Male Domination of Discussion

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Caissa

The male domination of this thread is underwhelming.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

remind wrote:

as far as i am concerned, women who support corporate tyranny, and police brutality, are bolstering patriarchy, and I said nothing at all about "diversity of tactics", actually, so do stop putting words in my mouth.

I don't think Sineed meant to, remind.

I wonder though, if you fight corporate tyrranny in all its dick-swingingness with your own dick-swinging tactics, are you doing anything about patrairchy at all?  Or are you just generating more fear, which the most vulnerable are going to feel more than those in the position of power?

For example, bust up the bank branch in my neighborhood, you're going to cause me, your potential ally, much more anxiety than the fat cat at the top of the food chain.  How does that help?

remind remind's picture

So...you try to continue on putting words in where they were not expressed by me?

 

Please do reference where i gave any commentary at all about what you are trying to infer i did...other than that got not much to say to people who are quite obviously non-allies, on any front.

Sven Sven's picture

When men are viewed as dominating a discussion, what inhibits women from participating in that same discussion?

Sineed

Sven wrote:

When men are viewed as dominating a discussion, what inhibits women from participating in that same discussion?

The problem I have run into over and over, and not just on babble, is trying to participate in a discussion, and the men simply ignoring my posts, talking around me as if I weren't there.  True, it's entirely possible that I'm not making any salient points, but on some occasions male posters have repeated what I've already said, and the guys start responding to these ideas as if they were being stated for the 1st time.

Have women noticed other things?

KenS

KenS wrote:

Just as it was in the sixties when you couldnt escape it, thats done by women here too. But its gendered behaviour, and it is done more by men... and more beyond even that there are a lot more men here.

Correcting myself here.

Gendered domination of a discussion is not primarily a matter of what specific individuals do- be they male or female. Its not even primarily specific discrete discussion practices that are the determining problem... even the most obvious and 'macho' ones. Though those certainly do up the ante.

Gendered domination of a discussion is a consistent pattern- one that is rooted in male domination of "what matters". So getting back to what Ayala was talking about, its the agrresive MUST... we must be more radical, we must be the most progressive, etc.

And while of course that carries on in the form of a discussion.... its a very loaded discussion. One where those less radical are almost always on the defensive.

Or just slide away.

KenS

And outrage. The more the better. Directed at allies who dont cut the mustard, as well as at the acknowledged targets.

But what makes it tricky to see is that there is that passion, which we must have, is on a continuum with outrage.

Just like arguing a point is on the same continuum as dominating a discussion.

In arguing a point you say the same things as you say when you are part of initiating or perpetuating in the domination of a discussion. But the situation of the two in the discussion is different- and most of us behave in a way that shows we do know the difference, even if we are not acknowledging or recognizing it.

skdadl

Sineed wrote:

The problem I have run into over and over, and not just on babble, is trying to participate in a discussion, and the men simply ignoring my posts, talking around me as if I weren't there.  True, it's entirely possible that I'm not making any salient points, but on some occasions male posters have repeated what I've already said, and the guys start responding to these ideas as if they were being stated for the 1st time.

The chopped-liver syndrome. Heh. I run into that too, online and in real life. As an older woman, I run into it more and more in real life -- it's as though older people are invisible sometimes, even in 3D -- very odd experience, I tells ya.

I think that piping up on babble takes a fairly high degree of confidence in one's ability to argue (I don't mean fight; I mean present a case) in words, not necessarily in person but just by typing. That would be true for both men and women, but I think it's observable that many more men than women have that confidence. I'm not saying that it takes a "strong" woman to speak on babble because I think strength comes in a lot of forms, and being confident and skilled in debating is only one. But observably, women are in a minority on babble, and the ones who are here are verbally gutsy -- because they really have to be to write a single sentence to this board and push "POST."

A lot of people who steer away from contention and abrasiveness do so just because they can't be bothered after a while. I'm sure that's true of a fair number of men who enjoyed babble for a time but then began to tire of the mulberries. I suspect, though, that a higher proportion of women will stop and ask, "Why do I need that grief?" Things can get very abrasive here; people do sometimes hector; and you have to have a tough skin, at least as a reader and writer, to take part in discussions like that. A lot of people just don't see why they should.

And then some people really are shy. Maybe strong irl, maybe smart irl, but just not ready to be humiliated in public. And people do get humiliated here sometimes.

I'm not saying that babble should cease to be a place for people to try to think politically as rigorously as they -- we -- can. But the friction levels are relatively high, I would say, and that's why the contingent of women is relatively small. I don't know why the friction levels are high. We live in bad times? The political way forward is not clear?

 

LicoriceLawrence

 


Sineed wrote:

...on some occasions male posters have repeated what I've already said, and the guys start responding to these ideas as if they were being stated for the 1st time...

I've lurked on Rabble/Babble for years and never bothered to join because there are just too many people pontificating and not reading....

BTW - I finally joined because that exact sentence in the quote - Brilliant articulation of what I feel/observe.

 

skdadl

Hey -- hi, LicoriceLawrence, and welcome.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

remind wrote:

So...you try to continue on putting words in where they were not expressed by me?

 

Please do reference where i gave any commentary at all about what you are trying to infer i did...other than that got not much to say to people who are quite obviously non-allies, on any front.

Uh, no...  The exchange just brought a question to mind.  It's not all about you, you know. 

My question was more generated by the defense of vandalism as a tactic and the denial that it's a male-typical sort of reaction.  Additionally, that it's a useful action.

KenS

skdadl wrote:

But the friction levels are relatively high, I would say, and that's why the contingent of women is relatively small. I don't know why the friction levels are high. We live in bad times? The political way forward is not clear?

But if it was just friction level, why is it that people who are 'less radical'- be that in the frame of a particular discussion or generally across discussions- why is it these people are typically on the defensive? Having to justify their validity. Relegated to the low ground of the discussion.

If it was just friction over finding the way forward, no one would be typicaly in the role of having to defend the validity of their position.... not just whether they have the better position, but whether they have a valid position at all.

Just coincidence that mostly runs one way?

writer writer's picture

KenS, having recently been at the blunt end of your (misplaced) wrath, I will challenge you on that one. We often feel the stones thrown at us so acutely, while minimizing the rocks we've pitched ... and that are nestled within the palms of our own hands.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

writer wrote:
We often feel the stones thrown at us so acutely, while minimizing the rocks we've pitched ... and that are nestled within the palms of our own hands.

=why we are lucky to have writer in our midst.

Fidel

We need to fight for and win advanced democracy in order that more women participate where it counts for something in the halls of power. At that point, no longer will it be men only who write the laws which govern the lives of women and their children.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Hold on a sec, writer, I think KenS has a very good point.  I've made remarks about failing the "purity test" several times in recent months, and it seems, as someone coming from a more moderate position. that it's fair ball to insult, impugn, and generally malign any poster who doesn't identify him or herself as more radical, or who simply questions more radical positions. 

As skdadl points out, babble has always been a board where there is a certain amount of friction and I accept that.  I don't think it's a male vs female thing.  I've gotten the chopped liver treatment in the past, but I've gotten it as much from other women in the feminist forum as from men elsewhere on the board.

writer writer's picture

Hold on, Timebandit, I believe I have a good point, too. I see KenS ascribing all sorts of behaviour to others, some of which I only recently experienced at the typing hands of the man himself. I believe in calling folks on this kind of stuff.

I will also gently note that there was only a brief time when babble was not overwhelmingly male dominated, so there is not much of a control to compare to.

Sven Sven's picture

From what Sineed and Skdadl have said, this communication issue is not limited to message boards (no surprise there).

So, let me ask this: Is this a matter of men communicating with women differently than how men communicated with other men or do men generally communicate with men and women in the same manner but women don't communicate the way men do?

KenS

I dont think its just the pressure to be radical- or be piled on and what not.

Its also the pressure to be articulate- or to be unusually confident in yourself even if you know you aren't as articulate as those other people.

And there's more- more things that if you arent you're going to sink here, if not get outright pushed. As has been said already- who needs that? And least of all women.

Expressing oneself well is good. Its good for everyone in the discussion.

Arguing your point about what needs to be done- this is what a board like this is for. Thats a good thing. And the discussion is by nature going to get aggressive some of the time. If it isnt all the time, aggressive is fine. even so is occassionaly casting stones.

But when you must be radical enough, or you will be piled on. And when you must be articulate as a minumum to be heard or to feel that its safe to enter the arena... those are sure signs of a gendered discussion frame. And where thats true you'll find men giving free reign to behaviour that fosters and builds that male domination.

KenS

And for all that the behaviours of female posters contributes to the problem, there are some things that I never see female babblers do.

I see women being really aggressive- in ways that can't be helpful. But with some recent exceptions, in the feminist forum ironically, I don't see any of the female regulars who frequently misrepresent the words of others.

[If you think I'm wrong about that, send me a PM rather than start a food fight here.]

Misrepresenting the words of others is just a particularly egregious form of a class of discussion tactics for fencing people in.

 

KenS

writer wrote:

Hold on, Timebandit, I believe I have a good point, too. I see KenS ascribing all sorts of behaviour to others, some of which I only recently experienced at the typing hands of the man himself. I believe in calling folks on this kind of stuff.

I agree that seem to have a point. But I'm not sure what it is.

I think what you saw me being is testy and aggressive. Disagree if you think different. But I wasnt talking about people being testy and aggressive. I don't think the problem is friction that comes from people being just being aggressive. Remind is one of the most aggressive people I know of anywhere, and I've often enough been the butt of her pointiness. But I can shed that like I cant shed being fenced and pushed into a corner.

remind remind's picture

2 points at kens's post # 72

 

1. How can you be at the "butt" end of "pointiness"? ;)

2. Most men think assertive women are aggressive. Why? Because they simply are not used to women asserting themself in any given space, either here, or in real life, and I quite frankly refuse to not assert myself, especially when you simply try to swamp the conversation with 4 or 5 posts in a row arguing minute  details that simply are not relevant to anything, and if you call that aggression, so be it, but you are in error. Also know you are not alone, most men feel assertive women are aggressive.

 

Tmebandit, you were responding to me, so I took it in that context. If you meant it broader then you should have stated a larger context.

Also, your  carrying on about your being told you are not being pure enough, excuse me, but really I am going to be blunt and ask you; just where YOU think you are an aligned ally at with those at babble?

...cause I have looked and looked for it, and I can't find one example of you being an activist, or 'stating anything progressive' about anything here. Nadda zip ziltch.

 

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Sven wrote:
So, let me ask this: Is this a matter of men communicating with women differently than how men communicated with other men or do men generally communicate with men and women in the same manner but women don't communicate the way men do?

It starts with the fact that men in our society are socially conditioned to believe that their voices matter more than women. The fact that we, as a culture, claim to value both genders equally through documents like the Bill of Rights, the Charter, political soapboxes, etc (leaving aside that "both" in this sentence is problematic in itself), does nothing to affect the social fact that when authority speaks, it comes from a man. This social conditioning issues from all points of our society--from facile facts like how male politicians outnumber female and how professors, scientists and other "important" vocations are more likely to be filled by men to a myriad of quieter, more subtle ways. The Beshdel Test thread I opened recently is an example of those.

My partner told me an anecdote which makes this point quite elegantly. On the last day of clas in a University feminism course she took, the professor asked all the students in the class to put up their hand if they had contributed regularly to class discussion, like asked questions or made comments once every couple of weeks or so. About fifteen people in a lecture of 150 put up their hand, and about ten of them were men. There were only twelve men enrolled in the entire class! See, said the professor. We still have work to do.

babble comes from a place that acknowledges this basic tenet of feminism and hopes to challenge it, in whatever ways, however small, at all times. So when we talk about male domination of discussion, it's not about pillorying rabble for being anti-feminist, it's about asking the question: Why, even here, where we know, acknowledge and claim to understand this problem, can we not make a space where women posters feel valued, safe and equal?

Can you begin to understand the frustration now?

KenS

Maybe you are right writer about my stones. But I don't think that changes what I'm saying, or I need to have it explained how.

I wouldnt except myself from doing it to. Least of all when I have at times felt very frustrated here. Frustration doesn't tend to make you work well. Which is why I backed off particpating in any of the discussions I've typically been involved in. Casting stones at you was the last straw in losing my perspective. People who are under seige tend to see attacks, not all of which are there.

And even if people get nasty, isn't there something to look at just in the fact they feel they are always on the defensive? I know I'm not the only one. And it doesn't happen to me anywhere else in my life. In one organization I'm in I'm just as often as here in the minority position about what needs to be done. But its all very matter of fact.

Those are all valid points in their own right. But my talking about the "MUST be radical" hammering is only part of the Babble schtick. [At best, only part of it.] And maybe part of your reaction is my talking about it [so far] as if this is THE problem. 

Maysie Maysie's picture

remind wrote:
 Also, your  carrying on about your being told you are not being pure enough, excuse me, but really I am going to be blunt and ask you; just where YOU think you are an aligned ally at with those at babble?

...cause I have looked and looked for it, and I can't find one example of you being an activist, or 'stating anything progressive' about anything here. Nadda zip ziltch.

remind, this is bordering on a personal attack of Timebandit, and it's not okay. Please dial it down.

remind remind's picture

Its not but....

Sealed

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

remind wrote:

Tmebandit, you were responding to me, so I took it in that context. If you meant it broader then you should have stated a larger context.

Also, your  carrying on about your being told you are not being pure enough, excuse me, but really I am going to be blunt and ask you; just where YOU think you are an aligned ally at with those at babble?

...cause I have looked and looked for it, and I can't find one example of you being an activist, or 'stating anything progressive' about anything here. Nadda zip ziltch.

I possibly should have been clearer.  Your exchange sparked a thought that kind of coalesced some other aspects of the thread.  No need to get exercised about it.

Now.  I did not carry on about anything of the sort.  KenS pointed out a pattern and I think he has a good point - and I'd like to thank you for illustrating it so well.

You see, you're subjecting me to a progressive litmus test.  I could respond with my lefty resume, causes I've worked toward, organizations I've belonged to, dig up posts I've made (lots over 9 years!) to prove that you're wrong and that I am, indeed, worth my progressive salt.  I could defend where I'm aligned and all that.  You've already deemed me not pure enough and asked me to prove that I am or slink away in shame.

But what I would be doing if I complied with your request is just what KenS talked about.  I'd be going on the defensive and kowtowing to your vision of what a progressive is and giving you the power to tell me who and what I am and whether I am worthy. 

I don't call myself an activist.  So what?  Where in babble policy does it say I have to be one to participate on this board?  And who appointed you arbiter and gatekeeper?  I'd like to point out that if Maysie or Catchfire made the same request, I'd probably treat it differently, but so far as I know, remind, you and I are equals on this board and I have nothing I need to prove to you.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

writer wrote:

Hold on, Timebandit, I believe I have a good point, too. I see KenS ascribing all sorts of behaviour to others, some of which I only recently experienced at the typing hands of the man himself. I believe in calling folks on this kind of stuff.

I will also gently note that there was only a brief time when babble was not overwhelmingly male dominated, so there is not much of a control to compare to.

I didn't mean to imply that you didn't.  I'm a little tired today - I've been in writing mode this week and frankly, my brain is mush on nearly everything but robots.  Yeah, robots.  I know.  Macho stuff.

The thing is, I think we've all had a stone or two in our hands at one time or another.  I'll certainly cop to it. 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Timebandit wrote:

remind wrote:

Tmebandit, you were responding to me, so I took it in that context. If you meant it broader then you should have stated a larger context.

Also, your  carrying on about your being told you are not being pure enough, excuse me, but really I am going to be blunt and ask you; just where YOU think you are an aligned ally at with those at babble?

...cause I have looked and looked for it, and I can't find one example of you being an activist, or 'stating anything progressive' about anything here. Nadda zip ziltch.

I possibly should have been clearer.  Your exchange sparked a thought that kind of coalesced some other aspects of the thread.  No need to get exercised about it.

Now.  I did not carry on about anything of the sort.  KenS pointed out a pattern and I think he has a good point - and I'd like to thank you for illustrating it so well.

You see, you're subjecting me to a progressive litmus test.  I could respond with my lefty resume, causes I've worked toward, organizations I've belonged to, dig up posts I've made (lots over 9 years!) to prove that you're wrong and that I am, indeed, worth my progressive salt.  I could defend where I'm aligned and all that.  You've already deemed me not pure enough and asked me to prove that I am or slink away in shame.

But what I would be doing if I complied with your request is just what KenS talked about.  I'd be going on the defensive and kowtowing to your vision of what a progressive is and giving you the power to tell me who and what I am and whether I am worthy. 

I don't call myself an activist.  So what?  Where in babble policy does it say I have to be one to participate on this board?  And who appointed you arbiter and gatekeeper?  I'd like to point out that if Maysie or Catchfire made the same request, I'd probably treat it differently, but so far as I know, remind, you and I are equals on this board and I have nothing I need to prove to you.

 

So, in summary, you got nothing, eh?

KenS

People being on the defensive over whether they are progressive enough for this place is not the problem. Its symptomatic of the problem.

The larger problem is chest thumping performance demands that are a product and expression of genered discussion practices, and all the 'psycho-cultural' trappings that surround the discussions. That of course isn't the intention. "Just expressing a point."

Personally, I think one way that women fall into it too is not only that its the norm.... but also because its unfortunately part of how the left defines itself. To my mind, a reaction to our historical marginality. But thats only a secondary and speculative theory, so if you don't like it, dont obsess on it.

Farmpunk

This thread, and the dismissal of Timebandit by Remind and now RP and the tap on the wrist mod response, is a perfect example of why tumbleweeds blow through babble at a time when progressive discussion should be courting people.

Perhaps babble's problems are less about gender, colonial, class and political problems, and much more about being narcissists who value their own bad selves more than anonymous debate.  Example: the busiest threads on babble are always about babblers themselves and "what's wrong with babble", oh me, oh my.  No one is paying attention to my fine prose - travesty! 

Nice cheap shot, RevPlease.  I'm sure you'll be pushing my ass towards the front lines any day now. 

 

Cueball Cueball's picture

Isn`t that a "what's wrong with babble" is that people make too many "what's wrong with babble" posts, post?

Farmpunk

Yes, occasionally I do need to resort to the tactics of the perps.  Or... maybe I'm one of them....  Gaia help me.

KenS

Just to be clear:

We dont get on the defensive out of some inate self doubt set in motion because we're 'not left enough'. I'm in the same position in an organization I'm in- where I NEVER feel on the defensive. Which means that something different happens here to make me and others feel that way.

Conversely, some of the most left people on this board never do anything to contribute to the process that puts me and others on the defensive.

Farmpunk

At the risk of appropriating the female voice here - this thread is not about your problems on babble, dude. 

Maysie Maysie's picture

RevolutionPlease, your dig at Timebandit at post #79 is not okay.

Farmpunk, I either give taps on the wrist that are too mild, or I'm too aggressive and bullying. Oops, this thread isn't about my tough time being a mod. Smile

What IS this thread about, again?

Caissa

About 87 posts too long, Maysie.

Maysie Maysie's picture

I think the topic is an excellent one, Caissa, and I'm glad 6079 started it.

Edited to add: Cross posted with writer. Self-examination, or critical self reflection, is a very strong element in all anti-oppression work. Thanks writer!

Caissa

I think the topic is excellent, as well. I think the thread has been disappointing.

writer writer's picture

And that is your contribution to it. Hardly an improvement.

Edited to add: Oh, and "The male domination of this thread is underwhelming." Which was kind of funny, true. So ... weigh in, why don't you, if you think it's a good subject?

writer writer's picture

So Farmpunk, the problem is everyobody else and their priorities (narcissists!)? The problem is the policy statement? There is no chronic, overwhelming gender imbalance to acknowledge and perhaps address?

There is no need for self-examination? It's everybody else?

Thanks for the context of your post, Timebandit. Yes absolutely, I think we can all do it. Which is why I wrote "we" in the first place. The trick is to remember this tendancy and not pretend otherwise while pointing out the rock throwing of others. I know that I need to bow out from babble for months at a time because of what I consider an unhealthy toxicity that brews here – sometimes under the surface, sometimes right there on top. When I'm here, I know that I can contribute to that toxicity, (it feels) sometimes just to keep my head above the water. I'm really trying not to do it this time around, after quite a long break. It takes a lot of effort, with all the hairtrigger suspicion, hurt pride, mindreading and aggressiveness that seems to be lobbed from all directions.

From what I read here, a lot of people feel they are the targets. From what I know, a lot of women have quickly come and gone, and very very few stick around long-term. Even fewer post as much as we find several male regulars posting. Some have been traumatized here - yes, sometimes by women. Perhaps by me.

I feel the problem can be the dynamic of the board, in our larger culture, which is patriarchal. And self-examination is just the thing, especially at a time like the one we are living in. It is quite the opposite of egotistical / narcissistic. I find the urge to label it such, ridicule the process and push it away kind of interesting.

Other theories are welcome of course!

And of course Caissa is welcome to trip in, read this thread, then snark about its very existence. And likely not see this as lobbing a rock for absolutely no good reason at all, contributing nothing meaningful to a discussion that obviously, at this length, others think matters.

Caissa

I think the thread is beyond improvement, writer. I've been waiting to weigh in. Maybe the second thread will find me actively involved.  

remind remind's picture

See men's failing to weigh in on this topic, as denial that it is occuring.

Caissa

You can see whatever you like to remind.

ETA: One of the reasons I am reticent to enter this conversation is the feeling that anything short of a mea maxima culpa on the part of males will be construed as denial.

KenS

A thread like this is going to wander. Even if it ends up being very good.

And it would be great and enormously helpful if it never got really and thoroughly snarky. But even if that happens, it doesnt mean it can't get anywhere.

But minimal participation of men on the other hand- that will be fatal.

remind remind's picture

You see caissa, your expressed attitude that the thread was "beyond improvement" after you stated that there were NO men's voices really in the thread and that there were not, was underwhelming.

 

Thus it is indicative that you could believe; the thread was useless and beyond improvement because there were no male voices present to give it validity and some actual imput worth reading and making it valid and special.

 

then just above, you follow it up by stating that you believe women are expecting a maximum mea culpa or it will be constued as denial that men dominate rabble is occuring.

 

So you decided before that ever happened what women here were going to do... so you in fact pre-judged and blammed us for apparently trying to get men to mea culpa.

 

And you don't even see how problematic your words are.

KenS

Just a note that its not to be assumed that everybody on Babble, or all those to some degree regulars feels that they are often a target.

We're hearing more here from people who feel they have been targets. Goes with the nature of the discussion so far. Because those are people who [a.] have accumulated frustrations, and [b] its safe for them to venture into this.

Caissa

Remind wrote: then just above, you follow it up by stating that you believe women are expecting a maximum mea culpa or it will be constued as denial that men dominate rabble is occuring.

 

Caissa points out he never used the word "women" and would appreciate Remind not putting words in his mouth. Thank you!

remind remind's picture

Pllleassee caissa, stop with playing the victim, and stating I was putting words in your mouth, your extact words were:

 

Quote:
ETA: One of the reasons I am reticent to enter this conversation is the feeling that anything short of a mea maxima culpa on the part of males will be construed as denial.

 

 

You clearly made a male female distinction, whereby you believed males were going to be expected to...so who other than females/women were going to construe, anything short of the mea maxima culpa, it certainly can't be other males, as you lumped all males together.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Closing for length.

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