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She Said That? Interviews with Women Newspaper Columnists.

In some ways, it's a dumb idea for a book. What, after all, do Ellen Goodman, Erma Bombeck, Jane Bryant Quinn, Judith Martin (Miss Manners), and Molly Ivins have in common except for being female - and under the gun however-manytimes each week for meeting a deadline? But the fact is, it's still a bit surprising that Maria Braden, a professor of journalism at the University of Kentucky, has a list this long of women newspaper columnists to interview. (Besides the five just mentioned are Mary McGrory, Georgie Anne Geyer, Jane Brody, Dorothy Gilliam, Mona Charen, Joyce Maynard, Merlene Davis, and Anna Quindlen.) As long as it remains surprising, we may conclude that progress on the press's gender front has been made, but not yet enough. Each interview - a matter of five to ten pages - deals with the columnist's life and how she works, how she got started in newspapers, how she got her column. Each is followed by a few reprints of representative columns. And it turns out that these women who have secured niches in what was a man's world a generation ago do have some things in common: Many of them mention being brought up to think they could do anything a boy could do - and maybe even better. Mona Charen - a conservative columnist raised by liberal mainstream Democratic parents - says, "You had to be able to talk fast and loud and get yourself noticed because nobody would turn to you and say, |What do you think?' There was some sexism in my family as in all families, but one reason I've been able to do what I've done is that they took my opinions seriously, and I was listened to and acknowledged. There was no sense that |You're just a girl and what you say doesn't matter.'" And Jane Brody, the nutrition and science writer for The New York Times, says that when she was four, she told her father she wanted to be a veterinarian. As Braden relates the story, "Fine, he said, Cornell has a college of veterinary medicine. That was 1945, and Brody grew up believing she could do anything she put her mind to. |If you wanted to do something, you did it.'"
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Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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