Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Welcome To The Borg, Martha Coakley

When Globe reporter Matt Viser came a-calling on our esteemed A.G. the other day for a story about her U.S. Senate candidacy, she apparently told him to take a hike.

Coakley, the first woman to serve as Massachusetts attorney general, declined requests for an interview yesterday.

Well, if she thought that would stop Viser from writing a great fat Women Do story about her, she was sorely mistaken. "Powerful Women Line Up For Coakley," the article promises, and gets off to a rousing start with a quote from state Senate president Therese Murray:

“There’s just a real sense of excitement that she’s qualified and she’s got the whole package,’’ said Senate President Therese Murray. “Women have never been at this point in Massachusetts before for this office.’’

How true that is, President Murray. As a woman, I feel I am at a whole different point in Massachusetts today, thanks to Martha Coakley and her exciting package, for whom I have reserved the right not to vote, on account of I feel I need a little more information on the topic than the (admittedly well-sourced) rumor that she possesses certain ladybits.

As the story continues, it quickly rambles off into the meta-weeds with a lot of Globe-style handwringing from various commenters about whether or not it is proper for a woman, as a woman, to be campaigning for another woman qua woman and not qua office-seeker, despite or perhaps because of anyone's possession of ladybits, all the while firmly maintaining one's conviction that indeed Ms. Coakley is the best pol of any sex for the job, but unfortunately one's fellow voting-women are so dumb they have to be beat over the head with a giant vagina every November. Capiche?

Viser explains with less verbiage:

But much as Clinton did, Coakley faces a complex calculus. Her supporters and campaign aides want women voters, but they don’t want to be seen as courting them on gender alone.

Well, too bad, ladies of the Borg. Thanks to the Globe, now we all know you just want to get in our pants. Our hot, voting lady pants.

In other Women Borg news, Jezebel has a zippy little tirade today about media accounts of mean girls on both sides of the pond. A sample:

Anyway, according to these articles, women have some special bond through our giant shared vagina which means everything is automatically peaches and cream between all of us, and if someone is ever mean or nasty, this is to be ascribed to the entire gender.

I am not entirely sure I approve of the mixed metaphor, though there is a certain juicy felicitousness about it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Patience Is A Virtue For Shooting Things Dead

Women: They're better at killing stuff in the woods. Increasingly. Exponentially, even. It must be because of their wise, gentle, patient, practical, all-knowing, compassionate, humble, superior Goddess-nature.

Jeanine Elias says women make good hunters because she believes they're more patient than men, and their expectations are lower.

"They don't have this idea of, 'I got to have this perfect rack on my wall,' " Elias said. "When I go hunting, I'm not looking for the perfect rack on a deer. I'm looking for meat."

Oh, the soft bigotry of lowered expectations. (I'm not sure that's relevant here. I just like saying it. It's the best thing that ever came out of Dubya's mouth by a long shot.)

How's this for a trend: Increasingly, I'm getting really bloody tired of all these backhanded compliments, all this noble-savage talk about women being superior at basically everything because of some trumped-up essential quality we are universally presumed to possess. And the sloppy use of the word "exponentially" in news reports. I'm getting tired of that, too.

Depart from us, NPR, we never knew ye.

Women Exacerbate Dairy Crisis

As you all know, unless you have been living under the proverbial rock these last twelve months, we are in the End Times--or, if not the End Times, perhaps their darling Victorian antechamber, where we will have a glass of sherry and have a look at some etchings before the butler arrives to usher us into the Apocalypse Proper. Odds are you've got it pretty bad. But unless you're a dairy farmer, it could be worse.

(I'm guessing you're not a dairy farmer, because if you are, you're probably not reading blogs about newspapers writing about women doing things. You're probably at your bank begging for a loan so you can buy hay to feed your cows so they'll make milk which you can sell to a giant monopoly that is currently under investigation by the Justice Department so you can maybe make back half of the money you spent on hay. Or you're at your 40-hour-a-week day job that you have so you can get health insurance, popping Ritalin so you can make it through the day and still get up at 4am to milk 100 goddamn cows. Or maybe you're out shooting your cows in the head.)

Being a dairy farmer? Not so hot right now. And it's about to get a lot worse, thanks to women. Women cows, that is.

The New York Times tells the tale for us citified types that haven't heard it yet. Since approximately the dawn of time, cows, like most animals, have been giving birth to male and female calves in roughly equal numbers. But a male calf on a dairy farm is, as Rip Torn might say, about as useful as a poopy-flavored lollipop. So a few years ago, Science gave the beleaguered dairy farmer marvelous new sperm sorting technology, ensuring that most calves born would be female.

Now farmers have a different problem: too much milk. And the first generation of bionic bovine fembots are about to hit the milk parlor, with a vengeance.

“Just as the industry starts to recover from these difficult times, we’re going to see these heifers enter the marketplace,” said Ray Souza, president of Western United Dairymen, which represents farmers who produce about 60 percent of the milk in California. “At the very worst it could certainly stop the recovery altogether and send us into another price recession.”

It's like the Chinese one-child policy, only with cows. Thanks a lot, Science.

Monday, September 21, 2009

for weak women.

who knew we've been sick all along? quelle horreur!

a brilliant find to kick off a female-forward week.

purchase print of original collage for $24 at the paper apartment (because women do become artists in allston)

Saturday, September 19, 2009


In honor of Talk Like A Pirate Day, please enjoy this Women Do Stuff At Sea story from the AP. It's pretty well-done--no grossly fruity verbiage or cutesiness, just the facts, ma'am. Its hero is Aysun Akbay, a 24-year-old Turkish third officer aboard the MV-Horizon 1, which has been hijacked by Somali pirates.

The pirates told Aysun that she could call her family when she wants because she is a woman, but Aysun calls us only when others get the chance to call their families too. She tells us not to worry," said her sister, Aysen.

A little old-fashioned, these pirates.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Useless Reveal On Steroids

You folks are familiar with the Useless Reveal, right? We've discussed this before. It's a kind of lede common in women-journalism. Sometimes invisible to the untrained eye, but rather like Euphorbia prostrata, the Prostrate Spurge, once you know what you're looking for, you'll see it everywhere. Here are its markings:

1. A headline and/or large photo that screams "THIS STORY IS ABOUT A WOMAN TYPE OF PERSON,"

2. A gormless presumption on the part of the reporter that the reader does not know this,

and 3. Faux shock and awe when some kind of wardrobe malfunction, usually involving a blond ponytail tumbling out of a helmet of some sort, betrays the subject's basic feminitude.

Today's NYT has a three-paragraph Useless Reveal. Three paragraphs. Wow. I think I need a new pair of disbelief-suspension cables.

NEW ORLEANS — Mike Henry could not get comfortable in his stance. He knew the line judge was watching him. This was only a scrimmage, but Henry, a 6-foot-5, 289-pound freshman lineman, was trying to move up thedepth chart for the Tulane Green Wave. The whistle blew and a blur of black and white stripes came running his way.

“You need to get down, and stay down,” the official said in a voice that swiveled Henry’s head and widened his eyes. It was not the tone but the timbre of Sarah Thomas’s voice.

It was soft and lilting and grounded in the rhythms of her native Mississippi. Because Thomas’s long blond hair was tucked beneath a black hat swirled in stripes, Henry had had no idea the official was a woman.

Kudos to reporter Joe Drape for informing us that women are native to Mississippi. I did not know that.

I hesitate to offend the delicate sensibilities of our readers, but you should know that subject Sarah Thomas--who, you may have deduced, is a football referee--is occasionally subject to uncouth verbiage.

She understands intensity can give way to some salty language.

Shocking. I hope the NAIA covers the cost of the lead ovary-shields she obviously needs to perform her job safely.

News Flash: Effective Women More Effective Than General Population

A recent study by Stanford and the U. of Chicago found that women lawmakers, on average, introduced more bills, attracted more cosponsors, and brought home 9% more bacon for their districts than their male counterparts.

Politico asks the obvious, though somewhat misleading, question

Are women more effective lawmakers than men?

Er, yes. No. Sort of.

Set aside the issue of whether more pork = better lawmaking. Cheers to Politico for getting around to the real lesson, though it could have come a little higher in the story:

Researchers say the small number of female members may have something to do with their effectiveness. Women who run and win are likely the most politically ambitious and talented of their pool, having potentially overcome hurdles including voter bias and self-doubt about their ability to win. Female candidates also tend to attract more challengers.
You don't have to go all Carol Gilligan on the data to explain it. This study doesn't really say anything about women being innately better or more cooperative or what have you. It's a selection effect: only the most extraordinarily competent women can survive the election process. If my lawnmower cuts down all the dandelions over four inches tall, it stands to reason the ones left will all be short.

Good News!

Greetings, fair Readers--

In the (unlikely) event that you spend your days worrying about Women Blogging About Newspapers Writing About Women Doing Stuff, you may have noticed a distressing scarcity of content in this cantankerous corner of the Interwebs of late.

Well, I'm sorry about that. I've been busy with many projects. Some of them involve journalism, and will be expounded upon in future. Others involve poop. Never mind that! I have great news for you all.

I've invited a few steadfast Women Do-ers to contribute to our little endeavor. Namely:

Christine Liu, cultural curator. One of the few people I know who can write about fashion and design without sounding like Beth Teitell with a mouth full of bubblegum. You should let her choose your shoes.

Ryan Rose Weaver, writer, editor and foodie. In a churning sea of new media that has sunk so many boats, Weaver is a stone deftly skipping across the waters.

Jenna Scherer, critic of, among other things, theater. The most acidulous pen in Boston, and perhaps the Eastern seaboard. If we are lucky, she will use it for good and not evil.

I am honored to have these ladies aboard. Together We Can.

Lest you fear we are turning into a gynocracy up in here, I would like to publicly extend invitations also to Messrs. Keohane, Kilburn, McMorrow and Moseman, all of whom have been avid noticers of Women Doing Stuff, and who are all well able to reason their way out of a wet paper bag. Gentlemen?