Tuesday, October 13th, 2009...9:04 am

Right up to the minute

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Remember that plea from Crikey a while ago, wondering where all the ladies were? This is an answer written by my friend K8y, who I’ve just had a week’s holiday with. She’s been writing blog drafts but is yet to hit the “publish” button. I think this is splendid, and far too good to languish into a drafts folder:

Thanks for asking, everything’s fine at this end with the subscription.

My only comment on editorial matters is about your recent sally into… equal opportunity journalism: “Are the girls alright… are they getting enough stuff on childcare, frocks, etc?”

I didn’t say anything at the time and am still a bit wary of this universalising theory of ‘women’s interests’. If I believed that anyone could comment for all women, I guess I’d be reading Women’s Day, not Crikey. But since you asked, I am going to offer a comment: my idea of interesting articles involves seeing everyday, mainstream issues of politics, society, culture and economics challenged by perspectives other than those of the traditionally privileged or powerful (i.e. old white guy syndrome). Your subjects don’t really need to change much (except lose everything on what female public figures wear: really not funny). To impress more women readers, at least ones like me, you could seek out more divergent viewpoints.

To give you an example, economic analysis offered in Crikey might swing from Friedman to Keynes to the frankly loopy, but that’s not the division I think is significant. Read Marilyn Waring (or ask her to write for you): if your economics doesn’t recognise the significance of women’s unpaid work to Australia’s productive capacity, it is fundamentally and bizarrely skewed, and not a very useful analytical tool. You could use Waring’s economics to look at the value of child care (measured and not) to the GDP and society as a whole – a matter of current interest but addressed in a more interesting way than just talking about Eddy Groves and his pants.

While you’re at it, why not challenge some of the assumptions left lying around by floundering theories of economics or rotting capitalist structures that still reify the ‘smartest guys in the room’ (or shouty young Hugo Boss types on the trading floor) – but fail to respect size-16 women dressed by Rockmans, with part-time jobs, an elderly dependent parent, three kids with packed lunches, a clean toilet and husbands with ironed shirts. What the hell does contemporary journalism say to these women about their lives, other than “despite your best efforts, you’re not doing it right”?

Why don’t you question the effects of pressure from green, slow-food, grow your own mizuna, shopping-at-markets-n-baking-it-from-scratch, read the ingredients label on everything and look-15-years-younger-than-you-really-are articles for women who were already going quietly nuts on 5 hours of broken sleep a night? Why can’t I trust that the food I buy in supermarkets or the water out of my taps is actually safe for my kids? Why do I have to do home study in body chemistry and physiology to figure it out for myself? Why isn’t my government protecting me from rapacious greed? Why don’t I have any choices between the grocery oligopoly and spending $23 on 100ml of olive oil in a tent every fourth Saturday? These aren’t just women’s issues, dammit, so why isn’t journalism supplying answers, or at least asking better questions? Journalism just runs with the dogs: Look out for pedophiles! Look out for preservatives! Have more sex with your husband! Spend time on yourself! Discipline your child! Use sun block! Don’t eat cheese! Satin blouse! Julie Bishop! Babies in microwaves! Buy this! Lose that!

Ahem. Crikey could stop indulging the endless infighting that belongs on homemade blogs. If I’m paying for it (and I am), then I am looking for critical and professional journalism that pushes past the media release to ask tough questions and provide independent and well-researched background about how decisions by governments and other institutions are made and how they really affect our lives. Stop focusing so much on how government decisions affect other politicians or people in club lounges — which Crikey is a bit prone to. Don’t waste space and use up my day on people who just like arguing and who don’t care whether it’s about Israel or climate change. I can have a poorly-argued debate with a partisan nut for free on the weekends, thanks.

I was really impressed with your items on the scandalous termination issue in Queensland. And I like Eva Cox. BUT if she’s the only one doing this kind of writing (or being published), then all Crikey is really doing is creating a context that makes Eva and her subjects appear more “fringe” than they really are. And that’s the crux of it: despite your subscription numbers, women aren’t actually a minority and our many and various interests aren’t something to be considered as a monolithic issue now and then, in your spare time. Don’t worry so much about the ‘woman’s perspective’ – instead, just go out and get a lot more women’s opinions a lot more often. How about interviewing a female expert in every single one of your articles – just for a month – to see if it makes a difference?

(I wonder how pissed off the rest of your readership would get?)

Again, thanks for asking.

K8y

20 Comments

  • Mentally shouting: Huzzah!

  • Thank Christ someone has at last put into words that nagging irritation at the back of my head about treatment of women by the press! And if one more journo bangs on about Liberal leadership, instead of issues that really matter, I will scream. Very loudly. Thankyou.

  • How good is that 6th paragraph? I think it would work well shouted, too.

  • This goes beyond Crikey… and it should ALL be shouted!

    Thanks for writing it, K8y, and for posting it, Zoe.

  • Don’t worry so much about the ‘woman’s perspective’ – instead, just go out and get a lot more women’s opinions a lot more often.

    Yes! It reminds me of what Diablo Cody said recently too:

    Women should be allowed to make bad movies. Good movies. Porno movies. Terrible made-for-TV movies. Women just need to be out there directing as many movies as men do. We don’t all have to be the model woman—what we need is to be more visible.

    Get a blog, K8y!

  • Can someone add a thingy to my html?

  • No worries, Anna – I took the quicktags plugin off ages ago because it was borking things, so happy to fiddle bits as necessary. That’s not quite how I meant it to come out …

  • Is K8y free for a beer? It’s totally my shout, what the hell, lets all go!

    And K8y, get thee to the Publish button!

  • I LOVE this as a description of “journalism” about “women’s issues”:

    Look out for pedophiles! Look out for preservatives! Have more sex with your husband! Spend time on yourself! Discipline your child! Use sun block! Don’t eat cheese! Satin blouse! Julie Bishop! Babies in microwaves! Buy this! Lose that!

    Is genius!

  • Yes! These things are not women’s issues. Parenting is not a woman’s issue. Neither is food or clothing or supply or education or ethical treatment. They are everyone’s issues, so why are they always in the ‘lifestyle’ section (next to why you are too fat, lazy, boring, stupid, smart, emasculating, ugly, did I mention fat?)

  • Thanks, sistas. I feel a little better now. Nice to know it’s not just me…

  • I just loved that. Thank you so much. No wonder Zoe loves you. Hear bloody hear

  • Well that was a gust of fresh air.

    Crikey, LP etc I stopped reading a while ago. Shame on that degree in political science I got back in the ’80s. Sick of reading blokes having pissing contests with each other.

    It’s a reflection of our culture. How we change it I don’t know. Having a blog on Crikey about/for women just sends us back to the ghetto.

  • I would also like to buy k8y a drink.

    I feel constantly frustrated and increasingly angry about where the bloody hell our progress has gone.

    Anyone like me to arrange a sitter so they can come too?

  • See, K8y, I told you the internet would like you.

  • Brilliant! If Crikey were publishing stuff like this more often then I’d be reading them more often!

  • “Thanks, sistas.”

    I’m finding nothing disagreeable in what you wrote either, must say. Enjoy your successful, and well put, intro to blogging K8y.

    Oh and you refer to the whole ‘personal blog’ but I’m paying thing- I think this is why I didn’t renew my pricey subs…

    Monthly?

  • [...] modern feminist. Chally leads the way with some inspiring answers to common questions. Elsewhere, K8y explains to Crikey precisely where all the women might be. And I assume from the title that this will fit here: Chally submitted this post – I [...]

  • Coming in a bit late, but fantastic post. Has K8y got a blog yet?

  • Kirsten, how slack I am after all this encouragement! I haven’t got a blog yet, I’ve just been whingeing aloud and phoning complaint lines instead (ask Zoe).
    Just finished moving boyf., toddler and several tonnes of books to Canberra, so now I can think about finding a home on the internets as well. I’ll let you know soon. Thanks for your kind comment.

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