Naked couple in bed reading newspapers


In a Twitter war, moderates are the first ones shot.

Yesterday, I wrote about a very meta controversy: Journalists chastising the Society of Professional Journalists for publishing a sexist magazine cover about training journalists.

I serve on SPJ’s national board, and the reaction has been anything but stereotypical:

SPJ’s president and president-elect, both women, don’t think the cover is sexist.
Two male directors have been the most vocal insisting it is.
The man who chose the photo is gay.

I publicly declared the cover is somewhat sexist, which pleased no one. Especially on Twitter. I was barraged with trap questions meant to prove I can’t trust my own logic. Here’s the funny thing: I already don’t trust myself. At least not about sexism.

A New York journalist I know suggested…

Can you find a picture of a man with a perfectly toned derriere, showcased in tight fitted workout clothes, running up some stairs, and swap it out with some of your PhotoShop skills? Be sure the man’s face is not visible, so that it is clear that his butt stands for all hard working male butts in training, and that he’s not an individual in any way. Also, be sure the angle of the photo ensures his butt is the center of attention and that it is situated precisely in the middle of the page. It could be a useful exercise for contextualizing some of the problems with the cover of The Quill.

I usually avoid “useful exercises.” But useless ones are awesome. So help me decide what’s truly sexist in journalism.

Below are eight fake covers of SPJ’s most recent magazine. Score each cover a 1 for “sexy” or a 2 for “sexist.” Keep score as you go – which I realize is hard math for journalists – then compare your total with the ratings below.


8 – Sexism is a rainbow unicorn, a made-up concept like “premature ejaculation,” “female orgasm,” and “women’s suffrage.”

9-11 – Not enlightened enough for radical feminists, not brave enough for the alt-right.

12 – Me, I think.

13-15 – You enjoy casual sex, but you also feel guilty about it.

16 – Any physical attraction between a man and woman is a patriarchal power struggle cloaked in cisgender misogyny. Especially if they’re both hot.

Thanks for playing. You win nothing.