The conversations women have

…because men don’t get to see the articles.

I want to revisit my criticism of Daily Life (Fairfax’s site for women), in light of a conversation I had on the weekend about taking parental leave when you’re the relationship’s highest earner. I have no doubt that my friend talks about this with her partner, but it got me thinking about how public conversations around parenting are always put in women’s spaces.

I stand by my first impression of Daily Life. It was disappointing that the editor, Sarah Oakes, left it up to her freelancers to defend the site from substantive criticism on twitter. That’s very poor form. (Also poor form was Oakes’ boyfriend Pete coming on here to tell us we were wrong, without declaring his relationship.)

Anyway, have a look at the topics on the site, and the other Fairfax sites at the bottom of any given page on Daily Life:

Topics covered on Daily Life

Fairfax sections and websites promoted at the bottom of Daily Life

I know they’re a little hard to see, but I’m squeezing the bottom (giggle) of the website into a third of the page.

Now look at what’s promoted at the bottom of the national news section:

Fairfax sections and websites promoted at the bottom of the SMH national news section

Fairfax sections and websites promoted at the bottom of the SMH national news section

And at the bottom of the business section:

Fairfax sections and websites promoted at the bottom of the SMH business section

Fairfax sections and websites promoted at the bottom of the SMH business section

Now, I’m going to tell you something really shocking.

Are you ready?

MEN ARE PARENTS TOO.

I know, I know, ASIO will open a file on me for saying something so subversive on the internet.

And this is the main problem I have with Fairfax’s decision to put all articles about relationships and parenting in a section where men are highly unlikely to see them. If an article about heterosexual relationships is worth publishing, then it’s worth making at least a tiny effort to put that article where some male eyeballs might see it. After all, it involves them too. And until articles about parenting are promoted across all sections, it will continue to be considered a women’s issue, and we’ll continue to have this problem:

Men + work + family = completely normal

Women + work + family = wanting to “have it all”, followed by “being unreasonable” and “probably selfish”

(More on those equations here.)

Likewise, articles about how men demean women should not be filed away in a section for women so that only women will read them and nod furiously. For example, Why women still can’t enjoy sex by Clementine Ford should be in a place where everyone will see it. Particularly those eeediots who call you a slut when you say you don’t want to have sex with them:

“In order to diminish women in our culture, we accuse them of enjoying sex. Worse, we accuse them of wanting it. We talk about them as looking ‘used’, or having ‘done the rounds’, or needing a ‘solid pounding’. It’s no coincidence that the majority of criticisms made towards Yumi Stynes had to do with how much sex she’s supposedly given away for free.”

The article is a week old – I found it today via twitter – but to my knowledge it wasn’t promoted on the smh.com.au homepage.

(I do have to mention Richard Glover’s contribution, All men think all women are beautiful, which comes down to ‘it doesn’t matter how women feel about themselves because all that really matters is that men think they’re hot’. That’s a contender for the David Penberthy Award for Dumbest Contribution to Body Image Discussions. I have no problem with articles about men finding women attractive. Just as I have no problem with articles about women finding men attractive. And women finding women attractive. And men finding men attractive. But I do have a problem when these articles frame body image problems in terms of ‘women are too silly to know that men find them hot’.)

I’m not saying that it is Fairfax’s responsibility to make Australian society a better place. Fairfax is a business, not a group hug. But wouldn’t it be nice if they showed just a little bit of imagination when it comes to getting eyeballs on content that relates to most of their audience?

34 responses to “The conversations women have

  1. And on the equations — I’ve also noticed that men whose jobs take them away from their children for long periods of time are making sacrifices for their family, but women who do the same tend to be bad parents.

  2. And the other point that your example nicely illustrates is the assumption that services related to careers, investing and buying property aren’t worth featuring on a women’s website. It’s funny how two little graphics can say so much, isn’t it? Good post :)

  3. I think this post is great and I am going to share it around.

    • Thanks rhiannondavis. I wasn’t sure if that comment was spam, since it’s not as colourful as your usual comments.

      • I’m not feeling colourful right now – I am exhausted and also have two assignments due in on Friday – A Database theory one (Entities, attributes, and ER charts!) and an Information Systems one (Gantt charts).
        And I drove to the Central Coast on the weekend so that the boys could see their dad and I am still recovering from that! (Still on Red Ps).
        (I have politely got my breeding out of the way so I will be a Loyal Employee of whatever company or department chooses to hire me once I finish my Grad. Dip.)
        I have a possibly-only-answerable-by-Wordpress question – why do I have to link to another (WordPress or Facebook or some such) account to comment here now, instead of just being able to sign up with my name and email?
        I haven’t written anything on my blog for ages and it is embarrassing!

        Anyway.
        Using my brain again is hard but good. I am very happy! Even living at my parent’s place!

        • You’re having that problem too? I don’t know what wordpress is doing, but it’s making it harder for people to comment and even read the blog on crackberries/iphones.

          Now, well done on the driving and the visit. And going back to uni. I have no idea what your assignments mean, but it’s the sort of thing ManFriend gets excited by.

          • I recently ran into a problem where I was being told I needed to sign in over and over again. I had to enable third party cookies and add an SSL security exception in order to fix it. There still appears to be some weirdness going on, though. Especially around being able to change my Gravatar.

            Just thought this might help someone.

            • By the way, DontSueMeMTR, I didn’t ask you to remove your gravatar. I said I found it antagonistic and that I felt you’d made your point. It’s a little different.

              • Right. You said that twice in two consecutive comments and also said the name and gravatar were making it hard to respond. I thought that was enough. I don’t expect you or anyone else to believe it, but I’m not here to be annoying.

      • Well well well – since I started a website (for a CMS assignment for uni) and got a whole host of those ridiculous ‘Thanks for a great post’ comments with a URL for some commercial site attached, I can finally understand why you thought such a bland innocuous comment was spam! Hee hee. Sorry. Shall try to be my usual scintillating self from now on.

        • You’d better!

          How’s uni going? What’s the blog about?

          • The blog was just about random crap (me mostly) it was to demonstrate proficiency in the use of a content management system – embedding youtube clips, images, DC metadata, enabling comments, using widgets, blah blah blah.
            Uni is going, er, well. I am swinging wildly between interested and apathetic and TERRIFIED.
            Just had to write a desktop GUI app in Java – needless to say I needed my hand held.
            And I have learnt the hard way that not being a visual person is really no excuse when dealing with business and systems development diagrams…*clutches head in hands*
            AND lots of exams coming up!
            But I am happy in general and things are going well, also in general.
            Kids well.

  4. I found this sort of horror when I had an enquiry about Kleenex Tissues (which ended up being a sensitivity to a soap one of my kids had bought that the tissues were stored next to.. but anyway…) http://www.kleenexmums.com.au/ Yep – Apparently Kimberly-Clark also thinks mothers are the only active parents. When I called them to apologise about the soap storage issue I pointed out that this wasn’t 1912, and that more and more fathers were taking on the role as the primary caregiver. They told me that men could join this site, but looking at it now, I don’t see any evidence of this happening.

    • Why would men join if it’s called Kleenex Mums? They probably don’t even know about it because the advertising is targeted at women. Like Woolworths and their Fresh Food Mums. Grrr.

      Junkmailstats, welcome to the News with Nipples.

  5. 1. Agree with you about Daily Life. I stopped reading it when I saw the the news “feature” was that there was a new Kath and Kim movie coming out. (Which by the way I am totally looking forward to, but I just don’t see it as feature news worthy material for a “smart and irreverent” women like myself.)
    2. Men + work + family = completely normal
    Women + work + family = wanting to “have it all”. That is so true! I live in Sweden the EU approved most equal country in the world, and still this is the prevailing attitude.
    3. I loved this post and I am going to try to spread it around if I can work out how to do. I’m a chick and therefore not very hi-tech.**
    **I wish this was a sarcastic jab at stereotypes and not as it is, the unfortunate truth.

    • I get the good bits from Daily Life via twitter, but the rest is just meh.

      I’m surprised to hear that Sweden has this problem. I thought Sweden was supposed to be perfect?

      (Also, don’t blame your vagina for not being hi-tech. Blame the fact that you’re just not interested in it. I know plenty of female tech lovers and also male tech whateverers.)

    • Copying and pasting the URL on the tool-bar thingie up the top of the page is a good way to do it, or clicking on the various ‘share’ buttons – I copy and paste URLS (Uniform Resource Locator)(Smug newly-acquiring-nerd-stuff-in-my-brain-thingie-smirk) if I am going to send the link in an email.

  6. No it worked! And the other stuff too! I can leernnn….

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