Tag Archives: women

Women as news sources

Women do not make it into news stories as sources as much as men do.

That is the basic finding of a new study conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The basic finding is probably not surprising, but what is impressive and important is how widespread and consistent is the tendency of journalists to use men rather than women as sources of information.

The study looked at 16,000 news stories in 45 different news outlets. Researchers coded the gender of the sources quoted in the stories and found that “men are relied on as sources in the news more than twice as often as women.”

This is the case despite the fact that news organizations have made efforts to get more women into the ranks of reporters and editors and women are taking more active roles in business and public life. “The numbers suggest that the representation of women as sources in the news has a significant distance to go towards reflecting their role in American society generally,” the study says.

(Posted May 24, 2005)

Does the political system really work?

New Mexico Bill Would Criminalize Abortions After Rape As ‘Tampering With Evidence’ (story below: copied from Huffington post)

A Republican lawmaker in New Mexico introduced a bill on Wednesday that would legally require victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term in order to use the fetus as evidence for a sexual assault trial.

House Bill 206, introduced by state Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R), would charge a rape victim who ended her pregnancy with a third-degree felony for “tampering with evidence.”

“Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime,” the bill says.

Third-degree felonies in New Mexico carry a sentence of up to three years in prison.

Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico, a progressive nonprofit opposing the bill, called it “blatantly unconstitutional” on Thursday.

“The bill turns victims of rape and incest into felons and forces them to become incubators of evidence for the state,” he said. “According to Republican philosophy, victims who are ‘legitimately raped’ will now have to carry the fetus to term in order to prove their case.“

The bill is unlikely to pass, as Democrats have a majority in both chambers of New Mexico’s state legislature.

UPDATE: 12:25 p.m. — Brown said in a statement Thursday that she introduced the bill with the goal of punishing the person who commits incest or rape and then procures or facilitates an abortion to destroy the evidence of the crime.

“New Mexico needs to strengthen its laws to deter sex offenders,” said Brown. “By adding this law in New Mexico, we can help to protect women across our state.”

Seeing Suffrage: The Six Hats – and three pictures

This picture I like to call The Six Hats.

The photo shows Jane Burleson, the grand marshal of the Washington suffrage parade, standing with five other marshals sometime before the parade began at 3 p.m. on March 3, 1913. Burleson is standing third from the right along with parade marshals (left to right according to what’s on the picture itself) Mrs. Russell McLennan, Althea Taft, Louise Bridges, Alberta Hill and Miss F. Ragsdale.

What is immediately striking to modern viewers about this pictures is the hats the women are wearing.

In 1913, no woman went outside without a hat, and at that time the fashion was to have a large hat that was decorated elaborately. But once we get past the hats in this wonderful photo, it offers us some great information about the parade itself.

The photo is taken in front of the Garfield Memorial, on the southern side of the western front of the U.S. Capitol building. Both the memorial and the Capitol are clearly visible in the background. A policeman on the left and a number of spectators are also visible. At the moment this photograph was taken, it must have been slightly overcast because shadows are visible, but they are not well defined. There is movement and excitement in the photograph, especially when you understand the context. Something is about to happen — and from our perspective a century later, we know what it is.

The women themselves — and not just their hats — are the most interesting part of the picture, of course. They have posed for the picture and are looking straight at the camera, which may be as much as 30 feet away. The women range in age apparently from twenties to fifties (Mrs. McLennan seems to be the oldest), and they appear to be relaxed and enjoying themselves, despite the building excitement.

This is the picture that will appear in the print version of Seeing Suffrage: The 1913 Washington Suffrage Parade, Its Pictures, and Its Effect on the American Political Landscape.

Below are two pictures that won’t appear in the book because they would seem repetitious, but they add to our understanding of the people and context of the picture.


This photograph was taken by the same photographer who took the first photo, but it was snapped a few seconds after the posed picture. When I first saw it, I thought it was taken before the first picture, but the man on the right, who seems to be walking toward the group is closer than in the first photo.

The women in the group are not posing, and a couple of them are not paying any attention to the camera. On the left, Mrs. McLennan and Althea Taft are chatting with each other, and June Burleson is adjusting her hat, or possibly beginning to take it off. Louise Bridges, the tallest of the group, is most aware of the camera, but her smile makes her look most relaxed and at ease.


The third photo of this must have been taken at about the same time as the first photo was snapped, but it is at a different angle and obviously taken by a different photographer. It is a bit closer to the group than the other pictures. The man to the right is obscured, but the shadow he casts is very clear, and he seems to be standing rather than walking. All of the women are smiling.

One picture of these women is good, but the three, taken together, tell us much about them and about the day of the parade.


Joining the parade

A suffrage parade in New York City, circa 1913

During the first decade of the 20th century, for a middle-class woman to walk out onto the street alone was unusual, to use a mild and neutral term. “Scandalous” would probably be more appropriate in many situations.

Edwardian propriety dictated that women in public should be accompanied by someone, preferably a man. Women should maintain their modesty, and in polite society, that modesty could be protected by best by a man or older woman. Certainly, these “rules” were often broken, but to break the rules invited aspersions on one’s reputation.

You had to be careful, if you were a woman. You couldn’t just go dashing out into the street by yourself.

That’s one of the reasons why the suffrage parade was so extraordinary.

To be sure, the women who marched in those parades weren’t alone, but they were exposing themselves to the public in ways not normally accepted and inviting ridicule and worse. “Suffrage women’s very presence in the city streets decisively challenged traditional notions of femininity and subsequent restrictions on women’s conduct.” (Borda, 2002, below)

The first such parade was mounted by British suffragists in February 1907. It became known as the Mud March because of the gray and damp conditions of the day and the fact that the long skirts of the marchers inevitably attracted the dirt of the London streets and sidewalks. The marchers, some 3,000 of them, also attracted hecklers and catcalls along the way.

The Mud March is the described in some detail in Lisa Tickner’s The Spectacle of Women (74-80), and she includes this excerpt from the Manchester Guardian sympathetically speculating on what it must have been like for the women in the demonstration:

“Nobody can suppose that most of the women who took part . . . can have done so for sport or for the pleasure of the thing . . . It requires some courage for a woman to step out of her drawing room into the street to take her place in a mixed throng for a cause probably distasteful to many of her acquaintances, and to see herself pilloried in the newspapers next morning by name as one of the ‘Suffragettes’. That old ladies and delicate ones, and timid ones to boot, should have done this quite simply and bravely argues at least a good deal of quiet convictions and a resolution not likely to be easily broken.”


Jennifer L. Borda, The Woman Suffrage Parades of 1910-1913: Possibilities and Limitations of an Early Feminist Rhetorical Strategy. Western Journal of Communication, Vol. 66, 2002

[QUOTED MATERIAL] IN A 1912 STATEMENT written for the New York Tribune, Harriot Stanton Blatch explained why woman suffragists organized annual parades. “Men and women,” she wrote, “are moved by seeing marching groups of people and by hearing music far more than by listening to the most careful argument” (Blatch “Why” 1). Blatch understood the rhetorical force of the parade as a vehicle for social change. Parades as celebratory performance had been a distinct feature of American civic ceremony since the early days of the republic (Ryan; Newman; Davis). Cognizant of the procession’s significance in American culture, Blatch envisioned the parade as an opportunity to take suffrage politics more boldly into public spaces.

[QUOTED MATERIAL]The parades of the woman suffrage movement appropriated this public expression of solidarity–a symbolic form traditionally employed by men to proclaim their collective agency–as a conscious transgression of the rules of social order. Suffrage women’s very presence in the city streets decisively challenged traditional notions of femininity and subsequent restrictions on women’s conduct. These large-scale demonstrations, held between 1910 and 1913, exhibited women’s collective mobilization while visually symbolizing woman suffragists’ contestation of their prescribed societal roles. The spectacle of the annual suffrage parade was thus executed as an act of public celebration, an expression of social protest, and a demonstration of women’s capacity to participate in popular political culture. Consequently, in the last decade of women’s long fight for the right to vote, a new political strategy and, more precisely, a method of tactical resistance, was established within the movement. Emphasis added.