SJ Magazine, a Maple Shade-based publication owned by women, has canceled an upcoming event on "women's empowerment" following an online backlash over the panel's all-male makeup.
"As a women-owned business, women's empowerment has always been part of our mission statement," the magazine said in canceling the event. "We believe it is helpful when everyone is part of the conversation on women's empowerment and feminism."
The panel, titled "Women in Business: A Man's Point of View," was scheduled to take place Nov 6. and feature ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, Rowan University president Ali A. Houshmand, Virtua president and CEO Richard Miller, and Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald (D., Camden).
"I'm still trying to wrap my head around how anyone could possibly think this up," wrote Politico New Jersey bureau chief Ryan Hutchins. Greenwald announced he was pulling out of the event before the magazine canceled it.
"I was asked to participate on a panel for an issue I care deeply about. As a son watching my mother break the glass ceiling in politics and as a father of 2 daughters, I have a passion for the pursuit of equality," Greenwald tweeted Monday night. "In light of a full understanding of the composition of this panel, I will be withdrawing from participating and offering my seat instead to someone who can bring a more diverse and inclusive point of view to this critical issue."
The criticism of the event, which was first promoted on Twitter by SJ Magazine on Monday, was swift and intense, especially after the magazine insisted "no mansplaining allowed" in a subsequent tweet.
The criticism was widespread, with the actress Alyssa Milano and comedian Aparna Nancherla among those throwing shade at the magazine's decision to have four men discuss female empowerment.
SJ Magazine publisher and editor-in-chief Marianne Aleardi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last November, the magazine invited four men to talk about sexism, promoting equality at workplaces, and what happens when women cry at work, among other topics. The magazine acknowledged the event was a gamble.
"We tried something different this year – gathering a panel of men to talk to an audience of women about women in business," the magazine said. "It was a risk. We had no idea what would happen. But in the end, the night was extraordinary. Four successful men were open, honest and direct as they discussed their experiences with women in the workforce."
The four men were 6abc anchor Rick Williams, Atlantic City Electric president Vincent Maione, Cooper University Health Care senior executive vice president Anthony Mazzarelli, and TD Bank South Jersey market president Rob Curley.
"I think women have been conditioned to accept inappropriate or off-color comments," Maione said when asked about witnessing sexism. "They don't want to be that person who calls someone out, so they'll react how they think they're supposed to react. That signifies acceptance by all the males in that group, and then they just continue to do it. In that situation, whether you're male or female, if you're uncomfortable about what's going on, don't act like you're comfortable, because you will just continue to create the same environment."