Yellow Peril by Tze Ming Mok

Read Post

Yellow Peril: Are you gonna liberate us girls from male, white, corporate oppression?

242 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 10 Newer→ Last

  • Che Tibby,

    I think it's sad that your repeated appearances were so focused on some perceived slight to yourself, and had no substantial contribution to the wider issue. Ultimately, dude, this post wasn't about you; it was about us. I hope you can get over it.

    then... why take a swing at the guys under the pretense of getting the girls online.

    why not just say, "grrl-only commenters"? sure the guys here would respect that.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Are you sure they wouldn't still just opine about why they think women do things a certain way, and point out how unjust it is that they're excluded? Because that's what I've seen happen in most conversations in a mixed audience about women's issues. Even here - it's just that the opining is more benign and the complaints of injustice nicely worded.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    I don't think anyone's offended as such by simple terms to denote your gender and (perceived) skin colour.

    But as Steven and Danyl point out, race and gender-baiting is distasteful. You know, that little thing called context. Sure, you can be childish and pretend otherwise, and probably get away with it too, provided you're not a white boy.

    Think about what that means though.

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Tze Ming:

    ... I knew, whatever the demographics of my own readership and private correspondence, a comments section is always a white boy's playground. But hey, white boys gotta play somewhere, and at least it's clean!

    Flip way of saying it, sure, but isn't turning a discussion about women's exclusion from online discussion through threats of violence into an argument about how unfair it is to denigrate "white boys" exactly an illustration of what Tze Ming is saying?

    Think about what that means. That we can't talk about how women can have an online voice, because the guys take over complaining about how they've expressed that voice?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    No, not really, unless you're saying that women's online voice is one of race and gender-baiting and nobody should be allowed to opine against that.

    Actually, that is what you're saying.

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    the complaints of injustice nicely worded.

    to me that somewhat implies that you see no injustice online.

    i see it every day, and not just towards women, but we do seem to make neat and tidy targets.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 527 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Fair point, B Jones. And you'll be missed here, Yellow Peril- spinner of threads that will not die.
    I 'spect this will be another- we've hardly engaged the question yet, let alone diverted it totally to get your opinions about Chinese mathematics!

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    unless you're saying that women's online voice is one of race and gender-baiting and nobody should be allowed to opine against that.

    Actually, that is what you're saying.

    No - Tze Ming made a bunch of important points about women's ability to participate online in the face of threats of violence, and one one flip comment about men (in particular white ones) making up the majority of blog commentators, which is kinda true and not particularly offensive, speaking as a member of one of the groups supposed denigrated.

    Ignoring the important points about threats of violence and women's participation to focus on perceived mean comments about men's participation shows a real lack of perspective. In most contexts, it's not cool to make comments perceived as mean about any group. In the context of a discussion about how one group is systematically marginalised, threatened and discriminated against, it's not cool to go on about how something relatively trivial marginalises you.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Dammit, now I have The Killers' Where the White Boys Dance stuck in my head.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    Interesting twisting there, but none of it particularly good. You can actually make your important points without resorting to race and gender-baiting because if you do that, well, it doesn't really move the discussion forward, does it?

    Doesn't matter what the context is, sorry.

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    [I]sn't turning a discussion about women's exclusion from online discussion through threats of violence into an argument about how unfair it is to denigrate "white boys" exactly an illustration of what Tze Ming is saying?

    Yes it is. As a guy, I've watched this thread with growing embarrassment. "deeply offended"? Get over yourself. Unfortunately girls & ladies have to realise that half the time guys just like the sparring that goes on with a good discussion, and a few here have clearly missed the wider context, and the obvious irony of their thread hijaks.

    Tze Ming, don't give up. I reckon you should start a new chicks-only thread & and get back to business. :)

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    Well, after a long period of lurking this thread actually convinced me to register an account on PA.

    A few points.

    The internet is, by its nature, probably the most equal-opportunities system you could imagine. You get a choice as to how you present yourself, what gender or race you adopt etc etc. But without a doubt, the treatment you receive is modified by that presentation - if you present yourself as female you will be treated differently than if you present as male. So I'm not about to claim that there's no differential in treatment of men and women online, or that life as a whole is free of discrimination.

    But - and yes, there is a but - threats of violence and aggressive stand-over tactics are not something that is exclusively restricted to women online, or I'd argue something that is even directed more at women than men. In discussing the problem I think it's largely a nonsense to talk about it in the context of "making the internet safe for women", as that rather excludes all the other, non-female people for whom it is similarly unsafe. An acquaintance of mine in the US went through something similar in the last couple of years. He's in his mid teens. Through an activity he was involved in that had some degree of controversy in his field he got a lot of exposure, both online and in traditional media. As a result of that exposure he got to see both the good and the bad side of having a presence in the public eye: Firstly, he got offered a lot of opportunities not usually available to somebody in his age and situation. Secondly, he got subjected to violent personal abuse in a variety of internet forums, and acquired crazy (male) stalkers who started threatening him and his family with violence via the internet, phone and mail. This is not something that is exclusively targetted at women. Tze Ming's piece amused me a little when I got to the quote from Joan Walsh about "Men who hate women on the web". In all honesty, with the entire subject of gender removed it described exactly how this - male - acquaintance of mine was treated. It's not about men who hate women on the web, it's about assholes (who tend to be male) who hate people - anywhere. How that hatred is delivered tends to vary depending on the gender it's being targetted at - threatening to rape men tends to be less effective, so other threats are used that are intended to elicit the same response - but if you ask me the question "How do we make the internet safe for women" is really just a wider question of "How do you protect people with public visibility from the utter bastards out there"

    Trying to cast the problem in purely men-on-women terms seems to be ignoring the fact that the problem is not that narrow.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Tze Ming, don't give up. I reckon you should start a new chicks-only thread & and get back to business. :)

    Oh good grief, can we not? I assume I fit in the 'girls and ladies' category, and I like the sparring. What I don't like is abuse, no matter who's driving it or who it's directed at. I don't need a special little protected corner of the internet where I don't have to come in contact with the big nasty boys.

    So far I think what we've managed to establish is that girls who DO comment on pol blogs don't know why women who DON'T don't. Big surprise. And that the reasons some women don't like to hang out at Kiwiblog are curiously identical to the reasons some men don't. Ditto.

    If I do ever get picked out, mentioned, linked to, whatever, I want it to be because of the content of my writing, not the contents of my trousers.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Yes, and treating the problem in purely people-vs-people terms misses the point that a lot of the threats take on a specifically gendered tone, when assholes go bad. If you're visibly female and on the internet, you're more likely to run into assholes. I can't remember the citation for it, but a study on AOL with a female, neutral and male-named created accounts on a chat board, found that female names attracted 10 times more nasty comments than male ones.

    That being said, there's a lot of overlap in the solutions for both. I'd like it to get harder for people to make anonymous threats on the internet, and easier for people to track down and prosecute people making those threats. It's all very well to talk of code of conduct, but they don't prevent people determined to transgress them.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    Finn, you wrote:

    threats of violence and aggressive stand-over tactics are not something that is exclusively restricted to women online, or I'd argue something that is even directed more at women than men.

    A fair guess, but quickly disproven by research. Webweaver's post, among the many others on this topic, is a good summary and has reference links (thanks for outing yourself!):

    Michel Cukier, professor at the University of Maryland's Center for Risk and Reliability, authored a study last year where automated chat-bots and human researchers logged on to chat rooms under female, male and ambiguous screen names, such as Nightwolf, Orgoth and Stargazer.

    Bots using female names averaged 100 malicious messages a day, compared with about four for those using male names and about 25 for those with ambiguous names. Researchers logging on themselves produced similar results.

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    That's the one I meant. 25 times, not 10 times. A quick google would have helped.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    good topic TMM and nice to see you posting again.

    i read your and Span's stuff often and will starting reading Maia.
    I agree that 1) there needs to be more women writing here and elsewhere and 2) women often get a harder time of it. i would like to see that change.

    i also tend to go along with the others who say they read and comment here because the tone is vastly civil compared to some. i look at kiwibog once in a while and i can understand why women and other sane people are put off. just commenting on there would give me the shits.

    i've also received death threats over the years and they totally suck in so many ways, regardless of gender (that very neato genie says i'm a girl). you are right to never respond to them publicly, but always report them, even if its only to help build a pattern against the person doing it. nobody should put up with that shit.

    anyway, please keep posting - you do great work.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    My daughter is showing huge academic potential. She is light years ahead of most of her male counterparts in terms of confidence of academic expression within her generation. Well thats my take. I for one will be encouraging her to participate academically and in other ways.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Yes it is. As a guy, I've watched this thread with growing embarrassment. "deeply offended"? Get over yourself. Unfortunately girls & ladies have to realise that half the time guys just like the sparring that goes on with a good discussion, and a few here have clearly missed the wider context, and the obvious irony of their thread hijaks.

    What are you actually embarrassed about 3410?
    What did you do?

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    3410 said:

    Tze Ming, don't give up. I reckon you should start a new chicks-only thread & and get back to business. :)

    Emma said:

    Oh good grief, can we not?

    I said: LOL. Although I very much appreciate the rest of 3140's original comment, I agree that a 'Women only-thread' in this context, would seem far less enlightening than watching what has actually happened here. I'm glad that the women posters are generally just saying what they want anyway.

    Like Emma, there is something about my personality and interests that means I get along well with guys, or have been mistaken by a guy online or out in the world of paper print readers. Like Emma, I think if stuck to certain topics, guys would tend to forget that I am a 'girl' given my gender-ambiguous name, and what I was once told by (again) Steve Braunias was a 'muscular prose style'. Like Emma, I am good at the sparring if it comes to that.

    Something happened along the way, however. For example, in my long-ago days of the university left, I found that it was alright to lampoon capitalist pigs and celebrate the glories of the working classes, with all the attending ironies considering how university political types are all bourgeois kids from the Shore etc, but when it came to arguing identity politics and feminism with the same passion and expected response of self-deprecating humour, the bourgeois kids (white, male) began to turn on you in a personal way. It actually became increasingly clear that, even if you 'argued like a boy', if you argued about feminism and race 'like a boy', or even if you were just a woman who disagreed with them, and once said you didn't like sexism, you would still be excluded like a girl. This is the expected, perhaps inevitable reaction to the politics of difference - even in this advanced forum (self-deprecating-irony alert), where putting forth those politics is always taken personally and defensively by certain members of the group being described as 'dominant'.

    Emma is at one extreme of liberal feminism (sorry if you don't count yourself as a feminist at all Emma! Everyone's on some kind of spectrum, unfortunately): she wants to be treated the same as anyone else, and no real attention paid to her gender, because it's not terribly important to her:

    If I do ever get picked out, mentioned, linked to, whatever, I want it to be because of the content of my writing, not the contents of my trousers.

    Good on her, each to their own. I could have been as happy as her to never let my gender affect the way I thought about myself and how I talk in the male world. However, because feminist analyses of power, exploitation, rights and justice made so much conceptual sense, even through hardcore Marxist lenses, it didn't make sense not to argue those points when I was a tender undergrad. Doing so marked me out as different and an outsider in the boy's world; being constructed as different made me realise that my experiences of difference were important to my identity and the way I wanted to develop my values. Ultimately I realised that even though I was good at it, maybe I didn't want to spar like a boy anymore, because it didn't seem as fun as it used to be, I didn't want to be that kind of person anymore, and it got kind of tiring repping your corner out there on your own. I want to be judged by the content of my writing also, not the colour of my skin or content of my trousers - but those two last elements are important to my identity, to my politics, and hence, to what I write about, and what I believe.

    Contrary to Emma's view, I think the contributions by women to this thread, including her own, have been revealing and important, but maybe that is the non-linear, contextual part of my brain talking, the bit that I have been working on developing since 1997. I particularly appreciate, in very simple terms, your presences at all - on a weekend no less! Thanks again.

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Contrary to Emma's view, I think the contributions by women to this thread, including her own, have been revealing and important

    Never actually said I didn't think that, I don't think...

    Emma is at one extreme of liberal feminism (sorry if you don't count yourself as a feminist at all Emma! Everyone's on some kind of spectrum, unfortunately)

    Felt kind of ambiguous about the tag since run-ins at uni with a particular strain of loud, aggressive feminism. Example off the top of my head: a girl screaming abuse at a friend of mine for about ten minutes because he held open a door for a large (mixed-gender) group and she happened to be in it - she wasn't even first through the door. Prefer 'equalist', but also don't want to abandon 'feminist' to people like that. And believe me, in my life I've witnessed and personally experienced a power of the crap men can do to women, it's just not something I'm personally comfortable talking about in a public forum.

    But. For about five years now I've been an online admin, and in that time, I've seen some really appalling things said to people. Sorting that stuff out is part of my job, and sometimes it's utterly soul-destroying. The tie for most gut-wrenching crap I've had to deal with would be stuff from the comments back when I was working on Tim Barnett's blog, directed at gay men, and a horrible harrassment campaign at BW, directed at a woman - by two other women.

    I've copped it myself sometimes, but dealt with it okay because I was on sites with strong policing, and I had friends to help me out. But that's not to say I wouldn't absolutely freaking apeshit if it happened to my daughter.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Erm. Insert the word 'go' into above post so it actually makes sense...

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    What are you actually embarrassed about 3410?
    What did you do?

    I'm embarrassed by some of my brothers' childish expressions of outrage and their insensitive hijacking of this thread.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    B Jones & Tze Ming,

    Thanks for the responses. I'm going to quote and reply to B rather than Tze, but I'm trying to engage both if you catch my drift...

    Yes, and treating the problem in purely people-vs-people terms misses the point that a lot of the threats take on a specifically gendered tone, when assholes go bad.

    That's true, when gender is available as an identifiable angle of attack. But when it isn't then the same threats take whatever form can be calculated to be the most damaging based on what is known about the victim, who they are and what they value. That gender is used as an angle of attack is reprehensible, but no less so than the use of known family, sexual orientation or painful personal history, for example. That gender is used is a reflection of wider society, but the use of gender as either a criteria for choice of victims or a weapon of attack is not the problem. The problem is that people are looking for victims and weapons, and that the systems exist which allow them to do so with impunity.

    If you're visibly female and on the internet, you're more likely to run into assholes. I can't remember the citation for it, but a study on AOL with a female, neutral and male-named created accounts on a chat board, found that female names attracted 10 times more nasty comments than male ones.

    While studies like this are interesting in relation to the environment and demographic studied, I think it's an obvious and serious error to consider "the internet" or "the web" a homogeneous mass to which such studies can be universally applied. AOL or any other chat service != The Web, which in turn has little direct linkage as a whole to the world of blogs and commenting. And indeed with respect to discussion of issues surrounding bloggers and writers it's arguably a bit like trying to apply a study on male/female behavior in nightclubs to a senior citizen's bridge club.

    I'm willing to accept that there are environments online where, as a woman, you're not going to feel particularly safe exposing your real-world contact details. But that should be rather obvious - there's plenty of environments online where I'm not comfortable exposing mine as a white male, musician, voter to the left of the political spectrum or non-Christian, for example. Society has never allowed any individual to enter every arbitrary grouping without discrimination, regardless of whether that individual is white, yellow, blue, green, male, female or both. It's a nice idea, but the world doesn't work like that for anybody.

    There are any number of reasons that people are targeted or victimised in different environments. I've spent time in a lot of different parts of the internet in a lot of different discussion contexts in the last decade or so, and they're frequently dramatically different in the way they manage dispute, allocate power and status and handle minority demographics. There are some communities I've been a part of where you'd be eaten alive for the slightest gender bias, yet where other points of contention release the most unbelievable abuse. Are they superior situations just because the abuse doesn't revolve around gender? If your answer there is yes then we've maybe found a fundamental point of difference.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Span .,

    Bear with me, I'm not sure I'm going to be able to say this right, but I do find it frustrating when the negative experiences some women have had in political engagement are explained away. It's like it didn't happen, when it did.

    I know there are some women who it doesn't happen to, online or in real life. That's great. That's how it should be. There are those who experience it but aren't phased and don't understand why other women are - and sometimes those women aren't very sympathetic to others who actually think politics shouldn't be about verbal and textual chinese burns. Some men clearly aren't sympathetic either.

    Yes politics is in some ways a game. But it doesn't mean that it isn't real. It doesn't mean that hurting someone doesn't count because then they just go back a level and get to have another bash at it. Many people don't get involved in politics to have fights and win. Many people don't start political blogging because they want to score points and tear other people to shreds. But that is the way on most other nz pol blogs (apart from PA and a few others).

    I'm glad Emma raised the issue of Tim Barnett's blog. Those commenters are still largely around, infesting Tony Milne's blog (I See Red) in particular, and also Jordan's (Just Left) to the point where's he's turned off comments while he's out of the country. Jordan and Tony aren't female bloggers, but they're not hetero or right wing and so they challenge the dominant discourse and get the internet bash for being those appointed the online representatives of the Labour party by those who hate Clark and Labour. The comments they get are incredibly nasty, and Tony in particular posts very thoughtfully in a manner you wouldn't think would attract such vile taunts.

    Anyway - is that the kind of blogosphere we want, one where bullies are mainly in the ascendant? I don't.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 112 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 10 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.