Invisible on still water

This week is the RNC, which probably accounts for why we’re subjected to yet another post asking the question, Where are the female political bloggers — a male epiphany that seems to occur with surprising regularity. This particular writing was by Matt Stoller, a prominent liberal weblogger who is responsible for the site, Blogging the President.

I was taken aback from the title of his writing, “The Women Blogging Thing”; it makes me think of liberal males being required to address this topic once a year or so, or lose their metrosexual status. This is somewhat born out by the obligatory, if albeit confused, reference to the feminist movement:

That said, there’s a top-down style to the feminist movement that leaves little room for flat hierarchies that blogging needs to flourish. This is a cultural issue, and can be reflected in a lot of the strategic missteps of these groups.

I wasn’t the only one that went ‘huh’ when reading this. When questioned in comments about this ‘top-down’ style of feminism, Stoller provides further clarification:

What I meant by the feminist movement is the institutions that represent it, not the movement itself. It should not be top-down, but it is.


Still, it was the later writing in the post that did more than raise my eyebrows:

There’s also the fact that the male political blogosphere doesn’t help at all. It’s obviously a boys club (with select girls who act like in specifically stylized ways allowed). For instance, my style of blogging is very male – I feel like I have to conclude everything, which leaves less room for the more deliberative communication patterns I find among women. That’s common, but usually in a more extreme version. Guys don’t really feel comfortable saying ‘I don’t know’ or just going through inconclusive cognitive exercises. Jay Rosen does it very well, but he gets flamed quite frequently just for asking questions. The flame war pissing contest that motivates so many communities is another example of boys raising their hands in class and just generally being more aggressive. So Respectful of Otters gets ignored by the ‘big boys’, even though it’s great. There’s also the fact that it deals with uteruses and other stuff that boys don’t have and don’t think of, like career/family conflicts.

Some, like Ms. Lauren have responded with a great deal of restraint to this paragraph, and in fact the whole writing. I admire their forbearance, but after so many of these conversations and these ‘generalizations’ without any example to back them up, I grow weary of the game. As you’ll see in my comments associated with the post (when comments worked, that is), I basically said this was crap, pure and simple. I could take the time trying to find something in it worthwhile to respond to in a positive manner — but why should I?

Luckily, XX Blog reframed the discussion brilliantly, providing a more effective criticism than my “this is crap” response. (I like what Negro, Please had to say, “Read for the “good intentions,” stay for the presumptions, assumptions, and unintended condescension which I was about to jump all over when I first read them in the satire post…”)

I was angry at Stoller’s words, but more frustrated reading what other women had to say. As happens far too often in these threads, there is one or more women who feel compelled to apologize for the women’s movement, or distance themselves from feminism, as if to assure all those who are reading their words, they’re not that kind of woman. These same women usually feel compelled to assure the guys that they like men, really; or apologize to the men for the unladylike behavior of people like me. Shaula Evans was just such a woman in the thread associated with Stoller’s post, commenting:

Ian / Matt, Wow. I’m floored, I’m just floored by the flames here, the hostility, and the sheer ignorance. I’m offended and deeply embarrassed.

If this is how women behave in the blogosphere, is it a wonder the boys don’t want to let us in their treehouse? Yeesh.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here: if I was a guy, I’d be gay, rather than put up with this kind of shit.

Let us in their treehouse…

Speaking of swinging from limbs, I think the reason I’ve enjoyed the discussions related to Michelle Malkin is that when I’ve commented in her posts, or about her posts, I never once felt like I was operating under a different constraint than the men. If the men were thoughtful, I could be thoughtful, and neither group was applauded more than the other on how ’sensitive’ they were. If the men were angry, well, so could I be angry — and never once had my words rejected for being anything other than words.

And no person, man or woman, felt compelled to apologize to anyone for anything other than themselves.

Unfortunately, this environment is not pervasive across weblogging–especially among the oh-so popular liberal webloggers. Mouse Words also noticed this, writing about Matt Stoller’s rather cutting comments directed at Trish Wilson, in response to a mild comment she made:

Stoller pulls rank on Trish here and worse he does it while thinking he’s an egalitarian sort. She should be grateful that a man is here to deal with feminism. What does she think, that feminism belongs to women? One would almost think that women’s rights is an issue women worry about; we need to be quiet and let men figure out what they intend to let us have.

…we need to be quiet…

If you’re a woman and you write passionately, chances are at some point you will be called shrill and hysterical. If you’re a woman and you write very conservatively, you’ll most likely be disparaged for your looks and your sex, as much as your words. And if you’re a woman and take a guy like Stoller to task, there’s almost always one woman, one proper woman, one well behaved woman, who apologizes for our sex; feeding the myth that good women don’t talk back.

What’s sad, though, is that time and again, I’ve seen these same women rewarded with treats tossed in response, as rewards for their good behavior; given not so much for their ability or expertise, as the fact that they don’t cause ripples.

invisible on still water

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