“Why should women read The Economist?” the circular asked, before answering, “They shouldn’t.”
Folded inside the pamphlet was the punchline: “Accomplished, influential people should read us. People like you.”
Hess goes on to say that only 13% of readers of The Economist are women. The magazine has no bylines and it’s writers are somewhat mysterious, but we know that the magazine has never been run by a woman. Less than 25% of its editors and writers are women. In the fight for masthead equality (a cause recently taken up by Hess’ editor, Ann Friedman), Hess points out that The Economist fails pretty big.
Which I agree with. The Economist seems to be a bro’s club. I mean, it’s not really surprising. They think the free market will solve everything and they have a hearty Red/High Tory view of the world. Straight up unadulterated, arrogant, old school bro.
Hess goes on to note that although The Economist does some excellent reporting on the status of women (especially in developing countries, in my opinion), they don’t have very many articles that are inclusive to women. As a result, Hess flips to the book reviews.
This is where she loses me. Inclusive to women, really? Come on.
I’ve been a subscriber The Economist since 2005. Or rather, my Dad has gifted me a subscription to the magazine every year since 2005, and I ask for a renewal every year for Christmas. I am a loyal reader of the magazine.
The Economist has been a presence in my life for longer than 2005. I can remember that when I was as young as 12 years old, my Dad would grab a his copy of the latest issue and make some hokey joke about US politics or finance or whatever was in the issue. He would shove the magazine in my face, leave it open in my room to an article he found interesting, and generally try to get me to read it. For a long time I only read the comic at the front.
But I turned out like my Dad and took political science and economics in university, and he bought me my first subscription. Turns out, a chunk of my political science friends were also subscribers. Apparently their parents had forced The Economist on them as well.
I don’t think that The Economist is exclusionary to women. Does it have a bro perspective on the world? Yeah. Is that occasionally problematic? Yeah. The aforementioned ad (which did not appear in my issue, I’m so mad!) is a little insulting to the feminist eye, but I think Hess takes her assessment too far.
Asking why women should read The Economist is silly. Implying that The Economist is for the boys discredits women. If we’re so worried about the lack of women at The Economist, I propose that more women read it, and more female journalists pitch to them. I plan on writing about public policy for them one day. (They don’t know this yet.)
I like The Economist because it makes me smarter. I like that it’s hard business and politics news, that they’re totally obsessed with the failing Euro (seriously, every other cover lately is about the European economy), that they think capitalism will save us all and that they don’t include bylines. I actually like that many of their stories have open opinion. The magazine is arrogant, but it’s smart, and they don’t bullshit you around on where they’re coming from.
When I was 13 I read about George W. Bush Jr. in The Economist and I distinctly remember telling my Dad that I didn’t trust the guy. That I could form an opinion on a future US president and discuss it with my father over dinner? That’s hilariously precocious.
Twelve years later, I’m still talking about The Economist and politics with my Dad. Lately, he’s been calling to talk about Mitt(ens) Romney. We agree that Rick Perry is nuts.
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