Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Journalistic Misrepresentation at Slate's New Woman-Oriented Publication "Double X"


By Mark B. Rosenthal

November 7, 2009

On Thursday, November 5, 2009, Slate.com's new woman-oriented publication "Double X" published Kathryn Joyce's article "'Men's Rights' Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective," based in large part on her interview with me.

When Ms. Joyce first contacted me, she clearly stated that she considers herself a feminist. But the label "feminist" means different things to different people. There are many people I respect who sincerely believe that calling themselves "feminist" means they support equal treatment for men as well as for women. Unfortunately there are also many people who publicly proclaim that "feminist" means equal treatment, but accept as an article of faith that all women are oppressed and all men are oppressors.

I've found that conversations that rely heavily on labels tend to close minds, whereas conversations that avoid labels and instead discuss real human experience can often be far more productive in opening minds. I chose to speak to Ms. Joyce fully aware that her friendly demeanor might be nothing more than play-acting to mask an "all men are oppressors" attitude, but hopeful that she might truly believe in equal treatment for all and might be capable of ordinary human compassion. On occasion I've had some success informing "equal treatment for all" type feminists about injustices they've previously been unaware of, and building bridges to people like that is one of the most effective steps one can take toward healing the injustices and suffering in the world. So I felt it worthwhile to make the effort with Ms. Joyce. Although I was disappointed, I was not surprised to find that when the mask was removed, she turned out to be an "all men are oppressors" type feminist.

According to the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists (http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp), journalistic ethics require that journalists:

seek truth and report it,
that journalists:
Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
and that journalists:
Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context...http://www.breakingthescience.org/DoubleXMisrepresentation.php