I’m reading the book, “Spin Sisters”, by Mryna Blyth, once the editor of “Ladies’ Home Journal”. I’ve discovered it helps to keep notes on a book as I’m reading: so I’m publishing those as I go along.
Then there’s the line: “In fact, twenty-three articles actually told readers to get out there and make government get involved.” (Pg 46) And she sees this as negative??!! Dear Myrna: I would personally say that there are too many of us who are afraid of involvement with the government, too concerned with the details of our own lives to make… to demand… that government gets involved in our problems and make efforts to change the system, rather than each individual actor swimming against the stream. Sure it’s easy for you, living your decades as an editor, using your influence and money to solve your own problems… and as often as not, making things worse for those who don’t have as much power. Consider the development of universal (or near-universal) public-funded health insurance for Americans. As a Republican, you probably stood against the measure: even though the U.S. is the last industrialized nation to move in this direction. From the Canadian perspective, we wonder why Americans are so afraid of national wellness. Sure it’s easy for you to pay for your family’s care: you have all the resources at your fingertips. But others are not so fortunate. And you use rhetoric like that displayed in this book to convince other women that they can “do it all” themselves. What you fail to recognize is that our power (women’s and men’s) lies not only in what we own or earn or have married in to: our power in a democracy is collective.
This illustrates the gulf between her and I: Myrna sees this kind of encouragement, this kind of push to get women to demand that their governments take action, as an implicit admission that women are “constantly victimized” and that “such victimization is beyond our control.” I don’t see that at all; unless I consider myself just as much a victim. I do not. Rather, I see such encouragement as empowering it itself, because it is available to us all.
I don’t think this is quite an example of her conservatism, but it is one of our fundamental differences. I know as many conservatives as liberals who would love to see more people involved with government. We have too many people, Ms. Blyth, who are not involved in our government but who complain about our leadership: it’s called democracy for a reason. Myrna disagrees. We should all just sit at home and let collective problems solve themselves. Someone will find an answer: but in a democracy, we can have a voice in those solutions, and a responsibility to have our voices heard. Even if we haven’t edited a major women’s magazine.
I did find one point that I appreciated: although it was strangely skewed. Speaking of the 1990s, “[t]hroughout the decade, all the magazines, the Journal included, also published and promoted many stories about crimes against women and children, even though crime statistics were plummeting across the country.” (pg. 47) When I first read, this, I was taken aback: I thought, “Naahhhhh? Crime falling?” And I checked the Canadian data and found that it was true. In Canada at least (I realize she speaking of the U.S.), crime rates (numbers of crimes per 100K people) peaked in 1991 (about) and have been falling ever since. (Total crimes have also fallen, but not as dramatically.) Such a trend is difficult to see when you’re in the midst of it (explaining perhaps the number of stories in the early 90s), but becomes easily evident after 20 years (Statistics Canada, 2013). But I’d venture to say that the problem is not just with “women and children”, but men as well (such as myself). So for that I have to compliment Ms. Blyth for the observation, although her description that such programs are “watched primarily by women” (pg. 48) is a bit outlandish. Beyond that, her interpretation that this is apparent “liberal” bias is nothing short of bizarre. Think about it: such fear-mongering is much more of a conservative bent. Gun companies want us to be afraid so we buy arms and ammunition; security companies want us to be afraid because we’ll buy their services; living in “gated communities” due to perceived crime rose over the same period (USA Today, 2002). In Canada, crime rates are the lowest in 40 years, yet Prime Minister Harper (hardly the bastion of either feminism or liberalism) continues “pass… a raft of high profile anti-crime bills and spending billions more on enforcement in a time of financial restraint in almost every other area.” (The Star, 2013) So although her facts are correct, she’s completely misinterpreted how those facts are being used.