Is cable TV access is a feminist issue?
My mom posed the question, possibly to see if I can construct an argument that might persuade her household to spring for the extended digital basic. I suspect the long nights watching the ION channel are beginning to grate. Good daughter that I am, I figured I'd try tackling the question.
To start with: Cable television isn't cheap. The average bill for expanded basic cable is $49.65 per month -- nearly seven hours of work for your average minimum-wage employee -- and that's more than double what it was ten years ago. Since it's not like we've all doubled in wealth or earning power in the last decade, it's evident that cable is eating up a larger chunk of discretionary income.
Yet this is not really stopping people from getting cable. According to the U.S. government, 64% of households making less than $15,000 per year have cable. Sadly, the U.S. government doesn't examine how many of those households might be made up of college students whose parents are paying the rent, thus freeing the kids up to pay for HBO, but the fact remains, more than half of all households pulling in less than $1250 a month have decided that they can live on $1200 -- that remaining $50 is going to cable.
So in terms of purely economic issues -- economic issues being the ones that point out that women's fulltime earnings are 77% of men's fulltime earnings, and that five times as many households headed by single women fall below the poverty line as households headed by married couples, so it's a fair bet women are the ones making the decisions about whether or not they can afford cable -- in terms of those issues, a lack of access to cable doesn't seem to be a gendered phenomenon. A majority of people in this country have it, no matter their income level.
I do wonder if there's an argument to be made that access to cable TV matters in terms of cultural depictions and issues. Anyone who's ever tried watching the networks in the mornings knows that you've got your choice of gabfest, gabfest, gabfest and gabfest. Granted, FOX News also offers their own gabfests -- or, as I like to think of them, the televised equivalent of an intellectual heat sink -- but when you've got cable, FOX News isn't one of four choices. It's one of 40, and I can tell you, at least 30 of those will be better.
What do you think? Casting financial matters aside -- since they're apparently not bothering a majority of Americans in the first place -- is access to cable TV a feminist issue in terms of cultural exposure?