.

Via foxnews.com

First, Fox News. I don’t make it a habit to visit foxnews.com (actually, if I’m honest, my browser didn’t even fill in the address for me), but I was curious to see how Republicans were spinning this. First, there was the front page (right). Are you a news organization or are you a sarcastic blog? Because “oh, yes it is” would suggest the latter. Twice during the article something is referred to as “so-called” – first the individual mandate and later the contraception mandate. Are the terms really that unknown or uncertain or unestablished that they must be so-called? Are you trying to show me that you don’t accept mainstream media terminology?

Chief Justice Roberts did indeed side with the four more liberal justices in this case, but you wouldn’t know it from this article: “Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the majority, a ‘genius.’ Graham said the law never would have passed if the mandate penalty were presented as a tax, claiming the ruling will redound to Republicans’ benefit.”  What most news outlets reported was that Roberts sided with the four more liberal justices. Here, we get some serious spin claiming that Roberts, by voting to uphold as a tax, has made the law even more unpalatable to Republicans, Pavlovian as they are about not raising taxes. What I fail to understand here is this: the law has already passed. Calling it a tax now can’t make it retroactively less likely to pass.

Lastly, perhaps my favorite line in the article comes at the end, “Obama rattled off several more popular consumer protections in the law in arguing that it’s time to “ ‘move forward.’ ” This part is kind of genius. Notice how they subtly avoid actually saying what any of those consumer protections might be, preventing readers from thinking they might, in fact, like to be protected consumers.

Let’s not forget, though, that however ridiculous Fox might be, pretty much every other news organization got equally unfocused, spending far too much time discussing what everyone I follow on Twitter quickly dubbed #CNNFail. Yes, CNN declared the individual mandate struck down at almost the same moment most other news organizations declared it was upheld. Yes, this is embarrassing, and comparisons to “Dewey beats Truman!” seem apt.

But why are fully half the news stories about who got it wrong, rather than about the ACTUAL NEWS ITSELF? Why do we live in a world where the editor of a major news provider, the Associated Press, has to email his entire staff and tell them to stop taunting CNN immediately? Do good journalists report the news or do they make fun of others? Sometimes I’m frustrated by the way this country is going, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the Commerce Clause.

Related Post: Sara’s guest post on OWS countering my post on OWS.

Related Post: Sara’s guest post on Jezebel’s iffy science coverage.

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Filed under Guest Posts, Media, Politics

Rehabilitating the Hoodie

“You’re not going to rehabilitate the hoodie…There are some things that are almost inevitable. I’m not saying Trayvon Martin had a weapon or anything, but he wore an outfit that allowed someone to respond in this irrational, overzealous way. If he had been dressed more appropriately… unless it’s raining out, or you’re at a track meet, leave the hoodie at home.”

Lordy, lordy, lordy. “An outfit that allowed someone to respond in an irrational, overzealous way.” Does that sound familiar to anyone else? Is that not the exact logic victim-blamers use when using women’s clothing as an excuse for sexual harassment, assault, and rape? If she hadn’t been wearing…. If she hadn’t been acting so… If she wasn’t the type of girl who….

Outfits do not cause people to do stupid, hateful, bigoted things. To attribute someone’s irrational behavior to an inanimate object is to deny them agency and self-control. George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s shooter, should be offended. Geraldo’s allegation here is that Zimmerman is a man with no control over his body or his mind. He sees that hoodie, and he just can’t help himself.

And Trayvon, according to Geraldo’s logic, wanted to be viewed as a gangster. Choosing an item of clothing owned by every teenager in America is clearly a window into his desire to appear thuggish, not an indication that hoodies are the comfiest of comfy clothing. My brother is a sophomore in college. He is also white. A quick perusal of his Facebook is an overwhelming barrage of hoodies. These insidious items are everywhere! In every picture where he’s not wearing a basketball jersey or a prom tux, he’s wearing a hoodie. Do you find him suspicious, George Zimmerman? Would you justify an attack on him, Geraldo?

On a more positive note:

This is New York State Senator Eric Adams on the Senate Floor.

The Miami Heat in a tweet from LeBron James.

Oh my! Is that me in a hoodie? Goddamn do I look suspicious!

My brother. What a gangster.



Related Post: A great allegory for victim-blaming, “after-donation regret.”

Related Post: Apparently, “I have friends who are black” is still a defense against racism.

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Filed under Media, Politics

Word Choice: “Impregnate,” a Disney Star, and Fox News

For some reason which I have since forgotten, I was googling that girl from The Social Network and a variety of Disney Channel media properties.  Turns out her name is Brenda Song. This news item came up first in my google search:

Something’s weird about that headline, right? I think it’s the word “impregnate,” which is almost never used to describe celebrities procreating.  Note that the USA Today headline below it is the more benign “Trace Cyrus and Brenda Song are expecting a baby.” There’s a difference there. In the first headline, “rocker” Trace did something to Disney star Brenda. In the second, two adults (he is 22, she is 23) collectively accomplished the miracle of life.

It’s a Fox News headline, so my gut instinct is to assume all sorts of insidious things. On second thought, this is probably just an example of what Jon Stewart pointed out as media bias towards laziness and sensationalism. The Fox title conjures up images of a bad-boy rock star knocking up a Disney tween princess. Sensationalist indeed. In reality, two twenty-somethings who run in the same Disney-graduate circles (who are or at least were a couple) got pregnant. Snooooooooze.

I’m probably making too big a deal over what is a pretty simple word choice, but the language wigged me out and I’m trying to parse out why. It has something to do with this post from Hugo Schwyzer about word choice and sex (“penetrate” vs. “engulf”, who is the actor, who is the recipient). Linguistically, being impregnated makes one an object. I’m pretty sure that if and when I’m ever pregnant, I won’t be telling people that my partner impregnated me; it makes it sound like he did all the work and I was a passive receptor. Instead, “we’re expecting a baby,” makes us both agents in the sentence as, presumably, we were in conception (Where’s Barney Stinson when I need a high five?)

Related Post: Jezebel’s coverage of JBiebz’ commentary on abortion was not my favorite thing of all time.

Related Post: At what age does a woman in Hollywood stop getting referred to as a “starlet?”


Filed under Gender, Hollywood, Media, Sex

Sunday Scraps 22

1. GENDER: Sociological Images caught a great example of gender assumptions in kids products, this one more insidious than most. The boy backpack is for a pilot, the girl backpack is for a pilot’s assistant.

2. COLBERT: Stephen Colbert picked apart the coverage of new health care regulations that cover breast pumps, birth control and domestic abuse counseling. “What’s next?” says the commentator, “manicures and pedicures?”

3. SPORTS: The history of the “high five” from ESPN. Who knew it included the first MLB player to come out (after he left the league)?

4. INTERWEBZ: Debates I often have with myself about arguments on the internet, crystallized in infographic form.

5. PARANOIA: I cackled at this post from The Bloggess about using bananas to scare the bejeezus out of your friends, or random supermarket patrons.

6. LIFE: Big questions? McSweeney’s has all the answers.

Related Post: Sunday 21 = happy married gay people, geeky flowcharts, FNL FTW.

Related Post: Sunday 20 = Ambien, Dubai, playhouses, blood spatter.


Filed under Gender, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Sports

Sunday Scraps 16

1. MUSIC: John Legend covering Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Sidenote: Heard a dance remix of “Rolling” in a Boystown bar last night and it was excellent.

2. SEX SYMBOL: Watch Jon Stewart trade fire with Chris Wallace about comedy, partisanship and the roll of the modern media in politics. Sigh.

3. INTERVIEW: Mac McClelland of Mother Jones participates in the Feministing Five interview series. She never meant to be a reporter, but oh hey, now she’s the Human Rights reporter and bounces from the Congo to Haiti and back.

4. MONEY: Another story on the many factors of the gender pay gap. This one focuses on the skill of negotiating. They’ve got it, I don’t. Let’s fix it.

5. WORK: This was my habit in 4th grade. It worked for about 20 minutes at a time.

6. LESBIANS: Go Magazine has an excellent and varied list of their favorite lesbians. Among them, Autostraddle founder Riese Bernard.

Related Post: Sunday from the Hamptons and Sunday from my couch in Massachusetts.


Filed under Art, Gender, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People