Monday, January 28, 2008

Ms. is Making Me Reconsider

I've always had a little chip on my shoulder about Ms. Magazine. I'm not thrilled about Gloria Steinem, and it was all a little too mainstream for me.

But maybe I've been wrong. Looking at the website, the magazine truly seems to be working to educate people on global issues that affect women. Maybe I should give it a shot.

What brought the magazine to my attention this time? Israel.

The American Jewish Congress tried to buy space in the magazine for the ad pictured here. It shows three Israeli women, one of which is profiled in the issue in question. Though I'm not sure why the magazine originally agreed to publish the ad, it's clear why they rejected it in the end.

According to the magazine's press release on the subject,

"Ms. policy is to accept only mission-driven advertisements from primarily non-profit, non-partisan organizations that promote women’s equality, social justice, sustainable environment, and non-violence."

In Ms. magazine’s judgment, the ad submitted by AJCongress for consideration was inconsistent with this policy. Not only could the ad be seen as favoring certain political parties within Israel over other parties, but also with its slogan “This is Israel,” the ad implied that women in Israel hold equal positions of power with men. Israel, like every other country, has far to go to reach equality for women. As the Israel Women’s Network notes: “Women have consistently received symbolic representation in Israeli politics, at least sufficient enough to generate the myth of an open and egalitarian system.”

The AJCongress press release compared its ad with the cover story Ms. ran when Congressmember Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House. However, when Ms. featured Speaker Pelosi on its cover with the words “This is What a Speaker Looks Like,” we did not claim that “This is what the USA looks like.” Far from it, since women comprise only 17% of the Congress, ranking 65th in the world in women’s representation, and continue to face discrimination in every aspect of American society.

If this is truly the reason the magazine rejected the ad, good for them. They make a great point.

If they're wary of appearing to favor Israel over Palestine, I think that's okay too.

Anyway, I think maybe I'll give the magazine a shot.


varney said...

Ms.' initial response (published and circulated by AJC) was poor, skimpy--sorry, I didn't save it--different from the one you excerpted. I haven't seen a press release by Ms. (unless the recent letter was a press release), but I think it would have helped for them to point out that Israel has a dozen or more parties represented in the Knesset, not just the two parties plus a single independent that we have in our Congress. Many of the commenters I saw after the initial rejection letter thought Ms. was saying it'd be showing political preference and commenters couldn't understand why they'd say that since 2 of the women were in one party and 1 in the other, so how cld that be showing preference?

But yes, it's true, as you point out that Ms. doesn't "do politics."

varney said...

Oops! stupid me--I skimmed your blog entry too quickly. Thanks for linking to their press release. I've not seen it until now.