Why are we accepting mediocre women's journalism as the only journalism left?
Maybe I'm old fashioned. Maybe I have specific topics and interests that are not as common to write about or explore. Maybe websites exist that I just haven't heard about yet. These are things I often find myself thinking about when I get online to search for good things to read and browse through, as a woman living in a highly connected technologic world in 2016.
Don't get me wrong, I have spent many hours and days falling into the trap of click bait and spiraling down a rabbit hole of one article after another. I am guilty of reading listicles. I have read about ways to lose weight while only eating tacos. I've read why wine and chocolate are potentially good for my health and which celebrity was seen in Key West drinking a pina colada last week. And for the love of God I have read so many articles about things I should do as a woman before I die (watch a sunset, really? What the hell is that about?) and ten signs your partner may be marriage material. What I'm saying is, let she (or he) who is without sin cast the first stone. Aka she who has read her fair share of articles about happy relationships and hair tips does not get to side eye other women who are reading them too. I know that people make a living writing these articles. And go on girls, get your money. Pay your bills. Live.
But with all of that being said, why are we accepting this type of journalism as the only kind available for women anymore? As a writer, I find it extremely discouraging that some of my work has been rejected because I did not write about "hot button" or "click baity" topics. Or that what I wrote was overly lengthy, and because of that people would get bored after the first half so it didn't feel like a "good fit" for the audience. Have our attention spans as consumers and as women gotten so small that we would rather read a 300-word article on something like The Bachelor rather than a 2000-word article on girls' education initiatives in third world countries? I know that supply and demand plays a huge role in what we consume and think we need. But why aren't we demanding a supply of thought provoking, challenging journalism for women? Can't that co-exist with what we are reading and enjoying already? I understand the need for entertainment and the vital role that it plays in our lives. Entertainment exists in order to provide a sense of lightness and pleasure in our daily lives. We like media to enter into our days in order to make us laugh, to make us feel joy and to distract us from problems or other things we may be experiencing. But when the only source of news we take and spend time reading is only serving to tickle our fancies, to tell us tips on how to secure a husband, how then are we growing and challenging ourselves as women and as people making a difference?
I'm not calling for death to journalism. Or for the eradication of women's websites that we all read and enjoy. I'm calling for a reinvention and evaluation of what good journalism looks like for women. This is a men's issue too, but not in the same way. Society tells women that we need to be concerned with what we look like, how we dress and the kinds of mothers we need to be. Then we give magazines and news sites and articles fuel for this notion because we buy it and don't ask for more. Something different. We demand it because we are told that those are important things for us as women to care about. I want to read about education, the gender wage gap, efforts to diffuse domestic violence against women, healthcare and paid maternal leave, sex slavery, the treatment of women in prisons, discrimination in the academic and job field- and the list could go on forever.
I want to read about it, rejoice when necessary, be upset about it, form opinions, cry for it, educate myself and others and totally immerse myself in this journalism. There is such a common misconception from people that reading about these issues isn't helping to solve anything, or "I can't do anything to help, I'm only one person." But here's the thing: the first step in any kind of change or progression is educating yourself on what the issues, problems and conversations are. Even if you are unable to do anything, or lack the care to, at least you have indulged in learning what is going on around you. If we aren't asking for the journalism, how can we expect the journalism to then exist? People like to point the finger so often that women "are asking for it" when they wear provocative outfits and clothing, or when they walk home alone at night or have alcohol with men in a dark bar. So here I am, a woman asking for it. Except that I'm asking for good journalism, dammit. I'm imploring, yearning, yelling.
If I've come across as naïve in this essay, it was not my intention. I know it's unrealistic for us all to solely focus on scholarly and academic articles and journalism all of the time. I am simply urging our society and generation to demand for more in terms of journalism. I am certainly not a perfect consumer of journalism, but I'm working on filtering out the unimportant things. Trying to actively seek and challenge myself with what I read and where I seek it out on a consistent basis. Maybe I am just not informed enough about the journalism out there that exists and is available for women. What are some of websites, articles, books, etc. you read on a daily basis? This is not a public shaming, but rather a call for information for the masses. My plea for women's journalism to step it up on behalf of women everywhere.