Washington Post uses wrong gender symbol on cover, apologizes after backlash

The 'Washington Post Express' magazine is backpedalling after a major cover gaffe.
The 'Washington Post Express' magazine is backpedalling after a major cover gaffe. Twitter

It’s the kind of error that warrants a face palm. This morning, Express, the Washington Post‘s free daily magazine, released its edition with a cover story on the impending Women’s March on Washington. The cover is pink and features an illustration of people — presumably mostly women — gathering to form a gender symbol. The only problem is, the symbol was male.

Twitter reaction to the error was swift and scathing.

Soon after, Express issued an apology and tweeted a revised cover featuring the correct gender symbol. Unfortunately, by that time, the free magazine, which is distributed at Washington D.C. subway stations and other metropolitan locations had already made its way into peoples’ hands.

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The massive oversight has caused several publications to call into question the staffing at Express, specifically its seeming lack of female editors or fact-checkers. As well as a general lack of awareness of women’s issues.

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In a Slate piece written by associate editor L.V. Anderson, she opined: “Maybe Express’ choice of the Mars symbol over the Venus symbol was meant as a statement that gender is a construct, man. Or maybe there is a secret men’s rights activist on the Express staff who is signalling to the world his plans for a testosterone-fueled counterprotest.”

Kaitlyn Tiffany at The Verge also had a field day with the error.

“Obviously there are some issues with today’s cover of The Washington Post’s Express magazine. The big, obvious one is that the people on it are arranged in the shape of the standard symbol for male,” she wrote. “Some other things: The male symbol is pointing at President Obama. These ladies sure aren’t marching because of him!”

And of the corrected cover, she noted: “In this version, the lower half of the image is full of half-people and random body parts piled on top of each other to fill out the shape. Congratulations, women!”

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Although she did concede: “The cover story that this terrifying image of ritualistically arranged severed limbs points to is actually really good.”

BuzzFeed, which is known for comically illustrating their articles with gifs, sympathized with the inevitable confusion the cover caused.

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“Just to review, the traditional symbol for women is ♀, not ♂,” wrote Lauren Strapagiel. “So given the story and the heavy use of pink, people had questions. Like how could they possibly have gotten it so wrong? And if any women were in the newsroom that let this happen?”

“So close. And yet, so far,” wrote The Cut‘s Gabriella Paiella.

The Women’s March on Washington was organized in the days after Trump’s win to protest the election of a candidate who has been widely accused of mistreating women and exhibiting misogynistic tendencies. For many, a man who openly brags about sexually assaulting women does not belong in a position of power that allows him to establish (or revoke) laws pertaining to women’s rights.

The protest is scheduled to take place on Jan. 21, the day after his inauguration.

Gloria Steinhem and Harry Belafonte are serving as honorary co-chairs of the event, and expected celebrity participants include Amy Schumer, Samantha Bee, Jessica Chastain and Olivia Wilde.

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