Male Domination of Discussion, part 2

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KenS

bump

(because who knows)

or you do.

But it may become a parent

that you were wrong:

KenS

.

remind remind's picture

milo204 wrote:
So what can we do to change it?  Perhaps the women in here need to be more candid with calling out and explaining gendered discussion.

This is hilarious, seriously. And here I AM explaining gendered discussion.

You start out stating  "what can we do" and then you immediately shift the responsibility on to the women here, as if your job is now done, as you have told us we need to be more candid in calling out and explaining.

 

Quote:
I can't help but get the feeling from the female posters here that often this kind of thing continues because everyone is keeping quiet about it and just letting it happen.

Then you move along to a good healthy dose of blaming us for its continuance and telling us you believe we just let it happen by our being quiet about.

Quote:
 Instead of when it happens, calling it and engaging the person and explaining how the discussion is male dominated.

Yep, definitely blaming us for it, and dumping your own responsibility in recognizing your own actions upon us to fix.

 

 

___________________________________________________________ "watching the tide roll away"

genstrike

KenS wrote:

And there is still a very limited slice of particpation here. With missing in action, a number of male regulars who dont need illumination to be able to say something.

Okay, so what do I say in this thread?

Being a white male babbler, I can't really comment on the gender dynamics here, which I would be largely oblivious to.  I don't think I've been overtly sexist, treating female babblers any differently than male babblers or anything like that.  I try not to do any of the subtle sexist things in meetings or anything like that, and have on a few occaisions checked with some smart feminist women I know after meetings to see if I'm doing anything wrong or contributing to the patriarchy in any way.  But, I guess writing on forums are a whole different kettle of fish than face to face conversations and meetings.  But, as a male babbler, it's hard to be aware of how the environment affects female babblers in particular.  Not to mention that I think a good portion of male babblers, myself included, would agree that the environment can sometimes be rather shitty in general, so sometimes it might be difficult to distinguish between sexism and the general shitfest that is babble sometimes.  I almost left for good on a few occaisions, once only staying at the encouragement of another babbler (although I'm sure there are some babblers who wouldn't miss me).  That said, I'm not trying to minimize the problem or deny that gender is a part of it if female babblers are pointing out these issues.

My writing style tends to vary depending on my mood, so on a bad day I can be somewhat combative.  And I tend to have a bit of "righteous anger" built up in my posts - I guess it happens when we're talking politics in a world which is so fucked up.

So, what can I do differently?

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

remind wrote:

I wrote:
For gender, in that conversation anyway, Mrs. Cue might be a better judge of such things than I.

Well I don't know about that, all one has to do is think, " did she speak a 1/4 of the time"?  ;)

Mrs. Cue was very able to participate 1/4 of the time, at least, deal with the infant, hand off the infant to Cue, etc, etc, and, frankly, it's a pity she ain't a babbler. heh.

KenS

@ genstrike:

I think it may be hard to perceive that people are pushed away from discussions if you arent fairly regularly in the thick of it. At least as a regular reader that observes who says what.

While I'm familiar with your posting, I wouldn't clasify you as one of the regulars in the type of threads that are chronically snarly.

You and a couple others I can think of- Jacob Richter comes to mind- are examples of people who are somewhere well to the 'lefter' end of the spectrum, but who I dont ever see particpating in the pile-ons that I have characterised as a Babble collective efforts to push 'we [you] must be more radical' ... the accumulation of which is not merely making an argument, but de-legitimizes people/arguments that are not erceived as being sufficiently radical. Point being that pushing is not a product of 'being more left'... The must be more radical schtick is a product of patriarchy, pushed via the 'techniques' of gendered discussion practices.

Notable that the males who post in this thread either agree with the only general direction that has been expressed in these related threads, orare  those like yourself who are understandably puzzled. I don't pretend its straightforward, or that I'm the best at putting out the ideas.

But I know that there are a number who at least get it enough to participate. They choose not to. That doesnt surprise me. But I have to admitt to being surprised by the evidence of complacency that leaks out here and there- and not only in these related threads.

writer writer's picture

I've started a thread about this in the feminism forum for feminist women only, but thought some here might be interested in the piece, too.

[url=http://inciteblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/why-misogynists-make-great-in... Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements[/url]

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

That was a superb piece, writer. Thanks.

writer writer's picture

Thanks, Catchfire.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I can't figure out what this thread is about anymore. Is it about whether or not men dominate discussion? 'Cause for me that's a no brainer. Ditto for whether or not we dominate discussion on babble.

Is it about the ways in which we dominate discussion? In the words of high-Hollywood macho man Marlon Brando, "what have you got?"

There are more male babblers than female babblers. There are more male babblers who post than female babblers. Male babblers post more often than most female babblers. Our posts are longer. We post in a more authoritative manner. We are involved in more personal disputes. We are more likely to troll, to insult, to bait and to attack personally. We are more likely to be right.

Or is this discussion about how we can stop that? Because I don't see a lot of that discussion happening. I see attempts to explain why male babblers dominate discussion, but that answer is a no brainer for me too: we live in a patriarchal society. And there is no fragment of that society that can't be co-opted by itself.

So what's happening here?

Yiwah

I'm not sure it's a no-brainer for everyone, and yes, to me the discussion is trying to get to 'what are we going to do about it'.

However, getting there means we need to know how it's happening.

KenS

That there is a patriarchial society, and that it is reproduced in discussion- in themselves agreement on those don't get us very far.

And as far as I can see, acknowledging that they exist- even fully acknowledging they exist- is perfectly amenable with being complacent about the practice of it you are actually in.

KenS

Catchfire wrote:

I see attempts to explain why male babblers dominate discussion....

Do you know another way to get at how to stop it?

6079_Smith_W

@ Catchfire

Regarding your post #60.

I don't think there is much that CAN be done in an internet forum in terms of hard rules, aside from respecting threads where men are requested to not post. Really it is more a matter of making people - offenders in particular - aware of the dynamic.

The thread is here, after all, but it not like anyone can be forced to post here.

I think the biggest problems that you mention all come down to ego - combatitiveness, nasty behaviour, and the need to weigh in on everything and not listen to others.

Other things - longer posts, and speaking with authority - are a bit of a red herring, in my opinion. I hear what you are saying, but some things cannot and should not be summed up in a sound byte. If someone doesn't want to read a post we have a technological marvel called a scroll button. And the only problem with speaking with authority (as opposed to arrogance, which again, is driven by ego) is that we all should have enough self-confidence to do so... with the very important caveat that we give others' posts the same respect and consideration that we give our own.

writer writer's picture

Sorry, but from my perspective, the voice of authority often speaks over, and/or rephrases and appropriates. It is also often used when no authority exists, nor was it granted. I do see it as a problem.

I resent being told I'd be a better person if I had "more confidence". Again, it's taking a recognized dominating tactic and projecting the problem behaviour on those who are not exercising domination.

remind remind's picture

Excellent observation writer...

6079_Smith_W

@ writer

That's why I made the distinction between arrogance and authority. I am sorry if I didn't explain well enough (edit) - explain my interpretation, that is - because I think they are two separate things. I think of "authority" as self-confidence, "arrogance" as the need to repeat things that have already been said, to only want to hear your own opinion and ignore ideas and people you don't want to hear.

I don't think holding back on honest and helpful opinions does anything to help this problem (except of course to wait and see if someone else who SHOULD be speaking up will do so).

And when I say that people who are intimidated should be more confident,  I don't think I am putting the blame on people who feel shut out. In any case that was not my intention; I hope I have made it pretty clear that the main problem is people who want to hear only their own voices, fight and intimidate and ridicule others, and on the community generally for not educating people about the tendency to dominate discussion.

There are many times (not on this forum specifically) I have just not bothered to speak because I knew what I had to say would not be understood. I think most of us have some understanding of that. And I have seen plenty of people who just don't want to engage in a situation at all because they feel it is pointless.

But it is not just a matter of shutting up arrogant people and making a safe space. Without attaching judgment to it, the fact remains that people who feel intimidated do need know when to speak up, especially because there are some bullies who will not shut up and listen. Do I think it is a good situation? of course not. I think there is a lot we can do to change it, but it will always be there to some degree. If that were not the case we wouldn't need moderators at all.

It's hard to get meaning across online sometimes. Sorry for the misunderstanding

6079_Smith_W

I just realized the right word for the concept I am trying to explain - empowerment.

It's not a dirty concept when women use it. And nor should it be when men do, so long as we acknowledge the oppression that is on the other side of the equation, and don't simply claim that it is just up to women to shout a bit louder.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Confidence is a socially constructed and gendered term. I know all sorts of smart women who are confident yet don't talk like they're the only person in the room.

6079_Smith_W

Catchfire wrote:

Confidence is a socially constructed and gendered term. I know all sorts of smart women who are confident yet don't talk like they're the only person in the room.

Agreed. But again, that is arrogance as opposed to confidence. And the fact is there are sometimes when someone must speak up even if it is a very uncomfortable and unpopular thing to do.

I don't want to take the focus off of those who are actually oppressing discussion. I'll say again I am not trying to blame the victim, but empowerment is part of the solution.

writer writer's picture

Quote:

... the fact remains that people who feel intimidated do need know when to speak up, especially because there are some bullies who will not shut up and listen.

The fact here is that you have made a fairly massive assumption, and framed it as fact. In an authoritative sort of way. Who said we're intimidated? Why go there first? Many other possibilities:

bored

unimpressed

shut off

turned off

annoyed

bored

bored

Women deal with this stuff as a reality in a male-privileged world. Why would we come to a progressive discussion board for more of the same? It's not fun. It's not interesting. It's just the same old shit.

If there is a culture of male domination on this board, is it seen as a problem? If so, what in this culture enables the domination? How is it acknowledged? How is it perpetuated? How can it be challenged constructively? How does that culture shift?

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

writer wrote:
I've started a thread about this in the feminism forum for feminist women only, but thought some here might be interested in the piece, too.

[url=http://inciteblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/why-misogynists-make-great-in... Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements[/url]

The role of men as allies in this struggle is given little attention in this otherwise excellent article. Having mentioned this, I think it's really a critical duty for male activists to take it upon themselves to make themselves into allies on fighting gender violence and misogyny. This takes effort. But such effort is usually rewarded many times over: in a stronger movement, in better relationships, and, as this article points out, in fewer informants.

It sometimes happens that a turning point can be reached simply by such action. A male colleague tells some misogynist joke, you call him on it, and you thereby make it known that you are more likely to do this in the future. This principle applies not just to gender but also to race, etc..

Morris wrote:
Maybe if organizers made collective accountability around gender violence a central part of our practices we could neutralize people who are working on behalf of the state to undermine our struggles.

I think this is mistaken. There will always be such people. Furthermore, the stronger the movement, we can surmise the greater effort made to harm it. Sometimes the best thing to do with such people as informants and provocateurs is to simply work them - under supervision, of course - very hard.

Morris wrote:
I'm not talking about witch hunts; I'm talking about organizing in such a way that we nip a potential Brandon Darby in the bud before he can hurt more people.

Lenin once used the expression, in a very different context, of "Better Fewer, But Better". Perhaps some people aren't "good enough" to belong to a particular progressive/left organization and simply shouldn't be invited in in the first place. The Communists have, AFAIK, practiced/preached this, for example.

Anyway, a good read and for me was a reminder of popular movements, 20 years ago probably, when issues of gender were no longer put on the back burner and played a front and centre role whichever way a progressive person turned. As it should be. The women's movement, perhaps especially in our own country *, still has plenty to teach. That may be the most important lesson of all.

 

* I mention the Canadian Women's Movement because of the rich experience and struggle from that movement. This movement has, for example, infused the labour movement in this country and transformed it quite a bit.

6079_Smith_W

@ writer

No assumption, actually. I know some people feel intimidated because I have felt that myself, and that is really the main situation I can think of in which someone might want to say something but does not.

As for boredom and irritation, I understand that privileged white guys experience that a lot less than others, but I do have a small understanding of it. I didn't mention it because frankly, I don't usually want to go to threads which I find uninteresting, silly, or just a big ego fight.

But I am glad you mention that side of it. (edit) part of the point of a discussion is that we all have something to add, and it is not up to one person to lay everything out to the finest detail.

Again, I think we can try to inform and educate people who railroad discussion, but that dynamic will always exist in an open forum, progressive or not, because there will always be new people, and there will always be people who just don't get it.

Look. I don't think there's too much more I can say on this, but I do want to stress again that it is a tangent from one idea I espressed in response to Catchfire. It is hardly my complete feelings on this issue and I don't want it to be misinterpreted that way.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:
Agreed. But again, that is arrogance as opposed to confidence.

Well, no, I don't agree. You are distinguishing between "good" confidence and "bad" confidence when all of us men contribute to the dynamic which drives women away from the conversation. That's how hegemony works--we're all complict in it. In fact, the distinction you draw (they are arrogant, I am confident) is part and parcel with ideology and hegemony: it provides the veil which allows patriarchy to continue apace.

6079_Smith_W

@ Catchfire

 

I think there is a distinction beyond just being blind to one's own shortcomings. If the confidence to speak one's mind is inherently bad then it seems the only good thing to do is say nothing at all - ever.

(edit) And actually I don't think I made a "them and me" distinction, though I take your point. I know many of us enjoy trumping someone in conversation now and then - myself included.

But really, I think we are just at an impasse on this one point and (realizing that we probably have a different understanding of the word "confidence") I think it best to just agree to disagree. I don't want to derail the broader discussion.

Yiwah

Can I point out that focusing in on semantics rather than broad meaning is incredibly off-putting, and one of the biggest beefs I have with many conversations, particularly with men? 

While I think it is incredibly important to understand how someone is using a word, too often the conversation really becomes about what the use of a particular word says about what someone believes.  In my opinion, we need to give each other the benefit of the doubt a bit more.  It's obvious to me at least that we do not all have a common understanding of the language and terms we use...and at some point we really do just need to take people at face value when they say, "look, I'm sorry, maybe I'm wording it wrong but this is what I'm trying to get across..."

Forcing people to use words in a specifically interpreted way (which may not be how they interpret it) is one way people get  shut down and silenced.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

While this is far to formal for a chat forum I think it contains many of the principles that should guide posters.  Choosing the right language is important and it is a behavior that anyone can teach themselves.

Quote:

Language is a powerful tool for communicating inclusivity or discrimination. Language is not neutral. It is closely tied to the personality of the communicator and the culture and society in which it is used.

Inclusive communication that respects and includes all communities is free from sexist, racist or other discriminatory language. It does not inadvertently exclude groups and it avoids stereotyping, loaded words and patronizing descriptors.

Preferred terms change as language evolves. People’s views differ in terms of values, preferences and practices, and writers should be sensitive to these differences. There are no right answers to the use of some contested words. Where there are conflicting preferences, the terms used in Canadian law are acceptable.

It is important to consult regularly about language. Often different people prefer to be described in different ways. If possible, ask people for their preferred descriptors and honour individual preferences.

 

 

http://communications.uvic.ca/publications/style/section-5.html

milo204

good point yiwah!

Besides all people have different personalities.  Some might very well be arrogant about what they say but that doesn't mean what they say is right/wrong, it just means they're arrogant.  Nor do i think we can blame someone being arrogant for our reluctance to stand up to them.  

Sometimes you need to take a risk and speak out, most of our beliefs carried a death sentence a hundred years ago, but people risked it cause it was necessary.  If we're too "intimidated" to take on someone because we might be ostracized or called names, especially on the internet where it's all anonymous, we're in real trouble. 

 

Yiwah

Hmmm.

 

Kropotkin...I just wanted to clarify that I'm not talking about including derogatory language.  The specific exchange on the meaning of 'confident' was what I was referring to, and other exchanges like it.

 

Milo...that's not exactly what I mean.  Being arrogant in speech isn't in my mind an effective way to communicate, and in fact shuts down communication.  I don't think that the onus should be on those who feel 'intimidated' (or who just don't want to have to deal with it) to 'speak up', and I don't think the fault lies in any reluctance to 'stand up to them'.  Standing up to someone is a traditional 'male' trait, a valued one, an expected one, and part of what this discussion is hoping to overcome as being the 'correct response'.

Which ironically enough is what I think Catchfire was trying to address...the exchange simply made me think of something that I think happens a lot, and seems to be part of dominating discussions, even without people meaning to do so.

writer writer's picture

Quote:

Sometimes you need to take a risk and speak out, most of our beliefs carried a death sentence a hundred years ago, but people risked it cause it was necessary.  If we're too "intimidated" to take on someone because we might be ostracized or called names, especially on the internet where it's all anonymous, we're in real trouble.

... And so we see the buy-in that women are not participating because they are intimidated. And they are the ones who need to change, not the dynamic that excludes them.

Edited to add: What Yiwah said. Yay, Yiwah!

Yiwah

If you want to be heard (by us in power, whose listening is sought and valued) then you need to speak up (using our language and paradigms)!  We certainly won't stoop to speaking 'your way' to be heard by you (you aren't in power, your listening isn't sought).

 

Kind of how I see it playing out, like a constant white noise.

6079_Smith_W

Who ever said that the dynamic of male domination does not need to change? I think I have spent a good part of this thread and the last saying just the opposite. I also asked once already that my comments about confidence and intimidation not be taken out of context and misinterpreted as being my only point.

It doesn't please me to say it, and I certainly don't support that adversarial dynamic, but I see milo204's point  as well as Yiwah's. There will always be situations in which someone will not be among friends and will be faced with the choice of taking a stand or not. I say that as someone who is sympathetic to the idea of having an inclusive space, but the fact is we will always face those situations - in the outside world, and no matter how much people try to make things inclusive, we will continue to face it here too.

But at the risk of getting really repetitive, I will say again that I think it is of much less importance than challenging the root causes of domination.

And I don't know if others want to hash this secondary point out further, but I was done a few posts ago, and frankly, I regret bringing it up for discussion in the first place.

KenS

...psst...

 

Don't tell Shrek, but Donkey's right.

Really, its more like par-fait.

ennir

Yiwah wrote:

If you want to be heard (by us in power, whose listening is sought and valued) then you need to speak up (using our language and paradigms)!  We certainly won't stoop to speaking 'your way' to be heard by you (you aren't in power, your listening isn't sought).

 

Kind of how I see it playing out, like a constant white noise.

How elegantly you have captured that dynamic, thank you Yiwah.

I have been reading along, wondering whether I had anything to contribute. 

Perhaps it will not seem pertinent but I keep thinking about the Tony P. fan club that I and three other women created nearly thirty years ago.  Tony P. was married to a good friend of ours, still is, and he was such a joy to spend time with that we decided we to honour him, thus the fan club, periodically we would get all dolled up and take Tony P. out on the town.  We bought him cigars and chocolates and wine and generally had a blast.  We adored Tony P. because Tony P. liked and  loved women.

I think I have met only a few men in my life that genuinely like and love women, men who are at ease with themselves in such a way that the other, the female, is not seen as a threat but as a companion.  Once this mattered to me but these days I find I am just not so interested in whether men understand the ways in which their need to dominate exclude the possiblity of communication.

 

Bubbles

Does it realy help communication to create these stereo types? Why not analize a few randomely selected discussions from the past and see if there is any truth to these alagations?

al-Qa'bong

I can discern a pattern only from the females I know, but I'd say that males dominate internet discussions because women are too hard-headed and practical to bother with wasting their time arguing with strangers on the interwebs.

KenS

                 Shrek's Onion of Male Discussion Domination

"Like ogres, male domination has layers."

[no Donkey, not like parfait.]

 

The Outer Layer    =   Blatant sexist language.

The Inner Layer    =   Overwhelming with quantity... men swarming like ants, sheer volume of male chatter, etcetera.

Layer of The Mysterious Inner Sanctum    =    Overwhelming with "quality". We certainly know what qualities make for the best kind of argument. Even more: the best endpoint. Nay, the only endpoint that counts. Naturally, so as well is it for the revolution.

KenS

Bubbles wrote:

Does it realy help communication to create these stereo types? Why not analize a few randomely selected discussions from the past and see if there is any truth to these alagations?

Let alone some randomly selected threads to study- take ones that everyone agrees had discussions that were nasty and offputting. Start analyzing. And when you say that and that were developing, facilitating, or encouraging dominant male discussion climate.... absloutley guaranteed that it will be thoroughly contested. It'll just be an endless snarl over what was really going on. Or it will just halt.

Same even if you don't call it gendered discussion behaviour [which heightens peoples defensiveness]. And I'm not just predicting that- though it is reliably predictable- I've done it. Its hard work, and thats the result.

Look at the most inner layer of the Onion in post 83. Looking at it and thinking about it shows us that its a phenomena we can expect it is not going to be easy to pinpoint "where" it is happening the most.

Add to that discussants- disputants really, because their disputing is guaranteed- who have an interest in not seeing that it is happening, and an interest in denying it and calling it a natural outcome of debate.... and no wonder that you cant have a critical examination.

Let alone that a big part of the reason for the bad climate running from thread to thread is that those very disputants are experts in the particular hardball tactic of ragging a point. They usually do it from the 'high ground' that they have established and keep. But in a defensive situation like their position disputing what is going on in a discussion- that is inherntly nebulous, so ragging the point will work as well as the norm when they have the high ground they have established in discussion flow.

[And note yhat when their position would be low ground- they aren't around. Thats for other people. And them to put and keep people there. For example, they are not to be seen in these discussions.]

====================

So thats why 'proving' the 'allegations' can never get anywhere.

But there is a prior essential point.

On a progressive board least of all, shouldnt a persistent pattern of people talking about how dominating and offputting it is be enough for an acknowledgement there is a problem?

Edited to Add: and there is the evidence we have of people leaving these discussions for good- leaving men and a few women both skilled in discussion and tough enough to stick out the climate that over time pervades those type of threads.

Yiwah

Bubbles wrote:

Does it realy help communication to create these stereo types? Why not analize a few randomely selected discussions from the past and see if there is any truth to these alagations?

Are you asking us to prove to you what we already know to be true, having experienced it in so many facets of our lives?

If you are unaware of it, the digging should be done by you...it probably won't convince you to have us lay it out for you, and asking us to do so is a little much.

A person gets tired now and again, of convincing those unaffected by (or benefiting from) a problem that there even IS a problem.

Yiwah

al-Qa'bong wrote:

I can discern a pattern only from the females I know, but I'd say that males dominate internet discussions because women are too hard-headed and practical to bother with wasting their time arguing with strangers on the interwebs.

And Asians are good at math, and black people are very athletic.

So called 'positive' stereotypes are damaging too.

KenS

And the effect in this thread of that stereotype is to implicitly, yet very substantially, make the Babble discussion dynamic into something natural.

The other main notion doing that being that the dynamic is rooted in the passion of politics and/or because collectively we are under seige, etc.

writer writer's picture

N.Beltov, just wanted to thank you for that response.

Bubbles

Yiwah wrote:

Bubbles wrote:

Does it realy help communication to create these stereo types? Why not analize a few randomely selected discussions from the past and see if there is any truth to these alagations?

Are you asking us to prove to you what we already know to be true, having experienced it in so many facets of our lives?

If you are unaware of it, the digging should be done by you...it probably won't convince you to have us lay it out for you, and asking us to do so is a little much.

A person gets tired now and again, of convincing those unaffected by (or benefiting from) a problem that there even IS a problem.

 

Yiwah,

Kens was trying to get a responce from some of the males on the board here, I was attempting to show a possible backdoor towards that objective.

To me it is not at all clear that males tend to dominate the discussion, out of proportion to their numbers, here on babble, but then I only read a fraction of what is posted here and do not asume to know who is male or female. I agree with al-Qa,bong, in that it is my observation also, that few women like to partake in discussions on the net. Not sure why.

KenS

To clarify Bubbles, I'm not just trying to get a response from males.

I'm making a statement about, and particularly trying unsuccessfully to engage male regulars who are the drivers of the discussions about politics that are the most persistently toxic around here.

Its a good thing at lest some males engage, or we'd have even less of a discussion.

KenS

Both Yiwah and I addressed the points you and AlQ made. You read them, and then just simply repeated the same thing you said before.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Strangely enough I have on many occasions on this board presumed that an assertive poster was a male and it turned out I was wrong. [yes I know that says a lot about my mindset]  If we did not self identify our gender I am sure none of us could rightly identify the gender by anonymous posters 100% of the time. I wonder in the context of this discussion whether others have presumed gender from posts and been wrong. 

In real life the gender of the person you are talking to is more often than not observable and thus I believe we all read in our own gender biases to those conversations. For instance Yiwah I thought you were a male at first until you said otherwise in a post so if you thought people at first were reacting to you because of gender then that is not necesarily the case.  

It leads me to the question of how or why should I post in someone else's voice.  I am who I am and I have my own background and culture that is unique to me so my experience is never going to be the same as others here.  In person I have a loud voice (partially cultural and partially deafness) and telling me to speak in a soft voice is the same as me telling a Cree man to speak more assertively.  To each his own.  It is about respect for the others voice.  As long as there is space for all types of people to communicate then that is the important part not that we all have to communicate in some "preferred" way.  It is not whether I have a loud voice but rather whether I am actively and respectfully listening when I am not speaking. Conversations are two sided lectures are one sided.

In the context of this forum I think that many times we all end up typing min-lectures about the issues that mean the most to us.  Mini-lectures are not helpful when typed just as they are not helpful in person.  

Yiwah

(I detest the wonky formatting I can't escape)

In the online context, I am not assuming people know I am female and thus are reacting to me as a female.  Instead, I believe that the discussions themselves are conducted in a gendered manner, with traditionally ‘male’ methods of discussion overpowering other forms of communication.  I also believe that there is a particular cultural paradigm within which these conversations happen which in fact are NOT inclusive of other cultural methods of having discussions.  

So while I agree that space needs to be made for a plurality of voices, I do not believe that is a possibility when the current form of discussion is skewed in favour of one gender, and one culture.  What I mean is, there can be no ‘change from the inside’ in the sense of simply speaking the way you speak as an outsider to the majority paradigm, because the majority paradigm does not value other ways of speaking.

skdadl

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I wonder in the context of this discussion whether others have presumed gender from posts and been wrong. 

Oh, yes. That happens to me every once in a while. As a for example, I thought for some weeks that 6079_Smith was a gril. I think I thought that, even though I know who Winston Smith is, because every time we ended up in a discussion together, Smith and I were in agreement. I have this habit of thinking that anyone who agrees with me is a gril, except for Tommy_P and al-Q. ;)

kropotkin, in an ideal world I would mostly agree with you, but it is observably true that there are fewer women piping up regularly on babble than there are men, and the women (like me) who do pipe up are notable for their verbal assertiveness. Please note: to me, verbal assertiveness signifies nothing more than that one is verbally assertive. It's a curiosity, neutral until put in individual context. In my case, I just like to type a lot. I get nervous if I can't type.

I agree with you that process discussions are kind of frustrating. Me, anyway, I can do them for a bit but then they start to make me dizzy because, it seems to me, when people are talking entirely in the abstract, they start to switch positions. But the basic statistic is still there, as both fact and abstraction: there are notably fewer women babblers than there are men, and all the women are fabulous.

 

 

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Bubbles wrote:

 I agree with al-Qa,bong, in that it is my observation also, that few women like to partake in discussions on the net. Not sure why.

I'm not sure how much truth there is to that...welll your observations might be truthful but you have to take into consideration how you've been doing the observing.

Some of the first digital communities I belonged to where poetry focused and thinking back on it I remember more female participation. I've was also heavily involved in a arts-based community that used network technology extensively for communication and women had a very strong if not stronger presence in those discussions though I don't believe they outnumbered the men.  I also joined livejournal at the invitation of a female friend some years ago and though some men and woman within my circle of friends have used it less than other men and woman it is by far the woman in my circle who've managed to get a higher level of discussion going in their journals.  I also keep reading how 'stay at home moms' are this huge online market to be catered to and a site like yougrowgirl.com though it doesn't list gender in their user profiles seems to be to have an obvious strong bias in it's user base demongraphic.  I taugh in a highschool where skyblog was all the rage. Both the boys and the girls were making accounts but the girls generally seemed to be the more prolific posters.

How about the actual design of rabble?  layout, features available in the text editor(which help dictate they type of conversations we can have)?, flat vs. heirarchical threading, the available options for following discussions/connecting to other members, is there anything in the architexture of the sire itself that migth be gender biased?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

skdadl wrote:

[But the basic statistic is still there, as both fact and abstraction: there are notably fewer women babblers than there are men, and all the women are fabulous.

I agree completely with those two statements of fact.  

My partner has an account but she neither has the time or the general inclination to participate. If she posted she would also be fabulous because she is a seasoned activist and trade unionist with an articulate voice.  But her tone sometimes might be as strident as mine because somethings are supposed to make you angry.  If nothing gets your blood boiling about our society then you can join the conservatives and start hanging out at the right downtown bars trying to make friends.  

While psychology is not my strong suit I believe that reading political opinions on line can trigger a type of flight or fight dynamic.  We never hear from the ones who run.

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