The question is a tough one, and really, it all depends on where you look and what your media of choice is. Some outlets clearly are better or more objective than others are when it comes to shedding light on the current state of women’s equality. Overall, the media is doing a good job of bringing to the forefront many issues that affect women, such as pay inequality. However, it is lacking in other areas.
While men were the clear losers during this recent recession, or ‘Mancession’ as it has been named (a ridiculous play on words, but what can you do?) the equally absurdly titled ‘hecovery’ has supposedly left women out in the cold. Both Forbes and the Huffington Post ran articles in the past week about the recovery and women’s place in it.
Though the media has done its work in bringing the plight of women in the workplace to the forefront, it could be argued that they are confronting the wrong issues, or overstating what they are bringing to print and TV. MSNBC had a brief piece on the ‘mancession’ and ‘hecovery,’ Deborah L. Jacobs ran a piece in Forbes, and the Huffington Post also ran an article talking about women’s inability to recover along with the men in this ‘hecovery.’ These pieces seem to point out that women are once again lagging behind in being hired or rehired. Deborah Jacob’s piece references an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) report early in her article, but right there on the front page of the IWPR, there are statistics that show that the reverse could be true. According to the study, she references, in November women gained 65,000 jobs in the workforce, while men gained only 55,000. Another piece by, oddly enough a man, Greg Burns of the Chicago Tribune outlines the woes of men in the workplace.
It is all about perspective I suppose, especially when it comes to the workplace. What is harder to slant is the still evident disparity of pay between men and women. That may be a subject for another story however.
While women’s rights are more in the forefront in the past couple of years, this could have something to do with the fact that the 24-hour news cycle has become a force in and of itself. Combine this with the fact that there are more women in the media than ever before, and you can see why women’s rights are being talked about a fair amount. There are more female correspondents in the workforce, so their opportunity to bring attention to the public is much greater.
One avenue that is clearly getting a great deal of attention, and it isn’t misrepresented, is the plight of many women in third world countries and the women that reside in the countries where we are currently fighting wars. It doesn’t take long to run across an article from any media outlet about the conditions that women in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of Southeast Asia and the Middle East face.
A venue in which women’s rights are being misrepresented or overplayed is the election cycles of the past few years. Take Hillary Clinton for example. During the last presidential election, several things that were seemingly harmless were quickly called chauvinistic or misogynistic and people were playing the gender card quicker than a joker on nickel poker night. On the flip side, this year when Herman Cain was facing scrutiny for his alleged infidelity and sexual harassment history, he and his supporters quickly attacked and demonized the women which further pushes women’s rights into the background.
In short, or by now in long, women have much more of a voice in the media. The major issues that severely affect women are being represented and represented well. The issues closer to home such as women’s rights in the workplace, pay differential and sexual harassment seem to be lagging behind. Perhaps these issues are being overlooked because of the strides made by women in the media and without.