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The Rachel Papers

Article by Jonanna Widner, Illustrated by Omar Lee, published in 2009; filed under Broadcast; tagged lesbian icons, media, MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, women in news.
What a hot, smart, lesbian pundit means for an uneasy America

Now you can quit camping out for the USPS to deliver your copy of "Buzz" and start reading Jonanna Widner's piece on Rachel Maddow, exploring the the pundit's prime time rise and unprecedented fan club around the country, and offering a social critique to the madness around Maddow! Click on the article for interactive reading!

Now you can quit camping out for the USPS to deliver your copy of "Buzz" and start reading Jonanna Widner's piece on Rachel Maddow, exploring the the pundit's prime time rise and unprecedented fan club around the country, and offering a social critique to the madness around Maddow! Click on the article for interactive reading!

Comments

15 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Fun to read!

Yes yes yes, I am gay for rachel! I love that she is true to herself- not trying to be pushy or hostile to assert herself as a woman in a male dominated workplace! Everyone I know LOVES her. I LOVE her.
She's there cause she SAVED msnbc, not the other way around! Let the people know!!!

Saved MSNBC?

Ha ha ha ha hahahahahah... Gasp for breath... saved MSNBC? No one can save MSNBC, not even the handful of low-information morons that watch it. And certainly not a disgusting angry lesbian. HA ha ha ha. Saved MSNBC... Ha ha ha... Oh, goodness, that was a good one...

You're going to get shit for this, so I'll just be the first.

Great article on Maddow. But did Bitch *really* just use the term "anorexic" in a derogatory manner? Yikes!

biggest crush ever...

Maddow is by far my favorite talking head ever. She has supplanted Keith Olbermann as my Savior of the Airwaves. Every night, my crush for her grows that much stronger.
http://hateonme.com/2009/03/09/only-one-hand-is-necessary-to-smack-the-c...

Olbermann

If you think Olbermann is you savior you should probably have your head checked and get on some medication because the man is a flake and has no clue 90% of the time what he is talking about. He should has stuck with sports, at least there he had a clue.

MADDOW ROCKS - GREAT ARTICLE!

Had to write to say that I agree Ms. Maddow is a remarkable woman with whom people of all ages and gender seem to have embraced, or as you write, "are gay for Rachael." Rachael rocks on so many levels and her remarkable mind, energy, quirky sense of humor, and her totally non self conscious no apologies (not suggesting she would ever need one) demeanor is oh so very nice to see on the air waves, and watch her amazing self - dissect, analyze, question, debate, and discuss complicated policies, issues etc. I actually got into a bit of a take no prisoners hold me back type argument w/ one of my colleagues, who said that Ms. Maddow looked like a guy (in an effort to either marginalize her or dismiss her I some way - my colleague is a Fox news watcher, Rush L. lover, die hard radical right type who still insists there were WWDs in Iraq that justified the war - and of course believes that the Iraq was responsible for 911). No way - not in my book - the difference is that it is evident from watching her that she writes, researches etc. her copy and is fully versed in every subject - and she does it all without attempting to ingratiate her audience in a way that many new hosts often do. To me she sounds, looks, and clearly is one brianiac woman with a capital W who is oh so full of moxey, charm, and talent that makes watching her a delight. I do not agree that she "reads butch" given her short hair and manner of dress on screen. In fact, I had not known that she was gay or out until I read an article in the NYT Sunday magazine section a few months ago. I will be watching Ms. Maddow, hopefully, for a very very long time! I think its less that folks are "gay for Rachael" and more that they are gaga over Rachael. In a way, although it has a nice ring to it for an article, saying that folks are "gay" for her sort of reduces her to a sex object. Now I know that was not your intent and I must agree that the "gay for Rachael" line is pretty creative, but I am gaga over Rachael. christa f.

Although I appreciate and

Although I appreciate and respect Rachel Maddow's intelligence and success, she still represents one of the biggest problems of the media today, that huge echo chamber--the fact that we choose to get our news from people who we know agree with us. Just because it's coming from the left this time doesn't make it necessarily beneficial for a society that's replacing facts and general information with endless commentary and snark.

No *I* have the world's biggest crush on Rachel Maddow...

Ok, on a serious note: Since when did everyone start jumping on board with this idea that only the "News" is the "NEWS" - you know, neutral, un-alderated, and unbiased "News"?? Anonymous: ALL news is interpreted. Though I love NPR, for instance, I don't listen to it thinking it's the end-all, be-all. And while I believe they're pretty darn fair, someone still makes choices about the selection of news peices that are to be aired, etc. I also appreciate, and listen for, the bits where perhaps a UC Berkeley professor of Economics presents his or her commentary on the global economic crisis. It's ALL part of the news.

Look - Rachel's show is smart television. Smart, smart, smart. And the "echo chamber" that I'm concerned about is the one in viewers' heads when they watch so-called 'unbiased, unfettered news' and believe that there really is such a thing. EVERYTHING is informed by one's perspective, by one's experience... everything.

I happen to not "agree" with Rachel on everything, and that's fabulous. In fact, I think I love her most because she challenges me, and my thinking about the issues, on a daily basis.

I figured I'd turn here to

I figured I'd turn here to temporarily escape the rabid sexism running amok in mainstream but what a mistake I made! Usually I know not to expect anything different from "out there" but seeing it here has made me has really dampened my spirit.

Let's keep perpetuating all the stereotypes designed to keep us down:

"Indeed for Maddow, the blogosphere has been turning cartwheels, batting its eyelashes, and collectively giggling like a hormonal school girl at her first dance."

and promote the sexualizing of women. Even someone as amazing as Rachel Maddow isn't exempt!:

"Plus she's just lovely to look at"

"A couple of posts even raved about the loveliness of Maddow's neck. You get the idea."

one guys says, "hetero, married to the sweetest *thing* for 25+ years and I can't stop watching Rachel."

Thanks BitchMag! You're a blessing to women!!

Oh, completely forgot the

Oh, completely forgot the title

"What a *hot*, smart, lesbian pundit means for an uneasy America"

yeah, that bothered me too

Well said. That popped out at me too. Bitch is great on the balance and sure nothing's perfect, but trying to have it both ways is what makes me sad (occasionally) about this mag + (frequently) about blogs like jezebel
They rightly jump on mainstream press that for sexualizing almost every female subject, but publish articles themselves that do the very same thing. Really what's the difference? Because there are a lot of contributors to these fem pubs, I think there needs to be a little more editorial control to keep on message.
Using your smarts to contribute to intelligent and informed dialogue about public policy is awesome. Being an out and proud lesbian in a largely evangelical country where homosexuals are denied many civil rights is brave. But Maddow being hot is not a personal triumph or accomplishment, it's not something she plays up, and anyway if she wasn't attractive she would never even be a female talking head!

Think Positive

I understand your point, but think on the upside...I never knew who Rachel Maddow was before this article. I tend to stay away from mainstream media altogether, too much bs. But now I'm more informed thanks to Bitch and can look forward to hearing from talking heads such as Maddow. Just a little positive note.

Lovin the Maddow

This was a great analysis. Rachel Maddow rocks my world. She never needs to raise her voice or take cheap shots because she is brilliant. But make no mistake - she is one tenacious bad-ass. F--- Barrack. Maddow 2012!

You missed it.

You missed it. Your obvious crush on Rachel blurred your vision enough to let you do the following:

1) Forget to support your personal judgments with some kind of real reporting. I mean, you do mention her attractive ratings and rave reviews. But those are overwhelmed by your use of terms like affability, skewering, genius flair, charm-the-pants-off, gaga, relatable, lusted over, bad-ass brain, and awesome. Can we have some examples, please, so we can make our own judgments instead of blindly latching on to yours?

2) Get stuck in the sexuality thing. You complain that we're not post-gay, then cite lots of examples of how little the media has hyped her gayness ("incidental factoid," "no one ... published Maddow's coming-out story", "paucity of coverage"). Doesn't that treatment of Maddow portend precisely the post-gay mentality you say is missing?

3) Get stuck in the female thing. One wag speculates that Maddow's female status might calm the bad boys over at MSNBC and you react as though our whole society is looking to her for cookies and milk. C'mon. Part of going post-gay and post-feminist is having the maturity to give appropriate (light) weight to comments from the people who still don't get it.

Otherwise, great job!

Thanks.

Robert

Hillary Clinton is not the

Hillary Clinton is not the post-feminist face. She came of age precisely during the time Ms. Widner defines as not being post-anything. Sec. Clinton is of the anti-Vietnam War, women's lib, and civil rights' movements generations.

She is not third or fourth wave (depends on how you define your dates for our current generation of feminism). She, like former Sec. of State Albright, PM Merkel of Germany, and Madam Thatcher are of a certain generation that does not relate to the Millennials. Clinton became entrapped by the Bitch/Angel dichotomy, during her campaign, as 'ball-busting,' 'emasculating' and 'masculine' because she is still fighting the old battles amongst her peers.

In fact, I would say Michelle Obama is post-feminist, but imagining a woman of color as post-feminist is inconceivable. Even for Bitch Magazine?