After the tragic accident that ended Jennifer Rosoff’s life, the Associated Press reported:
“A 35-year-old media executive on a first date plunged to her death Thursday after the railing on her 17th-floor New York City balcony gave way, police said.
Jennifer Rosoff went outside for a cigarette around 12:50 a.m. when she either sat on the railing or leaned on it. Her date told her that she probably shouldn’t do it, and then moments later, she apparently fell backward and landed on construction scaffolding at the first floor, authorities said. Police spoke to the man and no foul play was suspected.”
To which Slate responded: SEXISM.
If you blink you’ll miss it… unless of course, you are a woman and spend your life constantly distracted by the minute instances of sexism that pepper our daily lives. Then it’s just another tiny pebble in the avalanche.
What Slate astutely picked up on was an instance of mostly benign—but unnecessary—sexism occurring in what is supposed to be objective journalism. Why, exactly, is it important to know right away that the deceased was a) with a man in her apartment on their first date, b) 35 and single, c) a smoker, and d) disobeying the man’s warning not to lean on the balcony?
I’ll tell you why (and stop me if I’m going to far here): it’s because uppity smoking sluts deserve to die.
If only Rosoff had settled down with a man—one she vowed to love, honor, and obey!—before desperate times led to desperate measures and she was forced to debase herself by bringing a man back to her bachelorette pad on a first date! If only she had given up that unladylike habit of smoking before it led to her predictable and preventable demise!
Slate proposed an alternative lead to the article, one which ignored all the subtle sexist details in favor of more relevant facts:
“A 35-year-old media executive plunged to her death Thursday after the railing on her 17th-floor New York City balcony gave way, police said. Jennifer Rosoff, who worked for a new media advertising startup called TripleLift, was outside with a friend around 12:50 a.m. when she either sat on the railing or leaned on it. Moments later, she apparently fell backward and landed on construction scaffolding at the first floor, authorities said. Police spoke to the friend and no foul play was suspected. Buildings officials took part of the broken railing to examine how it could have given way and plan to determine whether the other balconies in the building are structurally sound.”
Was that so hard?