A manifesto for the press: image courtesy of Shutterstock.
In my last post here, I challenged members of the press - in a friendly way - to join me at a gathering of the alternative womanhoods they far too rarely cover, or even address, in their papers, magazines and media. (Wednesday June 25th, from 7.00 pm, upstairs at Bar Titania, 75 Charing Cross Road, central London. Nearest tube: Leicester Square.)
In particular, I'd argue that they're neglecting the voices and readerships of the ever-growing numbers of childless and single women in the UK, North America and Australasia. These are phenomena for far too long practically neglected. The issues around such groupings are far too serious, and getting more so, to be overlooked, and on and on, like this.
I'm well aware that the media will likely counter with, 'Well, what do you expect us to do? Our editors want an unusual/different angle on all that, and we're in their hands of course.' Or 'Childlessness, singledom, etc. have already been covered/covered recently in x y z Magazine,' etc. etc.
So here are some positive steps that editors/writers/producers could decide to take, no excuses:
- Designate someone on their editorial staff as 'Alternative womanhoods champion'. This person should have a brief to ensure that interest groups such as the single, the childless, the older woman, the transgender woman, the gay woman and more are represented a) in content and b) in the contributors' voices used.
- Ensure through forward scheduling that the following facts are regularly aired and updated, whether through appropriate book reviews, interviews, features or other formats:
- a) Currently, 1:5 women through the menopause in the UK, North America and Australasia have no children, whether through choice or circumstance. This ratio is currently rising to 1:4.
- b) The proportion of women in the UK who've never married has increased from 18% in 1979 to 45% in 2010.
- c) 29% of the 26.3m households in the UK consist of just one person.
- d) The female fertility drop begins by the age of 20; by age 32 it turns into a plummet, accelerating at the age of 37. Meanwhile the miscarriage rate rises relentlessly from the age of 32, becoming marked at 37. The decline in one and the upswing in the other cross over at just 42 years old.
- e) The probability statistics of success on IVF, egg donorship and egg freezing are tiny.
- f) 11% and rising of women between 80 and 84 are not grandmothers.
- g) 1 in 4 close family members (and dropping) these days express themselves willing to be a carer for an elderly relative.
- Allocate one date of issue/broadcast to a 'Novel News Amnesty' amongst as many papers, magazines and other media as possible - perhaps one particular month. Instead of each scraping for some new angle, some news story that has never ever been covered, in that particular Truce Month the press could collaborate to headline the vital facts, and more, above.
And there you go. Some actual, practical steps. On 25 June, I intend to present this list of suggestions -and more - to the sixty or more members of the press whom I've invited.
Maybe I'll report back on what they say, readers - if Huffington Post will confirm it's fit to print.