Feminism’s New Voices: Vice’s Broadly & ‘We Are The XX’ Charting New Paths In Media

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Every year, the Women’s Media Center, founded by feminist leader Gloria Steinem, released a report on the status of women in the US media. In their latest report detailing the representation of women in film and TV, both scripted and non-scripted, the overwhelming message was that women are still outnumbered by men in the majority of categories, although there are some areas where you will find progress and equality.

There were four major factors that stood out to us, especially in the area of news media. Women only make up 36% of newsrooms around the country, and white men make up the majority. Women are grossly underrepresented in sports journalism. Women are only quoted in articles 20% of the time compared to men. Men are 3.4 times more likely to be quoted on the front page of the New York Times, 4.6 times more likely to be quoted in political stories, and 5.4 times more likely to be quoted in international stories. And the final abysmal fact that stood out to us is that our columnists are overwhelmingly white males (with an average age of 60). They outnumber women columnists 4 to 1.

So why are we telling you all this info and how does it affect media in general? Because like in film and scripted television, when you don’t have women telling stories, writing the words and producing the content, you tend to see plenty of gender bias.

The WMC study generally looks at more traditional forms of media, but one area where we can see a lot of emerging change is digital media. The younger generation has had a very different exposure to media because of the internet and social media, and it is also enabling female media and content creators to share the type of messages that we are not used to hearing before.

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In particular, we are seeing more content relating to feminism, content that shares a unique and distinct female voice that has largely been ignored by mainstream media and relegated to the sidelines or alternate forms of news.

It’s really exciting to see more diverse and empowered female voices rising to the top and there are two brands we believe are going to be leading the way. The first is New York based feminist media company We Are The XX started by filmmakers Allison Rapson and Kassidy Brown.

At the New Fronts media conference for emerging digital media makers, Refinery29 announced their slate of programming which includes a series by Allison and Kassidy focusing on women from around the globe who are diverse examples of feminism today.

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“We believe that there are are as many definitions of feminism as there are women on the planet. The context that women find themselves in is circumstantial; it might look a little different, but inwardly it feels the same,” Allison told Refinery29.

While on their travels filming their docu-series (countries such as Egypt, the Philippines and Turkey) the dynamic duo stopped in Spain and were invited to TEDx Barcelona Women to talk about why they feel telling women’s stories and women’s history is an important part of the future of media.

They claim traditional history is “a calculated tragedy, and one that has left us unbalanced and ill-equipped for the future.” They explained that where children in schools are taught to revere and remember the men who have shaped history, female role models, more often than not, are forgotten.

Their TEDx Talk was titled “A Call To End the Genocide of Female Voices” and you can watch it in full here:

The second brand putting feminist media firmly front and center in the millennial news and entertainment space is Vice Media’s new female-driven offshoot Broadly, which launched on Monday, August 3rd. Their slogan “women’s news you thought would exist by now” echoes the exact sentiments than many women have been saying for a long time. Where are OUR stories? When can we go to share and hear more from our own kind?

In feature on Wired.com, writer Julia Greenberg articulates exactly why there is so much hype and attention on Broadly.

“[It] is a site for women by women all about women. It’s also a new women’s interest site launching at a time when parts of the Internet have become hostile to women. Like the women’s magazines and sites, such as Jezebel and Hairpin, before it, Broadly wants to provide a different kind of space for women to be themselves. It also wants to push further by sharing real, provocative, political stories that affect women’s lives,” she writes.

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They are unapologetic about not caring what men think, and let’s be honest, we’ve lived through plenty of history where men didn’t care what women think, so this shouldn’t be so shocking.

Their content covers everything from witches, to reproductive rights, fashion, and an interview series featuring the likes of women such as women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred, Texas Democratic Senator Wendy Davis (a vehement and vocal supporter of women’s reproductive justice) and actress/director Rose McGowan.

Broadly wants to position women in the media not as a niche category, but as an identity, because that’s what these stories represent.

“We decided to launch Broadly because there really hasn’t been a video-driven women’s outlet. With Broadly…we’re going to be able to devote that much more space to under-reported stories that matter to our audience, women and men both,” said Vice’s chief operating officer Alyssa Mastromonaco.

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The editor-in-chief of Broadly Tracie Egan Morrissey told Wired young millennial women are smart, educated and want this kind of news, but that they will have a very balanced view of women’s interests.

“There’s a lot of shit going on in media right now, where people are arguing, ‘Taylor Swift said this thing about Nicki Minaj’ and, oh, ‘Is Beyoncé a feminist?…Meanwhile our bodies are literally being legislated away from us. It’s a huge problem and we need to care about that,” she said before adding a sign-off that unashamedly states why feminist media is a necessity, not just a novel idea.

“I think if you’re a woman, and you’re not a feminist, then you’re an idiot.”

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With that in mind, you can already watch an interview with Rose McGowan, a feature on Rebecca Gomperts, a woman who travels around the world delivering abortion pills to women in countries where it is illegal, and an insight into the history of the power suit in their fashion series ‘Style and Error’.

We want more women’s voices in media, period. There has never been a more opportune time to share our stories as opposed to just reacting or responding to the messages and content created on our behalf. We hope both Broadly, We Are The XX and many more female media companies continue to raise the feminist flag in mainstream media.

Check out a trailer of what to expect more of in the coming months from Broadly:

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