tressiemc

some of us are brave

A Woman In The CIA Read Porn And The Daily Beast Is On It!

This probably needs a PREAM warning.

I do not really do public debates about feminism and organizational logics anymore for reasons, but I thought this story in The Daily Beast was an interesting chance for a very quick analysis.

I thought it went without saying that the story was undeniably gross. It uncovers that Avril Danica Haines, the new number 2 at the CIA, owned a bookstore 20 years ago where an erotica reading night was held.

Screen shot 2013-06-13 at 2.44.54 PM

(I do not link back to obvious link bait as a general principle. You can google it.)

That’s right, a bookstore owner used the natural human interest in erotica books, published every day in the U.S., to market her bookstore. Twenty years ago. Undeniably gross. Except one of the authors, Avi Zenilman refutes its grossness.

Instead he uses an interesting rhetorical move that will not be unfamiliar to women or people of color or those of us who happen to be both: he explained that we just did not understand the focus of the story.

Screen shot 2013-06-13 at 10.48.31 AM

My gut, honed by a little doctoral training in content analysis and organizational analysis, said that the article in question was easily front-loaded with salacious focus on sex and next to none about how Haines “went from owning an alt indie bookstore to #2 at CIA.”

So, let’s see, shall we?

First, a simple quantitative word frequency analysis:

Sex: 3chart_1-2

Erotica: 6

Erotic: 3

CIA: 5

If a story is about the CIA role and not sex and erotica then it is hard to tell by the lexicon choices.

But, as we know, word frequency can only tell us so much. Reading is about context. So let’s do a little qualitative reading. I code every sentence that has the focus of the action on erotic, erotica, and/or sex and every instance of a focus on “rise” (here, conceptualized as something related to career progress) and then instances focused on “CIA”, the job, agency or role. Here’s an excerpt of what that coding looks like. Erotic,erotica, sex is coded red (for girls like porn, ring the alarms!). Rise or progress is coded as yellow. CIA job, role, or agency is coded as blue. The pink code is something emergent, which I’ll talk about in a moment.

Screen shot 2013-06-13 at 11.12.30 AM

That’s a lot of red.

How much red? Of 20 codes, ten made sex, erotica, and erotic the subject of the sentence’s action. That’s a clean 50%, which is admittedly less than my gut prognostication of 65 percent. But, that’s only for the explicit references to sex. What of Zenilman’s assertion that the focus of the story was a human interest appeal of the rise of a CIA appointee from indie book store owner?  Two of twenty codes. The focus on the CIA was also nominal given Zenilman’s assertion that we just misunderstood the intent: four of 20 codes were about Haines’ role at the agency or the agency itself.

Then there’s the code pink. These codes captured something I alluded to on twitter. They were interviews with former neighbors of Haines’ bookstore. They are some mix of how smart she is and how she’ll do a good job. The focus of these questions seem to be about assuaging any concerns implied by her owning a bookstore that stocked Anne Rice novels. I think that’s an implicit judgement based on gendered norms about deviant female sexuality. A bookstore carries erotica, after all. Even Barnes and Noble has a shelf of Penthouse anthologies. Yet, no one seems to think that the CEO of Barnes and Noble embodies that literature. Something about Haines owning a bookstore becomes wrapped up in the books she carried and she comes to personify them in a way that requires the defense of her neighbors and friends. Is there a reason why she just wasn’t appealing to the tastes of her market as does any good business owner? I interpret these four pink codes as contingent on the context of the “erotica” red codes which would put the code count about sex, either implicitly or explicitly, at 14 of 20 codes. Or, this article is 70 percent about sex and Ms. Haines.

Again, you can do your own analysis. That’s my coding of this piece. Of a 701 word piece (title and subtitles includes), its 70 percent about Haines engaging something sexual even if that sexuality is mediated through a business. I may be missing the point, as Mr. Zenilman suggests.  However, it is just as likely that I cannot make out the point he intended to make over all the symbolic noise about sex and erotica and girls that dare to do either.

About these ads

One comment on “A Woman In The CIA Read Porn And The Daily Beast Is On It!

  1. Amy
    June 13, 2013

    Lots of men watch porn regularly, and also hold jobs! This is a scoop that must be covered! O Daily Beast, where art thou?

Talk back...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on June 13, 2013 by in Uncategorized.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 14,619 other followers

%d bloggers like this: