May 16, 2014
“An-Grey Lady”: This Incredibly Sexist New York Post Cover Is Bullshit
Ok, ok. We know better than to expect any sort of nuance from New York Post covers (or, you know, from New York Post anythings), but we were still incredibly disappointed to see today’s cover featuring recently dismissed New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson with the headline “An-Grey Lady.” And, no, we were not solely upset because the Post apparently couldn’t get it together enough to realize that—here in America—it’s spelled “Gray Lady.” Nor were we just annoyed because this was the second time this week that the Post ran an explicitly sexist cover (the first time was regarding the Jay Z/Solange Knowles elevator fight and said “Cray-Z”). Rather, we’re pissed off because the Post appropriated an Instagram by Abramson’s daughter in order to exploit the stereotype of Abramson as being brusque and pushy and just flat-out aggressive. Stay classy, New York Post.
Obviously this is a photo that Abramson is fine with having released and on record, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ok for the Post to employ that photo as a part of some narrative in which Abramson is cast as being some sort of wronged woman who is seeking revenge at any cost. There have been exactly zero indications that Abramson is behaving in a way that is anything other than measured and rational, and so to deploy the stereotype of her being an “angry woman” is inflammatory at best, and sexist at worst. The “angry woman” stereotype also frequently implies a level of recklessness indicating that the foundation for a woman’s rage is more emotional than reasonable, thus making it easier to dismiss her anger as being baseless.
This is patently not the case with Abramson, and as we’re finding out more about the circumstances of her dismissal, it’s becoming crystal clear that she was not treated in a way that befit her status as either an Executive Editor of the Times or, frankly, as any kind of professional person. Yesterday, Ken Auletta (whose coverage of this story has been exemplary) revealed in the New Yorker that the rumors of pay disparity between Abramson and her predecessor, Bill Keller, which were thought to be one of the causes for Abramson’s dissatisfaction with her employer and subsequent dismissal, were all true. Not only that, though, but, in her other positions at the paper, Abramson had also earned far less than the men who held comparable jobs. This type of unequal treatment is infuriating and is absolutely cause for Abramson to be as mad as she wants to be—any man would feel the same. So for the Post to treat Abramson’s presumed rage as some kind of joke is a pathetic display of how quickly we resort to diminishing and dismissing the justifiable anger that women have for a frequently unjust patriarchal system.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen
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