Karen Ross is a professor of “gender and media” at Newcastle University, and currently holds what is said to be the first such post in the UK. Sadly, the way things are going, this won’t be the last of these feminist make-work non-jobs.

On January 9, she held a closed Zoom meeting attended by over fifty participants labouring in the mainstream media – men as well as women – whose main contribution was to bitch about how oppressed they are. The gendered ageism herein was concerned primarily with the media in all its myriad forms. 

The good professor spoke for around half an hour then took questions. So what did she have to say? Well, young women have something called “pretty privilege” but as they grow older they lose it. Y’think? Of course, not all young women are attractive, indeed some of them go out of their way to be unattractive, piercing their noses with rings and tattooing their arms, but let’s not talk about Khiara Bridges.

You’ve probably heard of micro-aggressions by now, but micro-discriminations may be new to you. What Professor Ross and most of the participants of this meeting fail to understand or refuse to understand is that in most circumstances, discrimination means simply to choose. If you and your significant other decide to dine out for your anniversary and the choice is between Indian cuisine, Chinese or Italian, can you really be said to be discriminating against the two you don’t choose?

Professor Ross has conducted a number of surveys finding inter alia that in the USA, the majority of women in decision making roles are childless, ditto in Europe. Kamala Harris is childless, but no one could ever accuse her of making a decision, not for the past two years at any rate.

Older women have a sell-by date, she says, and equates this with misogyny, but she mentions too queen bee syndrome, which might also be perceived as a form of nastiness. Queen bee syndrome alludes to women in positions of power who denigrate or attempt to exclude other women from the line of promotion because no girl in her right mind wants an attractive younger woman to be chasing her job. But if such women are not guilty of misogyny, why should men be so tainted if they prefer younger women who are clearly not past their sell-by dates?

Sophie McBain hit the nail on the head in September 2020 when she pointed out that “Misogyny does not affect all women equally…” In other words, women of a certain type interpret men who dislike them as misogynists when the real problem lies closer to home.

After the lecture, participants were told broadcasters believe younger staff will draw a younger audience but this isn’t true. Really? 

An older man pointed out that older male journalists do better than female journalists, although he didn’t acknowledge his privilege. The truth is that with rare exceptions, men age like wine while women age like milk. Certainly there was a lot of whine here, but there is another reason women (and men) are not as revered as they once were in the mainstream media. The Internet and now social media has led to a veritable explosion of citizen journalists, pundits, interviewers…and many do a far better job than their mainstream counterparts. Most of these people are not salaried, those working on YouTube rely on ad sharing, superchats and other donations. Many work for peanuts or totally for free. What happens when a market is saturated? That’s right, prices fall.

Professor Ross and her audience have no solutions to this imaginary problem, but no doubt they will still press for more anti-discrimination legislation, which will of course discourage any employer in his right mind from hiring people who might be inclined to sue him when that unwarranted promotion fails to materialise.

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