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August 31, 2004

I Hate Being Right

I wrote this in June:

This discussion comes up approximately every three months. Rivka at Respectful of Otters just wrote about it. I last wrote about it in March. Nothing changes. A male blogger (this time Matt Yglesias) asks where are the women interested in politics, or asks where are the women bloggers? We see more media articles that completely ignore the contributions of the large number of female bloggers out there. The guys inevitably say "mea culpa," but go back to business as usual. Rinse and repeat.

Well, gee, here it is nearly three months later and once again we're in the midst of another "where are the women bloggers" debate. Just call me Nostradamus.

I think it actually started about a week ago at Alas, A Blog. Barry at least listened and understood why some feminists thought that it would have been better for a female feminist blogger to take the spot he was asked to take on Air America Radio's The Majority Report in a discussion with another blogger about the wage gap. While there was a little heat, that was a good discussion that didn't devolve into nasty flaming. It also ended with a very good talk about the role of feminist men in the feminist movement. A comment that one of Barry's commenters named "Funnie" wrote on my blog during that discussion sticks out in my mind now, for reasons that will be clear in a minute. Here's what she wrote:

And regarding the attention and praise heaped upon men for being feminists (which, to be completely reductive, amounts to doing little more than deciding one shouldn't actively perpetuate a murderous and oppressive system as a perpetrator...the definition of fabulous, heh): yes. And related to that, Trish, I would quibble with you slightly regarding how sensitive feminist men tend to be about their privilege and about speaking for women...as *individuals,* though they freely admit to such things on a class level. I think what often happens with feminist men is that OTHER men's actions are perceived as having a sexist dynamic that their own personal situations routinely lack...this is nothing new or particularly surprising. But I think that it works against feminist men even having a "community," since the measure of being a feminist man becomes pointing out the flaws in other men, not repeatedly going over one's own gender privilege with a fine-toothed comb and discussing with other men the nits one comes across.

A couple of days ago, Matt Stoller, a progressive blogger and pro-feminist man, picked up the "woman blogger" live wire and it's still sparking. There were two things he wrote that offended some women bloggers who have stumbled upon the latest incarnation of this debate. I quote them below. Bold is my emphasis.

1. "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."

2. [This one was in his response to one of my comments.] "More to the point, feminism doesn't belong to women, and until you realize that we're in this together, the more marginalized you will continue to be."

I wasn't aware that feminist women needed feminist men's approval, otherwise we'd continue to be marginalized. Since "boys" don't have or don't think of career/family conflicts, they should avoid divorce-bed conversions where they suddenly want custody of the kids. It reminds me of what Funnie had written; in effect, that feminist men expect to be praised for being aware of sexism as if they're doing all of us a great big favor. We, as feminist women, should be grateful that they notice sexism and talk about it. That's not feminism, guys. That's ego.

I started out in the conversation with what I thought was a cordial and respectful tone. I'm trying to maintain that sense of decorum but it's very difficult now. I'm angry. How can a woman blogger point out - rightly - that women bloggers are for the most part rendered invisible? How can she point out that this conversation repeats with no solution approximately every three months and that it's been going on longer than I've been in the blogosphere - a year and a half. Why is it that when a woman blogger is polite, but direct and open about it as I have been - she's ridiculed, patronized, told she is intolerant, and then dismissed? And then the guys wonder why some women bloggers don't dive into heated debates with them without qualifying their statements with vapid openings like "it's only my opinion" or "I may be wrong"? Who wants to put up with that kind of treatment?

I don't think the question should be "where are the women bloggers?" I think it should be "why don't I, a male blogger, link to more commentary made by women bloggers?" Place the responsibility where it belongs.

Here are links to more bloggers discussing the issue:

After Thinking About It, I've Decided Not To Drop It, by Mouse Words.

On Women Bloggers, by Utopian Hell.

The African-American Blog Thing, by Antigone at XX. (It's satire. See if you get it.)

Male Feminists II, by Wicked Muse.

Look At The Time, by Feministe.

Did You Check Under The Seat Cushions, Pt. II, by Pinko Feminist Hellcat.

Two related posts of mine about feminist men and their role and place in feminism:

White Guys and Privilege.

Feminist Issues, Feminist Men, and Female Representation.

Here is my original post about the women blogger's thing, The Invisible Woman Blogger. It's also linked in my opening quote.

I don't really have much more to say on the subject. I'll see y'all again about it in three months. evil_smiley.gif

Posted on August 31, 2004 at 02:14 PM | Permalink


I think the real question in these men's minds is "How Come Women Don't Read and Comment on My Blog?"

Posted by: Roxanne at Aug 31, 2004 3:04:50 PM

A Wicked Muse also put up Male Feminists II where she discusses the 'Feminism doesn't belong to women' thing as well. I'm so angry I may be ringing in again later on today.

He's managed to back down and apologize and say that he'll re-adress the issue after the RNC. Do you think he really will?

And yeah, Rox, all ego.

Posted by: Astarte at Aug 31, 2004 3:14:58 PM

Thanks for that link, Astarte. I just added it plus a post you HAVE to read from XX.

Hey, Rox, didn't you say the last time that the bickering was really about the male bloggers being upset that they didn't get enough attention from the media? I think at the time a big article came out about guys and their little blogs and how obsessed they were with them to the point that they neglected their lives. Not a positive portrayal of male bloggers, no sirree. ;)

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Aug 31, 2004 4:17:16 PM

Ohhh... I'd love a link to that article. :)

Posted by: Astarte at Aug 31, 2004 4:43:28 PM

Simple Freud stuff, really.


Posted by: Roxanne at Aug 31, 2004 5:51:10 PM

Terrific post, to which I will respond at much greater length in my own blog at some point (given that I teach women's history, I think it's expected of me).

I'm off to count up my links by gender.


Posted by: Hugo at Aug 31, 2004 6:01:16 PM

Okay, now I've posted on it.

Posted by: Hugo at Sep 1, 2004 12:57:00 PM

Oh god, I'll try to look at all this and wade in soon, when my syllabi are at least underway... well, I have been feeling sort of unsure of what to write about next... let's see if I can clear off my desk and get bitchy :)

Posted by: bitchphd at Sep 1, 2004 2:32:53 PM

Gee, you're blaming men for lack of women's blogging. Ho hum.

Posted by: Gary Martinburgh at Sep 2, 2004 6:06:51 AM

On the contrary, Gary, she's blaming men for men's lack of reading ability :-). Such as, for example, yours, when you miss the fact that Trish is saying that women are already blogging, not that we're not blogging because those nasty sexist men are keeping us down.

OK, you're probably actually trolling rather than honestly misreading Trish, but it was fun writing that first line :-).

Posted by: Lynn Gazis-Sax at Sep 2, 2004 9:53:41 AM

I'm neither trolling nor misreading Trish. Give us something worthwhile to comment on or to link to, and we probably will. I guess it never occurred to the professional victims here like Trish that men may be more interested in the topics about which men write. Similarly, women may be more interested in the topics about which women write. Vive la difference!

If you want to talk about 'sexists', start with yourself.

Posted by: Gary Martinburgh at Sep 2, 2004 12:18:07 PM


Ah yes. That's why we regularly read posts on women's blogs wondering where all the men are, because we just don't read or link to them. A cursory examination of the front pages of women's political blogs makes your claim ridiculous on its face.

Posted by: natasha at Sep 5, 2004 4:18:04 PM

Vive la difference! Men and women have nothing in common and shouldn't even live together!

Posted by: Amanda at Sep 6, 2004 1:45:00 AM

Gary's one of my biggest fans. Can't you tell? I bet he has a shrine to me in his rec room, with votive candles, resin incense, and a dart board. ;)

Great first line, Lynn. I almost spewed my tonic water on my computer screen. I really need a tarp...

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Sep 6, 2004 6:55:35 PM

I am female, but I have an obscure blog
under a male identity. That is because
I was harassed quite viciously for years
because I crossed some misogynist net

I no longer do anything under my real
name, I'm terrified. I even had an
an online diary, which was filled with
'you're a bitch' entries in the guest

Posted by: Lin Cohen at Sep 10, 2004 2:02:27 PM

That reminds me of something that happened last week I found amusing. My boyfriend asked me to type up some forum post for him because I'm good at cheap shots, which he wanted to make. Anyway, I watched the replies roll in disagreeing with him and was amused. Later, I logged into the same forum to see that the debate was still going on so I made similiar comments under my own handle, which caused people to go BALLISTIC. Same sentiments, different sexes, wildly different reactions. And cyberspace was supposed to be sexless.

Posted by: Amanda at Sep 10, 2004 4:57:29 PM

I think women are more concerned about their privacy and protection online than men. There's the misogynistic net geek factor we have to deal with. We are also concerned about our families. Misogynists post in my comments all the time. They like to attack me and try to get a rise out of me. Sometimes they go farther than that. Awhile back a 19 year old from England harassed feminist women online, including feminist bloggers. I was one of them. I received a death threat. Scotland Yard went after him and he's been tried, convicted, and there are now restraining orders against the guy. He can't contact me.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Sep 11, 2004 9:40:19 AM

Astarte, if you're still reading, here's the link to that New York Times articles about the poor guy bloggers who are addicted to their blogs to the point that they neglect their jobs and families.

NY Times: For Some, The Blogging Never Stops

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Sep 11, 2004 9:45:44 AM

I have a small penis and am wondering if size really matters to women. Please clue me!

Posted by: Jim at May 25, 2005 7:57:26 PM