Alaska Business Monthly editor Susan Harrington thought the edge had gone off the country’s gender war until the magazine ran a cover with a man mimicking the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster from World War II.
Next thing Harrington knew, social media was raining down on the magazine, and instead of covering business news in Alaska, it was the news.
“Controversial magazine cover sparks outrage on social media,” headlined Anchorage’s KTUU.com.
Dozens of messages posted to the magazine’s Facebook page called “the cover ‘super repulsive,’ ‘offensive,’ and one person wrote ‘this seems to spin the face of equal rights,” according to reporter Blake Essig
The story failed to note that three-quarters of the magazine’s full-time editorial staff – Harrington, Associate Editor Tasha Anderson and Art Producer Linda Shogren – are women. Males are nearly as much in the minority on the business side of the magazine where they hold two of seven positions.
Maybe it was the women-dominated world in which Harrington works that made her overlook the possibility some women somewhere might be sensitive to the cover echoing Rosie’s war-production pitch: “We Can Do It!”
We Can, Too!
“Alaska Can Do It,” read the magazine’s headline above a photo of World Trade Center Anchorage executive Director Greg Wolf. The pitch seemed the perfect uplift for a state sliding into a serious recession.
No one on the Business Monthly staff gave a thought to the idea it might be, well, “sexist,” Harrington said.
“We were surprised,” she freely admitted, when Facebook started blowing up with complaints.
“It’s kind of interesting,” she added. “Some of the comments. It’s obvious they don’t read the magazine.”
Quite a few commenters suggested the magazine should be writing more about Alaska business women. Some even offered up subjects worthy of stories. Business Monthly had written about a good share of the latter already, Harrington said.
In some respects, she said, “it’s pretty funny.”
And in others, it’s just plain sad.
Too many people these days, she said, seem to go online only to find “something to rage about.”
For a brief moment in time, Alaska Business Monthly provided them that something. A man swapping places with a woman in a symbolic display of how men and women work side-by-side in almost every business in the country these days, became a battleground in the gender wars.
Harrington on Friday still seemed to be having a little trouble getting her hands fully around this.
“It wasn’t about feminism,” she said. “Everyone should be a feminist.”
The original definition of feminism, according to Webster’s dictionary, is this: “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.”
Harrington thought the cover with a man honoring a poster made famous long ago by a woman was all about equality, but apparently there were those who thought it was some sort of attempt at cultural appropriation.