the absurd observers

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Applebaum weighs in on Kinsley v. Estrich

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This conversation was sparked, as media junkies will know, by a bizarre attack launched on Michael Kinsley, now the editorial and opinion editor of the Los Angeles Times, by Susan Estrich, a self-styled feminist. In a ranting, raving series of e-mails last month, all of which were leaked, naturally, Estrich accused Kinsley of failing to print enough articles by women, most notably herself, and of resorting instead to the use of articles by men, as well as by women who don't count as women because they don't write with "women's voices."

Here I declare an interest: Michael Kinsley hired me to write an op-ed column when he was the editor of the online magazine Slate. As for Estrich, I don't know much about her at all, except that she's just launched a conversation that is seriously bad for female columnists and writers. None of the ones I know -- and, yes, I conducted an informal survey -- want to think of themselves as beans to be counted, or as "female journalists" with a special obligation to write about "women's issues." Most of them got where they are by having clear views, knowing their subjects, writing well and learning to ignore the ad hominem attacks that go with the job. But now, thanks to Estrich, every woman who gets her article accepted will have to wonder whether it was her knowledge of Irish politics, her willingness to court controversy or just her gender that won the editor over.

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