COLUMN: Some women allow their voices to be smothered

Jen Steer

I am no Maureen Dowd. I do, however, have the strange urge to call former FEMA director, Michael Brown, a boob. Since Maureen did it, I thought I’d give it a try. Check out Dowd’s Nov. 5 column if you don’t believe me. Look at that, I just said boob in the paper. Wow, I am immature.

For all of you non-journalism majors out there, and the journalism majors who don’t keep up on their future profession, Maureen Dowd is a controversial liberal columnist for the New York Times.

But Dowd and I have more in common than most would think. We are of the few women who write for the op-ed pages of U. S. newspapers.

The Washington Monthly in April 2005 states that women write only 10 percent to 20 percent of the opinions for this country’s major papers. Even at top universities, only 10 percent to 25 percent of opinion columnists at daily newspapers are women. Kent State is an exception to the rule. Five out of nine columnists at the Daily Kent Stater are female.

A breakdown of some other numbers from the Washington Monthly show us some startling statistics. Seventy percent of letters to the editor and calls to NPR are made by men. One might want to draw from these figures that women don’t care about politics, or that women aren’t good enough, or maybe, that women should stay in the kitchen.

So my question is, ladies, why have we been silenced? Truth be told, we might be keeping each other and ourselves quiet. Some women are just not trying, and some are afraid to be told they are wrong.

It seems as though we have been reduced to little more than bitching. Instead of being known for educated comments in our political science classes, we are recognized for pointing at other girls and saying, “Do you see what she’s wearing?”

But this is not a slam on the female population. No, this is a call to action. Come on people, look at the byline. Do you really think I’m going to rip apart my own gender? Let’s be real.

Through these numbers, maybe a few of my classmates will raise their hand and make a comment in class, or write a letter to the editor about how horrible this column really is. And I realize that there are exceptions to every rule. So I applaud those females out there who already insert their opinions in their daily life.

This column’s topic has some ironic timing, especially since a kid recently said to me, “Oh, you’re that feminist Nazi who writes for the Stater.” The remark did not seem to be rooted in sarcasm and this startled me. If by “feminist Nazi” you mean a female who isn’t afraid to state her opinion, then I guess you’re right. I have never really had a problem with being labeled a feminist, it’s the Nazi part of that statement that irritated me more than anything. However, I realize that feminism has it’s misconceptions.

So even though some would call people like Maureen Dowd and I crazy, both for different reasons, remember that we make up just a small percentage of women. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Jen Steer is a sophomore broadcast news major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].