Finding a Voice

Sat, January 26, 2008

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How do you hold your own in a room with a group of women who already have finely honed political messages?

I’m not sure that I did.

This weekend, I was lucky enough to be selected to attend a training seminar for women with progressive political ideas in an attempt to get those messages out in a bigger way this election year.

I got to sit next to Gloria Feldt. Really. For someone who was a girl during the early Ms. years, getting to talk to one of the women who led Planned Parenthood and the reproductive rights movement in this country was an honor.

But it’s hard to be a generalist in a room full of specialists. Bright and amazing women who have very focused agendas on issues like immigration, family leave, and minority rights. They know the stats and the information on their issues like the backs of their hands.

So here I am trying to figure out how a voice of a generalist/pundit/mom can get heard. I think there’s a place for that — we can’t all be specialists — but how do you convince media outlets that a voice about how women feel about many topics is worthy of a few seconds of air time?

There are so many men’s voices on the opinion pages, on the Sunday morning news shows, in just about every media outlet. Interestingly, the numbers of men to women in the field of political opinion aren’t that different from the numbers of women law partners compared to men. And that all needs to change.

So I’m hoping to find the voice of a convincing generalist. A voice that will get a little attention for the issues that matter to so many of us — whether we’re red, blue or purple. That can only be a good thing for us XX-ers, right?

And if more of us get heard, maybe we can start to change the fact that men’s voices have an overwhelming presence in a country where women outnumber them, even if only by a little.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

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7 Responses to “Finding a Voice”

  1. Mamma Says:

    Right on PM!!!

    I hope it was fun.

  2. Catherine Morgan Says:

    I agree. And I wouldn’t try to change your message. Being able to rattle off all the statistics is great, but most of the people who are listening to these news stations, are regular people. I think regular people want to hear how politics affects them, so all the polls and statistics really don’t mean much to them.

    I also think that’s why so many people read blogs, we talk in the language of the people…not the politicians. Keep doing what you’re doing…because you are doing a GREAT job!!!

  3. Amy S. Says:

    Agree with Catherine. Issue-specific is not your bag, baby. There are so few YOUs out there — women inspiring other women, especially us Gen-Xers, to flex our political muscles. Keep on keeping on. I’m sure you were great!

  4. Paige Says:

    I echo what Catherine and Amy said.

    People just want someone who can express why being politically involved and well-informed is important in the grand scheme of things.

  5. landismom Says:

    You being you is way more important than trying to find an issue-specific niche, I think. It’s important for real women to be represented in political discourse. And it’s important for experts to be women. It shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

  6. Veronica Says:

    Woo! Congrats. I couldn’t tell if you listed the other women in the room. I think GWP is one of them…please tell me that there was at least one WOC.

    As for your question: Don’t try to be anything you’re not. I think that media folks like generalists. I get calls on a lot of issues AND I can honestly react to many different calls that are posted to the many different lists I’m on. I was on the hot list of a community radio show for awhile. The producer said she liked calling me because I was always up to something new with different groups.

    Speak from your heart and you won’t go wrong. As for getting your voice heard in that room, just take a stand and say it. Don’t worry about being wrong because sometimes it’s all about opinion.

    Good luck and can’t wait to see you on TV!

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Agree 1000%. I read blogs for the same reason I read readers’ comments following editorials and movie reviews in the online papers — I want to know what the REAL people are thinking and feeling. I don’t always agree, but it certainly gives me a better idea of the tenor of this country than the pundits do. BTW, Gloria Feldt has her own blog and site at http://www.gloriafeldt.com. Worth a look.


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