Women's Media Center
Women's Media Center (WMC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit women's organization in the United States founded in 2005 by writers and activists Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem. Led by WMC President Julie Burton, WMC's work includes advocacy campaigns, media and leadership training, and the creation of original content.
Women’s representation in media
As stated on the WMC website, the organization “works to ensure women are powerfully and visibly represented in the media” and “to diversify the media in its content and sources, so that the stories and perspectives of women and girls are more accurately portrayed.” WMC convenes panels, issues reports, organizes grassroots campaigns, and meets with media outlets to address issues of women’s representation and general diversity.
In response to the report from the American Psychological Association's Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, the WMC partnered with over 10 other organizations to organize the Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge, also known as the SPARK Summit. The SPARK Summit is a day-long event to speak out and to push back on the sexualization of girls while igniting a movement for girls’ rights to healthy sexuality. The SPARK Summit took place on October 22, 2010 at Hunter College in New York City.
Media training and expert sources
In 2008, WMC launched the Progressive Women’s Voices media and leadership training program to connect qualified, authoritative women experts to editors, reporters, producers, and bookers. SheSource, WMC’s online database of over 500 women experts, serves journalists looking for female sources, commentators, and guests.
WMC acts as a watchdog for sexism in the media and develops campaigns to advocate for fair and balanced coverage. During the 2008 presidential election, WMC released a video “Sexism Sells but We’re Not Buying It,” along with a petition campaign to call attention to sexism against female candidates during the primaries. Another video, “Media Justice for Sotomayor,” discusses racist and sexist media coverage during the 2009 confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
On August 31, 2010, the WMC partnered with the Women's Campaign Forum Foundation and the Political Parity Initiative of the Hunt Alternatives Fund to launch Name it. Change it. (NICI), a ground-breaking national campaign that addresses sexism in the media targeted at female politicians and political candidates. NICI will ensure accountability through a coordinated rapid response network to dramatically decrease incidences of media misogyny.
Health care reform and reproductive rights
In reaction to the 2009 Stupak–Pitts Amendment and other proposed health care reform legislation limiting access and funding for abortions, WMC began actively advocating for women’s reproductive rights. On December 10, 2009, WMC announced the launch of its Not Under The Bus campaign to “keep women’s health care fair, safe, and accessible to all.”
With the campaign announcement, the organization declared its “first call to action is to stop the Stupak Amendment, the Hatch-Nelson Amendment, and others like them which are the most draconian restrictions on women since the 1977 Hyde Amendment that cut federal funding for abortions by Medicaid.”
2010 campaign against CBS and Focus on the Family ad
In January 2010, Women’s Media Center and a coalition of more than 30 organizations "dedicated to reproductive rights, tolerance, and social justice", including the National Organization for Women and NARAL Pro-Choice America, sent a letter to CBS, NFL and its advertisers calling on them to pull an advertisement featuring football player Tim Tebow, sponsored by conservative Christian group Focus on the Family (FOTF), from Super Bowl XLIV. The resulting campaign garnered widespread national media attention. Previously, in 2010 CBS had rejected a humorous ad from a gay online dating service, ManCrunch, and in 2004 an ad promoting the United Church of Christ as gay-friendly, citing a policy against any controversy in Super Bowl ad. CBS then decided to end this policy and accept controversial ads, so that the anti-abortion ad would be aired, which the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) called a "homophobic double standard."
In its letter to CBS, the WMC coalition said "Focus on the Family has waged war on non-traditional families, tried its hand at race baiting during the 2008 election, and is now attempting to use the Super Bowl to further ramp up the vitriolic rhetoric surrounding reproductive rights. By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that will alienate viewers and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers."
The WMC campaign was criticized for freedom of speech concerns. A New York Times editorial called the campaign censorship, and said that, "Instead of trying to silence an opponent, advocates for allowing women to make their own decisions about whether to have a child should be using the Super Bowl spotlight to convey what their movement is all about." A Los Angeles Times editorial said that, "CBS is to be congratulated for standing up to the pressure. We're solidly for abortion rights, but the campaign against the ad is a misguided attempt at censorship." Bill O'Reilly of Fox News said Greene and her group were, "trying to muzzle them. That's not the American way." The coalition responded with an op-ed article in Huffington Post in which former WMC President Jehmu Greene wrote:
Our campaign to get the ad pulled is not a first amendment issue -- the Women's Media Center, NOW, Feminist Majority and others are not government entities attempting to regulate speech. As we exercise our first amendment right to protest, we are incorrectly labeled "would-be censors." The FCC and media corporations make decisions every day about what can air over the networks without charges of censorship. We wouldn't be having this conversation if the ad was sponsored by the KKK."
During Super Bowl XLIV, CBS elected to air the two 30-second commercials, which included Tebow's personal story as part of an overall pro-life stance.
Women Under Siege
Women Under Siege is a project of the Women's Media Center. It has reported on the use of rape as a means of oppression in Syria. Women Under Siege has also reported extensively about the continued use of rape as a weapon of war in Myanmar (also known as Burma).
- "About Us." Women’s Media Center. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
- “Women's Media Center Announce Julie Burton as Interim President.” FishBowl NY. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
- “The Women's Media Center Announces First Annual Media Awards.” Feminist Online. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
- “Progressive Women’s Voices.” Women’s Media Center. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
- “About Us.” SheSource.org. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
- “Sexism Sells but We’re Not Buying It.” YouTube. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
- "Media Justice for Sotomayor." YouTube. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
- "Name it. Change it. Campaign Launches into Action." Women's Media Center. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
- “Women’s Media Center Condemns Passage of Stupak-Pitts Amendment.” Women’s Media Center. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
- Not Under The Bus website. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
- “Women's Media Center Launches New Media Campaign to Keep Women’s Health Care Fair, Safe, and Accessible to All.” Feminist Online. December 10, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
- “Stupak's NYT Op-Ed: Congresswoman Capps Responds.” RH Reality Check. December 10, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
- "Stop Anti-Choice Super Bowl Ad." Women’s Media Center. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
- "CBS Urged To Scrap Super Bowl Ad With Tebow, Mom." Associated Press/ESPN website. Retrieved March 24, 2010.
- "Editorial: The Tebow ad; CBS is right in refusing to bow to pressure not to run an advocacy ad during the Super Bowl", Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2010, retrieved November 3, 2014
- Jonsson, Patrik (January 30, 2010), "Why Tebow and not gay dating ad? CBS on Super Bowl hot seat; Gay groups are calling CBS homophobic for agreeing to air an antiabortion ad featuring Tim Tebow and not the ad for gay dating website ManCrunch", The Christian Science Monitor, retrieved November 3, 2014
- "Editorial:Super Bowl Censorship", New York Times, January 30, 2010, retrieved November 3, 2014
- Controversy Over Pro-Life Super Bowl Ad Featuring Tim Tebow, FoxNews, January 27, 2010, retrieved November 3, 2014
- "The Truth About CBS: C-hoice, B-ias, and the S-uper Bowl." Huffington Post. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
- Sima Barmania (2012-06-19). "Women under siege: The use of rape as a weapon of war in Syria". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
- "The ultimate assault: Charting Syria’s use of rape to terrorize its people". Women Under Siege. July 11, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
- Akila Radhakrishnan (2014-01-13). "New report details ongoing sexualized violence in Burma". Women Under Siege. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- "License to rape: How Burma’s military employs systematic sexualized violence". Women Under Siege. March 15, 2012. Retrieved 2014-03-23.