I want the news cycle that is surrounding Aziz Ansari to end. I really, really do. And I will try to promise this is the last time this blog will ever contribute to the matter. As a victim of sexual assault, it’s exhausting listening to second-wave feminists and baby-boomer liberals wag their finger at 20-somethings for their personal choices. I already have a mother, I need not to be lectured on the actions I take in my personal and romantic life. And yet, a week after the publication of the babe.net story, here we are.
On Thursday, January 18th, The New York Times’ Ginia Bellafante published a 987 word think-piece in their regional section about how everyone failed to report on the death of Dr. Mathilde Krim, the scientist and activist who worked hard to fight against the stigma of AIDS. Instead, she claims, we were enthralled with the babe.net story regarding Aziz Ansari and the takes that came along with them.
Bellafante is almost right. A scroll through my notification center on my iPad revealed that no publication mentioned the death of Dr. Krim, a truly monumental woman. I’ll admit, I had no idea she died, or who exactly she was, but found her story to be incredibly powerful. While the news media made little effort to promote their articles memorializing Krim, they still exist; NPR, Slate, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times are among the several publications that reported her death and legacy.
What’s truly hysterical about this take, though, is the amount of time spent talking about the Ansari story. Less than 62 percent of the article was spent rehashing the story that is saturating our social media and news feeds. Only 14 percent of the article was dedicated to Dr. Krim’s forgotten legacy, and less than 16 percent was about our collective complicity in sexism because we failed to report on her legacy. Through my ametuer content analysis, I found myself wondering, what point exactly, is Bellafante trying to make? Humans are completely capable of caring about more than one thing at any given time. And we don’t have to talk about certain topics on social media to prove it.
The New York Times is also guilty in her accusations of being complicit sexism. Bellafonte’s employer only promoted stories about Dr. Krim once. They promoted several pieces about Ansari since the babe.net story broke. And Bellafonte is guilty herself. A scroll through her Twitter feed reveals that Bellafonte only mentioned Krim twice. Once to shame the public for talking about the babe.net piece instead, and a second time to promote her own article. She also retweeted a WIRED reporter who agreed. But the discussion of Dr. Krim ends there. While I learned about who Dr. Krim was through this article, it rings hollow, because I can’t but feel Belafonte exploited her death and I ended up learning more about her legacy from other reporters.
If Ginia Bellafante truly cares about the legacy of Dr. Mathilde Krim, she should honor her without framing it with the context of Ansari. She should frame it with society’s well-documented failure to honor female scientists and the gender gap in STEM fields.
If she truly cares about Dr. Krim’s legacy, why is she disguising a think piece about Aziz Ansari as a critique of our complicity in sexism? And Why did she- or her editors– include a picture of him towards the end of the article instead of her? And why did she defend Caitlin Flanagan, without taking a moment to criticize her directly? Because to this day, she’s still taking the piss out of babe.net, yet not once sharing Dr. Mathilde Krim’s story. And if she truly believes in facing our complicity of sexism, why is she burying her story in the regional edition of a national newspaper on the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March?