When I Was Six, I Made a Book

I know from observation that women, on average, have about 10 percent of the online clout “Klout” of men working in similar areas.

But where’s the data? Report after report about how women are using social media more than men. Using. Consuming. Listening to.

Things published by men.

But yes, there are statistics, compiled by the Women’s Media Center each year. As is customary, the report focuses mostly on the gender and ethnic background of the people making the media — traditional news, game design, television and radio, film. Publishing isn’t really covered. But there is some information about content. How many women vs. men have a voice?

“Unknown” probably refers to non-gender specific names in the survey. UNLV did the survey, so students probably did the best they could, and were right to say “unknown” if they couldn’t identify if the person quoted was male or female.

There weren’t many front-page stories in the New York Times in 2013 about “style,” but in that area, women were quoted half the time. In other main topics? Not so much.

The pain in the Women’s Media Center report is palpable. This Center was established by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem in 2005. I certainly know who Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda are; Robin Morgan is poet, author, activist, journalist and best-selling author. I’d never heard of her before in my life. All the Center knows to do, is what it is doing, what the founders provided funds for it to do. Count. Analyze. “Advocate.”

They did find some welcome humor in a Gawker analysis of the top newspaper columnists.

To which I’ll add:

In television, though it may “seem” or “feel” as though there are many new shows with minority or female leads, this isn’t the case by the numbers.

The cancellation of Tyler Perry’s show House of Payne took numbers back pre-2012. UCLA found a direct correlation between the ethnicity and gender of showrunners and who appeared on-screen in their shows. Big surprise: Tyler Perry is black and his shows feature mostly black characters. I’m putting this backward because “the other way around” is the way it is. Has been.

Regarding how black women are portrayed, Essence did a study of perceptions of black female characters as they are portrayed, and it is just plain too painful for me to repeat at length. Bottom line: black women see other black women portrayed on screen as such stereotypes as “baby mamas” and “fat, unhealthy black women” or “angry black women” but they think of and know more women who fit the terms “young phenoms,” “girls next door” and “matriarchs.” White women who were surveyed actually thought of black women as the stereotypes of “angry black women” or “baby mamas.” Newer terms such as “ratchet” turned up in the younger group of women surveyed.

Because these issues are separated by race and ethnicity, it’s hard to tease out the differences — which is worse? Being seen as a “baby mama,” or an “angry black woman” or barefoot, subservient and pregnant, waiting to get hit? As I saw this a.m. in a YouTube comment from a man on Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk: “Like an egg salad sandwich in Texas in the summer — full of eggs but only appealing for a short time.” The taste level on that comment was this: this guy felt fully-entitled to go on her talk and make that comment only a few days after her husband Dave Goldberg had died. And that is one of the most-powerful female executives in America; that is someone who made it all the way through, made a beautiful life, and made life beautiful for others.

When I was six, I made a book.

When I was 21, I was that egg salad sandwich. I got hit. And worse. When I was 30, I had that baby. When I was 40, I had another. He died. I never forgot about that book, the one that I made.

Now I ain’t got no more eggs.

But I’ve got a new baby. And another one.

I got me some partners too. They are women and men. They are all ages, and all colors.

Here’s another stat: against all odds, worldwide, the majority of emerging new companies are led by women. Women own fully one-third of new SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises) worldwide. They are the ones who are creating the new jobs and opportunities.

According to Igor Goldkind (not me — and last time I checked, Igor was a man), “women includes MEN.”

Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg were thought of as the most-powerful couple in Silicon Valley. She helped him; he helped her. Together, they built their life and raised their family. Now, the family is grief-stricken because he was taken before his time.

I’m not Gloria Steinem. I’m not Jane Fonda. I’m not Robin Morgan. I’m not any person who thinks of themselves as a “brand.”

When I was six, I made a book. That is who I am.

Come and make a book with us.


Originally published at www.amysterlingcasil.com on May 4, 2015.

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