miss_s_b: (Politics: Post Feminism)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Because I am poorly and have no spoons, I got into a fight I possibly shouldn't have started last night, with someone who winds me up with his sexist behaviour at regular intervals. I'm not going to link to it, because I don't want this post to be about that specific incident, but about the generality. It ended up with him saying to me that I have no right to complain about him not linking to women's views unless I, personally, spoonfeed him women's views to link to.

Now, my instinctive reaction to that is to think fuck you! Why should I do all your work for you, you lazy git?... But that's possibly counterproductive for two reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, as I have discussed before, men will happily self-promote in ways that women won't. Mediocre men will shout from the rooftops about how awesome they are, and the more mediocre they are, the more they shout; awesome women, because of shyness, or socialisation that women who shout are harpies, or insecurity about their awesomeness, are much less likely to self-promote. This is made worse by the fact that very few people will look beyond what is waved in front of their faces, so the shouty men get noticed and the quiet women don't; very few people are willing to hurt somebody else (of whatever gender) by telling them they are mediocre if they are, and so the mediocre people get promotion they don't deserve, just by being shouty (Iain Dale is a PRIME example of that); and thus the cycle that to be noticed half as much as a man, a woman has to be twice as good continues in our supposedly post-feminist times.

The second reason my reaction is counter-productive is male priviledge. Male opinion aggregators are used to being spoonfed. This is unfair and annoying, but telling them to look beyond their spoonfeeding is telling them to do more work that they don't see a reason to do. Even if that were not the case, it takes a special kind of person to resist being spoonfed, why would anybody give themselves extra work to do?

This gives us two reasons why the blokosphere is self-perpetuating, and those two reasons feed into and reinforce each other. Even a completely non-sexist feminist ally man will often unconsciously perpetuate sexism under these circumstances. This is a problem I have been talking about for years, and I still don't have a suitable sword to cut this Gordian Knot. Nobody else seems to have one either.

How do we go about forging one, people?

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Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 08:29 am (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
A spoonfeeding website?

I'm a big believer in the power of FAQs, and being able to link people to the feminism 101 FAQ nowadays is incredibly useful.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 09:14 am (UTC)
londonkds: (Default)
From: [personal profile] londonkds
See the comment thread under yours.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
That kind of thing is always going to irk some people, because they feel they are having a 1:1 discussion with you, and suddenly you're not giving them answers, but pointing them at homework.

Short of not engaging with people at all, and simply talking about the problems yourself on your own journal, unless you're willing to put a lot of effort into it, I'm not sure what can be done about this.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
telegramsam: John Byers Disapproves (Disapproving Byers)
From: [personal profile] telegramsam
In my personal experience, most people who hold sexist attitudes do not care and do not want to change and their "challenge" to anyone professing views against their own to "educate" them is really just an attempt to get them to STFU and GTFO and stop bothering them. There really *isn't* anything you can say to them that isn't just going to piss them off, so you might as well just piss them off and let them be pissed off and hope some of it is eventually going to sink in through their thick skulls.

Most people aren't interested in problems that don't affect them directly in ways they can readily perceive.

You can lead a horse to water, etc etc...

Yes, I'm feeling bitter today. I'd mail you some extra spoons but I can't find any at the moment...

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 08:43 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This http://www.feminism101.com/ ?

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 09:13 am (UTC)
londonkds: (Default)
From: [personal profile] londonkds
I was just about to link that as well. May be a bit US-biased.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 09:36 am (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
And not addressing the subject at hand. We need a way of breaking privilege within online communities and aggregation.

One of the hardest thing to do within that is ensure the problem is acknowledged. For example, I read a chunk of linkbloggers. Virtually all of them are male. The few that aren't aren't predominantly link bloggers. All of those I read that are male are on the right side, but they're still all male.

I think that's a problem, but until right now it hadn't even occured to me it might be.

See also the comment below this thread, where one of those that prompted this post completely missed the point, again.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 09:47 am (UTC)
londonkds: (Default)
From: [personal profile] londonkds
There's this but it has a heavy bias towards people who are both US and strongly identified feminists.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 09:11 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Jennie - though you've not named me, unsurprisingly I do get this is aimed at (or at least triggered by) me.

I can think of a couple of occasions now when you've accused me of sexism. Each time (from memory) it's because you think I've overlooked tweets/blogs by women. Each time I've pointed out the unfairness of the accusation.

Last night, for example you accused me of ignoring comments from female Lib Dem tweeters, even though none were posted during the time I trawled Twitter for comments relating to Zac Goldsmith. I pointed this out to you on the thread we're not mentioning: you didn't respond just directed another insult at me. (Though for all I know a couple of those I mentioned were female tweeters: their usernames weren't sex-specific).

It's easy to make a casual suggestion of sexism, and there's not much I can do to defend myself without looking petty or falling into typical alpha-male argument wankery.

But just so you know, I find your unfair accusations of sexism hurtful. Maybe that's not their intention, and/or maybe you don't care so long as I learn from the experience.

In terms of the more general point, that women don't like to self-promote as much as men, I agree. Allow me to make two points in return ...

Ever since I started the Lib Dem Blogs Golden Dozen I've tried to ensure it is not my personal selection: it is those of our readers. That's either because the posts we feature are read by lots of people, or because they were nominated by others. This isn't about me not being arsed to trawl the internet for posts, expecting you to do my work for me. It's about being true to the aim of Lib Dem Voice: that it's not my site, but 'our place to talk'.

And that's my second point: you don't have to self-promote to increase the numbers of women featured in the Golden Dozen. All you have to do is nominate a blog-post by another female blogger. You can do so by email - voice@libdemvoice.org - if you don't like LibDig. It's your choice.

Stephen Tall

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 09:33 am (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
The second reason my reaction is counter-productive is male priviledge. Male opinion aggregators are used to being spoonfed. This is unfair and annoying, but telling them to look beyond their spoonfeeding is telling them to do more work that they don't see a reason to do. Even if that were not the case, it takes a special kind of person to resist being spoonfed, why would anybody give themselves extra work to do?

This gives us two reasons why the blokosphere is self-perpetuating
I think you're missing Jennie's point Stephen. Again.

You're not deliberately being sexist.

You're just actually being sexist, and refusing to read what's being said about your behaviour, or actually engage with the actual problem. This is privilege. It's hard, at first, when you come to terms with what the term means. It hurts.

Congratulations, you've been hurt, you're now on the first step of sorting things out.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 09:37 am (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Your comment doesn't seem very productive to me. You're not actually backing anything up, explaining further, or adding anything to what was already said.

If Stephen isn't understanding then just reiterating doesn't do anything useful. If you want a behaviour change then you have to persuade him that he's wrong. Otherwise hurt doesn't achieve anything other than push him away.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 09:39 am (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
Oh, agreed.

But the mood I'm in today, that's the best I can do. I don't have the mental energy to try and figure out a different way of answering the same point in a way that might be more obvious. So I thought I'd repost and highlight the point he'd obviously not ignored as, well, that's at least something.

Does this count as mansplaining? Probably...

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
Stephen, I don't think it's an unfair accusation at all, though it may strike you as such. Let me point the accusation (equally fairly) at myself, and see if that makes it seem fairer to you.

I regularly do a 'linkblogging' feature for my blog, where I link to (usually) about five posts I've seen recently. I *believe* when I post them that I'm linking to just the most recent five posts I think my readership will like (and that readership itself appears to be predominantly male, at least judging from the comments I get, which might itself be part of the problem).

Now, I actually *make an effort* to read as many good female blogs as I can. I would certainly list among my favourite blogs Jennie, Alix M, Debi Linton, Charlotte Gore, Caron, "Purple Pen", Laurie Penny, Emily Short, and many other women.

But when I actually look at what I've linked recently, of the last twenty-odd things I've linked to, Jennie is the only woman.

Now there are certainly reasons for this that can explain it - I try to link to a variety of *types* of blogging, and almost all those I've listed are political blogs. I know of no women who blog about comics, for example, in the way I find most interesting. (There are plenty of great women comics bloggers, but few who do the kind of posts done by, say, Colin at Too Busy Thinking About My Comics or David at Vibrational Match). There are various things like that that excuse aspects (for example my wife is one of my favourite bloggers, but because she writes about aspects of our personal life at times I never link to her blog from mine).

But the fact remains that while I do not believe I am sexist, I am clearly committing a sexist act. I have no idea what to do to rectify this, or even if it's possible for me to, short of tokenism (I try to link to the best blog posts, and I don't want to drop a great one by say Millennium or Andrew Rilstone for a less-great one by a woman) but it is something I *do* worry about.

And this kind of unconscious sexism *is* something to worry about. I work at a software development lab for an Incredibly Big Megacorporation, and of the roughly 70 people who work there, only two are women - the administrator/receptionist and a company executive. All the developers, testers, sysadmins and middle managers are men.

I know the people who do the hiring and firing there, and I am *absolutely convinced* that they are well-meaning and don't believe they are biased. But the chances of that gender balance happening without *some* form of bias somewhere in the system is 1 in 1.18059162 × 10^21. In other words, if every single person alive at the moment started a new lab of that size every year, you'd only have to wait about thirty-two times the current age of the earth before getting one with that balance, were they all to pick randomly.

So it is important that, even if we don't believe we ourselves are to blame, we acknowledge that our actions, even if controlled to an extent by outside forces, *are* sexist. Even if they can't be changed easily by our own actions, we need to be constantly on the lookout for situations where they *can* be changed...

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 09:50 am (UTC)
pmoodie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pmoodie
The little corner of the internet that I paddle around in is largely free of these shouty, self-promoting male bloggers. I'm not sure how you change things and make that true everywhere, except by encouraging women to shout even louder.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 11:53 am (UTC)
pmoodie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pmoodie
I wouldn't call them bloggers though, just some folks talking rubbish about crusty old films. :)

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 11:12 am (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
Beats me. I'm one of those who really don't like self-promotion - never have, it seems like a pointless waste of energy. I'd much rather promote the substance than the person - the cause or the content. So I want the solution to be a system where we collectively promote the causes and ideas that deserve it, where individual self-promotion is not a necessary step to promoting the cause or the idea, and where men do it less. I very emphatically do not want one where women do it more. I have no idea how to get there from here.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 11:50 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] sassy_scot
I did a post the other week suggesting that people might like to vote for me in the annual willy waving contest. I also gave the nod to your Innerbrat against the machine campaign.I got a comment from a man suggesting that it was utterly wrong for me to be promoting myself in this way and that I was "better than that".

I replied that the main reason for my post was to promote Lib Dems and women who are dramatically under represented in these lists and if I didn't ask for votes no bugger else was going to do it for me. I think he got it in the end, but I doubt he would have challenged a man in these circumstances.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 11:58 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] sassy_scot
Indeed! But when men do it it's fair play, when women do it it's seen as arrogance and bad behaviour.

That's why this thing is so double edged - if you do promote yourself you are seen as strident and arrogant, if you don't, you get ignored.

I've been dealing with this kind of thing for a quarter of a century now and there are times when I think we haven't moved on at all. Although I have this banging head against brick wall feeling I feel like I need to keep going so Anna isn't dealing with this crap when she grows up.

I think you should write a post for LDV on this subject............Karma and all that?

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joeotten.blogspot.com
OK so maybe this is just ignorance, so by all means tell me to RTFM, or have a go, or whatever, but I have some sympathy with Stephen here. And I haven't seen the original dispute so I am probably missing something important.

If the problem is differential amounts of self-publicity (and mutual publicity) between men and women on average, and you don't have a good solution, then how's Stephen going to have a good solution either?

The blogosphere is buried in a sea of mediocrity, and so the amount of publicity is everything. Well and quality. But if you look beyond what has publicity and quality, then 99% will be mediocre and you will be wasting your time.

We all in a sense read what we have stumbled upon rather than what is great - hence our contempt of the willy waving competition - and linkblogging is much the same. If we had a duty to link on merit rather than by accident, then linkblogging would be impossible. And a linkblogger who linked to equal numbers of men and women, still wouldn't be treating fairly the individual women whose blogs are better than any of them. And it's about fairness to individuals, rather than arbitrarily defined groups in the end isn't it?

Also - said at great risk I feel - I'm not convinced that there is no genetic element to the average difference in appetite for self-promotion between men and women. Millennia of selective evolutionary pressure seem to have rewarded men for appearing to excel and women for being safe. Clearly there is socialisation going on as well, which can and should be fought against, but I fear we humans are imperfectible on this score.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] gwenhwyfaer
OK so maybe this is just ignorance, so by all means tell me to RTFM, or have a go, or whatever, but I have some sympathy with Stephen here. And I haven't seen the original dispute so I am probably missing something important.

And yet...

This might be part of what Jennie is talking about. This kind of "well, I don't know what I'm talking about but the hell with it, I'm going to talk about it anyway" seems to be a somewhat male-dominated pursuit, even when prefixed by "no really, I am self-aware enough to know I'm talking crap, honest". The same instinct that drives even the mediocre to self-promote like mad ignites the belief that one's opinion is so vitally important that the rest of the world must have it, even if it isn't actually constructed with reference to anything as mundane as, you know, the events under discussion.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joeotten.blogspot.com
Well yeah, the incident under discussion wasn't linked to...

And "typical man talking crap" doesn't convince me that I am talking crap this time. Not that there's any guarantee an explanation of why I am talking crap would convince me either.

But OK I think you're probably right that self-promotion and talking crap go together - that both exhibit the same kind of overconfidence. The tragedy is that it pays off. Perhaps because there is "no such thing as bad publicity".

But ultimately this tragedy is not one that favours men over women, but one that favours the overconfident over the reasonable. There just happens to be a correlation.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] gwenhwyfaer
It's not whether you're talking crap. It's that without doing some research first, you can't possibly tell. And that tendency to expound without doing one's homework is what I was talking about.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
From: [personal profile] cesy
It didn't sound to me like she was asking Stephen to have a good solution.

Stopping promoting a bad non-solution would be a good start, though.

It might also help if you read a few articles on feminism before engaging in a discussion on the topic - you've made some very basic mistakes in your comment.

Date: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joeotten.blogspot.com
Sure. What errors, and what article deals with each?

Date: Sunday, July 18th, 2010 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joeotten.blogspot.com
Jennie, I get your grievance - I'm not trying to dispute it.

I've followed some of these links. I agree with the feminism 101 thing. I didn't see the spoon feeding one here, but I remember you talking about it before.

But is it just a question of googling? If somebody said: your politics is all wrong, but I'm not going to tell you in what way, just google it...

You might end up reading the opposite of what I had in mind for one thing.

But I'm happy to keep out of any discussion of sexism if you prefer.

Date: Sunday, July 18th, 2010 11:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joeotten.blogspot.com
Thanks for the links. Fair enough that this is the wrong place for this conversation. Is there a right place for it?

I totally agree with your Venn Diagram thing - as I did when I read it the first time around. I'm not trying to justify discrimination. But even those small differences in averages can explain differences in average outcomes, even if opportunities, rights, culture, conditioning, etc, were to be equalised.

And I reject the idea that overconfidence is a superior trait. It is a big part of the curse that promotes mediocrity above talent across society and business.

Date: Sunday, July 18th, 2010 12:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joeotten.blogspot.com
Hmm, I should clarify that because your Venn diagram was about some sort of measurable attribute I think - and all I am talking about is a difference in the kinds of choices people make.

Ultimately I am in favour of people being free to make their own choices, even if those choices result in different average outcomes between some identity group an individual is in, and one they are not in.

I am against conditioning people differently according to sex or class or whatever, but I don't think conditioning is all-powerful.

Date: Sunday, July 18th, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
I don't think conditioning is all-powerful

Neither do I, but I do think it's systemic.

Example, on Thursday at the school, I was asked by one of the kids, a fairly bright one, if I was on sandwiches or dinners. I said neither (naturally), and that I go home to cook myself something.

She was confused and asked why, and I said that it was because I was a good cook and enjoyed it, and it was easier and cheaper for me than paying for dinner at the school.

She then asked if I cooked it myself, and then followed up with "don't you have a girlfriend then?"

At 6, she's already conditioned to expect the woman in the house does the cooking, and men only do it if they've no choice. Playtime is incredibly gendered, and it's not deliberate, but is still exclusionary. Girls are scared of the rough boys, so don't play football, so they're not as good, sot he boys don't want the less good players to play.

It also excludes some of the gentler boys, one asked me if he could play football with the girls because "the boys are too rough", but there's a tiny number of girls that'll just join in. Skipping is for girls, although some of the boys enjoy it, they avoid it once they realise this.

Girls may, on average, be less likely to want to join in with a boisterous game of football. But that acts to not only exclude those that don't want to play, but also make it harder for those to join in, because there aren't any girls there doing it, etc.

Some of that is biological, size, strength, etc. Some of that is confidence, and the latter is exactly what this is all about, the boys don't see there's a problem, so much so that on the one day a week I give the field to the girls, many of the boys complain and are horrified, it's not fair, "we let the girls play". Except they don't, actually, they only let the girls that play like boys play, the confident ones who're already good enough.

Something I need to work on a lot more next few years if I stay in the job, but it's definitely a mixture of conditioning and inbuilt preferences.

Date: Sunday, July 18th, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
I'd love it if you took five minutes to turn this into a post so I could link to it!

Date: Sunday, July 18th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
Ah, see, I've promised not to blog directly about work stuff. There're privacy concerns about talking about kids and similar, it's a bit of a gray area but I'd rather not put school stuff up on my aggregated feeds.

But you could link to the comment.

Date: Sunday, July 18th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Aaah, fair enough. I'll link to the comment.

I really do wish you posted more.

Mind you, I wish _I_ posted more.

Date: Monday, July 19th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
bagpuss: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bagpuss
This is interesting, My mum keeps commenting on similar things from her grandchildren and my nieces and newphews, one of whom was having a party and said not to invite a girl as it was no girls allowed untill of course it was pointed out several of the people who wanted to attend were girls and he kind of saw the flaw in his logic but probably didn't really understand.

He won't be being actively taught that boys should exclude girls but something about our society and the way we teach and interact with children has generated that view and I am not sure what we can do about it other than challenge it when we see it ourselves

Date: Monday, July 19th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
bagpuss: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bagpuss
That should read

"who he wanted to attend"

Date: Sunday, July 18th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
From: [personal profile] cesy
You could try posting in your own blog that you're trying to learn about this stuff, and then people who have spare time and energy can give you links, rather than taking over someone else's space.

http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/the-faqs/faq-roundup/ has a lot of the basics, and http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Geek_Feminism_Wiki is well worth a browse.

Part of the problem is that your point is not wrong - there are small differences in averages, and if you eliminated every other variable, those differences would remain. But the thing is, they're relatively tiny. Really tiny. And talking about them distracts from the main point - that the differences caused by opportunities/conditioning/etc. are huge.

Overconfidence may not be a superior trait, but our society values it, and this means that people without it tend to suffer, even though it's a bad thing.

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