constructing dialogue

I’m sure I’m going to get kicked off a lot of emails lists if I keep doing this, but I couldn’t help but be fascinated by an email sent out over GOP-Open a few days ago:

Subject: [GOP-Open] conservative women – have strong feelings about feminism, bettyfriedan?

Let me know ASAP, like this night. We have an opportunity to put somebody on a panel on NPR radio to discuss this issue, taking place TOMORROW. They’re looking for “a smart, articulate young woman who feels disillusioned by the [feminist] movement.” You would probably be going up against people who are supporters of Betty Friedan / the more radical strain of feminism.

The whole thing reminds me of a strange episode during the Larry Summers/Sex Differences debate of last year. My blockmate was supposed to go on TV (as “the woman” representing the Crimson Ed Board) but was replaced when the show found out she had a nuanced, and not completely anti-Larry position (she wrote a great piece about it). Considering both incidents, it seems fair to ask: is there any reason to believe that any dialogue on TV or radio or anywhere else is “representative”?

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3 responses to “constructing dialogue

  1. It’s funny because while Friedan was radical for her time in a way, she was also a conservative feminist in the sense that she strongly opposed the “lavender menace”–queer women getting involved in the feminist movement around the same time. Her work focused on upper-middle-class white women (which is partly why it became so famous), and while ‘radical’ feminists today might appreciate her contributions to the historical development of feminism, they would also strongly critique many of her views. So it’s definitely not a ‘radicals-who-love-Betty vs. conservatives-who-hate-her’ kind of dichotomy…

  2. That is such a non-issue. why is it even worth mentioning that someone must agree with a point of view to represent that view to the media? the crimson thing with grice was a different deal. i think you’re just picking on gop-open with your pseudo-intellectual “hmm I find this to be an interesting trend among non-thinking peoples” perspective. keep up the insightful discourse! Let me know next time they send a (gasp) republican to represent a conservative point of view – the heartless mongrels

  3. Hey anonymous. I wasn’t attacking conservatives or any particular political position. I was simply pointing out that NPR, and in Morgan’s case a cable news station, chose the opinions it wanted to hear from without necessarily having any sense of how representative those choices were of people’s opinions in general. A random listener, or watcher, would think “oh, those are the two (or three) sides of the debate” without having any sense of whether or not specific opinions are majority, minority, or anything else.

    Again, this has nothing to do with particular politics, but is simply a recognition of the way in which dialogue is preconstructed. I would, for instance, be curious to know whether or not there are conservative women who, whether or not they agree with modern day strands of feminism, are happy that Friedan spoke up about career inequality and the ways in which women weren’t given choices outside of being housewives. This is not to say that there’s anything wrong with being a housewife or househusband, but just that there might be conservative women who are happy that they can now be CEOs and Senators and believe that Friedan had something to do with that.

    Sorry if what I was saying wasn’t clear…

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