Fem2.0: White House Council on Women and Girls – Where’s the News Media?

Were you, like us, thrilled by the news that President Obama has created a Council on Women and Girls, putting Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen in charge? Read more about why we should be thrilled, here.

We were less thrilled, however, to see the scanty coverage by the mainstream news media. Perhaps we are naive, but we were hoping for front-page stories. Instead, the New York Times mentions it in its Caucus and Motherlode blogs, while the likes of the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal do not report on it AT ALL.

Critics say that the new council is just an executive order and not legislation; that it does not have Cabinet rank; that it's nothing more than a hollow gesture to make the administration look good. Well, World War II Japanese-American internment camps happened under executive order, and so did the desegregation of public schools. Finessing the Geneva Conventions to allow torture was also by executive order. And while the new council does not have Cabinet rank, the whole Cabinet, from the Secretary of Defense to the US Ambassador to the United Nations, is required to serve on it.

The new council could very well prove to be nothing more than window dressing; it will ultimately depend on the political resolve behind it. But public support strengthens political resolve. If the news media does not think the council significant enough to actually inform the public about it, then the chances for broad-based support diminishes, giving political resolve the chance to fade away. This lack of interest from MSM -- about what amounts to a pledge from the President to take the concerns and lives of American women seriously, a pledge that would be of interest to more than half the people in this country -- betrays its continuing male bias.

Thank God the women who are watching can take it upon ourselves to let the country know about the council and what it means. It's up to us to shore up that political will to make sure the White House Council on Women and Girls fulfills its promise.

This Week's Fem2.0 Twittercast

Topic: Power and Women
Moderator: Madama Ambi
March 15, 2009, 10 PM EST
To join Twittercast, see here.

Madama Ambi writes: "The hardest job is convincing women to take their power. It hurts to say this. Women are ambivalent about power. They don't know what it is, they don't know where it comes from, and they're not sure it's a good thing to have."

Read the read of Madama Ambi's conversation starter, here.

March 22 Twittercast: Special Invitation to Younger Women - What Do You Want to Tell Feminism?
March 29 Twittercast: Feminism and Marriage

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  • http://madamaambi.blogspot.com MadamaAmbi

    Gloria–I am totally and completely UNsurprised that MSM has not covered this…which is why I join you in shouting out to ALL WOMEN that NOW is the time to bear down and push!

    Push on Obama and Jarrett and Tchen. Find out how many degrees of separation there are between you and people in the O-administration and start presenting them with our ideas, our needs, our energy. Organize, organize, organize among ourselves so that we can get heft behind our calls for change.

    I notice that already the Feminist Majority Campus conference has Tina Tchen on it’s speaker list! YOU GO GIRLS!!! Hey, I don’t travel well…or really, at all…because of fibromyalgia, BUT, I would absolutely get on a plane and get my ass to DC with a GINORMOUS CONTINGENT OF SISTERS TO PRESENT OUR NEEDS ASSESSMENT TO the Council.

    Yes ma’am! MSM doesn’t think the Council is news? Well, let’s make some goddam freakin’ news for them! Let’s show up on Capitol Hill or at The White House with a goddam mile-long scroll of what needs to get done! Let’s present it to every Secretary designated to be on the Council and all those other muckity-mucks on the Council. Let’s put the Council and the COUNTRY ON NOTICE that WE take this very seriously and we expect great things.

    OK? So, who is gonna join me in this uppittyness? Let’s make some goddam street theater out of this major major major event in the lives of WOMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t underestimate my ability to orchestrate agit prop with costumes, music and the beating of drums! My megaphone needs a little exercise…if you think I’m being hyperbolic, you don’t know me…it’s SHOWTIME!!!!

  • http://www.womaninwashington.org valerie

    I sent this letter to the Editor of the Washingtpn Post:

    On Wednesday, the President created the White House Council on Women and Girls by Executive Order in a public event with dozens of women’s advocates and grassroots leaders present in the East Room. The stated objective of the Council is to ensure equal treatment of women in all matters of public policy. The members are all Cabinet Secretaries and the heads of numerous federal agencies. The Chair is one of the President’s closest advisors, Valerie Jarrett.

    Your coverage of this event is one paragraph buried in an article about another event on the inside of the “Style” section. What are you thinking? That the female portion of your ever-dwindling readership isnt’ looking at the “A” section? That the female subject matter compels placement in the section devoted to lifestyle, entertainment, arts and culture? That women don’t care about public policy?

    The future of this country will largely depend on the productivity of women, in terms of both birth rate and ecnomic output. Women’s economic status has implications in every realm of our private and public life. Women’s economic security translates directly to the existence and potential of our future workforce and the vigor of our economy in a global market. Our national aspirations are severely compromised if women are not free from battering in their homes and cannot afford or obtain health care for themselves and their families. The stated objectives of the White House Council on Women and Girls acknowledge all of these realities and commit a coordinated federal response to them. What were once diminished and dismissed as “women’s issues” are now rightly seen as “family issues and economic issues”. That is a radical departure from mainstream American thought in the very recent past. And that is news.

    Valerie A. Young
    Advocacy Coordinator
    National Association of Mothers’ Centers (NAMC)
    Coordinating Committee – MOTHERS Initiative
    http://www.MothersCenter.org
    http://www.MothersOughtToHaveEqualRights.org
    ValerieY@motherscenter.org
    MOTHERS HELPING MOTHERS

  • http://blog.shapingyouth.org Amy Jussel

    Gloria, I think this Washington Post piece today sums the looooong way we have to go here: http://tinyurl.com/brebqh

  • fsteele

    So if they ever have a meeting and take a vote on anything, Obama’s 75% male Cabinet plus his department heads will control it.

    He’s made a ‘Council’ title with no opportunity for the public to suggest real feminists to head it, given that empty title to advisors who are already busy advising him on his own re-election, who don’t even pretend to have feminist credits…

    Sounds like he’s making a lot of firewalls between his re-election and any real power to any real feminists.

  • http://dnmppolitico.blogspot.com DNMP

    I am also not surprised for the lack of coverage about the council. Unfortunately, there is just so much going on right now (between the economic crisis and AIG Bonuses) and the media seems to only focus on two to three things. However, with the 24 hour news cycle you would think SOMEONE would be plugging this.

    I think the current suggestions are great! I plan to do a special post about the Council soon. Finally, is there a way that we can better draw media attention. I know that the Purple Tunnel of Doom got media attention as the Facebook group went from 3-4 ppl to thousands in a matter of days. Maybe a FB or MySpace group needs to be formed to draw attention to the lack of media coverage. Also, does anyone know what some of the “big” women’s groups are doing with this lack of media attention. I know The White House Project did send a message to its members about the small number of women being appointed to President Obama’s cabinet. Could it be possible to get one of these groups to join us in this call to action by the media?

    Take care,

    DNMP