Until today, our organization had decided to stay out of the conversation regarding the allegations you and Babe have alleged against Aziz Ansari. But we feel we have a duty to our writers and readership to address the very public behavior you’ve displayed.
Her Culture is an outlet that provides young women – of all cultures, education levels, ages, lipstick and highlight choices – to write about what affects them culturally every day. We have women that shed light on rape culture, ethnocentrism, and political strife in places where being a woman can be deadly. We also have women that write about food, finance, music and whatever else makes them tick. We, like Babe, are run by women and believe in equality and conversation about the things hindering women in our society.
We do not doubt that there is a conversation to be had about the way we socialize men to expect sex from women and the way we socialize women to be compliant, even at the risk of their own discomfort. We do not dispute the fact that Grace, you interviewee, had something important to add to a conversation (what conversation, is still up for debate).
What we detest is your rebuttal to Ashleigh Banfield’s critique of your work. As veteran journalists, she and many other of your critics are uniquely qualified to determine the journalistic value of your work. Moreover, as a writer, you open yourself up to criticism anytime you publish a piece for public consumption.
Professional writers accept and even encourage both acclaims (which you have received from feminist theorists) and criticisms of their work. They do not swear at or about another outlet or journalist. Writers do not critique anyone’s ability to be a good journalist or overall societal value based on their makeup, hairstyle and age.
As women in media, we know that our appearance and age are frequently used to discriminate against us in the workplace. Your remarks only further sexist rhetoric that dismembers, objectifies and alienates women and their bodies. Because of your email, more men will have an excuse to call women “catty,” “moody,” “hostile,” and even “bitchy.”
Editorial teams analyze the potential pitfalls of any piece and help mitigate them prior to publication. While we can’t speak to what your editor did or did not do, we can certify that your work would not have passed our editorial process in its current state.
We cannot advise you on your piece, because, after all, we pride ourselves on assisting our writers in sharing their opinions in a voice that is native to them. But as grown women who own their shit, we can tell you this much: you owe Ashleigh Banfield and HLN an apology.
We can only hope that this incident can be a learning moment for men and women everywhere that women are legitimate victims of rape, assault, harassment, and inequality, but that our coverage, subjects and readership demand grace and professionalism necessary to continuing to affect change.
We wish you all the best.
The (avid, HLN-watching, millennial) Her Culture Team