Television host, documentary highlight widening gap in gender access

This week’s news saw both ends of women’s role and participation in the media. One woman, Jennifer Livingston, confronted discrimination and the biases against women head on. But other women around the world, highlighted in a PBS documentary, are lucky to even get the education to hold such power.

TV anchorwoman confronts viewer’s e-mail
Jennifer Livingston, an 11-year television anchorwoman for WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wis, became a “sensation” when she made national headlines this week for Tuesday’s on-air response to a viewer’s e-mail calling her fat and a bad role model for young girls. Her husband, who also works for the news station, posted the text of the e-mail to this Facebook page. Livingston’s four-minute response, which went viral on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media sites, used her response to highlight the danger of bullying and bring attention to National Anti-Bullying Month this October. Livingston also appeared on several talk shows and is scheduled to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres show this week. Her brother, actor Ron Livingston, also voiced support this week. Part of the coverage around the topic, including that from The Telegraph, focused on the fact that an overweight male anchor might not have received the same type of criticism and female journalists are being held to near-impossible standards of weight.

Here is the full video of her editorial:

Kenneth Krause, the viewer who sent the e-mail, has stood behind his words, saying he hopes this gives Livingston an “opportunity to influence the health and psychological well-being of Coulee Region children by transforming herself for all of her viewers to see over the next year.” He submitted a video response to the station.

But despite praise for her poise and powerful message, some have questioned Livingston’s use of the word “bully” to describe the e-mail. In fact, many stories, including those on her home station’s website, use the word in quotation marks. Livingston told E! News she is “not a bulling expert”  but that she had to take a stand against the viewer’s “hurtful” words. Christian Science Monitor columnist Stephanie Hanes wrote Livingston’s label of Krause as a bully a mistake: “it stops conversation and often leads to a fight over the label rather than the content.”

Half the Sky

While Jennifer Livingston made headlines for taking charge of her own image, many women around he world still lack access to these rights. The PBS documentary “Half the Sky“, based on the book by Nickolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, focuses on the discrimination and voicelessness of women in many parts of the world. The two-part special featured American actresses traveling with Kristof to different countries and organizations combating sex trafficking, female genital mutilation, economic hardship, and other gender-based issues.