So you'd think the New Yorker wouldn't be sexist at all. But it is sexist. The first way it is sexist is its persistently lopsided male:female contributor ratio. Now this ratio is not uncommon - all prestige fields are dominated by men. In fact, some have argued and provided evidence for the possibility that any field that women come to dominate is automatically demoted, prestige-wise because it is felt to have become too polluted by girl cooties.
But the New Yorker, being the most liberal and literary publication around should be better than that.
The indispensible blog The Sexist has been having an awesome Man Madness tournament to determine which organizations in the D.C. area are most male-dominated. They don't include The New Yorker, so I did my own review.
I don't look at the New Yorker's org chart the way The Sexist does, but rather the contributor roster. Let's just look at a selection from 2010 at random - because I don't have all day - also I'm not counting the cartoonists as contributors although the gender ratio for cartoonists is probably even more skewed in the XY direction. Also not counted, "web only" content:
January 4, 2010
Female contributors: 3
January 18, 2010
Female contributors: 7
February 1, 2010
Female contributors: 9
February 8, 2010
Female contributors: 3
March 22, 2010
Female contributors: 3
April 5, 2010
Female contributors: 6
Note that not only did no issue have more female than male contributors, most of these issues didn't even come close to 50% female contributors.
To return to the cartoonists - not only are there more male cartoonists, but the New Yorker's legacy of sexism is even more obvious in its cartoons. Not just the obvious belief on the part of most of its cartoonists that male is the default gender (and of course our entire society runs on that belief) but every now and then you get the most crass regressive olde tyme bullshit - like the cartoon in this week's New Yorker:
The gal-pal sister blog of The Sexist, called Tiger Beatdown, examines the pernicious effects of that Mars-Venus propaganda in her review of (500) Days of Summer:
And that is where shit gets REAL complex. Because, like: I have been in the situation of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in this film. It’s a common situation. It’s not a fun situation, necessarily. It’s also not a situation which mandates going on a rant about “whores” in one’s place of work, but whatever. The thing is, I think I find it easier to maintain my high-mindedness and cool in those situations than another person might. Specifically, a person who is a dude. Despite the much-vaunted crazy clingy psycho bitchiness of my gender, I think it’s easier for me to be gracious in those situations precisely because I am a girl.
Because girls frankly expect this behavior from guys. We are told, continually and throughout our lives and in every major media outlet and dating guide, that Guys Are Just Like That. Or the vast majority of them, anyway. Guys want physical contact, girls want emotional contact, we’re told; therefore, if we make physical contact with a guy, we should not expect emotional contact to follow. Granted, to hope is not to expect, and the entire courting structure is basically designed to allow us to perform a semi-realistic risk analysis, but girls are still basically informed that this entire deal, this sex and/or dating deal, is a game of poker and you shouldn’t play unless you can afford to lose something, and you should be cautious with your bets.
Dudes, on the other hand, are apparently entirely unprepared for this. Girls want emotional contact, they’re told, and guys want physical contact; therefore, if they make emotional contact with a girl, they can reasonably expect it to be reciprocated. And when it’s not, it’s like gravity suddenly stopped working. This just isn’t how things go; it’s an outrage; she’s cold, evil, a monster. Or at least this is what I can uncover from the dudely works of Nathan Rabin and (500) Days of Summer. They’re playing the same game of poker as the rest of us, these guys, but they think it’s play money. Which means that when it’s time to pay up, that sucks extra-hard.
So, yes: (500) Days of Summer is a movie about a boy who acts like a girl and a girl who acts like a boy. But here’s why I’m not thrilled about this: If Zooey Deschanel were actually a boy, and in this situation, most people would not perceive her as the problem. She wouldn’t be a monster, a whore, a freak; she’d just be a dude. And she’d get to complain about the clingy psycho bitch she fucked who’s now, like, putting all this pressure on, that bitch is fucking CRAZY, she just hooked up with the girl, she didn’t buy her an engagement ring, etc. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt, were he an actual girl, would be getting some sympathy from his lady friends, true, but he would also be getting well-meaning lectures about how Dudes Are Like That, and what did he expect, and he needs to be more cautious about these things and not put out so easily, and has he ever read a book called “He’s Just Not That Into You?” He should read that book. He would be told, to be blunt, that he was the real problem in this situation.
So the verdict, in case you were wondering, is that if girls fall for boys, and those boys don’t fall for them, they are clingy bitches. And if girls don’t fall for boys, and those boys DO fall for them, they are heartless bitches. No matter how this situation goes, if there turns out to be an inequality of desire, you’re getting called a bitch.