I have to say, on Public Address I don't tend to think of myself much by the labels that I have attached. I mean, I feel like the world has moved on a little since I was 13 in 1993, signing on to a bulletin board system for the first time since both my best friend and the boy that I fancied were doing it, and discovering that even though I signed in as 'Beelzeebub', as soon as others on the BBS found out I was a girl they started talking about my vagina. At least I would like to hope that things have moved on since then. I will still find that there are arguments that largely go against me - as someone who was hit a lot as a kid who firmly believes that smacking kids is very very wrong, or as a fat person who is obviously a total drain on the health system, or as ummm a mental health consumer who's contemplated going on the sickness benefit which is very very anti what many people believe in, but at least on this site I haven't found that being a girl is that much of a handicap. But you could be right, it could be that I expect to be let down by society, and that's why I'm never surprised at what people say. But maybe I have thte defense of being upper-middle class, and white, and oh lordy, the guilt that comes to that (I can't count the number of times that I've said in counselling "but I'm not starving in a gutter, I should be doing better than this..."). I suppose what I am trying to say, and I know I have been taking a bloody long time to say it is that I am unwilling to accept that as a girl I might have a different and more negative experience in relation to something than a boy might have, but that is all about burying my head in the sand rather than actually dealing with something. I know that there is still a problem when I tell my friend about how angry it made me when a taxi-driver grabbed my leg and stroked me up, and my friend is all "but were you flirting with him?" and oh god, fuck, it's just hard. And I am rambling. But these things are hard to focus on. I am torn between wanting to be as tough as fuck and wanting to acknowledge that women have different experiences than men do, and I don't know what to do about that.
Joanna: you are tough as fuck because we have different experiences than men do. And good on you too. And yeah, it does have to be all the time. Sorry about that. Don't ask me how to cope with it, cos after 30 years of practice I still don't have it down.
Sometimes its not the big things like rape that scare me, its the smaller scale experiences such as having to argue my case for pay parity (Are we there yet? Are we there yet?), or having to assess whether my outfit is "appropriate" for the occasion. We're acting like a powerless minority when in fact we have a slight majority. But like Joanna I don't see what I can do about it.
Really interesting blog there.
Can I pretend to be female for a moment?
I'm trying to think why all the forums I use/go to are male dominated. Some it's possibly more obvious such as it being a sport forum, or was populated by males rather swiftly from the get go. Dunno.
But just looking at the girls at high school and the female teachers I work with (and I am surrounded by female teachers) there is far more interest in socialising amongst people they know. It's hard keeping hand phones in bags in the class room for all the texting to each other. Guys don't do it anywhere near as much. Whilst my teacher colleagues would rather chat with each other and socialise with each other. Those are just my observations which is about all I have to go on. My mother and sisters would never dream of wasting their time on the internet arguing with people. They would much rather do it to my face! My wife uses the internet a lot but it's all to put photos on her blog site and chat with her friends in Korea through msn messenger or through their respective blog sites which are all blocked to anybody but those on their 'guestlists'. And my daughter can't talk yet let alone type. But I'll keep you all posted on whether or not I can turn her into an internet militant in the coming years.
I guess there are two main reasons for not joining in the blogosphere/forums that I can think of. One is not being interested in the topics on offer, the other is not feeling welcome. But even then I can think of certain forums over the years that even I've been driven out of because of the wankerish behaviour on the part of males.
And I'm back being a male now!
I agree with nearly everything you say (and you've certainly nailed my white, male, liberal, middle-class colours to the wall) but I have to disagree that buying your daughters birthday presents might/should be considered a girl biased topic.
Go the Sonics. The very reason that the likes of Kim Gordon, Kim Deal, Deborah Harry et al were/are considered goddesses to thousands of impressionable young men was because they were so damn strong and independent - so its a kind of weird (but no doubt true) observation that male dominated online discussions aren't always so welcoming of grrrl power.
Thanks for the link Tze Ming - much appreciated! I have something half written for today's blogswarm, which I hope to get up later today.
I have to say that although Public Address is a much better environment than the other bigger NZ blogs it did occur to me yesterday, when I was thinking about the blogswarm, that with your semi-departure there are no regular XX posters here. I think the XYers hold up their end well, and are obviously not anti-woman (wish I could say that in the broader nz pol blogosphere), which is great. There are more female commenters here than there are on any of the other top NZ blogs, imho. I haven't done a count or anything.
I sympathise in terms of the photo issue. I have had a death threat, and other threats of violence and rape, not during my blogging times but in previous political involvement - no matter how absurd they are they are at the least disquieting.
I'm not going to post a pic of myself on my blog anytime soon, because I don't want to be judged for my appearance rather than my writing, as well as not wanting to give stalkers any "encouragement". I've seen the vile comments attached to pictures of women posted on other blogs, and I remember well the nastiness that was spewed forth after Rodney Hide merely posted a pic of Aaron Bhatnagar and his wife on their wedding day - he had to take it down in pretty short order (some of the creepiness was about Aaron, not his wife, to be fair.) It's also why I will probably continue to avoid blog drinks, other than amongst the people who already know me in real life. I'd rather write and debate actual issues and arguments, not have to waste time and energy on defending myself from sexist attacks.
Blogging, at least the political blogging I do,seems to be different for women. I have been patronised more times than I care to remember. I've had many people assume I'm a man, particularly when I was writing mainly about left-wing stuff rather than feminist rantings - how could I possibly be female and doing what I'm doing? It's beyond some people's comprehension.
But still I find it less unpleasant than student politics, and I feel that things are starting to change for the better. Some of that change has come about, I believe, from having PA System, which is frequented by people who respect the conduct standards set by the authors, who don't blow dog whistles themselves and don't post sexist, or racist, or homophobic rubbish. Some of those commenters are cleaning up their act out on the other blogs too. Others of course maintain a weird duality that I would personally find exhausting.
Ok this is already too long, I'll stop now, but no doubt I won't be able to resist coming back ;-)
I have to admit, I did not join Public Address to engage in discussion in a comments section, because 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!
I find this statement to be a bit immature. It is not what I would have expected from a journalist. So maybe public address attracts a demographic that you feel the need to pock a stick at. Why?
When I was natting round the blogosphere under a pseud (Ghet), I was ALWAYS counted as male, including by female bloggers and commenters, unless I'd made it obvious I wasn't. Which I do fairly often.
I've never in my life assessed myself as an XXer, or seen myself as female before anything else. I tend to think like a man and most of my friends are male. I have good spacial sense, I can add columns of numbers, and I'm shit at casual conversation and empathy and stuff. If I need to walk somewhere by myself at night, I just damn well do it.
If you look at non-pol blogging, you'll see women everywhere. Xanga and Livejournal are infested with women talking about their kids and their cats, their jobs and their friends. Any explanation of why they don't turn up on pol-blogs needs to account for that.
I limit my participation in public internet fora for the same reason that my real-life political activity is of the facilitatin', letter-writin', meeting-organisin' kind and not the kind that stands up and speaks in mass settings: I find the rhetoric of public debate exhausting. It's clear that this is not so for all, or even many, who sail in it; plenty of participants in discussions where, were I on the front line I would long since have withdrawn, seem energised by the very tenor and tone that I avoid.
Yes, I think this can be tied to gender, if one assumes (as I do) that some of our self-worth as social beings resides in the ways in which our behaviour overlaps with generalised notions of gender. There's no personal satisfaction or social reward for me in head-to-head argument, character slurs or even the kind of meta-argument of who-is-being-reasonable that characterises, to my mind, public discussion and yet, I assume, others enjoy it or at least accept it as part-and-parcel of the right or the need to debate ideas about which they care.
I balk, too, at the characterisations available to women who do choose to take on others in on-line or intellectual combat: how often are they described as emotional, overwrought or otherwise blind to the real issues (TM) at hand? And if they are to be complimented, it is as strong or (shudder) stroppy. What a limited range of attributes by which to be defined. How often is tone or style thus conflated with substance?
To put my money where my mouth is, it seems to me that the issues readers have taken with the Daily Kos of late and in the past, for example, are as much about the tone of his argument as the argument itself, not least the way in which he seems to have conflated writing in a brusque and dismissive tone with being a masculine man. By the same token, while reasoned and argued debate is characterised primarily as a masculine pursuit (and if you doubt me, think of the adjectives--muscular, strong and robust discussion=good, yes?), in which to be femininely-gendered is to be other--and it seems to me the horrible threats made to Sierra, however insincerely, were an extreme rendering of her otherness in the community of which she was a part--the rewards for many women in taking part are fewer.
What are the women doing instead of commenting on blogsites? Maybe they're busy doing things that they think are more important . . . When I was asked at my very first Great Blend why there is a gender imbalance in political blogging, I hazarded an uneducated guess that women committed to social justice might actually be going out there and doing something about it instead, by teaching our children, nursing our sick, organising our unions, and occasionally getting elected.
Then again, maybe they're all out shopping or at Pilates class . . .
Ghet, you may be interested in this, on the issue of being assumed to be male:
Looking back to my university days at a guess 60% of my law and politics courses were women, many of whom were articulate and had strong views on all sorts of topics. I still keep up with a few of them and we often talk about political topics. Yet largely they don't feel the need to contribute to this type of forum and I don't really know why. That being said I don't know many people of my age band that post on this type of forums, male or female so perhaps it is more of a generational thing?
Oh and seriously, wtf is with NZ newspapers and their photos of columnists? It really detracts from an article when you have the author staring down at you, with their grainy mugshot serious expression. I buy newspapers to read, not to admire a photo gallery.
nzrave.com is about 50:50 male/female.
rec.equestrian was 90% female, I guess it's modern equivalent must be the same, but since I moved to NZ I can't afford ponies...
Oh you wanted *political* blogs? Well doesn't the fact that 90% of what 14-year old libertarians post on the foamier blogs is a direct cut and paste from Ayn Rand books level the gender ratio up a bit?
Also, Ayn Rand was Asian. Rubbish you say!
100% true: she was Russian-born, and Russia is largely in Asia.
Rich: 1, World: 0
A quickie cut & pate test with the Gender Genie confirms Austen as female, and Dickens as a dude.
Tze Ming Mok comes up markedly girlier than Austen.
I then fed a slab of utterly brilliant female autobiography (Tove Jansson, Sculptor's Daughter). Here's what I got:
(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)
Female Score: 876
Male Score: 876
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: unknown!
The Gender Genie is completely confounded. Try going back to the text box and entering a different text.
I wonder how often that happens?
Fabulous link, span, thanks a heap.
What I found interesting was that using the words "she" and "hers" got you XX points, but from my quick perusal "he" and "his" didn't up your XY total. Weird.
That was fun - thanks Span.
LOL Thanks span. On a random blog post of mine:
Female Score: 628
Male Score: 698
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!
But given the, at, it, a, is, to, and are all come out Masculine, I do wonder how you get a feminine score.
Heheheh, I said 'feminine score'.
All my other posts I fed into the Gender Genie have me as much more of a dude than Emma. I guess I'm letting my 'feminine' side show here, by saying 'we' a lot, or referring to 'chicks'.
Joanna and Lx (first time poster! Unless you are Joanna's new pseudonym), thanks for your posts, and for all the women who are talking about their experiences here, and privately to me via email.
But J & Lx: here are two smart, third-wave-generation women. Who are admitting they have no clue how to reconcile their discomfort with women's disempowerment by society, with the expectation that we should pretend that disempowerment doesn't exist in order to safeguard our dignity. "I don't see what I can do about it" is a haunting thing to see written here and now, after all the trailblazing done by successive generations of the women's movement. I don't think this is some kind of dead end. While the boys (and those judged to be boys) get out their calculators to see who is a boy and who is a girl, does anyone have any responses to what can be done about it?
I think one of the things we can do is be encouraging, and notice and include other women when they do engage. This doesn't mean not disagreeing, far from it, too often I see women pol bloggers who start up but then their political posts get ignored by anyone who can relate to their experiences, and their non-political posts attract more interest. In a 'sphere that is so focused on hits as a measure of success, it's understandable that some give up quickly.
One of the things I am trying to do is link more to other bloggers, and although a lot of those links are to male bloggers I try whenever possible to link to women. It's one of the reasons I started doing Linky Love compilations every Friday - to start highlighting within the NZ pol blogsphere posts from within and without that aren't from the dominant discourse (white, male and right wing). I wanted more nz pol bloggers to link to others fairly so I thought I'd better do it too.
When I was in student politics I once shared at a women's forum, when I'd only been involved a year, that I found some of the women activists on my campus intimidating. One of them told me afterwards how surprised she was, she didn't think she was intimidating at all. But I can see now that it happened to me too - we became hardened by the environment to the point where we seemed not only unapproachable but also set the standard for women to engage at a stupid level (I hesitate to say stupidly high, it wasn't). Sometimes I think that reading other women's pol blogs.I think how can I ever ever write that well or be that insightful, maybe I should just give up now? I'm not arguing that we should lower our standards, but I think it's ok to show in your writing that you don't think you are infallible, maybe that would make others reading it think, I could do that too.
Another factor might be that people tend to comment on your post to express their disagreement. That's very off-putting - you get ten comments saying you are wrong and one saying you are right and pretty soon you get the impression you should just shut up already. Perhaps women, who already often tend to think we are below average at things, are more susceptible to this?
What do others think - why do you comment here but not on other political blogs in NZ? Why don't you start your own? As someone who already does both of these things I am perhaps not best placed to answer!
All my other posts I fed into the Gender Genie have me as a dude. I guess I'm letting my 'feminine' side show, by saying 'we' a lot, or referring to 'chicks'.
It might be helpful to realize that these calculations have know scientific foundation. Is there also software that calculates weather someone's typing is that of a " white boy". And what is it with the white boy thing? Is white the new black.
Well, that's interesting. According to the Gender Genie I am male. Consistently. Across several pieces of writing. Including a review for an academic journal (in Philosophy) of someone's manuscript on motherhood. My comments on PA are male, according the genie. The only writing where I came up as female was a very short bit about myself, in a semi-formal publication.
I assure you, I am not male. I don't use a pseudonym. That's my real name (gendered as it is) under the cat.
I myself am convinced that there are differences between the two majority sexes. However things start to get a bit more shady when it comes to the minority sexes.
The good news is that the internet as a communication medium is by nature less discriminating, by virtue of its non physicality. an example of this is the fact that I can't actually write things on paper. I need to use spell check all the time. But you only know that because I said so. What I look like is irrelevant; Well except when I want you to know that sometimes I dress up in a 20 foot fish puppet.
What do others think - why do you comment here but not on other political blogs in NZ? Why don't you start your own?
I gave up reading right-wing blogs because they made my blood boil and I decided that I didn't need to stress myself out like that. And when I comment on Public Address it doesn't tend to be much of a response to the really political things anyway, because outside of wanting people to be good humans, I don't tend to care about the details or nitty gritty beyond a couple of things that will really get me going (smacking, civil unions, prostitution reform, etc). And so I'd rather write about about things I know about than very broad political ideas. Hence why I journal rather than blog...
What do others think - why do you comment here but not on other political blogs in NZ? Why don't you start your own?
I do, sometimes, but the dog whistling and poisonous atmosphere (albeit in the comments) on the leading right wing blog upset me far too much. Craig Ranapia, if you are reading this, I would love to see some right wing political comment on your blog.... 'though don't give up the poetry - I'm enjoying it.
My day job constrains me with respect to blogging and even just commenting - there are some topics I stay away from completely. I don't even post comments from my work computer, although I do head down to the staff room from time to time to post comments on the computer there (separate connection to the interweb, not paid for by my employer).
Also, the discussion on PA is vigorous and feisty, but by and large, no one hits below the belt or on the breasts, and those who do are rapidly asked to go elsewhere. So I feel as though my ideas count here, rather than whether I am male or female, 16 or 40, married or single, straight or gay, whatever.
BTW, I explicitly identify as feminist, so I want to be identified as female, and for my experience as a woman to count.