The fourth in an irregular column reviewing the hidden treasures of the ANU library system, by Titus Livius Patavinus
Journalism for Women: A Practical Guide by E.A. Bennett (Chifley, PN4784.W7.B5)
It’s a situation that I’m sure has confronted many of us. You have your heart set on being a journalist. You always have. You’ve always just felt it, deep down in your bones. What’s more, you’ve put in the effort. You carry a little spiral-bound notepad and a pencil everywhere with you. You have vintage 7.30 Report posters up in your bedroom. You’ve refined your cycling technique to the extent that you can now successfully keep pace with any ambulance, steering with one hand and filming with the other. You called your pet cat Pulitzer. You tsk loudly when you observe a newspaper that has managed fewer than three puns in its front-page headline. You maintain that your spirit animal is Bob Woodward. You even use Twitter. There’s only one problem: you’re a woman.
“Why me?” I hear you cry mournfully (and, if truth be told, mildly hysterically) “How am I supposed to ever be a journalist now?” Fear not! Despite your obvious failings, you can still be. Just let E.A. Bennet tell you how.
First of all, it is necessary to turn to the chapter called “Imperfections of the Existing Female Journalist.” There we learn that “there are, not two sexes, but two species – journalists and women-journalists – and that the one is about as far removed organically from the other as a dog from a cat.” This, as E.A. Bennett elucidates masterfully, is because women are always late, and this is because they always assume that the world of business and serious journalism is the same as the domestic world. “Is it a matter of surprise that the young woman who is accustomed gaily to remark, ‘Only five minutes late this morning, Father,’ or ‘I quite forgot to order the coals, dear,’ confident that a frown or a hard word will end the affair, should carry into business the laxities long permitted her in the home?” Sage words indeed.
So then, how is a woman ever going to be able to not confuse journalism with the kitchen? Luckily, Bennett gives us some advice here too.
Number one: “There are certain departments of journalism where women have always had, and probably will always have, to themselves: I mean the departments comprising fashion, cookery and domestic economy, furniture, the toilet, and weddings and society news.” So then, stick to what is familiar, and make sure to get in some reports on the state of the nations toilets. Number two, according to Bennet, is that women don’t read enough journalism written by men. This one should be obvious; how are you supposed to know what real journalism looks like if you don’t read things written by people with penises? Thirdly and finally, according to the Practical Guide, women must learn to spell.
In conclusion, Journalism for Women: A Practical Guide by E.A. Bennett is a rollicking romp through the entrenched sexism of the media. You can find it on the top floor of Chifley, or in all good kitchens everywhere. I would give it some stars out of five, but, silly me, I have to run away, I’ve just realised I’ve left a tea-cake in the oven!