Judy Mann, longtime feminist columnist at the Washington Post, died of breast cancer Friday at the age of 61. In her column, which ran in the Post more than 23 years, Mann wrote about national and international women’s issues, feminist politics, and her own experiences as a mother. Leonard Downie, JR., executive editor of the Post said, “her column was widely read, especially by women like herself who believed strongly in expanding the rights of women.” Mann also wrote two books, one a collection of her Post columns (Mann of All Seasons) and one called The Difference: Growing Up Female in America.
In Mann’s last column, published on December 28, 2001, she decried the lack of outspoken liberal columnists and the lack of women writing serious commentary, saying “I have always felt that the media mirror society and that a society in which women are invisible in the media is one in which they are invisible, period.”
“Mann was very important to the women’s movement, especially so because her voice reached Washington political leaders,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and a longtime friend of Mann’s. “She was the first columnist to write about the gender gap in voting. When others were trying to debunk the gender gap, she instantly recognized its importance and potential in determining election outcomes. She so believed in its power that she called her farm ‘The Gender Gap.'”
“She openly called herself a feminist when most writers were afraid the label would hurt them with their conservative male publishers,” Smeal continued. “She constantly took on tough feminist issues and broke new ground. She will be missed. Tragically, there are still very few feminist columnists, especially in the major mainstream press.”