The XX Factor

The Washington Post’s Free Daily Is Confused About Which Gender Symbol Is Which

The Washington Post Express, the venerable newspaper’s free daily publication geared primarily at local commuters, published a cover story about the Women’s March on Washington on Thursday. The protest, scheduled for the day after Inauguration Day, is expected to draw enormous crowds to Washington, D.C. despite (or perhaps because of) its somewhat muddled, nonpartisan message. One thing about the protest’s mission is clear, though: It is intended for women and allies who believe that “women’s rights are human rights.” The word women is right there in the name of the march! All of which makes the Express’ cover illustration representing the march somewhat embarrassing.

Maybe Express’ choice of the Mars symbol over the Venus symbol was meant as a statement that gender is a construct, man. Maybe the publication’s graphic designers just thought the arrow looked more dynamic and energetic than the plus sign. Or maybe there is a secret men’s rights activist on the Express staff who is signaling to the world his plans for a testosterone-fueled counterprotest. Whatever the explanation, let it be a lesson to other graphic designers: If you’re going to use a clichéd pictogram to illustrate gender, make sure you know which is which.

Update, 10:45 a.m.: Express has admitted its error and deleted its tweet showing the cover. Alas, it cannot delete all the paper copies of Thursday’s issue that are currently floating around D.C.