Ms. Placed

I usually reserve this blog space for thoughts and ideas directly related to infrastructure for the arts.  Today, I make an exception.  (If you want to, you can scroll down to a recent post on arts funding or click here.)  On the verge of 48 years old, I am a product of second wave feminism.  Thanks to Betty Friedan, Kate Millett, and especially Gloria Steinem, I grew up believing that a woman could have all that a man could have.  I went to high school with Geraldine Ferraro’s daughter. Back at that time, there was a “women’s section” in the newspaper that today is called the “Styles” section.  Serious people – men and women alike – didn’t actually read the styles section.  Important viewpoints were expressed on the opinion pages.  When I was a kid and there were still cigarette ads everywhere, the mantra of my childhood was “you’ve come a long way baby.” Apparently, Virginia Slims was as wrong about that as about cigarettes.

Women’s rights are now being attacked in a way they haven’t been during my adult lifetime.  Feminism, or the women’s movement — whatever you want to call it — desperately needs leadership and vision to lead us through this difficult time.  That is why I was shocked – really appalled – that the New York Times, a paper I deeply respect for its nuanced reporting on issues I care about, placed an article about Gloria Steinem and her possible successor as the symbolic leader of the movement in the Styles section and not in the Sunday Review. The article asks an extremely important question: “Where is the next Gloria Steinem and why . . . has no one emerged to take her place?”  An article that addresses this critical question for the women of this country in what most people consider the nation’s newspaper of record should be in the Opinion pages, not relegated to the Style sheet.  This is an issue of interest to the whole of the country, not just women.

Adding insult to injury, the article that touches on this succession is further devalued by the one that follows it about the young feminist organizer whom Steinem took in as a “roommate.”  If Shelby Knox could be the answer to the important question posed in the first article as is implied in the second, then a meaningful profile of her would be more suitable than a description of her “tiny but cozy first floor studio” in the West Village.

If you are a woman at risk of losing access to affordable contraception or at risk of having your rights and your body violated by mandatory invasive medical procedures, you don’t care about a feminist’s apartment.  You care about her (or his) ideas.  I wish the New York Times had covered that on the front page – and NOT the front page of the Styles section.


About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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9 Responses to Ms. Placed

  1. Kamella Tate says:

    Another juxtaposition that devalued the article in the print edition: The surrounding pile-on of ads for unwearable, wildly expensive shoes, accessories, and clothing, modeled by impossibly airbrushed models who appeared to be in their late-ish teenhoods. The irony was so gob-smacking I almost believed it was done on purpose: “Not so fast with this litany of liberation, Little Lady! We all know you’re still a girl at heart — you don’t really want to be able to walk upright! And don’t even think about running (for office, to a board meeting, away from an attacker . . . ) in those!”

  2. Ann Sachs says:

    Erma, thank you for referring to what Linda does with the phrase “shining the light”! It is EXACTLY what she does on this blog, and on Twitter.

    As one who is partial to the phrase (perhaps cuz I’m married to a former lighting designer) it is gratifying to see someone else use it in such a beautifully appropriate way. Applause for you and Linda.

  3. Kate Powers says:

    Brava, indeed, Linda. You make your (and our collective) point cogently, crisply, effectively.

    Tangentially, it is surreal that we are still having to register these same protests.

  4. Erma Duricko says:

    As a first-wave feminist, I have been terrified over the recent months that we are still fighting the “same issues” and it seems that no one takes notice or is truly outraged. How can someone like a Rick Santorum be upheld as a possible President of the United States, how can Governors of Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, etc – really believe they are serving the good of all by enslaving women. The placement of the article about the next feminist leader being placed in The Styles section by the Times is the very thing that quietly continues to undercut women as equal citizens in this country. It is such a quiet and insidious thing to do. Thank you, Linda for shining the light – but that is what you do so well. I do hope you have submitted this blog to the New York Times.

    • lindaessig says:

      Erma: Thank you, as well as Ann and Angela, for your comments and encouragement. I did email the text to the Times. My goal in doing so is not to get it printed but to get the editorial staff to wake up and, hopefully, right the wrong they did by misplacing the article.

  5. Angela Giron says:

    My thoughts and reaction is that you could easily take place. Plus, I’d gladly look at your recipes as opposed to a description of a “tiny cozy first floor” walkup. Yes you have “style” but more importantly ongoing “ideas” – the stuff that future concerns on multiple levels continue to need to consider.

  6. Ann Sachs says:

    BRAVA, Linda – beautifully stated. I urge you to send it to the Times if you haven’t already.

    As a first-wave-feminist, seeing the placement of the Steinem article today made me think: We are STILL fighting for this same old sh*t?! Disgraceful.

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