"Nothing does change, unless its form, its structure, its language also changes. To work magic, we begin by making new metaphors. Without negating the light, we reclaim the dark: the fertile earth where the hidden seed lies unfolding."- Starhawk

September 1999
Vol. 1 - #7

Said It: Feminist News, Culture & Politics  

in this issue:

WTO: Confronting a Menace of a Millennium

We All Belong, Stop Harassment!

A Subtle Erasure

The Dailies: WTO Play by Play

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A Subtle Erasure
by Adriene Sere

The Seattle Weekly has gradually acquired some political consciousness over the past several months, integrating a somewhat more intelligent approach to politics.

For instance, in the article "Shutting Down Seattle" by columnist Geov Parrish (8/19/99), the Weekly became the first mainstream paper in the area to expose some basic facts about the WTO—its newly given power, its track record, its agenda, with a mention of its threat to the future of the planet.

Yet the Weekly has integrated a "thinking politics" in a way that is fully compatible with male-bonding and subtle expressions of hostility toward women. Regardless of its efforts to display some political intelligence, its accommodation of sexism ultimately results in the dumbing-down of the political issues.

"Shutting Down Seattle" was presented (perhaps under editorial direction) as if the most important aspect of the WTO's upcoming ministerial meeting in Seattle will be the (excitement of) disruption and noisy confrontation by protesters. This plays perfectly into the theme already created by the daily papers, which are characterizing protesters as marginalized hooligans, rather than very clear-headed, sensible, responsible people. While Parrish's article later discusses the truth about the WTO and corporate globalization, readers who weren't drawn to the macho "confrontation" angle might not have bothered to find out why they should be concerned about the WTO itself.

The macho angle of the story was given extra dimension by Parrish's decision to feature Mike Dolan, a salaried organizer sent from D.C., as the power behind local resistance to the WTO. The feature was accompanied by a full page, upward-looking photo of Dolan in boxing gloves and boxing shorts, "ready to fight."

Given Parrish's radical, grassroots political sensibilities, why didn't the article focus instead on Seattle's own grassroots activist Sally Soriano, who has been organizing, without pay, for the past six years against corporate globalization, who has done the bulk of the work in educating Seattle on fair trade issues, and who is largely responsible for having organized the current local resistance effort against the WTO? Why no mention of the recent extraordinary feat by Soriano and three other women—Sarah Luthens, Maria Cain, and Martha Baskin—in getting the Seattle City Council, the King County Council, and the Snohomish County Council to vote in favor of becoming an "MAI-free zone",which sends a powerful public message just before the ministerial meeting?

Typical of Parrish, he instead extols and amply quotes various men who constitute the "good guys"—those who oppose the WTO—while subtly vilifying women. All except one of the "good guys" mentioned or quoted in the article are men. The only quote he offers from the "bad guys" is from—guess!—a woman, "a spokeswoman for the SPD" who told the Wall Street Journal that "we have access to pepper spray."

Equal treatment, fair coverage, this ain't.


Copyright © 1999 Adriene Sere - All rights reserved by author.
All work contained in Said It is owned by the respective contributing authors or artists,
including all copyrights contained therein, and may not be copied, reprinted, or otherwise used
in any form without the express written permission of the copyright holder.

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