Katie Couric Flies Her Freak Feminist Flag


I really want to hate CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, she of the perma-grin and too many years being fluffy on morning television, but then I read profiles like Portfolio‘s and can’t.

Couric is asked, as she is seemingly always asked, about sexism. She says:

We’re still in a place in our society where sexism is more palatable than racism. It’s not as repugnant to people. There is still a mentality that you can make jokes about how someone’s hot or a babe, and about gender roles, in a way that is completely taboo vis-à-vis race.

This is what many of you said during the primaries, but I think there is kind of a huge difference between remarking on my attractiveness and hanging a noose on someone’s doorway. As in, one may or may not be sexist, but the other would scare the fuck out of me and I don’t even come from a cultural history where my ancestors might have been hanged by angry mobs because of their skin color. Still, it’s a fair point and I like that it’s being said that sexism is too acceptable, but we sort of all really need to stop with the -ism oneupsmanship.

She’s then asked about the sexism she herself has faced, and answers:

It might be because of my background—that I did a morning show and that people didn’t necessarily think I was a serious person. You know, I am sort of outgoing and friendly, and I think some people think that is incongruous with being serious and intelligent. So I think there may be all sorts of reasons, and that a lot of it is conditioned and behavioral.

I think this is totally true. If you’re short, you’re taken less seriously. If you’re not a prick to everyone, it’s because you’re not smart enough to be. If your voice isn’t deep enough, you don’t have the needed gravitas for the role. And, in every one of these circumstances, women are either biologically designed to be shorter and have higher voices and, generally speaking, strongly socially conditioned to be nice as a social lubricant. That doesn’t have anything to do with our intellectual abilities.

But the best part, for me, is when she’s asked if she’s a feminist.

Oh yeah. I am. I am. I feel very strongly that women should have equal opportunity. I believe strongly in civil rights. I don’t want to get into too much else.

That “too much else” is, of course, the issues that feminists generally champion, from reproductive rights to specific policy changes to achieve equality (like, say, the Ledbetter pay equity legislation that Obama promised), so it’s disappointing that Couric isn’t willing to take a risk and state her personal beliefs. But in a day any age when too many people are scared to even call themselves feminists, having Katie Couric say that she is one is a pretty good step in the right direction.

“I’m Not An Idiot, You Know?” [Portfolio]

Related: Reversing Discrimination [New York Times]
Will Obama Legislate Away the Lilly Ledbetter Decision? [Wall Street Journal]

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