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“How in the hell could the Washington Post possibly have been this obtuse?”

by Prince Of Petworth January 23, 2017 at 2:30 pm 63 Comments

wapo title

“Dear PoPville,

The headline for Petula Dvorak‘s column on the men at Saturday’s march currently reads “At the Women’s March, the men mattered, too.”

But until 10:04 Sunday morning, as the URL hints, it was *mind-bogglingly* different.


Fortunately, I managed to retrieve that version from my phone’s cache and get a screenshot…

How in the hell could the Washington Post possibly be this obtuse?”

  • Deebs

    I mean… they also used the male symbol for the march in the express. what an embarrassment.

  • kapitolhill

    You tell us men to show up and support all women? We do.
    You tell us that an article can’t be written about us showing up and supporting the women we love, care for, and support with all our hearts? Come on… There’s bigger things in life to complain about.

    • kharr89

      I don’t think it’s the article, but the original title suggesting that men were the most important part of the march.

      • JohnH

        Like it or not, men are the ones in political power in this country. 80% of Congress is male. It’s pathetic, but it’s a fact. So one could argue that when men get on the side of women, it’s even more powerful than women. Is it right? Of course not. But it’s also reality that men are disproportionately in charge in this country.

    • CBay

      It’s not the article being about the men that was stupid it was the headline.

    • patriarchy


    • navyard

      We were so so happy all those men came out in support. I think the OP’s issue is the headline that the men mattered “THE MOST”. At a women’s march. really?

      But then again, it’s Petula. I’d like to see what she thinks of those pink hats now. I didn’t really care one way or the other before the march, but once I was in a sea of them (with women AND men wearing them), I loved it. So glad that a woman from another state handed me a hat that was crocheted by another person who couldn’t be there. so I represented her by wearing the hat.

      Come on Petula, give us a follow-up statement on the pink hats!

      • Cleveland Park runner

        Headlines are typically written by the editors or other staff, not the journalist writing the piece.

        • textdoc


  • Seriously Folks

    Seems awfully petty and shrieking to take umbrage with the original headline. What bloody difference does it make?

    • If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

    • houseintherear

      “shrieking”- give me a gd break with this sexist ass language. LAY OFF.

      • textdoc


      • LittleBluePenguin

        +1000! Seriously, I saw this and was pretty annoyed. It’s an opinion piece, which is fine, but other people are allowed to have another opinion without being tarred with sexist language.

      • Commentator

        +1 Relying on “shrieking” as a descriptor is an old troll tool and lazy af. In this case it’s even diving back further into the tired trope of “women are hysterical” so no points for originality.

  • who cares? it was changed

  • K

    The Washington Post needed a headline to compete with the equally tone deaf NY Times “When Mommy Has to March, Routines Change” headline. They also changed the title to something less click-baity. Newspapers, like neighborhood blogs, survive on clicks. Rage clicks are still clicks.

  • Anon X

    I’m sick of the knee jerk reaction machine. Dvorak isn’t even that great of a writer and I disagree with quite a lot of what she says. But people are allowed to have opinions that you disagree with. I don’t mind opinions that I disagree with getting published and I don’t mind reading them. What I am sick of is the constant need, especially among my fellow liberals, to institute a strict ideological purity with any deviation triggering an uproar.

    • artemis

      If Dvorak is allowed to have an opinion and express it, aren’t others allowed to have an opinion about her writing and express that?

      • NotGrinchandNotScrooge

        Dvorak’s usually… confusing, sometimes just bad. But it is an op-ed, after all, and columnists reporters generally don’t write their own headlines — editors do.

        • Anon

          I thinks she’s outright dense, at best. It’s been like this for quite a while though.

      • Anon X

        Of course…. what’s your point?

    • Anonymous

      +1. It’s going to be a long 8 years if the left can’t focus.

  • Los

    #AlternativeFacts #mainsplaing #MenDeserveParticipationAwards lol

  • L.

    The NYT had a similar piece about how men had to do all the “women’s work” (they didn’t say this, but this was the subtext) while their wives were at the march. For ONE DAY. Heaven forfend. I think they had such stories during the suffrage days too.

    If I’m being charitable, I think it MIGHT have been meant to display how universal women’s distaste for Trump is in a certain type of community (white, affluent, educated, untouched by the economic and public health malaise that Trump sailed on to the White House.) Or, it might have been intended to make a point about women’s unpaid, unheralded physical and emotional labor on any given day of their lives and men’s blissful ignorance/expectation of same, even in affluent and “progressive” areas. If that was the intent, I think they missed the mark.

  • andy2

    It is Petula…par for the course.

    • Anon

      Yup. I honestly wouldn’t spend much time worrying about what she has to say.

  • HaileUnlikely

    It’s a f*cking opinion piece.

    • Then why did they change the title?

      • HaileUnlikely

        I don’t know. I don’t work for the Post. My guess would be: because of misguided public outcry over the title of an opinion piece.

        • Interesting you think the Washington Post would do that over “misguided public outcry”. Very interesting.

          • HaileUnlikely

            My position, which I will maintain, is that it is silly to get too worked up over the title (or content) of an opinion piece. It is represented as the opinion of its author and nothing more. If you want to argue that this particular writer should have been canned over a decade ago, that’s a different argument altogether, but as a general matter, I am at peace with the fact that there exist opinion writers who will write things that I disagree with and continue to have jobs nonetheless.

          • Anon

            Huh? You seem genuinely surprised that people are taking issue with that opinion on Popville? You high mate?

          • From time to time :)

          • HaileUnlikely

            Not surprised, just disappointed. I’m more-or-less with Anon X, above.

      • textdoc

        As others have noted, columnists usually aren’t the ones who come up with the titles for their pieces.
        If people want to criticize Petula Dvorak for the content of this piece and/or other pieces, that’s one thing. But it’s unlikely she came up with the title that was subsequently changed, so it’s not fair to criticize her on those grounds.

  • LisaT

    I, too, was p*ssed off by the original title. The first paragraph was good. And then the second paragraph starts with “Best of all, there were men there.” Excuse me? The best part was that men came to the march? WTF?

    • navyard

      Of course. If a tree falls in the forest and only women hear it, did it make a noise?

  • anonymouse_dianne

    It’s just more alternative facts

  • FridayGirl

    Yeah, I saw a meme circulating on a “libertarian” facebook page this morning that said something along the lines of “Guess who cleans up after all the women at their marches? Men.” Totally neglecting several facts including: 1) Men litter too, and 2) women have been picking up after them for literally centuries.

  • floggers

    Yeah, I don’t think this was Petula’s fault. I think the point of her article–that us women need men to stand with us and stand up for us, since they are more often in positions of power and influence, sadly–is a good one. I think the editor who chose the headline is at fault here and I really can’t believe that headline was given the go-ahead.

    Just as an aside, I get that people disagree with Petula’s columns but really, she is one of the loveliest people I’ve ever known and she would certainly never denigrate women. She is raising two of the most awesome little boys out there and they’re gonna grow up to be men who stand with women and fight for them.

    • textdoc

      +1 to Floggers’ first paragraph.

  • Ross

    As far as I can tell, Petula Dvorak has always been an atrocious columnist. I’m not sure how someone like that maintains employment with a major newspaper like the Post for so long. She’s part of a group of “tenured” writers there who haven’t written anything of value for years, if not decades, yet they keep pumping out garbage. Just adding to the growing irrelevance of the Washington Post.

    • Like the Post or not but with over 76 million monthly users they are definitely not irrelevant.

      • Ross

        Maybe irrelevant isn’t the right word, but as someone who’s read the Post for decades, the drop in quality has been precipitous. I suppose that readers have lowered their expectations, as well.

  • boybert

    Is it OK for there to be some artistic license in the hed for an op-ed piece? Does everything need to be taken precisely literally in the opinion section? Changing the hed later may also not have been a reaction to anything. News orgs and other websites routinely have several different banners for each story which are programmatically (or editorially) changed for different users, times, platforms, etc.

  • Truxton Thomas

    It’s an attempt by an editor to encapsulate the op-ed and, probably, gin up interest in the piece. I disagree with the sentiment and do not blame anyone for taking umbrage, but I would still like a cookie to reward my attendance at the march since it mattered so much.

  • Smilla

    STRONGLY disagree with the “Who cares?” and “There are more important things to care about” comments.

    We have the energy — and the responsibility — to point out the big transgressions and the small. We can’t let sexism go without comment, because as “minor” as it might seem, such appearances in everyday life still influence us, however subtly (remember the ridiculous “Can’t we just talk about shoes” Metro ads?).

    By calling out language or constructs, you might also open the eyes of someone — such as the person responsible for the headline — who doesn’t even realize that it’s sexist or racist.

    • wdc

      I hear you, but I disagree with you. I think that we have to let some little things slide, or risk drowning out the big important messages. I’ve actually heard “What are the feminists mad about?” “Eh, who cares. It’ll be something different tomorrow.”
      I would so love it if we could address sexism on every level. But we have a hard enough time getting any attention paid to the big things– the wage gap, reproductive health, sexual assault. If we were to focus, we might get further. The detractors know this, and they get a lot of mileage out of distracting us from the big issues. We’re playing into their hands when we get angry about a URL on a news story.

      • Smilla

        Dan cites the URL only as proof of what the original headline was, because he was having trouble calling it up. This was the headline in one of the top papers in the country.

        Right-wingers will always complain that we’re making a big deal out of everything. We shouldn’t let them set the terms of the debate. Language — and the ideas behind that language — matter. Otherwise, Saturday’s protest would have been called the Girls’ March.

        • ED. NOTE: This is a note sent from a reader.

          • Smilla

            Whoops, sorry! My bad.

    • Anonymous

      What is sexist about an opinion piece in which the author says that women have already proven they are equal to men, and that what has to happen next is a change in men’s attitudes? Or did you just stop at the title?

      • Smilla

        Yes, I was only referring to the title, since that’s what the original complaint was about.

  • jsauri

    As a man who went to the rally, I’d just like to take this opportunity to say, “You’re Welcome.”

    PS Please stop reading Petula Dvorak. She’s just a click bait hack. Half her articles have intentionally inflammatory headlines just to get people to rant in the comments section. And yeah, it’s just her opinion, to which she is entitled. But WaPo could exercise a little editorial integrity without damaging its readership.

    • jsauri

      Apparently my end sarcasm tag after “You’re Welcome” was removed during posting. So in case anyone was wondering, yes that was a joke.

  • RL

    OP here. Thanks, Dan, for attempting to clarify what I thought was pretty clear from my use of the word “headline” in my first sentence and the screenshot I included. I invite everyone commenting on the actual content of the piece to reread the post and note that I never criticized Petula Dvorak herself or the content of the column.
    I find it puzzling that so many people think it’s irrelevant that *someone* at the WaPo thought it was okay to give men the primary credit for a massive march by women for women’s rights. Had it been a piece about, say, a BLM protest of similar scope, and the headline read “At the BLM March, it’s the whites who mattered most,” would your opinion be the same?
    *Of course* we should acknowledge and appreciate the many men who joined us Saturday. But by claiming their simple presence – not anything they said or did, just the fact that they had Y chromosomes – was the single most important element to the March, the Post demonstrated that whoever thought this headline was appropriate is in fact a part of the problem.

  • DC_Chica

    I stopped reading Wonkblog in part because they began labeling their articles with headlines that were clearly clickbait and in some cases implied a point of view or conclusion not supported by the article at all. I’m not sure that the authors of the articles have control over the headlines that run above their articles/columnists (does anyone work at WaPo and know?). As for Dvorak, she was one of the first journalists I saw drawing attention to the large number of homeless families with children living in DC General and for that reason alone I normally give her the benefit of the doubt (I was not a fan of hers prior to that but I think her columns have improved over time).

  • Giuliana

    Not to defend the the title, but online publications (and websites in general) often publish different titles to test which one gets more clicks. It’s called A/B testing, and the Post does this all the time.


    • navyard

      Very good information. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jessica

    The Post is probably doing A/B testing on headlines.

  • kt

    I saw this headline on the Washington Post app and was equally appalled. Yes men are important. If there’s anyone who has ever thought that men weren’t important, I’d like to hear about it. But they are the MOST IMPORTANT THING about the WOMEN’S MARCH??? The women weren’t the most important thing about the women’s march? Come on.


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