Saturday, April 02, 2005

Sex and the snichols girl
[Warning: this post will not be as racy as it promises to be]
Most of her life, snichols has either been oblivious or lucky or both when it comes to experience of sex discrimination. Raised at the tail end of the baby boom, she has always been keenly aware of the history of her gender, and the women who blazed a trail before her. She has not been a trailblazer herself, however. Over 50% of her law school class were women. Women hired her for her first, second and third jobs out of law school. As a public interest lobbyist and legislative about half of her colleagues were women.

Don't get snichols wrong, she has occasionally suffered indignities afforded to her gender. She once, for example, heard a pin and a job offer at Georgetown Law School drop at the same time when she was being interviewed by a room of over 20 male private criminal defense lawyers. In it, she was called upon to explain why she would be uncomfortable using a rape victim's sexual history to tear down the witness's credibility as a tactic for defending her male client accused of rape. The room went completely dead when she had the audacity to suggest that there was an ongoing power imbalance between men and women with regard to sex, and the job, which she had been told was hers prior to that pro forma interview, was withdrawn.

Also it wasn't until the 3rd grade that she was allowed to wear pants to school and she once had to make onion dip for a superbowl game in which she wasn't even remotely interested.

But currently snichols is stepping simultaneously into two new arenas that appear frought with yesterday's problems for women: op ed writing and business.

snichols has entered the fray on the now national debate intiated between Susan Estrich (of Friend of Hilary fame) and Michael Kinsley (of New Republic neo con pretending to be liberal now editorial editor of the LA Times fame) on why there are so few women on the op ed page of the LA Times and other national publications. She recently had her 3 top notch (well, 2 top notch, 1 serviceable) pieces shot down by Kinsley--obviously sexism what else could it be? It couldn't be that he just had crammed the page so full of his own column and those of his New Republic neomod cronies that he has no room for anyone else, could it? Or is that sexism? snichols isn't sure.

She has submitted the pieces to the NY Times and the SF Chronicle and is waiting to hear back. Meanwhile NPR's Talk of the Nation debates "why women don't have more opinions," as if that were really the problem.

Meanwhile, snichols has started a company, now called What's the Big Idea?, to make money for social change from selling businesses and ideas--it's doing great but she and her female partners keep running up against a male-dominated business world that has trouble with the very concept of women. She is having to talk to people who refer to women as "little gals" for example, and she doesn't cotton to being called a "l'il gal" especially when she's a big 'un.

So what does all this mean, for snichols, and for the world? She hasn't quite sorted it out. She'll keep plugging away and let you know. Her working assumption, though, is that if Ray Charles can overcome poverty, racism and blindness to become an icon. She can overcome Kinsley and the "l'il gal" set.

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