Politics

Feminists laud Oprah Winfrey for banning the word ‘bitch’ from new OWN television network

Photo of Caroline May
Caroline May
Political Reporter

Women’s groups are cheering Oprah Winfrey’s announcement that the word “bitch” will not be tolerated on her new network, but say that there remains a great deal more work to be done in the fight against sexism.

In a Thursday speech at Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference, the media mogul told audience members that the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) would be “fun and entertaining without tearing people down and calling them bitches. Imagine that. Imagine.”

Oprah’s announcement comes on the heels of  The View co-host Joy Behar’s rant against Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, in which she repeatedly called Angle a “bitch.”

Yana Walton, communications director for the Women’s Media Center, told The Daily Caller that Oprah is helping to move the dialogue in the right direction.

“When an entire network makes such a positive step it will make a difference. She is using her power to make a change in the system,” Walton said.

Even if Oprah is making a symbolic nod toward respectful treatment of women, Jennifer Pozner, executive director of Women in News and Media and author of “Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV” notes that with women holding just 3 percent of the “clout titles” in media and telecom companies women still have a long way to go to get equality in the media

“I applaud Oprah for coming out with a standard. I think that most media companies should have standards that are transparent for what they consider appropriate and not appropriate for their airwaves,” Pozner said.

Despite Oprah’s influence, Pozner reminds that women are still facing an uphill slog against sexism. “Ninety-seven percent of the people who set agendas in media companies are men,” Pozner said. “So it becomes a little bit easier to understand in that context why many outlets don’t think it is a problem to call women ‘bitches.’”’

Amy Siskind, president and co-founder of the New Agenda, was thrilled about the news. “We are asking that other women in the media — maybe starting with Barbara Walters — on their shows, networks, blogs, websites, refrain from using that word in a demeaning way. That word and ‘whore.’”

Feminist blogger and creator of “The Education of Shelby Knox” Shelby Knox told TheDC that she believes women still have a way to go before they have absolute equity in media. However, Knox was pleased with Oprah’s stand. “She has taken a step forward to say she will not tolerate such attacks on her network and I think that is a great first step to take as she is starting off, [saying] ‘This is a safe space for women.’”

While Oprah has put smiles on the faces of many women with her announcement, they continue to say that their work is far from over. “Multiple problems require multiple solutions,” Pozner said. “So talking about the word bitch is a nice symbolic first step — although I tend to be more about discuss rather than censor — but that first step needs to be followed by a larger look at the many tentacles of sexism in media.”

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  • ladylove

    B beautiful
    I intelligent
    T talented
    C creative
    H heroine

    works for me

    censorship is censorship no matter who or why.

    I understand the principle, but wonder the motive, as she struggles to keep viewership.

  • henryknox

    Censorship is always the first choice of progressives. When they don’t like the debate they silence it. I don’t know how many decades it is going to take for them to realize censorship and book burning is not the answer. The progressives in Italy and Germany tried it in the 1930′s and they learned it from the progressives in the US in the 1910′s. We fought WWII to bring freedom to the world and they still want to go back to the failed policies of the past.

  • fridayjoefriday

    as a former nazi youth and war survivor has stated, political correctness, is the downfall of America. The powers that be, would rather have “PC” than freedom of speech. Now the she god wants to ban “bitch’, whats next????????? Here’s hoping that “OWN” fails—– and her great friend and ‘ugly bag of water” obama disappears from the land scape in 2013

  • Skepticus

    Okay, Oprah, how about the notorious “N-word”?

  • joltinjoe

    Joy Behar needs only to look in the mirror to fnd her bitch of the day. Everyday. She really is not very intelligent and the use of profanity and degrading words are proof. A resort to such words clearly shows a lack of vocabulary to make her case. Now you know!

  • OzzyNC

    It’s not Joy Behar, there’s nothing joyful about her… Joyless Behar.

    Somebody call and get Oprah’s take on calling someone a whore (Jerry Brown’s staff)