The Reid Report   |  February 26, 2014

Has women’s progress in media flat-lined?

Gloria Steinem discusses a recent report from the Women’s Media Center that points out that gains women made in media during the previous century seem to have flat-lined in recent years.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> okay. if you don't know yet, i am a huge fan of "scandal." me and about 9 million other people who watch and tweet about the show, which is actually back this week. one of the reasons that i love it is it's one of the few places in popular culture that not only captures the moment we're living in with some artistic license but is unafraid to show strong women navigating the mean streets of d.c. politics. in the case of olivia pope, doing it fiercely. and yet as a recent report from the women 's media center points ou out, the gains that women have made in media, in tv, film, news rooms have flat lined in this century. only about 43% of tv characters are women . in movies, 28%. in america's news rooms, there are slightly fewer women now than there were 15 years ago. floor yeah stein number is the founder of "ms." magazines as well as the co-founder of the women 's media center which is the co-founder of the report. this is quite depressing. we were talking in the break. it's 2014 . why do you suppose we're still where we are?

>> well, it's even happier for me to be here because your show is one of the very few bright spots. essentially it's just gone flat since about '98 or '99. we looked at all the media platforms, at games, at movies, at directors, you know, just absolutely everything, and i think that part of it is that the resistance comes in the beginning to the first person.

>> right.

>> then when you get to be somewhere like a third it's like there goes the neighborhood.

>> don't need anymore of that.

>> yeah, right. so resistance comes again as it did in the beginning.

>> right.

>> we just have to plunge through that.

>> do you think part of it is because we've done a poor job of bringing up a generation of women in management who can actually make the hiring decisions so there's nobody there on that front end to make sure they're diversifying their own work force.

>> we're not the people doing the hiring of women in management.

>> right.

>> people in management tend to hire people like them or people who won't make trouble so in my experience where a change comes from is from the bottom, not the top.

>> yeah.

>> it's from those of us picketing, boycotting, carrying on, saying we're not going to watch this show unless we see joy. and we need to do much more of that. it isn't all -- we know that it's not about biology. it's not -- you know, that's not the point. but if you can't see it, you can't be it. it's super important that people look like the country and, you know, it just is -- we have experience because we walk around female, we walk around latino, we walk around -- you know, that we can bring and really make a democratic media . we have to insist.

>> yeah. one of the consequences of that that we see here every day, for instance, in the coverage of a political campaign, you have a potential presidential run by hillary clinton and yet the attacks on her are about her former husband's infidelity. you have a wendy davis running, for goodness sakes to be the governor of the state of texas and the question is whether or not she was a good enough mother or she's being called abortion barbie by her detractors. those are the consequences about not having women make the decisions about what to cover.

>> absolutely. i think it's deep and it's stereotypical. i think in a way many of the men who are in power now were raised by women and that was the last time they saw a powerful woman. so when they see another one, they feel they've been regressed to 8, you know?

>> yeah. let me ask you for some sort of forward leaning steps. what do you think will begin to change this situation? it's a really dismal situation we find in 2014 ?

>> well, again, i think it comes from everywhere. you know, the question is not what we should do, but that we should do whatever we can. nonetheless, i think the gender gap and the race gap in voting is huge. i mean, say in arizona now the question is what the governor is going to do next. she as already lost the gender and race gap by as much as ten points.

>> right.

>> that didn't used to be true i would like to say. the republican party , some of us golden old disremember, supported the equal rights amendment , goldwater was pro choice . ever since the republicans have been taken over by extremists they've been losing the gender gap and the rates gap.

>> it is sort of a real fixation if we're going to talk for a moment about the politics of it on specific gender issues to do with reproduction. that focus hasn't changed since the 1970s since 1973 and roe versus wade .

>> we need to realize that's the whole ball game . if we didn't have wounds, we'd be fi -- wombs, we'd be fine. any racism or class by us makes it worse because them you have to control women 's bodies as the means of reproduction in order to maintain that system, that higher arctical system. it won't go away. it will change.

>> i love that you said that because there is, i think, people miss the economic component of what you just said, that if women are not in control of their own reproduction, they also aren't in control of their own economic lives.

>> that's true. i think that probably reproduction is even more important than production, which is why we don't talk about it. we talk about production more. but even if women were to be paid equally for the work we already do, equal to the white guy who's doing the same work, there would be $200 billion more in the economy and it would be a much better economic stimulus than rewarding crooked bankers and so on. so the whole country is suffering from the inequality that women feel and also we're paying tax dollars because the children who are most likely to be poor are the children of single mothers . if they were paying equally we would not need so many programs. i mean, it makes serns sentences sentences -- sense for everyone. everyone. people who were raised in a different way and want to pay the unequal salaries so they get unfair profits are not the majority.

>> right.

>> they're not.

>> but they have a lot of power.

>> yeah, absolutely. it's something that more women in media would make that conversation happen on a much more regular basis.

>> absolutely.

>> such an important study. gloria stein number, what a wonderful opportunity to meet you.

>> it's an honor to be here.