We don’t always receive reader feedback personally but, when we do, it’s worthwhile. Here’s a note from one reader who reminded us that our words can have impacts we don’t anticipate or even think to consider when editing. Here, Shelley offers perspective about the headline “Wrench Wench” for a bike maintenance clinics article in our current issue.
Dear Ms. Olson – Editor in Chief and Ms. Perrizo – Copy Editor,
As an outdoor enthusiast (mountain biker, rock climber, runner, hiker) and former Director of Outdoor Tourism and Sports Marketing for a state tourism office, I have enjoyed Women’s Adventure magazine and e-newsletters throughout the years. I support women’s programs and initiatives on many levels by way of serving on a YWCA board, YW Women’s Program Committee, Co-Chairing a Women’s Studies Advisory Council and volunteering for a local AAUW chapter. I am a firm believer in empowering young girls and women to be independent, strong and confident and to speak out for equality.
I was drawn to your article “Wrench Wench” (page 36 & 37- WAM summer 2013) about the United Bicycle Institute. I feel it speaks to encouraging young women to not be afraid of the STEM fields where females are currently underrepresented. Learning how to take apart and put back together ones bike is a basic representation of mechanical engineering. I applaud these women for their initiative and drive for independence. I know all too well what being “stuck” on the trail can look like.
With that being said, I do have a concern regarding the title which is the reason for my correspondence. Although I realize it is a play on words, I feel the word “wench” is a very derogatory term and negates the actual positive message this article represents. Webster’s defines “wench” as “a female servant, a lewd women: prostitute, working girl, harlot” of which I am sure neither of the women in this article are. What surprised me even more is that the title was used by a female writer, Stephanie Nitsch, and used in a Women’s magazine. As a female reader I had a strong reaction and wouldn’t be surprised if others did as well.
There is already so much objectification and degradation of women in media that I would ask that you keep in mind when editing how a simple title may contribute to that. I suspect your reader base may very well include young adult girls who we know are very impressionable. I reiterate that I enjoy your magazine, always have, and will continue to do so. I merely send this correspondence to share another perspective woman to woman.
Thank you for your attention.
Thanks for your note, Shelley. Our deepest apologies to any of you put off by our oversight. We’ll edit more carefully next time. –Jenn