Just An Online Minute... The Case Of The Disappearing Diatribes
Tuesday, Forbes.com published executive editor Michael Noer's essay, "Don't Marry Career Women," a laughingly sexist screed telling men--seriously--they will have better lives if they avoid marrying college-educated women who work full-time and earn more than $30,000 a year.
"While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it," writes Noer. "A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women--even those with a 'feminist' outlook--are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner."
The piece goes on in this vein for another 1,000 words or so, filled with studies that supposedly offer support for the hypothesis that men should, in Noer's words, "steer clear of career women."
It didn't take long before bloggers found the piece and began asking what Forbes was thinking. "2006, meet 1956. Pathetic," wrote BoingBoing. The Huffington Post's "Eat the Press" called it "blood-boilingly misogynistic," while Gawker issued the post, "Shocker: Forbes Recommends Trophy Wives."
By Wednesday afternoon, the article was gone, only to resurface hours later, as part of a package Forbes is characterizing as a point-counterpoint about careers and marriage. Noer's essay is the point, while Elizabeth Corcoran, of the magazine's Silicon Valley bureau, offers the counterpoint, "Don't Marry a Lazy Man."
Posting Corcoran's essay probably did some damage control within the Forbes newsroom--where, and we're guessing here--Noer alienated a good many of his female colleagues this week.
But the new packaging didn't do much for online critics. "Readers: A word of advice. Ask Forbes.com the following question: Why the hell would you print one of the most sexist, chauvinistic articles in the history of respectable periodicals and then republish it, but as a debate?" suggests Gawker.
Also, the company's "explanation" for both the original essay and its repurposing leaves something to be desired. A note preceding the point/counterpoint says simply that the original story "provoked a heated response from both outside and inside our building," and that Corcoran has written a "rebuttal."
Meantime, another Noer article, "The Economics of Prostitution," appears to have been purged from the site. Hopefully, Forbes.com will soon come up with some sort of explanation for what happened to the piece.
But in the meantime, it's hardly a good sign--for either the MSM, bloggers or online readers--when articles vanish without a trace.