Times Through The Gender Lens

Did Trump call New York’s junior senator a whore?

I saw the words, “would do anything for them.” It wasn’t outside the pale that this could be a snide sexual insinuation, but then, Kirsten Gillibrand was a politician. New York politicians have always gone hat in hand to Manhattan’s wealthy begging for bucks, seeking their benevolence. In return, some give up their virtue. Oops, I did it again.

Except this isn’t just women and sex. It’s men and women, and sex is rarely desirable from any politician, regardless of gender. When it’s said that politicians were willing to do anything, my mind goes where Simon Cameron’s went, that an honest politician is one who gets bought and stays bought.

And yet, it seemed that a great many, at least everyone on the side of social justice, was saying that Trump called Gillibrand a whore in the sexual sense. The usual crazies were shrieking about it. Smarter people too. She became a Trumpian hero, like Sally Yates and Preet Bharara. They were terrible people who were cleansed of their sordid histories because they fought with Trump. That was all it took for the willfully ignorant to make them beloved.

As I’ve been critical of Gillibrand’s unprincipled positions since she came to office, she wasn’t new to me. I read Trump’s twit through the lens of her history, such as bringing a false rape accuser to President Obama’s State of the Union address. For others, who discovered her existence that day, knew only that Trump called her a whore, hate Trump and reflexively adore anyone Trump is against, Gillibrand became a heroine. Her history meant nothing to people who didn’t know it. Nor did mine.

The New York Times, which some might assume would possess some small degree of institutional memory, chose to dive down the rabbit hole on this one.

President Trump’s tweet on Tuesday insinuating that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York used sex to extract campaign contributions brought this distinctly demeaning form of harassment into sharp relief. Rather than objectify its target as alluring, it dismisses her as incompetent. It tells the woman, and everyone else in her workplace, that she can succeed only if she trades on her sexuality and not because she is smart, savvy or resourceful. There’s a reason a powerful woman so often gets smeared as having “slept her way to the top.”

Leap upon leap of assumption is built into this paragraph, begging the question. And that was good enough for the twitters. And that was good enough for the New York Times. Has “real news” sunk that low that basic logical fallacies are now openly spread, used as launching pads for wild leaps of self-serving faith? Jessica Bennett explains.

I see gender as a lens through which we view global storytelling. So that certainly means writing about feminism and women’s roles in politics and culture and economics, but it also means covering masculinity and sexuality and gender fluidity and race and class and looking at science and health and parenting and sport all through this lens.

Bennett is new at the Times. Bennett is their “first gender editor.”

The statistics vary by time period and by section, but overall we are looking to grow our female readership — though we hope our efforts will serve readers of any gender.

The wall between news, editorial, advertising and circulation, was once a matter of pride. It’s now no longer a problem to say they will taint news and editorial to increase circulation by pandering to a desired demographic. Historically, newspapers vehemently denied such a thing could possibly happen. Now, it’s spoken openly, proudly, that they are selling news for the price of eyeballs. With mascara.

I want everything we do to be intersectional in its approach — and race, class and gender identity are an important part of that.

That’s weird. I want everything to be factual in approach. That could explain why I’m not a New York Times editor. But could this only be about women’s fashions, which will now include men’s chi-chi rompers too?

Is it possible to have a gender lens placed on all New York Times stories, and not just have a gender editor siloed away to discuss “gender issues”?
— Marjorie M. Wass, in Washington, D.C.

Yes, yes, yes! We were very purposeful in the creation of this role that we were not trying to recreate the “women’s pages” of five decades ago — when content dubbed to be for “women” was cordoned off into its own section of the newspaper. (Yes, that was a real thing, and not just in The New York Times.)

So I want to be really clear that our gender content will exist throughout every section of the paper and be produced in every medium. Which actually makes my job relatively daunting, because it means I’m sort of like a roving editor working across all sections and departments. (And let me tell you, this place is huge.)

Three “yeses” is pretty damn emphatic. We wouldn’t want that gender lens to be “siloed,” now would we? We want it to permeate news coverage. After all, what are facts unladen by the gender lens? And not merely the old school “gender” of male and female, but all the genders (I’ve lost count, so I can’t say how many there are at the moment). And not just genders, but intersectional genders.

The New York Times. All the news that fits the intersectional gender lens. And so Trump, that blithering, blustering idiot, called Kirsten Gillibrand a whore. That’s how real news looks through the gender lens, where facts fall for the sake of truth. Believe it or not.


21 thoughts on “Times Through The Gender Lens

  1. Dan

    With every fit of progressive outrage, it becomes more obvious why Trump won. Even as we roll our eyes at, well, most of what he says and does, the absolute hysteria and complete lack of rational thought in response proves to many of us how much worse it could have been.

    1. SHG Post author

      There is no rational middle in the media, so we’re left to choose between irrational hysteria and a dangerous idiot. The Times has made its choice.

  2. B. McLeod

    They need one of those computer-generated “filyters,” like the ones that viewers used to put deer faces on Hairman and Crone during the televised “debates.”

  3. Kathleen Casey

    Trump has been a consummate political player. His ability to schmooze and buy access and political favors was the foundation of his success as a r/e developer. Having those facts in mind, not a dirty mind and not filtered through a dirty mind or a “gender lens” — real-world reality composed of individuals — I made an inference. If and when he called, Lightweight would pick up the phone. That’s all he meant. The Grey Lady will never pound down my door for what I might offer by way of reason. And sanity. Guess not.

  4. DaveL

    our gender content will exist throughout every section of the paper and be produced in every medium

    Sure, but I pull my gender content out on public and suddenly I’m the bad guy. Go figure.

  5. Patrick Maupin

    This is stupid. He didn’t call her a whore — that would be forgivable. No, it’s patently obviously the man called her a politician. He needs to have his mouth washed out with soap. (Unless, of course, she is one.)

  6. Elpey P.

    Trump threw her a lifeline just as the democratic ranks were starting to rise up against her over the Franken debacle. Now she’s a hero, and they will double down. It’s almost ridiculous how he can be so blatant about it, yet they still are too distracted by their outrage to notice.

  7. Turk

    This was a classic Trump troll. And so many bit.

    And more hard news got buried.

    You’d think folks would have figured this out by now.

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