Not coming soon to a TV near you

old_school_tvAaaaand … we’re back.

Took a brief hiatus to focus more on paid writing but you all were never far from mind.  No fair blaming me for that — if you all paid me, these last three sentences would have added about $50 to my bank account.  Insert unironic smilie here.

We’re back, with this: the host of a local current affairs program took to the show’s blog to say some mind-bogglingly obtuse comments about why it’s hard to book women for his show.

He basically offers up three explanations as to why male guests agree to appear and women don’t:

  1. Child care duties: “No man will ever say, “Sorry, can’t do your show tonight, I’m taking care of my kids.”
  2. Concerns about appearance: “No man will say, “Sorry, can’t do your show tonight, my roots are showing.”
  3. Perceived lack of expertise: “No man will say, “Sorry can’t do your show tonight, I’m not an expert in that particular aspect of the story.”

I’ve felt the pressures of each of those at various times but to paint the challenges as some sort of gender essentialism is … well, plainly put, it’s bullshit.

(Note that he also says that it’s been particularly challenging in the last couple of weeks.  Hello, March Break.)

Now, I’ve not been asked to appear on the program but I can think of many reasons why I do take a pass on personal media opportunities, and they’re not as simple as that 1-2-3.

As I said on Twitter:

I write op-eds for other people all the time and the starting point is always the same … namely, I know very little. Research it, write it, edit it, submit. If I can do this for others, why not for myself?

I have no formal authority (job title, graduate degree, etc.).

I occasionally have work conflicts that preclude free expression.

I work hard to see different perspectives, which makes arguing one’s own opinion more challenging.

I don’t have a lot of free time.

Like most people, I’m not a fan of rejection.

I’m more aware than most that published thoughts live forever.

Other reasons, too.

But, you know, the show’s producers aren’t therapists and I’m not an asshole.  I wouldn’t waste their time explaining why I feel insecure about my level of experience and expertise, because time is short and they need to get off the phone with me and onto the next prospect.  Frustrated producers might take my polite “Have to watch the kids” as an excuse, but it’s not an excuse if it feels, for me, to be true.

I’ve passed on going out to some networking events I probably should have attended, because I had nothing to wear.  I mean, I live in jeans and seven-year-old yoga pants, no joke.  I’m lucky in that I’ve got a few great contracts right now and can finally afford to buy new clothes.  But I hate shopping.  And I have a great partner who will happily watch the kids while I go shopping, but that’s not how I want to spent my childless time.

Do you see what I’m getting at, here?

Sometimes we legitimately have to watch the kids.  And sometimes that’s shorthand for, “I don’t feel pretty,” and “I don’t feel smart,” and “I don’t trust you,” and “I don’t want to disappoint everyone.”

So it’s not that easy.  If you come at an issue as challenging as the representation of women in media with the impression that there’s an easy answer and you’re just missing something … well … you’re half right.

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  1. All this is so true. My blog has been limping along because paid work is taking precedence, and while I whine about it to my parents (a lot), I get it.
    I notice when they (particularly Mum) back off from making more aggressive pitches that could result in even better work…it’s all of the above, and you said it very well.

  2. Wow, that is truly maddening, what this host said. His show must not be all that desirable if he keeps getting these excuses. I like your take on it though…Thanks for opening up the conversation – I don’t think I would have guessed that’s why all these 60 year old men are always guests and not women. Anyway, welcome back and it’s great you have been busy with paid work!

  3. I have to agree with Robin here. If this particular show was any good people would be clamouring to be on it. Maybe this man should take a long look at himself.

If you think I’m talking about you here, yeah, you’re probably right.

If you think I’m talking about you here, yeah, you’re probably right.


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