As we congratulate sexually harassed former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, I hope she can carve off a million or so and start a free-speaking foundation for women, or at least give a few talks at free-thinking public institutions like the City University of New York (CUNY). A foundation for the non-marginalization of women speaking freely about politics! After all, look at what the Koch brothers did with three million.
Not that there aren’t already those organizations. It’s just they don’t seem to have much impact or many thought leaders, other than the ones who are, as they say in England, news readers — the face of the news, when women need much more to be in the news (or at least behind the scenes in the editorial rooms, deciding which pretty men to put outside to read the news), not just influence it.
Political science remains one of the most female-unfriendly disciplines in the social sciences. We’re happy to have Gretchen speak for us. I promise no “I told you so’s” if/when she addresses students at the Graduate Center of CUNY about the conservative nature of this subject (read neotribal/patriarchial, etc.). After all, we’re the only public university in town, and we happen to have more women faculty than in the discipline nationwide.
Hopefully, Gretchen won’t pick one of the old Ivies after reading Nancy Wise Malkiel’s book about higher education in the United States, appropriately titled Keep the Damned Women Out.
Look. Gretchen Carlson’s Title VII civil-rights lawyers do not have to look far to find evidence of how Gretchen’s been treated as a sexual commodity selling bad boy/moralistic mama in 2016’s horse-race politics. MSNBC follows Roger Ailes’s recipe in a New York Times advertisement, making Nicolle Wallace the centerfold.
The MSNBC producers – the supposed opposite of Fox News – present their “Codebreakers” with pride. The code, to me, seems to be protecting our commodification of women newscasters. It’s more akin to custom keepers, not breakers of any idea or thing.
Whether it’s covering or uncovering women, it’s neotribal to me when both supposed sides of the supposedly polarized news treat their women* the same way. Bare or veiled, it’s all about commodifying women.
Being veiled makes women personal property, whereas being bare-armed and bare-legged makes them corporate sales commodities. Here’s the newscaster-women-commodification custom recipe: Place woman in the center, showing her décolleté, legs, and bare arms, surrounded by five men (one African-American as a token of Obama’s presidency, and one just this side of 40 wearing frat-boy tennis shoes, a nod toward Bernie Sanders millennials).*
Isn’t this what Gretchen’s brief describes, protesting sexual discrimination? MSNBC producers cannot see or sense how out of sync they are. Oh, I forgot, they fired Melissa Harris-Perry when she complained about her show being bumped one time too many for the 2016 political-circus travesty, when she too was discussing politics.
Perhaps Hillary Clinton’s insistence on wearing pantsuits is cheeky and counterculture after all.
* Token outspoken progressive lesbians like Rachel Maddow exempted; she gets to wear pants and don sleeves in a different ad in this series. Oh, and I forgot the morning-show housewife who puts up with Morning Joe Scarborough’s put-down banter, who gets to wear unflattering sweater sleeves as long as those legs remain exposed.