Letter to the Editor – Being An Invisible Woman: Reporting and Casual Misogyny

HANNAH LEE / AGGIE
HANNAH LEE / AGGIE

My name is Kyla Burke and I am an undergraduate student and activist. I run a group on campus called Davis Stands with Ferguson which organizes direct actions under the mantle of the Black Lives Matter movement on campus. As we’ve taken to the streets, across the campus, and elsewhere we’ve gained increasing visibility as an organization and for our cause. Protests on campus tend to be fairly noticeable things, and as a result the Aggie often writes about us. As a media outlet we respect the Aggie’s work in building an informed student body. It is because of our respect for the mission of transparency that we have more work to do. A pattern of casual misogyny has arisen in your reporting that must be addressed.

Davis Stands with Ferguson has two lead organizers, myself and a graduate student Brandon Buchanan. If you look on our Facebook page, we are the ones listed as admins. On every event we make, we are the ones listed hosts. So of course it makes sense that we would be the ones contacted when someone wants to interview a representative of our group. But nearly every single time an Aggie reporter has reached out for an interview they have only contacted Brandon. This happened for the fourth time today and you know what they say, once is an accident, twice is coincidence, three times is a pattern, and four times is a problem. And what I see is a clear problem with casual misogyny.

Who you choose to contact in a group may not seem like a big decision, but it reflects who you believe has authority in that group. When people look for DSF contacts they find two names, Kyla and Brandon. First they operate under the assumption you can determine someone’s gender from their name, which for my fellow organizer is an instance of misgendering; and once they decide someone is a man, they contact them almost exclusively. Obviously the woman isn’t in charge. Obviously she doesn’t speak for the group. Why would we contact her?

This isn’t the only way I have encountered misogyny as a black woman and activist, from the casual to the blatant.We’ve had people who think they are radical and want join, and pull the exact same shit and assume Brandon was in charge. We’ve had a local news crew do an interview with Brandon and myself, and literally cut me out of the shot. We’ve had white men show up at our protests and yell intimidatingly over me, before proceeding to have calm conversion with men from our group who repeat my words. My experience as a woman activist has showed me misogyny is thriving on our campus and I have reached the end my patience. I’m calling people on ALL of their misogyny, so do better.

 

(Editor’s note: The California Aggie works hard to train our staff to contact various and diverse sources for every article we publish. We can always improve in this regard. We sincerely apologize for not reaching out to Ms. Burke initially when covering Davis Stands with Ferguson, and we thank her for bringing the issue to our attention.)