UK

Newsweek's Sexism In Silicon Valley Cover Provokes Pretty Ironic Media Storm

29/01/2015 13:14 GMT | Updated 29/01/2015 16:59 GMT

American weekly news magazine Newsweek has sparked fury online with a provocative cover illustrating its exposé of sexism in Silicon Valley.

The magazine's "What Silicon Valley Thinks Of Women" piece was a report of the "sordid, shocking and systemic" sexism in the San Fransico tech hub that is home to Apple, Google and Netflix.

But its attention-grabbing cover illustration provoked a firestorm by showing a computer cursor lifting up the skirt of a woman in a red dress in a cheeky manner.

newsweek cover

The cover of next week's Newsweek, which is also available in the UK

Critics branded it "clickbait designed to piss off women" and said that it was offensive to use a seemingly light-hearted image of a woman being harassed, given the serious topic the front page article is investigating.

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One also attacked the article itself for not quoting many women:

Newsweek's editor Jim Impoco hasn't responded directly to the criticism but retweeted an animation created by one commenter - who disapproved of the image - which shows the illustrated women kicking the cursor away and smiling.

The Newsweek report tells the story of two budding entrepreneurs who try to get funding for their startup but don't get very far. The article speculates that this was because they "There is... one thing these two founders are missing. They don’t have penises."

"Silicon Valley has never produced a female Gates, Zuckerberg or Kalanick," it says, and then goes on to detail the "savagely misogynistic" culture.

Author Nina Burleigh writes: "Google 'Silicon Valley' and 'frat boy culture' and you’ll find dozens of pages of articles and links to mainstream news articles, blogs, screeds, letters, videos and tweets about threats of violence, sexist jokes and casual misogyny, plus reports of gender-based hiring and firing, major-league sexual harassment lawsuits and a financing system that rewards young men and shortchanges women."

Newsweek is calling for a "revolution" to overcome this.

Others on Twitter supported the cover and felt that the anger it sparked was misplaced. Some said using the image was "smart" and pointed out the 5,000 word article it promoted was trying to tackle a serious and important issue.