Jaci Smith, managing editor of the Northfield News, has been getting hammered by citizens who were offended by her Broadening the Field front-page headline in the Nov. 5 edition of the paper, announcing the results of the city council elections.
In my e-mail to the councilors- and mayor-elect, I wrote that I think of a “broad” as a woman who is smart, savvy, tough and confident; a woman who can balance work, family and business and still find a way to be involved in the community. A leader. I can’t think of anything we need more for our city. So, in my eagerness to impart that message in three words or less on Tuesday night, “Broadening the field” seemed appropriate.
I am profoundly relieved that our new female leadership took the headline in the spirit that it was intended. But by choosing the headline I did, I managed to sidetrack the momentum and the conversation from all the exciting possibilities before us onto something much less interesting and noteworthy. And that’s what I regret most of all.
We joked about ‘broads’ vs. ‘chicks’ on this week’s Locally Grown podcast… a show where Ross and I regularly turn to Tracy and say, “Tracy, you ignorant slut!” ala Dan Akroyd-to-Jane Curtin in SNL’s Counterpoint.
I thought Jaci’s headline was clever. If the term once was offensive, it no longer is, just like the phrase “that sucks” used be offensive but no longer is. Even old timers from Frank Sinatra’s day might remember that he used ‘broad’ as an affectionate term for a girl or woman with sex appeal.
Jaci should not have (weakly) apologized, but rather should have defended herself by citing none other than Eve Webster, president of the League of Women Voters Northfield-Cannon Falls, who was quoted by Suzi Rook in the Northfield News in October:
- Leading ladies: Women return to political races in Northfield
- Voters Guide: More women than ever before are running for public office in Northfield this year
Having women and men at the table when determining the city’s course is important, said Thurston, who served two terms on the council. “I think it’s good to have a woman’s voice and a man’s,” she said. Webster, with the LWV, agrees. Decisions about public policy are more wisely made when a variety of perspectives are available,” she said. “It’s a matter of broadening the field.”