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      I’ve been a big reader since I was perhaps 7 years old. In grade one I actually had remedial English: I’d been taught both whole word and phonics and it had screwed me up. Once I learned to actually read, I fell in love with it, trudging to the library, taking out the maximum and luxuriating in other worlds and other lives. I always find the strivers, attemp […]
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MSNBC and the Hopes of Adolescent Girls (with pithy update)

Here is the letter that I sent to MSNBC this morning:

Dear MSNBC,
You’ve probably gotten a lot of letters like mine in the past couple of days so I’ll keep this short. But I would like you to pay attention to WHY I am taking these actions.
Due to the macho, frat boy behavior of your hosts on MSNBC in the past couple of months, I am removing Countdown with Keith Olbermann from my DVR schedule. You can find more details on my reason for doing this at my blog https://riverdaughter.wordpress.com/2008/02/08/thats-it-im-taking-countdown-off-my-dvr-schedule/. According to my blog statistics, this post is number one among the people who were referred to my blog.
And here is my #1 reason for doing it: I have a 12 year old daughter who is a regular consumer of Countdown. She’s very gifted. She’s at a crucial age, a turning point, where there are both subtle and overt pressures put on girls like her to squelch their interests in math and science. It’s not womanly to be so smart. Think about how much talent the world loses when girls like her turn off their minds so they can fit into the world of men.
So, I can’t let her be exposed to the systemic and pervasive sexist behavior at MSNBC. The worst offender is Chris Matthews but I don’t have him on my DVR schedule. I am recording Countdown nightly. And I know that at 3am every morning, my satellite company does disk diagnostics on my DVR, looking at what I’ve recorded and watched. And I suspect that they pass that information on to you so you can present it to advertisers and Keith can brag about it. And Jack Welch, that master of “Rank and Yank”, the uber salesman whose bottom line at all costs method of getting ahead in the world is probably the source of this aggressive machismo, will use the ad revenue to decide what program stays on MSNBC. (See? We girls aren’t stupid)
In any case, you’ve lost me as a viewer. You suspended Shuster but you should have suspended Matthews. You apologized but an apology is insufficient. We’ve heard apologies before and Chris has said that he “gets it”. Subsequent shows of his indicate that he does not get it at all nor do many of your male hosts.
So, I can’t let my daughter’s self-image be tainted by this anymore. I’m sure that if more of your hosts had adolescent daughters, they’d think twice about behaving this way.
Too late now.
Sincerely,

My name, etc, blah-blah-blah

UPDATE: ARghhh! Don’t you just hate it when the point you’ve been trying to make crystallizes after you’ve hit the send button? Here’s the nugget at the core of the MSNBC controversy:

Throughout the American experience, we have said that the aspirations of boys are unlimited. Every boy in America has the ability to grow up to be president if he wants to. He just has to set his goal and work hard and someday he could be President of the United States. bill clinton shakes JFK’s hand

MSNBC is saying the exact opposite to girls. It is saying: no matter how hard you work, how much you accomplish, how you aspire or dream, you will NOT be President of the United States because we won’t let you, you’re a girl.HR delivers commencement speech

That’s it. No other reason. We just don’t let girls be president. We will make sure to promote the boy at your expense and we will make fun of you. Your self-worth is meaningless to us. It’s tradition. Now run along and bring me a beer.

This is what MSNBC is saying.

Alegre has a another take on this in her diary at DailyKos. Check it and rec it.

By the way, if anyone has sent me email recently and didn’t receive a reply, please send it again. There was a glitch in my account but it’s been fixed now. Unfortunately, the previous email is irretrievable.