Are women too nice to be columnists?

Shut the hell up already, says Katha Pollitt.

By Lynn Harris

Published December 14, 2005 8:03PM (EST)

Broadsheet's crush on Katha Pollitt (which is totally requited!) grows ever-huger this week with Pollitt's exasperated response to yet another suggestion -- from someone on our side! -- that women are "never going to change the gender equation on op-ed pages until more women are willing to take on the risks that come with writing for them."

Pollitt responded to Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz in a letter to media guru Jim Romenesko's Web site: "Another fiesta of handwringing and blaming the dearth of women columnists on women's lack of moxie. I can't stand it! Women now make up half of all med students (Blood! Gore! every day you could kill someone with a tiny mistake!), half of all law students (arguments! crazy clients! people being really mean to you all day long!). Women are increasing their numbers in virtually every male-dominated profession from engineering to politics -- except opinion journalism. For this, and this only, women are just too shy and nice. I don't believe it," Pollitt writes. "The truth is, women are still perceived as a special interest on the op-ed page -- one is enough, just the way one person of color is enough. Women don't get equal mentoring, the same chances to prove themselves, are shifted over toward editing and toward writing for style and culture sections, writing 'from home' and writing those b-s stories about how feminism is dead and women just want to hang out at Starbucks with the other moms. Even so, there are plenty of women RIGHT NOW who could take on a column and do brilliantly. Where are the job offers for them? It's not like every man with a column is a pundit of genius, either."

Pollitt also notes that (irritating exceptions aside) "women writers are disproportionately liberal and feminist in an era in which the media is rather conservative," adding that ... oh, just go read it.

Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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