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9 Depressing Facts About Women in Media

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To teach a lesson to you dreadful Pollyanna-types out there, Time.com has just conveniently published a piece titled “9 Depressing Facts From the Latest Women in Media Report.”

Every so often, Life in the Boomer Lane stops whatever she is doing (usually involving a container, a spoon, and her mouth) and thinks about the possibility that as a woman, she is, uh, screwed. She is already convinced that countless male bloggers must be out there, raking in tons of money for what they write, while LBL, a member of the female persuasion, makes diddly squat. For that reason, we will start with gender inequity in the creative arts.

1. The highest-paid female movie star, Angelina Jolie, makes about the same per movie as the two lowest-paid male stars, Denzel Washington and Liam Neeson. Her $33 million paycheck is dwarfed by the $75 million Robert Downey Jr. rakes in as the highest-paid movie star for the Iron Man movies.

LBL knows what you are thinking, which is either 1) Who cares? Isn’t $33 million, in reality, the same as $75 million or $100 billion? Unless you have more hours in your day than anyone else on the planet, it would be impossible to spend even the smallest of those sums. And no matter how many children you adopt, you can still put them through college on $33 million per year. At the very least, you should be able to afford a good state school. Or 2) I don’t care about Angelina Jolie. I don’t even know who she is. I spend all of my time couponing and I have to leave for the store now because there is a two-for-one coupon on Snackables Chocolate and Candy-Coated Veggie Stix.

Our answer to either of these reactions is the same: You are a myopic nitwit. The point is that Jolie is a woman and because of that, her value is less than it would be if she were a man. Also, Snackables Chocolate and Candy-Coated Veggie Stix go really well with Tropicana Tropical Fruit Fury Twister.

2. Of all the top-grossing movies of 2013, women accounted for only 16% of the writers, directors, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers.

3.In 2013, women directed 50% of the competition films at Sundance, but only 1.9% of the top-grossing movies.

4. Women had fewer speaking roles in movies in 2012 than in any year since 2007–only 28.4% of speaking roles in the top 100 films went to women. But on TV, 43% of speaking parts are played by women. Of the women who did get speaking roles in movies, 34.6% were black, 33.9% were Hispanic, and 28.8% were white. And of all the speaking characters, Latina women were most likely to be depicted semi-nude.

Oh boy. LBL isn’t sure where to go with this one. This is like being attacked by a shark who doesn’t have any teeth but who does have a horrendous case of halitosis. And, because the thought of a shark with halitosis is more than LBL can bear, we turn now to gender inequality in the world of journalism:

5. In 1999, women made up 36.9% of the newsroom staff. Now, it is 36.3%. The gender disparity is widest among white men and white women. There is slightly more gender equality among different races in newsrooms.

This statistic is even more disturbing than the thought of the shark with halitosis. Our view of the world must, in large part, be formed by the male perspective.

6. Women are “vastly underrepresented” in sports journalism. The 2012 Associated Press Race and Gender Report Card gave most of the sports journalism industry straight Fs when it came to gender diversity.

LBL will hereby admit that she thinks it’s sort of weird to see women sportscasters talking about either football or alligator wrestling. Before she is asked to defend her statement, LBL will now turn to gender inequality in politics and the news.

7. Men are 3.4 times more likely to be quoted on the front page of The New York Times, 4.6 times more likely to be quoted in political stories, and 5.4 times more likely to be quoted in international stories.

While one might argue that the reason that more men are quoted is simply because more men are in positions of political power and, hence, worthy of quote, one must also consider that if the writers of such stories are men (see item #2), that, in itself, would skew the quotes in favor of men.

8. The gender breakdown of almost all the Sunday political talk shows is about 75% male, 25% female.

9. There are four times as many male columnists as female columnists at the three biggest newspapers and four newspaper syndicates. (The Washington Post has 25 men to 7 women, and The New York Times has 10 men to 2 women.) The median columnist age’s is 60, while the median age of the American population is 37.

These statistics, of course, apply to print journalism. Online, the demographics get dramatically younger, as well as dramatically more sexually ambiguous.

In sum, and in spite of decades of energy spent on women’s rights, the traditional avenues available to women in the media continue to be stacked in favor of white males over age 60. It’s time for all women to learn a lesson from the one group of women who are making strides in gender equality in the arts. It’s time to line up, get semi-nude and say “Enough.”

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