Despite paper's concern "about keeping women as newspaper readers," Wash. Post published essay calling women "kind of dim" and "the stupid sex"

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Though Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell has stated that "[c]oncern about keeping women as newspaper readers has been an issue for many years" at the newspaper, the Post published an essay by Charlotte Allen in which she called women "kind of dim," suggested that women were not only "the weaker sex" but "the stupid sex, our brains permanently occluded by random emotions, psychosomatic flailings and distraction by the superficial," and claimed that Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has been "marred by every stereotypical flaw of the female sex."

As Media Matters for America Senior Fellow Duncan Black noted on his blog, Eschaton, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell wrote in her January 27 column that "[c]oncern about keeping women as newspaper readers has been an issue for many years" and noted that "Post editors are concerned that young women with children are not becoming Post readers as they get older." Howell added, "A Post task force is looking at the problem and will make recommendations." Yet, on the front page of its March 2 Outlook section, the Post published an essay by Independent Women's Forum (IWF) blogger Charlotte Allen headlined "We Scream, We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get?" in which she asserted that "Connecticut radio talk show host Jim Vicevich has counted five separate instances in which women fainted at [Sen. Barack] Obama rallies since last September," and argued: "I can't help it, but reading about such episodes of screaming, gushing and swooning makes me wonder whether women -- I should say, 'we women,' of course -- aren't the weaker sex after all. Or even the stupid sex, our brains permanently occluded by random emotions, psychosomatic flailings and distraction by the superficial."

In her essay, Allen also claimed that Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign "has run one of the worst -- and, yes, stupidest -- presidential races in recent history, marred by every stereotypical flaw of the female sex," and asserted that "Clinton's nearly all-female staff was "chosen for loyalty rather than, say, brains or political savvy":

Take Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign. By all measures, she has run one of the worst -- and, yes, stupidest -- presidential races in recent history, marred by every stereotypical flaw of the female sex. As far as I'm concerned, she has proved that she can't debate -- viz. her televised one-on-one against Obama last Tuesday, which consisted largely of complaining that she had to answer questions first and putting the audience to sleep with minutiae about her health-coverage mandate. She has whined (via her aides) like the teacher's pet in grade school that the boys are ganging up on her when she's bested by male rivals. She has wept on the campaign trail, even though everyone knows that tears are the last refuge of losers. And she is tellingly dependent on her husband.

Then there's Clinton's nearly all-female staff, chosen for loyalty rather than, say, brains or political savvy. Clinton finally fired her daytime-soap-watching, self-styled "Latina queena" campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, known for burning through campaign money and for her open contempt for the "white boys" in the Clinton camp. But stupidly, she did it just in time to alienate the Hispanic voters she now desperately needs to win in Texas or Ohio to have any shot at the Democratic nomination.

Allen concluded her essay:

So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home. (Even I, who inherited my interior-decorating skills from my Bronx Irish paternal grandmother, whose idea of upgrading the living-room sofa was to throw a blanket over it, can make a house a home.) Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim.

As the blog Feministe noted, Allen wrote in a June 27, 2005, IWF blog post (accessed through the Internet Archive) that "Frankly, even as a woman, I miss the old sexist days, when stewardesses were stewardesses: pretty young things in cute mini-suits and little heels who oozed attention onto everyone -- because who knew? They might end up marrying one of the passengers," adding: "Why does feminism have to mean the triumph of the ugly and the surly?"

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
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