Fox News covers Reel Girl’s letter to Stride Rite on its sexism

I’ll post the video from my appearance on “Fox and Friends” when I figure out how, but here are a couple pics I snapped from my TV. (Obviously, I’m slightly tech-challenged.) Whatever you want to say about Fox, they covered this story. I’m happy to get the news out into the world about Stride Rite’s sexism and how gender stereotypes hurt kids. If you haven’t seen my letter to Stride Rite, you can read it here. 

“Gender stereotyping leads to bullying. It limits all kids and that’s the problem with it.”






Summer reading list for the dudes at Fox News

For the sexist dudes of Fox News, there’s a new book by journalist Daniel Bergner, What Do Women Want? You really should add it to your summer reading list. I think you’d learn a lot.


Salon reports:

The book, which grew from a much-discussed New York Times Magazine cover story in 2009, reveals how gender stereotypes have shaped scientific research and blinded researchers to evidence of female lust and sexual initiation throughout the animal kingdom, including among humans.

Feminists aren’t against science, we’re against bad science. Read the Q & A with the author. You might learn something because Bergner is a real journalist.

One fact Bergner reports:

More than one adviser to the industry told me that companies worried about the prospect that their study results would be too strong, that the F.D.A. would reject an application out of concern that a chemical would lead to female excesses, crazed binges of infidelity, societal splintering.

At the very least, can you recognize how art, narratives, religion, politics, and even “science” have, for thousands of years, systemically shaped and controlled female sexuality?  And perhaps, consider these factors even influence the very words you speak when you go on the air.

Hey Fox News, here’s some ‘anti-science’ feminism for you

Right after director/ rapist Roman Polanski publicly blames the pill for masculinizing women, the guys at Fox News express related terror about the future of America. A new Pew study reveals that women are now breadwinners in 40% of households.

Jezebel reports:

Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, not one to be outdone, explained that women are naturally submissive because of “biology”:

“I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science…When you look at biology, when you look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role.

I cracked up when I watched the video because I was just about to post on Reel Girl this title: “Scientific” studies on gender turn out to be biased, who knew? More on that soon.

If there’s one thing that drives me crazy, it’s trendy evolutionary psychologists and social Darwinists going off incessantly for the last twenty-five years about how everything is the way it is– sexism, racism, white privilege, standards of beauty and on and on– because our biology makes it so.

Bullshit. You can call me anti-science, Fox News Dudes, but evolutionary psychologists went way too far in pinkwashing childhood, inadvertently exposing the roots of ridiculousness buried deep in biogender theory. A few months ago, Elizabeth Sweet wrote a great piece in the New York Times summarizing:

Moreover, expert opinion — including research by developmental and evolutionary psychologists — has fueled the development and marketing of gender-based toys. Over the past 20 years, there has been a growth of “brain science” research, which uses neuroimaging technology to try to explain how biological sex differences cause social phenomena like gendered toy preference.

That’s ridiculous, of course: it’s impossible to neatly disentangle the biological from the social, given that children are born into a culture laden with gender messages. But that hasn’t deterred marketers from embracing such research and even mimicking it with their own well-funded studies.

Sweet goes on to describe the aggressive gender-marketing aimed at children, marketing which starts, by the way, before the baby even exits the womb. When people speak to boy babies in strong voices and female babies in lilting voices, when so much of what we we do and how we act– including parents, teachers, and doctors— is based on cultural expectations of how girls and boys are supposed to be, how can we pretend to be beyond bias?

And then, of course, children grow up. Last week, the New York Times published a lengthy magazine article on female desire which argues previous  “scientific” studies on sex drive show a cultural bias. Turns out women may not be “naturally” monogamous.

A meta-analysis done by the psychologists Janet Hyde and Jennifer L. Petersen at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, incorporates more than 800 studies conducted between 1993 and 2007. It suggests that the very statistics evolutionary psychologists use to prove innate difference — like number of sexual partners or rates of masturbation — are heavily influenced by culture.

Does new science debunk old science? Looks like evidence is showing evolutionary psychologists weren’t so scientific after all.

Can we at least agree on this: we live in a culture that, for thousands of years, has punished women for expressing sexuality while rewarding men. How can we possibly, objectively measure sex drive?

Hypothetically, say men ruled the world, and say that men were also incapable of giving birth. Would it be so surprising for the group in charge to come up with this theory: Every time women have sex with us, they fall in desperately in love. They want to marry us, be with us forever and ever. In fact, getting married is the happiest day of a woman’s life. Naturally monogamous, women will never stray.

Sounds like a pipe dream to me.

Give up your rights ladies, you might be on a sinking ship someday

I just read one of the most– if not the most– idiotic justifications for sexism I’ve ever come across. And I’ve read a lot of stupid shit in my time. Kya posted a link on Reel Girl’s Facebook page to Suzanne Venker’s post on Fox news.

Venker argues that women have always had it better than men. Here’s why:

Prior to the 1970s, people viewed gender roles as as equally valuable. Many would argue women had the better end of the deal! It’s hard to claim women were oppressed in a nation in which men were expected to stand up when a lady enters the room or to lay down their lives to spare women life.When the Titanic went down in 1912, its sinking took 1,450 lives. Only 103 were women. One-hundred three.

Compare that with last year’s wrecked cruise line, the Costa Concordia. It resulted in fewer deaths, but there was another significant difference. “There was no ‘women and children first’ policy. There were big men, crew members, pushing their way past us to get into the lifeboats. It was disgusting,” said passenger Sandra Rogers, 62.

Let’s just leave aside for a moment the idea that if women and men actually had equality, there’s a better chance that a woman would’ve been captain of the Costa Concordia– not to mention the Titanic– and the ship wouldn’t have sunk in the first place.
Here’s a question for the women of America. What would you rather have: equal pay for equal work or men standing up when you enter a room? Do you prefer to rely on chivalry for your well being or financial and political autonomy?
Yes, women, there’s a chance that you might find yourself on a sinking cruise ship someday. And at that moment, you may be incredibly grateful that you gave up all of your rights so that a fellow passenger is noble enough to die for you. (Then again, you might not. You might be old or sick and decide it’s your time to go.) But far more probable than that life outcome, harm is likely to come to you from your husband or boyfriend. On average, more than three women are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. One in four women (25%)  in America are victims of domestic violence. (Stats from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
With violence against women being a national epidemic, you’d think that stopping it would be high on the U.S. government’s agenda. Yet, our congress stalled the Violence Against Women Act. I don’t get it. I thought that protecting women was a #1 priority. Women and children first, right? What happened here? Talk about chivalry being dead.
Perhaps, instead of hoping that men do the right thing for us, women are better off getting the power to do the right thing for ourselves.
Women are half of the population but underrepresented in the U.S. government. In 2013, women make up just 18% of congress. There are only 5 women governors. Throughout U.S. history, only four women have held the office of Supreme Court Justice. There has never been a female President of the United States.
But according to Venker, the problem for women is feminism. Besides using shipwrecks, she provides other evidence for the ultimate good of systemic sexism. Contradicting the idea of gender equality, Venker writes:

Those of us with children know better. We know little girls love their dolls and boys just want to kick that ball.

As a mom of three young daughters, much of the reason I’m passionate about gender equality is because my kids love to kick balls. Most kids do, just like they love to push things on wheels, though toy strollers are marketed to some toddlers while toy cars are marketed to others. The whole reason I started Reel Girl is because I was appalled by the gender stereotypes sold to young children by billion dollar companies, urging boys and girls, even pre-birth, to take radically different life paths.

But Venker knows better. The whole purpose of her post is to promote her book, How to Choose a Husband and Make Peace with Marriage. According to her,Its premise is that if women want to be successful in love, they should reject the cultural script they’ve been sold and adopt a whole new view of men and marriage.”

That cultural script is feminism. Can you imagine taking this woman’s advice on how to choose a husband? I’m happily married, by the way, and have been for ten years. What great wisdom will Venker bestow on women? Pick someone who loves cruises so that chivalry will come in handy? Brush up on shuffleboard?

Missing Bernie Ward

Mostly, I miss Bernie Ward on Sunday mornings, when I hear “Godtalk” on KGO Radio. The first time I ever met Bernie was when he was hosting that show. I’d come to San Francisco from New York, just for the weekend. My sister was having an engagement party that I traveled to California for. But I ended up never going back home to New York. I went to Austin for a while, as a PA on a film, and after that wrapped, I got a job working for Willie Nelson on an hour length music video. (As far as I know, that particular piece of art never made it to TV or even video.) Then I came back to San Francisco. I went to KGO to see if I could get a producer job. I’d worked in New York for Alan Colmes who had, at the time,  a radio talk show out of a network called Daynet that used ABC’s studios. KGO was also out of ABC then so it all felt familiar to me.

KGO told me I could be a fill in, an on-call producer, which would probably entail late nights– Ray Taliaferro’s shift. And the weekends, odd hours. That was fine with me. I was twenty-six years old. I had no problem staying up all night.

So there I was at 6am, light just coming up, and Bernie walked into his studio. He sat down and played a recording of Amazing Grace on bagpipes. It was beautiful. I remember thinking: this is so weird. How did I get here at 6am, listening to Amazing Grace, listening to this guy talk about Jesus?

My mother is jewish, my father is episcopalian. I didn’t grow up with any religion. I was fascinated listening to Bernie go on about God, argue with the church, speak about the real messages of Jesus’ teachings, this jewish carpenter, Bernie called him.

Not long after I met Bernie, a producer spot opened for his night time show. It was the most fun job I’ve ever had, and Bernie, in spite of his reputation  as angry, cranky, or mean, was great to work with. He was kind, attentive, brilliant and hilarious. We had many disagreements, right from the start on the issues he discussed on air. I began working for him around the time of the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal. Bernie basically believed Hillary Clinton’s whole right wing conspiracy theory. Not that I didn’t believe that, I did. But for me, there was more to the story. I’d voted for Clinton as a young woman in my twenties, and I hated that this new kind of president, who I believed would do great things for women, had messed around with an intern. Instead of advancing powerful women, Clinton’s presidency was perpetuating antiquated sexual stereotypes that go back to biblical times i.e. a young woman’s sexuality destroys a powerful man.  I was so tired of that same old imagery and pissed off Clinton was reincarnating it again. “Imagine if Madeline Albright was considered sexy because of her brilliance, position of power and stature? Imagine that her young male interns had crushes on her? Do you see the sexism now?”

“I never thought about it that way,” Bernie said, and he put me on air for the first time. It felt great to have my ideas amplified through that microphone, wafting out over the Bay Area. Bernie essentially disagreed with me, but he was able to see my point of view and then elaborate on it. That’s a talent few people have. He encouraged me to write down my thoughts. I started publishing pieces in newspapers and magazines. Then I started getting invited on TV programs– CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America. Bernie taught me how to debate, that it was OK to interrupt, that I only needed to have three points I wanted to make and to just keep re-making those points.

Producing Bernie’s show– a liberal, no-less– I realized how many more men called up than women, eager to go on air. Also, when I invited women experts to come on the show as guests, they often refused, claiming they weren’t qualified, recommending a “better” colleague, often a male. My experience at KGO inspired me to start a non-profit that provided  professional training for women including media skills.

After seven years of producing the show, I left. That’s a pretty long time to be a producer in talk radio world. I had a baby, and initially my idea was that I would take care of the baby during the day and my husband would watch her at night. But I had no clue what being a mom was really like. I was exhausted all the time. I never saw my husband. Plus, I had my writing and the non-proft to work on by that time, and I didn’t really need KGO anymore. So I quit.

A couple years later, I got a call from Bernie. He told me that federal agents had come into his home and seized his computers; he would be charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.  He was sentenced to almost seven years in prison.

Since Bernie has been in prison, I think of him often, but I haven’t written him or visited him. I can’t reconcile in my head the Bernie I knew and the Bernie that was accused of so many things. I think seven years is a harsh sentence for someone who did not create any pornography. That said, I can’t see how Bernie could look at those kinds of images and not feel anything for those little kids.

I’ve never had something like that happen in my life, watch a good friend, a mentor, someone I idolized, have his whole life fall apart. I hope I can write him. I’d like to be able to visit him. But for now, I just miss the Bernie I knew.

When women join the “fair and balanced” network, they get “Foxified”

Even though I wasn’t a supporter of Sarah Palin, she was recently hired at Fox News, and I feel I need to warn her. After all, she’s a brunette who often wears glasses– a breed targeted for extinction in Foxworld.

There’s something creepy going on at Fox, and it’s not just the skewed way they choose to report the news. When a woman gets a job on the “fair and balanced” news network, she gets “Foxified.” No matter how she looks or how old she is when she signs her contract, these female contributors transform, appearing on our screens strangely clone-like, blonde and so heavily made up they all look around 40.

Greta Van Susteren famously made the cover of People after she scored her own show on the network and got “Foxified,” sporting much lighter hair and tighter skin.

When I used to produce talk radio programs for the ABC affiliate in the Bay Area, and the host had a legal issue he wanted to discuss, I often booked a brilliant and beautiful law professor as an expert: Lis Weihl. After 9/11, she was hired by Fox News. The next time I saw her on TV, I only recognized her by her name in the byline.

Fox News is a modern day Stepford factory for accomplished women. By turning professors and authors into porn star doppelgangers, the network effectively communicates what women say is not as important how they appear.

The older, winkled, balding male stars of the news channel obviously have different physical requirements to get a job on TV. Maybe Palin earns some of those privileges, because she’s already famous with her own loyal following. We’ll have to wait and see if her brown hair and Tina Fey glasses survive the preferences of Fox News President Roger Ailes, himself not the most svelte, glossy headed guy in town.

Update: I’m not attacking these women for getting jobs; I’m pointing out the sexist requirements for men versus women on TV. Furthermore, being “Foxified” doesn’t translate to being attractive or beautiful. As a commenter pointed out, it has to do with becoming a “femmebot.” The blonde dye jobs and overly made up faces on Fox News women are indicative of a culture dominated by caucasians and capitalism, keeping women in line by rewarding them when they conform to the rules. It’s a reflexive, but still clever, way to keep women in their place and uphold the power structure as it is.


Liz Wiehl

Lis Wiehl  now, Lis Wiehl, “Foxified” 

Greta Van  Susteren gets FoxifiedPeople 

Greta Van Susteren gets Foxified

Can you tell  these women apart? 

Can you tell these women apart?