tmccarthy0's picture

    Blogging While Female: Empowerment and Electronic Communication in a Civil Society

    What is blogging while female? What is it about so many blogs, whether they are of the liberal, conservative or middle of the road blogs that sexism becomes the mode of what is deemed civil discourse? What is female empowerment and what constitutes an on-line civil society and how does it contribute to the overall meaning of civil society? In the end, how do we become more effective communicators and more inclusive of other voices.

    I've been on-line so-to-speak since 1988, when I began participating in the EICBBS, with my 1200 baud modem and my interest in energy related issues. It was a civil forum run by professionals. We discussed energy and energy related issues, and most of us had more personal knowledge of those participating. The energy community at the time was small, so we knew each other personally. Since that time, the on-line world has evolved into a reflection of society at large and it isn't reflecting a pretty picture.

    E-communities can be terrific, when the participant is not on the outside of the active part of the community. Obviously like-minded people gather in these communities to discuss issues and life in general.  It seems however it is easy for these communities devolve into cliques or what I like to call "the bully posse", where camaraderie is traded for ideological purity, where rational discussion is literally frowned upon, where some lie in wait for certain commenters or bloggers to begin their attacks, not letting up until said commenter just disappears. 

    As women, we've been dismissed and condescended to the entirety of our existence. I could tell you stories, because as women we weave the stories of our personal lives into how we communicate our ideas and how we form our worldviews. As some have surmised, it is how we gain our voice. We carry those stories with us, it is how we evolve as people, it is how we connect as humans. I realize this is only acceptable once you are truly a member of the group, it is only then that the overly male population of the blog allows that type of communication style. If you are not part of the group, this style is often referred to as meta and deemed unacceptable. But this is the method we use to coax women out of their shells, how they gain their voice in a world that intends them to remain voiceless. Knowing that men and society overall finds our style almost wholly unacceptable, leads us to form our own communities, where our style and our efforts to find our voice are nurtured and deemed acceptable. We have made gains, many, but there is much sexism that remains and permeates many e-communities, including this one.

    More disconcerting of course is that the Presidents methods are deemed ineffective because of course he utilizes a less confrontational style, so here and many other blogs, certain bloggers call the president a coward, a wuss, a pussy,  much of the language used to deride him, even in the "liberal/progressive" community falls right into the trap of overt sexism and many women react strongly to those words. When I see them here in a blog, in a comment, I become depressed, because it is one more indication that women and our methods of being in the world are not acceptable. It seems to easy for so many in the so-called progressive community to use degrading feminine terminology to taint the President. Deeming him as unacceptable as most women, because we engage in community building, we seek to make change by compromise and building bridges, and daily on liberal blogs those methods are derided.

    It depresses me because it indicates as a society we've made few gains in our efforts to become equal, even in the so-called liberal/progressive political movements. We've lost, because the majority of men then still see us as inferior to them and because this President seems to be one who believes, as many women do, that we should build bridges with those who don't hold the same beliefs in order to build a better and more civil society. They seem to view him merely as a woman, who is inferior to them. If what I am writing were not true, why on earth would anyone in a professional capacity say that Hillary should loan the President one of her balls? Inferring one more time this President isn't man enough to do the right thing, by fist fighting and arguing and making a spectacle of himself ala Anthony Weiner or Alan Grayson. There is rampant sexism in progressive e-communities and it turns women off. I realize it is merely a reflection of how our society has evolved. However it does make it difficult to fully participate in those communities. The words used against us and the President cut like a serrated knife, ripping us apart, reminding us we are not to be included in creating solutions because how we relate to the world is simply not acceptable.  

    I personally don't know how to be a part of that kind of community I believe it is a concerted effort to erase women one more time from society. It is an effort to silence us one more time.  These are concerted efforts to limit civility and drive wedges into communities that might have once been more cohesive.   I have a stake in the future of this society, I don't want a future where we our first instinct is to do nothing more than fight. We have to work hard to attain a truly civil society and I believe the same is true of any on-line community.   It falls to each of us as individuals to curb our tendencies to create disparate tribes that continually war with each other over ideology, if we do not, our society falls apart, and we only have ourselves to blame if this happens.

    Crossposted at The Angriest Liberal


    Thanks for blogging this. You are right about the tone of so many comments and some blogs. It can be a real turn off to women.

    Thanks Momoe, I've been thinking about it for a very long time, and of course the overt sexism makes me participate less and less.

    the overt sexism makes me participate less and less.

    I tend to have the opposite reaction.  May have something to do with growing up with two brothers, one older, one younger.  Never liked being excluded from anything just because I was a girl.  


    I tire of the fight and tire of the needing to remind people who are supposed to know better that overt sexism defeats many women, and reinforces their "voicelessness". The daily battle to build a better life for everyone means including more women in the discussion. We must coax their voice out, to allow them to be heard, to build a line of communication, because of course we women thrive on communication. Once we are deemed unacceptable to others, are voices can be crushed forever, I would like more women to participate, to be included, to use their excellent communication skills, their ability to build bridges and compromise to make the world a better place for our children. I would like our boys to know there is another way, and it is acceptable to be less combative, angry and to rid themselves of the need to simply conquer by any means necessary.

    Giving voice to the voiceless is as important as admiring  and supporting those who participate in the fight. Hearing and nurturing the voiceless can only improve our society by giving more people a larger stake and therefore responsibility because they are no longer left out of the process. I think.

    But... but... I don't wanna blog with all boys.

    I think you've granted such people too much influence over you. They really aren't very important, and their opinions aren't that important, either. If someone makes a good argument, that's one thing, but no one's going to think the less of you if you ignore the blowhards.

    I don't know how to respond to this Donal.

    I feel as though you are simply dismissing the blog by insinuating I am weak and that actually hurts a great deal.

    I'd hardly think you're weak - you can probably ride rings around me - and I certainly don't want to hurt your feelings. I know there's a problem, but writing blogs like this is giving the bullies exactly the attention and sense of importance that they want. Such tactics will never change a thing. They'll compain about being singled out and attacked unfairly but make no mistake - they love this.

    I was merely expanding on what I'd written as a response to AMan's blog. I don't know that you are correct in thinking that I should not blog about this, because it sounds like you are telling me this is better discussed around only women, men should not have to read this, or participate and certainly I should not give anyone anymore ammunition than they have already to lay out an attack against me? There is ample research out there Donal, which supports what I have written.  Why shouldn't it be discussed openly?  Read Carol Gilligan's work on Women and Voice.  I've simply tried to use apply what I know here. I think a blog about women, Voice, empowerment, civil society and inclusion is important.  Why can't we write about this openly? Simply because I might be open to attack? Must I fear attack?  I've been censoring myself far too much lately, when I write here, and I don't out of fear, not so much, just out of pure giving up, and writing about a subject that I care very much about so much so I am willing to respond to anyone and everyone who comes here today. But the weakness you implied I have it not a physical weakness, but a purely emotional weakness that I have given them too much power, yes I agree, and now that I am writing about a subject I know and care deeply about I am taking that power back. I think women's issues are important, and seeking to cover them up and not discuss it, will keep more women from  joining in the discussion. I think, finding our Voice, as women is important to us, in the real world and on-line, if we can't discuss the subject how can we ever get more women to participate?

    I'd add to this that I think some of what you're talking about is unconscious or off the cuff.  Donal implied that you're provoking people who are simply trying to get a rise out of you.  But that seems unlikely.  Seems more likely that you're calling attention to things people don't realize they're doing.

    I never said you shouldn't blog about it, or that you are weak. I like having you here and I read what you write, but if you're "censoring yourself," you're giving other people, and the wrong people, too much influence over what you do. 

    This is by the way the same advice I gave my daughter. Like both her siblings, she has rejected her mother's religion. She was commenting on some atheist blog and complained to me that someone was giving her a hard time. So I checked it out and pointed out that althought this fellow claimed to be a Christian, when challenged he admitted that he saw no reason not to enjoy himself by tormenting atheists. So he was actually a troll, looking for fresh meat, and there was absolutely no point in engaging with him.

    I wish I knew a better plan, but that's all I got. They moderate the hell out of Shakesville, but I don't think anyone at dag wants that. 

    You know what? You are right.

    Wuss, pussie....yeah; all condescending terms for women.

    Like Schwartznegger and girly men!

    So our Prez should just sit in his oval and give the finger to the House!

    What the hell does that accomplish? And even when we dems had a majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate for one brief shining moment, the Senate ignored over 400 bills passed by the House.

    Was Obama supposed to send armed guards into the Senate?

    Domestically we do not have enough money, just like in our individual states. And there are huge struggles going on every day.

    In Minnesota our dem Gov is at a stalemate with the repub legislature (some of whom are wacko fascists) and food stamps as well as supplemental benefits to the poor as well as medical care are going to be cut off entirely July 1.

    The Gov is attempting to compromise; but his attempts go for naught.

    In other states like Wisc & Ohio and Indiana where the repubs control everything there is a revolution going on destroying public unions, cutting all medical benefits, cutting education outlays...

    I am mad about the wars.

    Except for that (and that's a big exception) Obama is probably doing the best any one armed executive can!


    Thanks Dick.

    Always amazed at how some seem to ignore the damage the GOP is doing.

    T, I have to say I've never equated the treatment of Obama with the treatment of women, but you make some good points.  There may be some truth to what you say about how men respond to him.  It may well be that they see his actions as too close to their perceptions of femaleness, but as a woman myself, after having read and heard so much of the criticisms against Obama, I think I see the criticisms more as screeds against perceived cowardice or collusion rather than any kind of gender stickers.

    I'm trying to understand your feelings about comments here or elsewhere having sources in a belief in the inferiority of women, but I honestly don't see it that way.  I think they're pretty much equal-opportunity snarks.  Maybe I've been subject to the gender sneers for too long, but they're like water off a duck's back.  They mean nothing to me because the person tossing them means nothing to me.  They don't hurt me, they don't endanger me, they don't even prickle under my skin.  I just don't care.

    I had someone here hound me because I wouldn't address the attacks on me as being anti-feminist.  I didn't see them that way and I wasn't going to pretend I did just to satisfy her.

    I can fight for the true worth of women along with the best of them, but I just don't see it in the blogosphere.  I don't feel inferior because I'm a woman and I don't think I'm treated any differently because I'm a woman.  If someone thinks I'm wrong, I'm wrong because they think I'm wrong and not because I'm a woman.  (Of course, I could be wrong about that....)

    I'm more inclined to be offended by the attacks on my liberalness than on my gender.  My gender isn't something I can do anything about.but I've chosen to be a liberal and I've had to defend that choice much more than I've had to defend who I am as a woman.

    I agree with you about building bridges, about civility, about the need to connect in order to accomplish anything of value.  I respect your feelings here.  It obviously means a lot to you or you wouldn't have felt the need to write it and I'm glad you posted it here.

    I remember Larry Kudlow saying how Obama's propensity to hug people was feminine.

    There was also the flap over giving the Medal of Honor (I think it was) to a soldier whose act of heroism hadn't involved killing enemy, but rather saving his men.

    At the time, someone said that this represented the feminization of...something.

    I think you can probably lump the bowing problem into this set of criticisms. Real men don't bow; they give strong, manly handshakes.

    I'm going to tell you something and I want you to listen closely because this is going to sound like a joke but it's true.  I've been on Kudlow's show.  I've sat right next to him.  Beneath his desk, out of site of the camera, he is wearing a man girdle.  I'm sure he'd claim it's a back brace but it's boy spanx for the gut.  Not making that up.

    That made me chuckle enough to make tears run down my face! Spanx for men! Although I don't watch CNBC, I swear if I ever see Kudlow on some other show, I will not be able to stop myself from laughing out loud at him.


    And I suppose that big belt buckle does nothing for your  posture, (if you ever strap it on...)

    @Ramona, it's taken me too long to get back to you.

    I realize I am not speaking for all women. But I am giving voice to many who fear participation, because they fear fighting those who more easily combat in the on-line community.  Voice is important to women and when they gain their voice in this world they are more able to make a difference. Language is used as a bludgeon, and although it doesn't affect you when language is used to discount women, or others, it does affect many. Because gender is something we cannot do anything about as you say, it cuts many of us much more deeply when our gender is used against us. Not for everyone, but as the research shows, certainly for most of us.

    I think Carol Gilligans work "In A Different Voice" not only speaks to the research, but much more eloquently than I ever could explains how language can effectively stifle women and their growth as individuals, but when we nurture their Voice we can as a society grow and achieve a more civil society, which empowers women and by extension empowers men as well.

    Language is used as a bludgeon, and although it doesn't affect you when language is used to discount women, or others, it does affect many.

    T, I apologize if I didn't make myself clear.  It very definitely affects me when language is used against women.  What I said was that I don't let it bother me when it's used against me.  I've been actively involved in equal pay battles and in other kinds of job discrimination.  I'm past that now, but I'll still fight for equal rights for women.  I'll fight against any discrimination, wherever it arises. 

    I thought we were talking about how women writers are treated here in the blogosphere, and that was how I addressed my comment.  I think as opinion writers we put ourselves out there and we're ripe for criticism.  It's a given and we recognize that when we take it on.  I personally don't take it personally or consider it an attack on my gender, but I guess I can respect the fact that other women might.

    This is a site you might be interested in.  There are others, but this one I had at my fingertips:

    Enjoy your new labor of love.  And most of all, have fun doing it! 


    This is a website run by two amazing women.  I love it

    And...darn.  This one, too:

    I've debated back and forth whether to join in on this thread because I have some strong opinions in the realm of "gender theory" and realize that the intent of your blog, as I understand it, is not necessarily aimed at debating the particulars. 

    I wholeheartedly agree on the need for those who are part of a community which experiences a form of suppression and oppression to find a supportive environment, virtual and otherwise, to allow them to find their voice.  This is society is, among other things, still a patriarchy.  Consequently, women as a group will experience an added barrier to achieving their voice.

    Of course, there are others who find similiar barriers, whether it is their faith, their sexual orientation, or numerous other facets of identity which the dominant cultural imperative either has deemed unworthy and negative, or non-existent. 

    The one "issue" that I feel the need to say something about is that in your attempt to acknowledge the need for those environments for the oppressed to find their voice, you have reinforced the very binary upon which and through the patriarchy is able to sustain itself.  Woman communicate this way, men communicate that way.  Woman over here, men over there.  The debate then turns who is better than whom at this or that.  That is the things about binaries.  We usually feel compelled to have to decide which is the preferable "option."  In the sense, it is basically true that there is no thing as separate but equal.  Once we separate, we then choose the preference.

    I could go on about how you do give preeminence to the way you believe woman communicate, and thereby just switch the power dynamics, so that a "man" gains value only to the extent his method of communication approaches that of a "woman."  But I won't.

    What I will do is ask the question: how does the transgender fit into this society?  In the realm of gender and corresponding notions about the biological sex of humans, the transgender tends to threaten the identity of the non-transgenders, the identities being developed and unfolding as they have in and through the binary woman/man, male/female, masculine/feminine binaries.  Just the idenitity of a man or woman who has embraced the patriarchy is threatened by the existence of an empowered woman.

    Of course, our cultural ways of talking and writing has also evolved through and by this cultural imperative of the patriarchy, along with heterosexuality imperative, so it is almost impossible to communicate concisesly without reinforcing the binaries embedded in it.  But in the end, one could conclude, in your efforts to testify for empowering environments in which woman can gain their voice, you have also silenced the voice of the transgenders by reinforcing the gender world in which they do not exist.  They have, to use Judith Butler's play on words, ceased to matter. 

    This is the (nearly?) unavoidable quagmire of discourse any oppressed group faces when attmepting to find that empowerment and their voice.  In order to throw off the oppression, they must find their power through their identity which was used to disempower them.  They have to adopt the oppressor terms and rework the definitions.  This is one reason why even the gay and lesbian communities have had some tension over the years with the transgender communities.

    Fine comment, Trope.  (And I admit I never went back and read Judith's ink you left me; sorry.  She's hard for me to read.)   But this is good.  Again, we all have a little male and a little female, or none of the male/female stuff tracks.  I mean: 'binaries'.  ;o)

    Even though I am sick to death of reading myself Trope, I am so glad you did comment. I think I missed it earlier, while trying to catch up with this thing. I don't know if the Transgendered community is left out by my blog. Blogs can never be all inclusive can they. I do think your comment is on point, and one that should leave us all wondering how we build a more inclusive, empowered society, which includes the acceptance of the Transgendered and at this point, you may be correct that this is the more important community to try to include. So in short I do agree with what you've written, and believe that as a society we should make every single attempt possible to include everyone, to hear their story and narrative. And it would be terrific if someone from the transgendered community would participate here, no doubt. But I cannot adequately explain their story or narrative, I can only take the POV of the personhood of being a woman and what it is to be female and blogging and what it means to be included or not included in this community or the community at large. If your point is, women have it better than the Transgendered community, no doubt that is quite true. You get no disagreement on that point from me.

    Thanks for taking the time to read the comment.  I wasn't trying to make the point the transgendered community has it worse, or that you should include them per se in your blog.  You definitely cannot speak for them, nor can I.  (although we can speak as allies, just as I can speak only as an ally of women).  As you say, blogs can never be all inclusive. 

    The issue I was attempting to point out was merely that oppression and suppression is encoded in the language, it is created through and by the very discourse we utilize, just as our identities are. It is the nature of the beast that the moment I define what I am, I also define what is not me.  If I define what it means to be a man, then anyone who does not meet this criteria cannot be considered a man.  The classic example for me is the soldier who wakes up in the hospital to discover his legs have been amputated and claims "I am no longer a man."  

    The 2008 presidential election was interesting if only for the debate that emerged regarding who are the real Americans.  The kicker was Bachmann's call for investigations to find those who were conducting un-American activities.

    If one's goal is empowerment of all, that everyone can find their true voice and that our society is one in which that voice is nutured and supported, then we have to realize that this will only be achieved when we are able to take a inclusive and humane retooling of how we talk, write, articulate our understanding of our world, each other, and our selves.  I would say it is a goal which will never be fully actualized.  But as long we continue the difficult task of watching how we speak, how we write, how we blog with an understanding of how the power of the oppressors is contained in the discourse, then at least we move closer to the goal rather than further away.

    The good post-structuralists don't write text that is nearly incomprehensiable at first glance because they want to be annoying, it is because in part they are trying to unravel that power dynamic.  Of course, life goes on.  Things would come to halt if we stopped and analyzed every sentence, every word we uttered for how it reinforced the heterosexual partiarchy imperative (Or white Christian imperative, or...) when we talked about the weather or a movie we just saw or...Although there are times we should do that, too. 

    But when we tackle these issues of oppression and empowerment explicitly, I would say it is more important to attempt to address the nature of our discourse.  In other words, when we stop and say, this is what it means to be a woman, a man, an American, a human, a patriot, etc etc, that we also try to undermine the dynamics of the socio-political power structure embedded in our words, instead of reinforcing it.  I say try because we will all more or less fail most of the time.  But at least we can say we gave it a try. 

    Let me end here by saying I don't mean to isolate you out for this "lecture."  I do this very thing all time.  We all do.  And that is the point.  Just as this comment has in its own way. I mean, how typical, right, the guy comes on and tells the gal, "this is the way it is" :P

    @trope, I kind of love the idea of post-structuralism, but I barely understand it! Post structuralism is a difficult subject, and each time you write about it, I learn just a bit more, but as with all difficult subjects, it will take me time to expand my own knowledge and attempt to adapt some of a philosophy that is brand new to me, and weave it through my narrative, make it a part of the whole.

    I love that you bring the level of  our discussion to our philosophical groundings.  Those help us, we, me, add to our current philosophical groundings.  I like that, even though I truly struggle with the concept.

    I was truthful last evening though, I am plenty sick of myself at this point in time, discussions about feminism, sexism in our language etc, are hard discussions, it is good to see that much has changed but at the same time little has changed. The political discussion group I run, is often concerned with the larger picture of empowerment of women, civil discourse, changing our view of the narrative and story as appropriate contributions to society at large, and we do often base our concerns in terms of women's issues. But the larger picture isn't limited to women's issues, as you've aptly pointed out. keep this response to a minimum, i hope you check out my next blog which I hope to post soon (and by stating such, put the necessary pressure on my self to finish it)

    ...dang double post. too much caffiene which leads to double clinking overload

    I have two theories about post-structuralism:

    1 - If your beam sags, you put in another post.

    2 - You build first, then design the structure to prove it will stand up.

    ... this President seems to be one who believes, as many women do, that we should build bridges with those who don't hold the same beliefs in order to build a better and more civil society.

    That sounds great.  Unfortunately, when you find you're in a war with an enemy who seeks unconditional victory rather than bridges of cooperation, you have to fight the war and defeat your enemy.

    The right wing and ownership classes in the United States and Europe are currently conducting a class-based war aimed at destroying what little is left of a century of progressive activism, undermining fragile systems of democratic self-government and egalitarian institutions that are the legacy of the labor movement, the New Deal, the Great Society and the European social democracy movement, and putting a yoke of indentured servitude around the necks of vulnerable workers and debtors.  They are exploting the economic crisis to impose severe austerity regimes and privatization takeover schemes on Western publics, to undermine the laws and social programs that protect the weak, to hollow out the private sector, and to place the the public assets of the Western world into the hands of the private sector and expanded corporate governance.

    This is real.  It is happening.  Now.  In our time.  It is an emergency, and people who believe in a future of democracy, equal justice, popular government and equally shared prosperity need to go to the ramparts.  The blitzkrieg of corporate oligopoly and the dictatorship of private property is unleashed.   But it is a quiet war they wage, because it takes place in corporate boardrooms, central bank offices, think tank offices, high court chambers and politicians' fund-raising haunts.

    People are faced with a grueling economic emergency that could easily be relieved and turned around into dynamic prosperity by an activist government willing to use its powers to redistribute wealth and command capital for the sake of public purposes.  Recall how this happened before: The United States government took firm charge of its weakened economy following the Great Depression as it moved into WWII.  The US economy doubled in size dring the war as a result of the forced investment and organizational power of government, and that in turn laid the foundation for decades of postwar prosperity with broad and very evenly distributed income shares in the national productive output - the US golden age.

    The current reluctance in Europe, in the UK and in the United States to restart prosperity and end unemployment through government activism  is not due to any inherent incapacity or structural impediments.  It is due to the determination of the world's main private owners to use the crisis to punish and subordinate the vulnerable and buy out the weak - and the democratic governments they depend on.

    In the face of this assault, whose campaigns and battleplans can be followed in the financial press, Obama has shown a stunning passivity.  The most charitable interpretation is that he is a nice guy who refuses to believe that the enemies of progressive and liberal government are actually enemies and are at war against our values and ideals.  Has Obama never read the propaganda of people Grover Norquist and other leaders of the conservative movements?   What is happening is no mere accident or improvised response to chaos.  Their strategy for years has been to engineer a "fiscal train wreck" and then to use that train wreck to dismantle the liberal state - which they hate with every fiber of their being.   And that is precisely what they are now doing.

    Obama needs to be on a side in this war.   We all need to be on a side, regardless of gender.

    But when I see Obama embrace Pete Peterson and his institute, and then stuff a Deficit Reduction Commission with known deficit hawks and supporters of small government and privatization, there is nothing I can conclude other than Obama is either too witless to understand what is going on, or is actually not on my side but instead on the other side.

    More attacks are coming.  Watch out for the "infrastructure bank" which - depending on how it is implemented - could turn into another Trojan Horse aimed at leveraging private sector corporate welfare into schemes for expanded private-sector ownership and rent-taking of the nation's infrastructure.  If Obama doesn't change course and if Democrats don't go to war to save the liberal and progressive dream, there will come a time when everything is privately owned, and most of what is privately owned is in a few hands weilding very concentrated and unaccountable power.

    This is a nightmare.  But it's happening in the real, waking world.  Obama needs to wake up to it; or else Democrats need to move him aside and find another leader.

    I think you've completely missed the point of what I've written, because this blog was not written to discuss on and on how terrible or how wonderful the President is or is not, whether he has failed in your eyes or the eyes of others, this blog is addresses sexism that is pervasive at many blogs including liberal/progressive blogs, and how certain language is used to degrade and render people as unacceptable through language, I merely used the President as an example, because of how many progressive/liberal blogs use language to attack him.  I think it is important to stay on topic. Changing the subject to what you want it to be is also a sign of the sexism I've discussed above, you would like to move the discussion onto your topic, so you can control the conversation of a blog I spent much time constructing, because you've obviously deemed it unimportant, which is fine, but I am not going to allow you to change the subject. I think I've offered much to discuss, yet you've addressed none of that, you've simply gone on a screed to discuss "the infrastructure bank" and many other things, but you've failed to respond to the point of my blog completely.  There are ample blogs right here at DAG that are currently discussing the subject you've broached above, however it is not my subject.  Let's try to stay on topic at least for awhile.

    You discussed several different things in your blog, one of which was the point you made in the sentence I cited.  And that's the part I responded to.  I wasn't aware of the rule that the author of the main blog gets to declare what is and is not off topic in the comments.  But if that's the rule, I'll leave you alone to your prefered discussion.


    @Dan Kervick, not so. The blog in entirety is about language, sexism and how to empower the female voice to participate rather than leave on-line communities and how language is used to marginalize women who do participate. As you well know, I used the President as an example of how language is used to feminize him to make him seem as though he is unworthy, unacceptable because he way of relating to the world is very similar to ours.  This is simply not another blog that seeks to discuss the endless daily or hourly discussion here and elsewhere, that rehashes yours and others great disappointment with the President and your prescription for how he could be so much better.  It is disingenuous of you to suggest otherwise.

    Voice counts Dan, ignoring what I've written in entirety to change the subject to your preferred subject, in my mind illustrates my point in a way I never could. 

    My comment only "changes the subject" on the assumption that you get to define what "the subject" is, not just in your own post but in all of the comments that appear beneath that post.  That’s pretty bossy.

    It seems to me that if you examine any arbitrary post here, you will usually find that the comments twist and deviate down many by-ways, as commenters pick up on particular ideas that strike their fancy and go with them.  I wrote a post here a couple of months ago that had over 200 comments.  Many of them were directly about the subject I raised; some were only indirectly about the subject I raised, and others went off into their own peculiar tangents.  I jumped into the sub-discussions that appealed to me and stayed out of the discussions that I wasn’t interested in.   I don’t see the problem.  One writes something on the internet and lets it go.  There’s not much control.

    I remember that there was one guy back on TPM who used to complain constantly that people were befouling his beautifully insightful and exquisitely-wrought High Art posts with tangles of idiotic, ugly, flaming and irrelevant comments.  First he demanded and successfully acquired the right to police his own comment sections in the Reader Posts section, before eventually leaving in a melodramatic huff.  Another blogospheric prima donna with delusions of immortality bites the dust.

    I guess you’re mad that I didn’t want to discuss the main point you raised.   Well I have read your posts for a couple of years now, both here and at the old TPM site, and they seem very well-written and well-argued.   But they are also often aggressive, stubborn and opinionated, and you seem to have no problem giving people hell, laying into them with lectures and climbing up and down their backs.  That's great.  I like spirited blogging.  But I'm not going to indulge you in your new victim pose and start seeing you as some kind of gentle, sisterly bridge-builder whose kindly and supportive communicative ways have been thwarted by mean old sexists who won’t respect the nurturing ways of women.  I can think of several more sensitive souls that description aptly applies to, but not you.  If you’re selling persecuted victim now, I’m not buying.

    What we have here........ is a .......failure to communicate

    As you well know, I used the President as an example of how language is used to feminize him to make him seem as though he is unworthy, unacceptable because he way of relating to the world is very similar to ours. 

    First, tmac, I wish you well wherever you are or decide to go.  FWIW I thought you held your own just fine using the kind of style you have come to find (or perhaps have always found?) objectionable, or at least unwelcoming.  

    I disagree with the part you wrote that I pulled here.  Saying Obama has no balls when meant in a pejorative way, might be seen as reflecting gender stereotypes favoring a supposedly "male" way of interacting with the world.  

    There may be some who have a generalized preference for a supposedly "male" style of leadership in a President.  But do you really think that folks here, when they write this about Obama, mean that?  Or that, rather, there are specific situations where they believe he has been ineffective for not being assertive enough, with "assertive enough" not carrying for them exclusively male connotations even where the way they phrase the criticism is that Obama has no balls?  (The same folks, if asked if Hillary or Pelosi have "balls", would presumably say yes.)

    What if folks refrained from the gendered "no balls" swipes and talked instead about firmness or toughness or willingness to confront directly and publicly?  Would that change how you feel?

    You know that confrontational approaches to leadership are hardly limited to men.  To suggest that it is is to ignore the toughness of female politicians such as Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and many, many others.

    A leader gets judged by the public she or he represents on the basis of effectiveness. Sometimes the bridge-building, search-for-common-ground approach gets better results.  And sometimes a confrontational approach gets better results.  Do you disagree with that?  The most effective leaders will generally have both approaches in their toolkit, even if they have a preference for one over the other.  Otherwise, they are limited to being able to be effective only in contexts which favor their preferred leadership style.

    Margaret Thatcher, a female, was a highly confrontational politician at times who often prevailed. Neville Chamberlain, a male, tried the bridge-building approach with Hitler and has been the poster child for the limitations of such an approach in some contexts ever since.  In other contexts, the bridge-building approach gets better results and the confrontational approach worse ones.

    You yourself have used a confrontational approach at dag and the cafe at times and other times more of a bridge-building approach.  So you yourself show the versatility that a flexible and self-empowered, one might even say liberated, person, woman or man, one who is not self-limiting in that way, shows.   

    Now if, as appears to be the case, you currently have a strong preference to engage with others in less confrontational, more bridge-building ways, by all means that is your decision, so go for it and I wish you well.  I think the reference to Obama, which you introduced to make your point, actually is not illuminating in the context of this discussion but distracts from your point because I don't think anyone here is saying they think Obama should never use a bridge-building approach, only that they think there are times when they believe (correctly or not) that a confrontational approach is either necessary or the better bet or should be tried more than it is, by him.  

    The frustration with Obama stems from a perception (correct or incorrect) that he apparently only has one style of leadership in his toolkit, when many of us believe he must at least be able to demonstrate that he can prevail using a confrontational style instead where he chooses to go that route.  This invokes Machiavelli on uses of love vs. fear by politicians--he thought (correctly or not) that if one's erstwhile opponents were fearful of you and what you could do to them you would generally get better results than by trying to obtain their support or acquiescence because they love you or are persuaded by your use of sweet reason or whatever.

    Reagan was effective at times in getting tax cuts because many Democrats in Congress were fearful of getting beaten up in public and made to look really bad in front of their constituents if they opposed him on that. He used this approach early in his presidency and, perhaps because he did so, did not have to use it a great deal after that.  He was feared in a political sense by members of Congress.  Most of the time he chose to (try to--he was hardly always successful, nor was he ever close to universally liked)  kill with kindness, with a sunny disposition that drew support from some unlikely quarters.

    Bill Clinton was initially thought to be only a bridge-builder by Congressional Republicans.  They dealt him one defeat after another.  Until the budget showdowns.  He confronted them, held his ground, got the public on his side, and kicked their asses in the way Margaret Thatcher at times did with her political opponents.  In Clinton's case it made them so crazy, because he had at that point showed himself to be a complete politician, that they went off the cliff and decided to try to do through impeachment what they could not do in the court of public opinion.  (This is the same Republican party that regularly and without embarrassment, castigates liberals and Democrats for seeking victories through litigation that they cannot attain in the court of public opinion.)  

    Obama will continue to be yanked around, and get what many of us believe are unnecessarily poor deals, unless and until he can show himself to be the kind of complete politician Clinton had become after he had been in office for awhile and taken a number of setbacks.  That should serve as a caution for those ready to give up on Obama.  Clinton adapted.  It took a few years, about as long as Obama is now into his presidency.  Will Obama make the adjustments he needs to make?  Or is he, by temperament or inclination or whatever, simply not disposed to do that?  

    If you are making a point that confrontational patterns of interaction are the norm here, and more generally in the blogosphere, well, sure, there is plenty of that.  And there is also here, I observe and experience, a good deal of passionate exchange that is also extremely civil and respectful.

    I don't--I wouldn't dare--presume to deny you how you feel and experience the site.  As one who has tried to encourage greater female participation at the site, with a high comfort level, and sees that as very much a good thing for the site, I experience it as a loss for the site whenever any of the known female denizens, all of whom contribute very well in my view and all of whom I respect, decides to leave.

    You feel the way you feel.  There is no "right" or "wrong" way to feel, emotions aren't like that, are they?  Best wishes to you whatever you do.  I hope we see more rather than less of you around here--you add a valuable and appreciated perspective.

    Respectfully, AD

    Tmc, I think that you raise a very interesting question. I think that it's very difficultl to answer without data, so I don't have a strong opinion about your hypothesis, but it's worth challenging some of your assumptions.

    For one thing, women have been developing much louder political voices in recent years--Palin, Bachmann, H. Clinton, Maulkin, Maddow, Couric, Coulter, to name a few. I don't think that I would characterize most of them as nurturing bridgebuilders, though some are obviously more aggressive than others. Now perhaps they've just learned to play a man's game, but I'm not so sure about that. Sarah Palin, for instance, was far more aggressive and ideological than John McCain, but she was hardly more masculine.

    Second, your idea that women are less bullying than men runs counter to the stereotypes that I hold. For instance, most people I know describe bullying among adolescent girls as worse than among boys, even though it's less physical. Your reference to a  "bully posse" in particular makes me think of a clique of so-called mean girls.

    It would be interesting to compare blogger behavior on a majority-female site like Shakesville. I've never spent much time there, but I wonder if Wolfrum has any thoughts on it. He used to blog there.

    PS Full disclosure, I'm actually a lesbian woman from Damascus.


    Q, you owe me a hundred bucks!

    $100 in Canadian... or funny money? ;-)

    I used them in my blog too, I believe they use very masculine forms of communication, I did use the example some professional politico used was it Carville who said that Hillary should loan the President one of her three balls and while it was exceedingly amusing it illustrates my point perfectly.

    Female politicians in many cases have adopted the language of men to find their Voice, but for most women that never happens. We have steps of finding our Voice that don't include having "fight" or behave in the ways men often behave towards each other or the world around them. I often read Feministe, where this topic is discussed often.

    But lets take Palin, as an example, she certainly uses a more masculine way of communicating with her constituents. The men on the right love her because they think she is tough, but you never hear that they say she is smart, they love that she uses guns and fishes, and that she is just like them, even when talking about other women. I have a private political discussion group, that is comprised of women, but those women do not blog and do not like the combat involved in blogging. This of course is anecdotal. But if you'll note, in the Lis blog, resistence commented on my looks.  Let me gather my list of resources and get publish it here. But starting with Carol Gilligan is a good place to begin. I am sorry if I this doesn't make sense I generally take time to edit my responses but am trying to listen to my husband who is talking about his day at work. :)

    I've read Gilligan and even taught In a Different Voice to college freshmen, though it was a long time ago. I would question her assumptions too, as others have, but I would have to re-read the work.

    But fair enough about Palin's hunting and fishing and tough talk.

    What about female bullying?

    I don't believe females bully any differently than males do, they employ exactly the same tactics on-line and in real life, they use the same sexist terms that men do to deride women, they attack them personally by using the same tactics. I don't like it, I don't excuse them from it, they love to lead that stuff, no doubt about it.

    And I am not saying that women wouldn't bully all things being equal, they do, robustly, as robustly as men do, here I see gender as equal. One of the biggest bullies at DAG is most certainly a woman, you cannot stop people if they don't stop themselves, and if they don't recognize what they are doing.

    I think you make a good point, however, in that our society is much more male oriented it stands to reason that tactics employed to bully people to ridicule them are more oriented towards what I've written, if our society was different, the tactics would be different. a correct assessment. And I do think the younger generation is so much better than we are, and we are so much better than our parents generation.

    I do know this, I am suddenly sick of myself though, that is one thing for sure!

    But I want to make one thing clear, it isn't about the Masthead lacking women, it has two prominent women, that is great, you always had O there from what I know, and I have always thought this was right and progressive, And if I didn't feel somewhat comfortable that I would be heard if I blogged there here, I was, I didn't think things would go completely awry.

    That wouldn't happen elsewhere would it.

    Lis blog, resistence commented on my looks. 

    Is it wrong to compliment someone? 

    You've viciously attacked me in the past, I have tried to put that behind me.

    To do that, I try to look for the good in people, I saw in your pretty smiling photo a disarming attribute and thought; maybe I could find some reason to give a bit of praise to you.  I can't say I enjoy your attacks.

    I really don't dislike you;  we can disagree without being disagreeable

    On some issues Stardust and I are so opposed to each others viewpoints, yet I enjoy her comments. Same as when you and I do agree on some things, but I have avoided giving you praise, for fear you'll just kick my teeth in.

    Jolly once straightened me out, everything on the blog is transitory, today I'll  argue with you and tommorow I love ya.

    We are all of the Dag family ; you're still our Sister. 

    May I say it now?

    "Resistance is futile!"

    There, I feel better. Thanks.

    Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.


    Good answer, Resistance.  I mean that sincerely.

    Ramona, I tried to go back and remove my comment yesterday, before Genghis blocked further comments.

    I sometimes say things in haste and then my conscience bothers me, sometimes I come back too late, to remove or rescind my remarks. 

    I love all the commenters on Dagblog, we need each other or we wouldn't have a community.  


    Unless I missed something, you really have nothing to apologize for, but I think you cleared it up well here.  We all say things we wish we could take back.  It goes with the territory.  It's okay.

    Please don't overgeneralize.

    I sometimes say things I wish others could take back.

    And I wish that others would say things that I could take back.

    And I wish sometimes that others would take back.... others.

    But it's pretty seldom and rare that I say things I wish I could take back.

    Except maybe line #3, I have to think about that one again.

    Agreed.  But I may want you to take back what I just said.  If I take it back myself you'll make fun of me again.  And you won't take it back.  I know you.

    I know me too, but it's nothing - just a passing acquaintance. Should be forgot.

    Take that back.

    No, not that.


    Quit playing with yourself, Quinn.  It's so beneath you.

    Shakesville has changed a lot when I first started contributing. It was there that helped solidify my general dislike of comment threads. Especially on posts I write. I always read the comments and take them to heart, but I tend to go with the theory that "My Comment was the Big one on top." I'm aware it can come off that I'm arrogant or such, but I have done my share of forums. I spent about a year on Politicalforum and it really helped my reasoning skills.

    As for Shakesville now, I don't really know and have no connection to it. I just wish them the best. My time there di raise my awareness on many levels and I grew a great deal there.

    Oh, and an excellent post, T-Mac. It's nice to see some comments trickle in that are showing some self-awareness. I believe a post like yours should encourage personal reflection as opposed to debate.

    Thanks Wolfy, I hope so, I never know.

    I would like to add a point to Tm's blog. Regan was able to bring the GOP into power by tapping into the backlash of civil rights and the feminism movements. Our political discoarse in the media is peppered with degrading feminine language and has been since right wing talk radio gained listeners. It doesn't set good with liberal/progressive women to have to argue a point when that kind of language is being used. It not that we don't like to debate but why debate with someone who uses the syntex of the right wing talkers and put up with the abuse. GOP is at war with women and working hard to remove programs that women need.

    Just food for thought. Something to think about.

    Is this like driving while black or voting while democrat. Both of which are illegal in Mississippi.

    This post feels so 2005.

    We have major blogs by Digby, Jane Hamsher (who recently merged Pam of Pam's House Blend), Marcie Wheeler, and a host of others I've lost track of.

    (One of my favorites, Bitch PhD, closed because well, she's no longer a PhD and post-academia, her bitchiness is no longer enhanced enough to sustain a daily - or "deadly" as I Freudianly wrote at first - blog. The avatar of her daughter giving her the finger is priceless. Can't find the blog that used the sniper kitty avatar.)

    Wonkette has turned back into Ana Marie Cox and is accepted on TV. Michelle Bachman gets 1/10th the sexist comments Hillary or Palin got.

    We have Arianna Huffington and Joan Walsh running major on-line sites. We have Rachel Maddow providing a female cable TV talking head instead us of having to channel The View. Pelosi until January was still Speaker of the House. Hillary got roughly the same number of votes in the Democratic primary as the male candidate. Darcy Burner is running the ProgressiveCongress group.

    At TPM Café there were a ton of women who even started their own (not exclusively female) chat room to get to know everyone.

    And half the world is now on Facebook, including presumably 1 or 2 women in those e-communities having a good time.

    It depresses me that in the middle of concern about sexism you toss in 2 paragraphs on how we treat a male President. Calling someone "spineless" means we're calling them a "pussy"? Nancy Pelosi has a spine - but she also does bridge building, community, compromise - is she being derided by Progressives for those techniques, for being too masculine or for being a "pussy"? [And isn't it a bit sexist to presume community building as a female trait? What was MLK doing? Howard Dean? Van Jones? Matt Stoller? Howie Klein/Down with Tyranny?]

    During the 2008 election, there was an absurd meme going around that Obama would cover women's issues better than Hillary. Certainly that hasn't happened (abortion rights anyone?), but it's more absurd to replace it with a meme of how we treat Obama reflects our inner sexism towards women.

    But while we're fretting about all this, the still very female We Are Stardust is working overtime putting in a load of non-meta heavy hitting posts - my God, she even does research, references & comments!!! - both here and at FireDogLake addressing major issues for progressives. I don't think she's getting more than a few sexist comments if any.

    Perhaps the reason you perceive some kind of recalcitrant female community here is that nobody's writing about shit. Give Wendy a hand, write about a real issue, with real details, with real insight. Can be women's issues, environmental, political, economic, social, whatever - just more than musings from a couch. We need food - we're hungry, and all of this is thin gruel.


    I like Stardust, unless she's coming after me.

    Well junior, behave yourself.


    Zap!  Your mind-pings never fail to amaze, Mr. Decidulicious!  Damn, Johnny could sing some dirty rock and roll; thanks for bringing that.  It's on it's sixth  seventh (loud) play already here.  ;o)

    I liked the Larry Williams version better, but it didn't have Lee Marvin from The Wild One - couldn't pass that up.

    But you might prefer this one.

    Or this.

    Woof! on the Thoroughgood, and I do love 'Bad to the Bone'; and see, even he says it's dirty R & R!  But I'm gonna stay with Lennon in the end, not only themusic, but also Helterfuckingshelter's videos.  By the by, Quinn might like the 'hilarious laughing baby pooping in diaper' one advertised after the Motorcyclist Babies Thoroughgood one, merde seeming to be a theme around these parts lately).  Hadn't imagined a version with sax, I confess.

    Oh dear; are we getting off-topic here?  Can't do that!  (A fave)

    Read that one to Mr. Stardust; he laughed and said, "Me too!"  LOL!


    Thanks, Des; but that first page of posts might not have been my hard-hitting-est, LOL!  Nice of you to notice I'm still very female; some folks tend to miss it, though I even had my hair and nails done for this Walmart portrait last month:


    Woof!  Arf!  Nice list of women chugging through the blogosphere and places of influence able to put up with all comers.  Shoot; I figure if somebody says something sexist, you just call them on it and hope they might reconsider that language.  It's been my experience that men with issues with women aren't always that overt about sneaks into their comments in more subtle ways.

    But yeah; TMcCarthy's little ball of string about Prez/sexism/Hillary's balls/pussy left me scratchin' my head.  Almost like she thought he was a girl...or something because he didn't fight.

    I put up a comment on this thread last night, but it disappeared into the either; didn't think it would have been controvertial.  I mentioned a few questions a female blogger might ask herself before calling out 'the sexist bully possee' here or elsewhere in the blogosphere, most along the lines of 'how do you present yourself by avatar and desription, whose approval do you seek, how do you treat other female bloggers, things like that.  Anyhoo, it's gone.

    When I came to dagblog, I did want to try being genderless to see what differences responses might be to what I wrote.  There were some, actually -- a long story, and in the end not very interesting.  ;o)  And it took forever at the Cafe before some men could take my policy blogs seriously, especiall war and foreign.  Some here still address me as 'dude', which is great. 

    I removed the comment, Stardust, and emailed you to let you know. Please don't whitewash the comment as harmless questions for a generic female blogger. You know well that it was not and could not possibly be interpreted that way. Bruce's reaction above is right on target.

    Microsoft killed my main online account, can't get emails on it.  I'll send you my new (ancient) one.  Yes, I should have said, 'you and other female bloggers'.  I explained why I asked it to Bruce above, and I think the point is exactly germane to the topic as she expressed it in her comments.


    I had to google EICBBS. Is this what you are talking about? That says the system wasn't online until March 1990?

    Not sure why when one started participation online is germane, but OK. Personally, I started in 1982/83-ish (well before the movie War Games) ... counting from when my first Atari BBS went online (I was online a bit before that as a user using 300 baud with stupid suction-cups). Started the BBS when I got a 300 baud modular, then 1200 baud, then two-lines 1200/2400. Gamers, hackers, phreaks, freques, G-Files and lots of silly conversation (Apple vs. Atari flamewars were popular at the time; and c00l was coined to annoy the bajesus out of the olds ... it truly loses something without the slashed zeros, BTW) ... you know, the clan that always seems to sully up an academic fantasy of what online communication should be. The proletariat. We had quite a network of dial-up BBSs and rolling conversations ranging across many topics (and FidoNet). IMO, what we were doing appears far more analagous to the current free-speech-embracing online environment than a regional single-topic SIG such as the one you participated in. You may not have ventured out into the wider online ecosystem in your early online days, but it was there and (im)maturing vibrantly well before you came along. We plebes have always been here.

    Your larger premise misses a very important fact. It seems difficult to ignore that the president's methods are deemed ineffective primarily because the outcomes have sucked. It's not like he's doing a lot of winning here. If he were, nobody would be complaining.

    My sister is a bad-ass in her profession. Achieves her objectives without undue confrontation and is 100% feminine. Bad-assery and womanhood are two completely compatible states. I'm kind of pissed for all of my sisters here. Femininity is not monolithic. There is no one approach that can be characterized as female. This is some bullshit. Obama is not a bad-ass, is not achieving his stated objectives and (most important in context) he is not a female.

    Let's just recap the main premise here. If anyone thinks Obama has governed like a coward and says so. If anyone advocates a more aggressive style to achieve better outcomes.  These things are the equivalent to engaging in a concerted effort to erase women "one more time" from society?

    Holy fucknuts. Why the hell did I waste my time reading this?  Damn. Must have been lulled by your cool N. Idaho biking thread (glad you had good weather, BTW - it's been pretty hit or miss this season :-). But since I spent my time on it ... you get to see what I think about it. Welcome to the internet.

    As for Obama. I no longer think his true objective is to enact pro-working class, reign-in-the-police-state, war-ending type policies. It is nearly impossible to believe he is actually this politically incompetent. I am of the increasing opinion he is basically a grifter. We elected someone schooled in the politics of Rod Blagojevich ... and we got someone with the methodology of Rod Blagojevich. You aren't included in making decisions because you aren't seen as a threat to Obama's power or a member of the mega-wealthy elite. If you are willing to put up the money, it doesn't matter  - you can be as crass and obnoxious as you want and you'll still be ushered right to the head of the table at dinner with Obama lickity-split ... included like crazy. Is that sexist?

    Hi TMC,

    Here's where I went with this. When I "meet" someone over the phone, I inevitably draw a mental picture of the person. The same thing is true on these blogs. When someone's handle is not gender-specific, I fill in the gender (based on the writing) along with other details. And that's what I did with you when I first started reading here.

    (I didn't read you over a tpmcafe, so you're new to me.)

    My mental picture of you was as a young, lean, very environmentally active guy named "Tim." So I was actually surprised when you posted your picture. Not sure what that says about anything, but I guess I "got" that somehow from your writing.

    Sometimes, the picture or avatar overrides what I "know" to be a fact. For example, I experienced a mild shock when I discovered that Bruce does NOT look like Henry Fonda playing Tom Joad. I know what Bruce looks like, but I still "see" him as Tom Joad.

    I used to think that I was pretty accurate with these mental pictures, but after a while discovered that people often do NOT look the way they sound on the phone. Sometimes, they are better in person in an all-around way, sometimes, they are worse.

    Are you accusing me of not resembling Tom Joad?  How 'bout I try the Henry Fonda of On Golden Pond????  Better?

    Someone tell Bruce an imposter has stolen his Dag-dentity.


    You'll ALWAYS be Tom Joad (or Henry Fonda) to me, Bruce-:)

    You do Bruce, and not in any skin deep female sorta manner.



    P.S., I'll be happy to post a linkable/downloadable Tom Joad avatar for you. Anytime.

    Tim, that is amusing, in fact it will make me giggle all day long. The part I like best is that you thought I was young! Woohoo! I try to not weave everything I write with a story from my life Peter, as an academic I've learned not to do that if I want to be taken seriously. I am in computer science, and in that I've learned to compete with men, but I can't help but find a certain amount of sexism in many commenters around here, that is also because of my life experience.

    But when someone specifically comments about my appearance as opposed to what I've actually written, when a commenter finds it necessary to let everyone know I am simply lecturing them, you know like their mother, these are tactics used by our society to silence women and our experience with the world. I don't particularly like those tactics, and being who I am, in general I fight back. However, at times they defeat me as a person, as they do other women. Those type of comments are never leveled at men. Not ever. It is dismissive and a tactic used to silence women.


    young tim :)

    I can't speak to sexism online; I've never thought about it until now.

    But I do think we've probably ALL been treated roughly online. I know I have.

    My first innocent foray into the comments section of The Washington Note resulted in a blistering attack on me. The guy googled my name, came up with some Web site by one "Peter Schwartz" and then started quoting "me" and calling me all kinds of vile names. "Fungus" was one.

    I have to say that I felt I'd been raped or burgled. For no real reason, I felt I'd been violated, lost control of my identity, and quickly, for "protection," assumed an alias. And changed aliases frequently just to keep "them" off the scent while still getting my thoughts out there. Changing alias is, I think, considered troll-like behavior, but who cares? The alias isn't "you" anyway. It's the thinking that counts, not the name.

    Of course, since then I've given as well as got-:) and my goals in participating have changed.

    Anyway, this doesn't speak directly to your point, but it does speak to "rough and tumble" nature of the online world. Maybe this is a function of undue male influence--I don't know. My unscientific SENSE is that women tend to blog the way they dialogue MOSTLY. I guess women can be persistent and insistent on their views, but do it somewhat differently.

    Every once in a while it does not hurt to be reminded that, historically, women were mainly just supposed to sit there and try and look pretty while men did the majority of communicating. It doesn't hurt to be reminded either, that the communication style of the genders are different.  For the most part, men beat their chests and women purr. That's just how human communication developed. Is that sexist? If it is, how difficult is it going to be to change a bazillion years of evolution?

    Electronic communication is genderless. It is a conveyor belt for information. It's only after the info falls off the belt and gets filtered through a man brain or a woman brain that things start getting tricky. So, I'm not too inclined to think there is a problem with women not having an equally strong voice with men on the internets. It's too easy to be sexless and anonymous while communicating on the web to give sexism center stage.

    The bullying thing does get my dander up, though. I don't understand this need to punish a commenter or blogger not once, but multiple times on a single thread, for their thoughts, ideas, and words. Isn't a simple "I disagree because...." enough and then let it go?  Or is concession the real goal there? Harangue the blogger until they scream uncle?  Quinn does this.  Stardust does this.  Des...whatever does this. And others, too, that I can't name now, mainly because when I see this pattern develop on a thread, I skip over it. It has turned into the movie, Big Trouble in Little China on repeat mode and I go looking instead for the next person in line with a more on target comment.

    Some may not see this behavior as bullying. Some do. I'm one that does and I'm not going to worry about if this seems like my being too 'sensitive' to be participating in the blogging realm. My personal standards are what I adhere to with things like this, not the blogosphere's. 
    Time is precious to us all and I have used up a fair amount here so I shall end.

    Perhaps you have not seen 2 particular bloggers come after me time and again, here and at TPM, and even trying to reason with them patiently, it usually turns ugly. You explain yourself 30 times, and they still ignore and twist what you're saying and give you a nasty slur...

    Otherwise, presumably getting your point across doesn't always amount to saying "I don't agree with you", which would leave the world pretty much unchanged. If we just agreed, the place would be pretty boring. If we never convinced, there's be no use in writing.

    My latest on Afghanistan is to make it clear to some forgiving souls that Obama's not just treading water on Afghanistan - he's escalated greatly there as elsewhere, and is only reluctantly backing down if it actually happens. We've been through this with LBJ, and it cost Democrats the '68 election. Ain't that a view worth fighting for - and then taking the next step of protesting somewhere where it makes a difference? Me, I'm horrified that 1 1/2 years before the election, many people are in a "just keep quiet, you can talk in Dec 2012" mode. They think I'm crazy for throwing the far away election to the Republicans. One of us should budge, dontcha think?

    "Perhaps you have not seen 2 particular bloggers come after me time and again, here and at TPM, and even trying to reason with them patiently, it usually turns ugly. You explain yourself 30 times, and they still ignore and twist what you're saying and give you a nasty slur..."

    I know I've personally seen this happen exactly as you describe it here.  Dozens of times.  I don't know how you remain so patient, and so reasonable, never once descending into ad hominem or derision, in the face of such abuse from these Philistines.

    Stoic resolve and good clean Christian living, the way I face all life's tribulations.

    Why don't you just stomp on their foot? It works for me.

    Trust me, if I had clawed feet, I would too.

    Yep, I have seen that actually, Desider...starting at TPM and continuing at dag...from brewmn, if I recall. And, I've seen the same go-round between between brewmn and Quinn and Stardust, too. Honestly, I don't really understand the attraction of that style of argument, but that's my problem, is it not? Mebbe it's a way to keep debating skillz sharp.  Who knows? Not me.

    As for being boring, hearing or reading the point being got across 30 times in a row, delivered by the same method, is boring. Maybe the method is changed up during the debate, but, after the first few exchanges it all sort of glazes over and it's time to move on and any brilliant point that might have been expressed gets left behind.

    Not so strangely, I also find agreeing for agreement's sake to be boring and basically useless. New ideas are not born nor are they hybridized with old ones from a calm pool. Likewise, the same arguments from the same adversaries do not produce new stuff either. It might not be the debate issue that has become boring, but rather the debaters themselves. Familiarity breeding contempt and all that jazz.

    I do truly understand the desire to impress upon others the importance of sound ideas and other things of worth that improve the human condition. I think we all understand that, and perhaps is why we all return for our daily beatings at places like dag.

    But, face it, like I mentioned above, the internet is an ethereal venue and the impact of the verbal confrontations have limits because of that vacuity. A face to face discussion is still the best method. Lacking an opportunity for that, blogs are the next best thing. But, would you spend the same amount of real time trying to convince a person to change their way of thinking? Do you think they might turn and walk away from you at some point?

    What we have on the internets is very much like a captive audience. Lots of people just don't seem to be able to turn away and they become emotionally affected, like it is actually happening in their walking around in it life. That, I think, is where the bullying idea surfaces.  Mirroring that, the "bullies" (for lack of a better term) seem to be addicted as well, to the notion that they have the ability to influence/intimidate readers. It must be a real rush.

    I am probably done with this now. I'm boring myself.

    The Afghanistan debate might be fun for a different day. I can tell you have solid opinions on the subject. Mine are more fluid because foreign policy, war, and economic issues are not areas I've investigated too deeply. I bend in a more societal/natural world direction anyway and that is mostly where my accumulation of knowledge resides. Although...I am horrified as well, that 1 1/2 years before election day we are talking about election day. Jeebus. Give the machine a rest.

    I'm agreeing with you wholeheartedly here, but I'm not agreeing for agreement's sake. ;) You say boring, I say tiresome, but either way every forum I've ever been on has had its share of take-over attemptsr by swarms of nasty commenters.

    It comes and goes, of course, but it's eventually up to the moderators to bring the conversations back in line, creating an atmosphere that's creative, productive and interesting.  I think Q and A do that pretty well here, but the noisemakers can be overwhelming sometimes.  Then boisterous and fun becomes boring and repetitious. 

    And then we find ouselves creating a series of threads like this one in order to talk it out and get it straight.  It goes on like this because, as someone said, we really want to be a community where we all feel welcome.

    Hey Ramona and flowerchild, I'm going to indulge in a rare bit of meta here b/c I think that the issue is a longstanding problem with no easy solution.

    One difficulty is that it's usually presented as a matter of bad behavior--as implied by the term "bullying"--but it's really more of a normative difference. When multiple participants banter on a thread, then it may seem like they're attempting to "take-over" the thread, particularly when the tone is mocking towards others on the thread. While the banter can be irritating or intimidating to some, the people involved are simply enjoying themselves. If people then accuse them of deliberate bullying, they're likely to view the charge as a pretense for enforcing some code of behavior that they don't agree with.

    A second difficulty is that its a numbers game. A few comments are no big deal, but the more comments and the more participants, the intimidating or irritating the banter becomes. A couple of guys talking loudly in a bar is not a problem. Multiply them, and it becomes a frat party.

    But where's the line? How many comments or participants are too many? How are moderators supposed to apply a uniform standard? I don't have the time or energy to tell people when their banter is becoming too intimidating or tedious, nor do I trust myself to fairly adjudicate.

    So I don't really have any solution. My only thought is to simply ask people on the basis of mutual respect and in a way that does not accuse them bad faith to try to pay attention to the fact that aggressive banter, when multiplied in a thread, may be deterring others from participating.

    PS I'd like to let this thread run as long as the discussion remains civil. Folks, please avoid accusations against particular bloggers or getting into what so-and-so once said to so-and-so. That won't get us anywhere.

    I was hoping my comments would come across as objective, because that is how they sounded in my head and how I wanted them to sound in print. Obviously, I failed.

    So, please let me clarify:

    1. I, personally, do not feel bullied here. Or anywhere for that matter.

    2. I do, however, understand how others can get the impression that they are being picked on. Sensitivities vary from person to person. I don't care how many times it is repeated...we are NOT created equal and the ability to perceive anything varies as well.

    3. How do I know the last sentence in #2 is correct? Because I took a cue from an accumulation of info on other threads and assumed naming names was preferred so there would be no inconvenient guessing going on. Apparently I gathered bad information or the rules changed while I wasn't looking. Mea culpa.

    4. I am a big fan of bantering. I engage in it myself from time to time. Hopefully, I do it within the context of the blog post. If I do not, again, mea culpa. (A personal note to Quinn and Stardust...I could not make any connection between Winnie the Pooh quotes and the content of my comment. Therefore, my conclusion was that some kind of ridicule was being wrought. No mea culpa though.)

    @Genghis: Yours is a good comment with thought provoking questions. Really...where IS the line? Who has the wisdom to judge? And maybe there really is no broad based solution to this longstanding problem except respect and responsiblness, two things that seem to be in short supply everywhere.

    All I know is, endless wrangling can suck the joy and vitality out of anything.

    Ok. So, NOW, I'm done. For me, this is a good stopping off place from blogging here. I don't seem to be very good at this type of blog comment since so often my points are misunderstood. Mine was an attempt to smooth the water, not make waves. I am unsure now what went wrong, although my thought is the complication I have in my life of having my feet planted in two different cultures and sometimes they refuse to resonate with each other. Who knows?

    Anyway. It has become too complicated for me to even want to try and untangle it anymore.

    As I mentioned somewhere up above, time is precious and has recently become more so to me and right now, my energies are better used elsewhere. After a 20+ year absence from teaching, last fall I agreed to oversee a project a few cultural-anthro grad students put together as they work towards their piled higher and deeper degrees. It's time to slip back into my grumpy old Indian equah skin and practice giving out the stink eye before we begin. I have a better than average chance of turning them into raging liberals by the time we're done.

    Thanks for all the fish. <literary reference

    Sorry this all got mucked up, Flowerchild. I have a lot of respect for you, and wish for nothing but the best for you.

    The "Pooh" thing was just a reference to a blog of mine which was had just been up, and which you missed I guess, concerning the issue of poo and later, Pooh. It was, in its majestic central sections, aiming to discuss how ideas and attitudes we once accept get turned into "poo," and become rejected. Same way we treat bloggers.

    My brief response here was only because I have been working very hard these past 6 weeks to NOT reply, at all, to a short list of people with whom things always (always) turned ugly. And in the same vein, I had been trying to reply briefly, and if possible, evebn positively, when I felt insulted. In fact, I did find being referenced as a "bully" to be somewhat insulting, and I was attempting to avoid locking horns and making things worse. Obvious - Mission Not Accomplished.

    That said, hope you hang around - and best to you, whatever you do.


    Genghis, I'm going to sign off in a few minutes and sleep on what you've written here.  Because, My God.  This is incredible:

    One difficulty is that it's usually presented as a matter of bad behavior--as implied by the term "bullying"--but it's really more of a normative difference. When multiple participants banter on a thread, then it may seem like they're attempting to "take-over" the thread, particularly when the tone is mocking towards others on the thread. While the banter can be irritating or intimidating to some, the people involved are simply enjoying themselves. If people then accuse them of deliberate bullying, they're likely to view the charge as a pretense for enforcing some code of behavior that they don't agree with.

    I'll come back and see how it hits me tomorrow.

    I guess I've argued this as much as I care to. It saddens me that so many good writers aren't finding this a good place to showcase their writing.

    It bothers me that this same discussion takes place over and over again. It tells me there's really something to it, and that, after so much pleading for understanding, leaving dag is a last resort.

    I also will be truly happy when the dismissive word meta goes out of vogue.

    Meta wasn't always dismissive. When we first started using it at the Cafe, many of us used it enthusiastically and made profound wisecracks about degrees of meta (a post about a meta-post, being a meta-meta-post). We gamely tried to come up with community behavior standards--like it's OK to banter on insubstantial threads but not on serious ones. When that didn't work, people started ordering each other not mess up their threads, which of course didn't work either. The meta posts became repetitive and hostile, frequently devolving into faction-driven shouting matches about who said what to who.

    So that's why Aman and I take such a dim view of meta. We concluded that community self-policing and public discussions about appropriate behavior don't work because the debate just becomes a proxy for the various social conflicts.

    I think that moderator policing has been a lot more effective at tamping down the social conflict. Getting rid of that damned rec system helped too. But it's obviously not perfect. If you have suggestions, let me know, here or offline.

    You know, Genghis, everything here has been said before, over and over.  It'll probably come up again.  But the point is, everyone who writes here wants their work to be respected.  Not necessarily agreed with, but respected.  Effort has been put into the work, and if it's not something someone else is interested in, they don't need to comment. If they disagree with the content, great.  Argue the content and leave the smarts or the mentality of the writer out of it.

    I'm not a sports fan, for example, so I stay away from the posts about sports.  Fine with me that they're here and I don't feel the need to diss anyone who goes all gaga over it.  It's because I respect the people who have an interest in something I don't care a fig about.

    It's all about respect.  That's it.

    Are we maybe losing site of the fact that this community mostly works, and, in my opinion, works better than most?  Honestly, my problem with some, but not all, meta threads is that they leave the impression that some terrible things are happening around here with bullies and slanders and misrepresentations.

    But that's mostly not what's happening.  Now this particular "meta" thread, to the extent that even is meta, strikes me as very valuable.  I know that I need to be reminded, as all writers do, that we should think more about our language choices.  I didn't realize that tmccarthy0 is affected by certain language.  So if that means I have to think a little before resorting to locker room talk then, hey... thinking is good!


    This is very astute. Particularly this:

    A face to face discussion is still the best method. Lacking an opportunity for that, blogs are the next best thing. But, would you spend the same amount of real time trying to convince a person to change their way of thinking? Do you think they might turn and walk away from you at some point?What we have on the internets is like a captive audience. Lots of people just don't seem to be able to turn away and they become emotionally affected, like it is actually happening in their walking around in it life.

    Blogs give you semi-real-time interaction, but with time to think, rethink, and edit what you've just said. They are like having a face to face discussion in which you can say, "Let me think about that last comment for a day or two and let's meet back here and pick up where we left off." They are unique in that way.

    In terms of agreeing, disagreeing, fighting, and running away, I think it's important to know what you want to get out of the interaction. For me right now, it's mostly about learning, figuring out what I think, trying to divide what's true from what isn't the best I can. The common wisdom is that no one changes his mind in a political discussion. I can say that that is definitely not true for me.

    Well... gosh. And Pooh. Also, Oh bother.

    And Tut-tut; it looks like rain!

    Ah, yes.  The mandatory belittling from Quinn and Stardust. So....expected.

    Not belittling, flowerchild; strange that you saw it so.  It's more Winnie the Pooh.

     You know; an A.A. Milne; a literary reference... 

    Flower. When you come on and call somebody a bully, and they respond with a Winnie the Pooh type response... to which you respond that you feel "belittled," then I really do think you need to... go for a walk.

    And have a lovely day.

    Because whatever the hell is happening in life, when a Winnie the Pooh response makes you feel bullied or belittled, then.... ?

    So here's wishing you a good day. 

    Consider the idea that the writer is the one who should adjust when his/her words are not understood, and not the reader.. Unless, of course, he or she is writing for an cliquish audience that "knows the code," that is. Which audience were you shooting for there, an open public forum audience reading this interaction, or your select gang of pals?

    Why gee Anonymous... great to meet you too! 

    Sorry to disappoint you, and I know I'm an ogre, but in fact, my last blog was still up at the time of TMc's blog. And shock and amazement, it concerned - almost in its entirety - poo! There were charts of poo, comparisons of bloggers to poo, a wide selection of poo's for the discerning buyer.

    It wasn't an amazingly popular blog, but 363 readers covers at least some ground here at Dag. Wouldn't say that was just a "gang" or "clique." The poo chat then toppled over onto two further blogs, where we further considered the potential of the Bristol Blogger Chart.

    So what was I shooting for? A "select gang of pals" and my "clique" or.... an "open public forum audience?" Seems to me, that in following-up a post with a reference from the blog I'd just done, which had 363 reads, and to do so within the previous 24 hours, was not, in fact, playing to a clique or a gang, but rather, was assuming that the wider public of Dag readers had, in fact, short-term memories going back at least 24 hours.

    And shocking to think this through... but Flowerchild's own comment referenced events and conversations stretching back many months. Amazing how you assumed peoples' memories would work over that time period.

    One final thing. Given your choice of rather insulting and personal phraseology "("gang?" "clique?") some might suspect that you're at least a little bit familiar with those writing here. Which, if true, would then make your choice to be anonymous while taking this personal shot a rather... less-than-noble... decision.

    Still, far be it from me to describe your action as bullying or bashing or belittling. 

    Rather, I'll leave it open to other readers to judge. But near as I can eye-ball it, you're a Bristol Type 4.

    And I very much doubt that Flowerchild needs assistance from the likes of you. Flowerchild, I respect. Nasty little anonymous types... not so much.

    I prefer klatch, as in coffee. How utterly common to use clique, and I agree the anonymous is beyond chickenshit lame.

    So sorry I didn't see your blog. I used to do official winnie-the-pooh merchandise for Target, (and it sold quite well, thank you) but I did get a bit soured on that stuffed-self-effacing-cute-silly-old-bear. 

    A rare affliction only known by me, some disney artists, and another hack artist from Hallmark.

    Couldn't stand the taste of honey for some time after... but I digress....

    Shorter Bwak: Old Spanish proverb: ...don't let the bastards grind yer balls

    One thing I noticed about Flowers comment, is that she didn't feel the need to use her considerable intelligence and wit to ridicule anyone. 

    Now Quinn, I do enjoy employing it meself. Ya know what my big test is? A quaint old fashioned, even, kinda test. Sincerity, is all. Even if I'm a total jerk and prefer to skewer folks for pomposity, arrogance and whatnot, I prefer, er, keeping it real.

    Now toddle along before you get stuck in that narrow rabbit hole. You're much too big a personage for that smallish comment.


    Hi Bwak! [Edit] Pooh - my new role model. Ha! ;-)



    Hey flower, well said and thank you.

    I know that discrimination exists. Bullying happens. Any intelligent person knows it happens, but even more so does any fool. This blog and the resulting conversation reminds me of an obscure short story by John Irving titled Brennbar's Rant. The narrator of the story is Brennbar's wife who is attending a dinner party with him. Brennbar is bored and is quietly getting drunk. She is in conversation with a person who belongs to some minority who tells her that she just could not possibly understand what it was like to be in his position. He had experienced it and she had not. A women chimes in that what he complained about was just like what a woman experienced. As I recall a Jew tells his story of his particular cross to bear and others join in with their poor-me stories. At some point Brennbar gets fed up and says,"You are all full of shit".
     All attention turns to him and his wife tries to ease the tension and says jokingly that he is from the Midwest. A few joking remarks are made about that but some have a mocking condescension which suggests real bias or snobbery or whatever about the region he was raised in. The wife knows that Brennbar is about to cut loose.
    Brennbar began: The first form of discrimination I encountered is so subtle and pervasive that even to this day no group has been able to organize to protest it, no politician has dared to mention it, no civil liberties case has been taken to the courts. In no major, nor in any minor , city is there even a suitable ghetto where these where these sufferers can support one another. Discrimination against them is so total that they even discriminate against one another; they are ashamed to be what they are, they are ashamed of it when they are alone- and all the more ashamed of it to be seen together."
      "Listen," said the woman sitting next to Brennbar, "if you are talking about homosexuality it is no longer the case-"
      "I'm talking about pimples," Brennbar said, "Acne", he added with a meaningful and hurting glance around the table. "Zits", Brennbar said. The others, those who dared, stared into my husbands deeply cratered faces if they were peeking into a disaster ward in a foreign hospital.

     The rant goes on , Brennbar tells the horrors of growing up scarred and despised by most and pitied by friends and at one point he shouts:

     "Zitism, that's what it is, zitism, and you are all zitists, all of you, I'm sure of it. You couldn't begin to understand how awful...".
    Anyway, I thought it a good story and I thought of it while reading this blog. With my goofy handle I had at TPMC, "LULU Strauss", I occasionally felt compelled to correct someone  on my gender but I only recall one person making a deliberate condescending remark referring to what he thought my gender was. He used the term 'little lady" in a mocking way. I said something to the affect that I understood his mistaking me for a woman and that that was fine, but his calling me a little lady identified him as an asshole. If I remember right, he apologized and the conversation went on. I know that many other times, with the large readership there, others must have made the same assumption as to my gender. I think it is likely that if I was, in fact, a woman and my life experiences or my innate nature had made me very sensitive to women's issues, that I might have seen sexism in many responses to comments I made whether there was sexism there or not. If I was an ethnic minority I might blame every setback on that. As it is, being a white male, I have no excuse ever if I am not chosen first, if I am passed over. I have even had the crap beaten out of me a few times, but that was usually by some prick of a white guy too so I have nothing to complain about. I just do it anyway for practice in case I ever have any reason to think someone was not totally fair to me.

    So do you or don't you have zits?

    Let's stay clear. Did you say Zits?

    Actually I wrote it, but without the capital Z. Guess this is a brand name, not just generic zits. Apologies for all offended. That even goes for you, little laddie.

    T-Mc. Yes, sexism exists even out here. And I hope it gets better. No sense rewriting history though. If you want to change how you blog, or where you blog, then more power to you - I wish you well, and hope it all works out. But hey, when I first ran onto one of your blogs, you were basically mid bar-room brawl, happily wiping the floor with those you regarded as Republican trolls, and taking no prisoners. After that, seems to me I saw you blog a fair number of times where you went after anybody you wanted, however you wanted. Personally, I have to say you threw the hardest insult at me that I've received since I started blogging. All of which is to say, I wish you good luck anyway, whether you blog here or elsewhere or not at all, whether you blog new-style or however you choose. I just don't think we should try to entirely rewrite a brawler's history. Might as well own it, say you've turned over a new leaf, or want to recreate your style, or just have come to enjoy other things. Onward!

    @Genghis, I think you asked several good questions yesterday, and now I will respond to your request for resources, which I have, of course. Language and Gender:

    Tannen, Deborah, You Just Don't Understand: Men and Women in Conversation
    Talbot, Mary, Language and Gender and Introduction
    Jule, Allyson, A Beginners Guide to Language and Gender
    Bettina Baron, Helga Kotthoff, Gender in Interaction: Perspectives on Femininity and Masculinity in Ethnography and Discourse
    Tannen, Deborah: Gender and Conversational Interaction
    Cameron, Deborah, The Myth of Mars and Venus
    Holmes, Janet, Gender Talk at Work, Constructing Gender Identity Through Workplace Discourse
    Mills, Sara, Gender and Politeness
    Gibbon, Margaret, Feminist Perspectives on Language
    Cameron, Deborah, The Feminist Critique of Language, a Reader

    • Daemmrich, Ingrid G. “Paradise and Storytelling: Interconnecting Gender, Motif, and Narrative Structure.” Narrative 11:2 (2003): 213-233
    • Libby, Marion N. and Elizabeth Aries. “Gender Differences in Preschool Children’s Narrative Fantasy.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 13:3 (1989): 293-306
    • McAuliffe, Sheila. “Toward Understanding One Another: Second Graders’ Use of Gendered Language and Story Styles.”  The Reading Teacher 47:4 (1993-94), 302-310
    • Newman, Matthew L "Gender Differences in Language Use: An Analysis of 14,000 Text Samples" Discourse Processes; May/Jun2008, Vol. 45 Issue 3, 211-236
    • Tannen, Deborah. "He Said, She Said." Scientific American Mind 21:2 (2010): 55-59

    I saw what you did there with the mean girls comment! It piqued my Gawker sensibilities. Well played.Certainly they may act like mean girls because of the ease in which they use an  undercurrent of sexism to get their points across and as a tactic to silence their perceived nemesis. In that the larger community ignores such tactics isn't surprising, but it does repel women from stepping into this world, and in that they are not empowered to participate in the same way men are empowered to participate. They make the rules of course, and it seems we are still uanble to significantly change them.

    Now I should catch up on all these comments.

    [Comment edited, explanation below]

    With all those references, it would help if you pointed to *which* male blogger posting *which* comment about your appearance (or was that the comment by a *female* blogger that was deleted).

    I saw a bit of Rihanna's Twitter log the other day - she certainly does not play nice. The last ever post from Bitch PhD's blog was about how another female blogger had gotten radically upset - pages of response - because BPhD had used 2 curse words in an otherwise humorous tongue-in-cheek banter.

    Perhaps there are more ways that women are adapting to the blogosphere than you give them credit for. As I found out quickly when people reviewed me writings, perhaps their impressions were valuable, prehaps despite my explanations & defensiveness some of what I'd written was flawed.


    I have edited Tmac's comment, and I ask that any further discussion about any particular blogger's behavior take place offline.

    A public thread is an excellent place to discuss the general issue of gender relations in the blogosphere. It is a terrible place for accusing specific bloggers of bad behavior, whether explicitly named or not.

    When blogging turns towards personal accusations, it quickly becomes excessively hostile and divisive. That is why I deleted an earlier comment and why I edited the comment above.

    If anyone has problem with a particular blogger's behavior, please contact the admins.

    Well, in a blog on supposedly sexist behavior towards women, and then a supposedly sexist retort about what someone was wearing, I'm left scratching my head going, "uh, okay, like a little detail please?"

    And since some people here seem to believe you can't make comments on what someone wears, even though visual attire is a major way we define our personality, I just feel like I'm stepping into a reality distortion field. If I spend $500 on Goth clothes, or $250 on a good mohawk, or those dreds set me back $300, I hope to hell someone comments.

    Well, how the hell are we supposed to comment on your clothes if you don't even have an avatar? Jeeez.

    See, you go with his # 1 first choice avatar, Missy Sippy; then you read the comment while imagining his Andy Devine vocalization.  Then you comment on his clothes (or mud-covering).  See?  He keeps it simple, except for the second choice, of course.   Innocent

    Once upon a time, Mudmen were the bomb. You'd just lather up in mud covering and wander the moonlit landscape exploring as if an alien intruder seeking out traits and qualities of a new planet. Or as a primitive people just simply trying to understand. Once you've shed the arrogance of pretending to know everything, it's all amazing discovery.

    But if you need a living portrait of me to relate, here's my essence. I assume you'll be sensitive and tasteful in your comments, as I've always been to you.


    You've always been the gentleman, and I've always appreciated it, though I was a little disapppointed you didn't make more of my shiny store teeth (above).  Or notice I'd had the hair around my eyes cut and curled, all the better to see me you.

    I do like your fringed cut-offs; Cameron Diaz is wearing some on the cover of one of the inserts in the Denver Post today, looking fresh as an apple standing in an alfalfa field.  I've gotten simply too chubby to look good in those things.

    But your poor goiter!  Shouldn't you see somebody about that?

    Once you've shed the arrogance of pretending to know everything, it's all amazing discovery.

    (falls over in gleeful howls)

    I have missed you you old such and such. I hope you are well.

     I don't want a future where we our first instinct is to do nothing more than fight.

    Ah, my dear T, we should always be ready to. That does take a bit of training, yes? I have always been a doormat. (Sorry peoples, quit snickering, but) yes I was. Know what toughed me up, a lot? Commenting, blogging, (possibly childbirth, too.)

    Well, what can I say? When I first started commenting at the CSPAN community a long, long, time ago, I proffered the meek opinion that people who did not act in a Christian manner, really ought not refer to themselves as christian. 

    I got attacked by a commenter so vehemently--concerning my morals, my worth, and my appearance--that a moderator showed up. That almost never happened. We're talking CSPAN. I had plenty more fights with that bone-headed, right-wing misogynist poor-excuse-for-a-human, fuck you I got mine, solid bone-brained lout, but I also learned to respect him—on some matters. It broadened me.

    One frequent, yet hated, refrain back in those days was, if ya can't stand the heat, get outta the kitchen. Ironic, isn't it, that we use a term that is somewhat female oriented (kitchen) metaphor to call out wimps.


    Well, the whole thing amuses me, and I needed to be tougher, so it's all good. O brave new world..... and all dat. Good blog, and like everything else about our brave newish modern world,remember, we're evolving. Or something.

    Oh Bwak you are so right. I love your story. How do we build a better online community and by extension a better world, because that is the main point of blogging and commenting, isn't it, building bridges and building a better world, if not for ourselves for those we leave this world to, whether they are our children, grandchildren or just the kids in the neighborhood. I am so glad you stopped by to add your two cents, I do think I should just toughen up again and go for the attack. I am just so tired of that tactic, it doesn't work. It is failing us all around, here and in our daily lives. Yes if I can't stand the heat, I should get out of the kitchen, ugh... I hate that saying because I've spend more time than anyone ever should in the kitchen, and I don't like it there much most of the time either, but when I create something, it isn't a fight there it is pure beauty and everyone loves it, and everyone is happy and getting along in our need to share the meal and the love of the meal. I don't need to be tougher anymore, I've fought those battles far too long, I am so tired of combat as our first instinct, I want to be able to listen and to have others listen. But I might actually be asking too much, I might be demanding things I can only demand of myself. I know, I think about that too. I am so glad you stopped by and contributed. It has meaning for me.

    tmac, fighting doesn't have to be part of blogging. Not at all. You can write what your head and your heart tells you to write and put it out there and be proud of what you've written for as long as it's there to be read. The annoying gnats waiting to tear it apart simply for the sake of tearing it apart aren't worth bothering with. The ones who add to the discussion and bring something new and fresh to it, whether or not they agree with you--they're the ones you're writing for. There are plenty of them in here and out there and they're the reason blogging is most satisfying.

    We learn something new and interesting along the way by using our blog posts as jumping-off points to start conversations. The noisemakers don't need to be tolerated. We wouldn't tolerate them in our own living rooms and there's no reason to tolerate them anywhere else.

    As Flowerchild said so well, all that noisemaking is boring. That's not to say a good debate isn't welcomed. That's the main reason we blog politically. But a good debate doesn't include personal attacks and shit. That's kid stuff. You can choose whether or not to join in, just as you can choose what and where you're going to blog.

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