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Defying Stereotypes of Women Journalists

Suzanne Britt Jordan is a living example of a good and efficient woman writer, refuting editor-author Enoch Arnold Bennett’s claims in his book ‘Journalism for Women: A Practical Guide’ that women are generally unfit for journalism due to their unreliability, carelessness with details, and lack of restraint, thus the stereotype of women journalists as unprofessional and not to be taken seriously. Based on her various writings and works, it is evident that Britt Jordan as a writer is reliable, keen with details, and has reasonable restraint, not at all what the stereotype tries to portray.

Bennett creates a picture of women journalists as lacking business sense, with no understanding of the newspaper or media as business, thus their unreliability to deliver what is necessary precisely when necessary. This, however, becomes significantly baseless and false when we talk about Suzanne Britt Jordan as a writer/ journalist. The reliability and dependability of Suzanne Britt Jordan as a writer is evidenced by her being a regular contributor to prestigious magazines like Newsweek, a columnist for the Raleigh News and Observer and Stars and Stripes, European edition.

For widely distributed magazines like Newsweek, for instance, deadlines have to be strictly followed to allow enough time for editing, revision, proofreading, and other such tasks as part of the whole process entailed for a written medium. Being with these magazines, among others, and having stayed for a reasonable time with them, only speaks of Jordan’s reliability as a journalist or writer. Clearly, she has been able to come up with the articles assigned to her, on time, just as a reliable professional that she is.

Another distorted picture that Bennett provides of women as writers/journalists is that they are by nature and nurture careless with details and have no good grasp of correct spelling and grammar. He claims that his years of being an editor have proven this point, considering that he has been editing works of women journalists which he alleges to be riddled with grammatical errors. He even challenges women writers/ journalists that should they take grammar and spelling exams, they will all definitely fail.

Such careless statements by Bennett simply do not apply to Suzanne Britt Jordan who has earned good reputation as a writer precisely for having a good command of the English language as shown by her flawless grammatical constructions as well as consistently correct spelling. Jordan’s keenness with details can be readily seen in her works. For instance, in her article ‘Confessions of a Latin Lover’ published in Sky Magazine in 1997, Suzanne Britt Jordan provides enriching, albeit in a humorous satirical way, details about Latin words correctly spelled and punctuated.

This refutes Bennett’s claim that women writers or journalists generally are careless and do not really know correct spelling, and have poor grammatical ability. It is, however, easy for critics to conclude that Jordan has many spelling slips and grammatical lapses, considering her satirical, humorous and ironic style of writing – a novelty in the field of writing where the usual and normal is crisp, straightforward boring style.

It is understandable for writers like Bennett to misconstrue a deeply intellectual stream of thought expressed in a funny satire, with the use of figures of speech like hyperbole, to be carelessness with details and poor writing ability, since it takes the same level or higher level of intellect to appreciate Jordan’s works as flawlessly well-crafted literary pieces. Another example of flawlessly well-crafted piece of work by Jordan is the ‘That Lean and Hungry Look’ which was published in Newsweek in 1978.

It is an essay which tackles simple yet socially relevant subject of thin versus fat, which actually goes down deep into the heart of everyone, affecting self-esteem and confidence. Despite the humor and irony of the piece, correct spelling and grammar are carefully observed, which results to an effectively entertaining profound essay to which everyone relates and laughs with. Furthermore, the stereotypical woman writer, as Bennett portrays, lacks the necessary restraint and tends to overdo or overemphasize things in their writing.

Bennett points out the deliberate and whimsical use by women writers of the italics, underlining words doubly, which gives a screaming tone to their written pieces. This, however, is not true with Jordan’s works. Not one of her essays and even the books she has written, reflects lack of restraint as an author. On the contrary, despite the sometimes hilarious things she writes about, Jordan maintains a restrained tone – not shouting or screaming.

And I think that because she is able to effortlessly deliver her pieces without the aid of italics, of bold letters or all capitalized letters, she can easily scream and emphasize points and still maintain a decently restrained tone. It takes real talent to be able to do that. Take for example her piece “Suzanne Britt on Writing” which was published in The Bedford Reader in 2008. The whole piece seems very restrained, there are no unnecessary italicization or underlining or highlighting of words or phrases.

But, it effectively ‘screams’ to the audience, emphasizing points so hard that it is inescapably unforgettable. The humor and irony or sarcasm, I guess, does the job of emphasizing what Jordan wants to emphasize. Each piece of work by Jordan can be scrutinized closely and anyone will agree that she really maintains a decently restrained tone in all her pieces, no matter the subject. Likewise, the titles of Jordan’s pieces of work display careful, calculated and intelligent choices, clearly with decent restraint. ‘Neat People vs.

Sloppy People’, ‘That Lean and Hungry Look’, ‘Confessions of a Latin Lover’, among others, have restrained tones, contrary to what Bennett depicts as unrestrained women writers. In all points, Jordan simply refutes the unfair, baseless and biased stereotyping made by Bennett in his book. There is just nothing in Jordan which would reinforce Bennett’s claims. In conclusion, I strongly disagree that women journalists or writers are flawed and not really fit to be in the writing business, as proven by Suzanne Britt Jordan who has maintained a good reputation as an effective writer who can be relied upon for high quality literary pieces.

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