#WomenOnlyExcusesForPaikin My thoughts…

Oh darn you womenz! Why do you have to be so snarky toward men seeking answers to solve the issues relating to inadequate  representation of women in mainstream media (MSM)?

This past Sunday, Steve Paikin wrote a blog post, “Where, Oh Where, Are All the Female Guests?” You can take a moment to read that post because it forms the premise for #WomenOnlyExcusesForPaikin.

Paikin hosted a panel with four guests, three women and one man which discussed this issue (one of the women in attendance, it was her first time on the show–Paikin couldn’t recall if she had been on a previous show or not either). Initially when I started tweeting with #WomenOnlyExcusesForPaikin, I only read the blog post (I was on my way home from school and wanted to wait until I was home to watch the video). Many others have tweeted their contempt toward the blog post sans hashtag. After I finished reading it, I had to re-read it to ensure I didn’t misinterpret anything that was written.

Nope. I read what I had read. Just like this post says about Paikin’s show, this post is something you cannot un-notice. According to Paikin, his show lacks women guests for some of the following reasons:

  • Their roots are showing (you know ladies, a bad hair day!)
  • It might be in their DNA (kind of like of Darwinism — survival of the fittest!)
  • They have kids (and they are, more often than not, the sole bearer of childcare responsibilities in society… no really they are…universal childcare anyone?)
  • They will recommend someone else if they can’t (you know how nice Canadian women are… well except, you big meanies using that hashtag!)

As for the menz? They apparently just can’t say no! They will even say yes and read up on the issue just to say yes and be on the show!

Herein lies the major problem with the misogynistic post: Paikin is saying women can’t say YES OR NO! Without being at fault for gender issues. It’s a lose, lose situation for women. Well, no wonder why women don’t want to be on your show!

When it comes to addressing these gender issues (including lack of representation of women in the media–it’s not by accident that women are the minority in MSM), women are always the problem and this post is demonstrative of this which is a part of the larger issue relating to a society that upholds patriarchal values (and relegates women, or particular kinds of women in society). He put out to his viewers by asking what can they do over at The Agenda to help alleviate the issue?

Well, Paikin, you can listen to your guests that you had on your panel. However, as a woman myself, I will question some of the things that the guests were saying (or more importantly weren’t saying). Armin Yalnizyan said one of the crucial things said at the top, and she said, “most women don’t want to be appropriating a voice they don’t have… or appear a fool…it’s hard work.” Yes, because women are judged a lot more harshly when it comes to their opinions in MSM (and this should be simple enough to understand but really some people *ahem* men just don’t get it). However, Kathy English, says she has had to chase women to “find the good women.” What exactly is this “good women”? I mean, if they are looking for a certain type of women to write pieces in MSM, then that speaks volumes to the problem with lack of representation of women on panels in MSM or in MSM in general. Shari Graydon even answers Paikin’s question eloquently by saying, “Go to different lakes, and streams, and oceans. Graydon expands on the fact that human beings “are interested in seeing our own lives reflected” and the fact that women only make up 20% of management positions in media is demonstrative of men wanting to see their own lives (issues that matter to them) reflected in MSM. Graydon continues to say that “…as long as women don’t see ourselves on op-ed pages we are less inclined to go there.” But you know what Paikin went and did in his blog post? He writes, “So already you’re fishing in a lake where the odds are stacked against you.” Darn you women! Stop swimming in the lakes Steve is not fishing at! Sheesh! Graydon also states that women, “just don’t want to stick their head up and part of that frankly, if you are a woman and if you do stick your head up, you will get shmuck back down…” Hello patriarchy!

The women in the video even talked about the difficulties for women (in general) online, you know, with respect to online, anonymous trolls. These trolls tend to be a lot more aggressive and harsh toward women in online forums (where it is much easier to remain anonymous). Then, they also state that women guests may not understand the importance of sound bites which are short clips of a longer recording (where MSM will edit out the pieces they find less useful which may distort the larger message). This is a real fear because MSM doesn’t play nice especially when it comes to the opinion’s of marginalized voices, like women. Graydon also describes the burden that is placed on women who speak in MSM, “because we are such a minority that we are seen representing our team… so nobody expects Jordan or you, Steve, to represent all men. But when women speak, we are seen as reflecting on intelligence and capability of all women…” I would agree to a certain extent for women who are a part of the dominant group, you know, white. Once you factor in race, a racialized woman is expected to be an expert on race AND gender issues (but more likely race). The discussion touched a bit of race near the end. But Paikin made it clear at the beginning that this was about gender and not diversity which begs the question, how is gender different from diversity when the majority of the guests are males? Maybe this just spoke to the reality that there is an issue with inadequate of representation of women in MSM.

The guests also touch a bit on the emotional labour and/or unpaid labour that (namely) women are left to do. In fact, Jordan Peterson went to describe that his wife cares more about the family dog because “I care less about the dog more than my wife.” I wouldn’t say that is indicative that women do more care labour. However, when you factor in children, women are left with doing much of the unpaid labour with respect to childcare both in the home and outside the home (like picking the kids up from school). Yet, the guests do not go as far to say that women bear the burden of having to do the majority of the unpaid labour in society. Yalnizyan even highlights the fact that she is trying to work with her colleagues and students in “bringing the next voices up…” (both male and female). She comments that this might be more of a woman thing. However, maybe this is where men need to step up to the plate type thing–stop relying on women to take on this role. Do some men take on mentoring roles? Maybe. But maybe this is also demonstrative of Paikin’s laziness in finding female guests… because they are not all playing hide and go seek!

In spite of all this, Paikin wants to really address the heart of the issues, women’s roots. Paikin continues to ask the female guests what their thoughts are when women give the excuse about “roots.” English highlights the fact that women need to consider the reality of “Am I going to be judged more about my looks or what I say?” Graydon further replies, “TV is a lot more punishing for women than men.” Graydon also draws a comparison to how Hilary Clinton is treated by MSM. She points out the fact that Clinton “has the highest approval rating in the northern hemisphere [and that] she gets dissed all the time for her hair, pant suits, her failure to wear makeup.” She exclaims, “Give the woman a break! But we know that’s what we are up against!” Still, Paikin wrote his horrible blog post. Still, Paikin ignored everything his women guests said about lack of women representation in MSM (on panels in particular). Even more problematic Paikin wrote, “many many more men like doing television and make themselves available to do television than women. [emphasis in original]” He suggests that women don’t like doing television or that women don’t make themselves available. This completely disregards Graydon’s statement that saying “we do not want to be at the table is just flat out wrong … it’s a number of complex issues…” So we have to ask ourselves, does Paikin really want to address the issues relating to inadequate representation of women in mainstream media (MSM), specifically live panels?

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