The masculinisation of this blog (or how it became a pissing match).

datePosted on 02:17, September 5th, 2010 by Pablo

Over the past few months my partner has observed that KP has increasingly become a boys club. Part of that, she notes, is that I write about security things and boys like guns and war, so tend to dominate commentary on those themes. I have pointed out that I write about plenty of other things, and that Lew covers a range of subjects that are not exclusively “male” in orientation. And yet 95% of our commentators are male.  And, as my partner also observes, their comments tend to become the intellectual  equivalent of pissing matches or penis length arguments rather than reasonable exchange of views in which the worth of opposing perspectives is acknowledged. She includes me in the pissing match crowd. 

I attribute the apparent masculinisation of KP in large part to the fact that Anita’s long hiatus has deprived the blog of the gender balance it needs, in part because Anita writes from a feminist perspective and about gender issues from a wimin’s point of view. That of itself is interesting because when she does (and Anita does not write exclusively about gender-related themes), the comment threads show a disproportionate number of females in the mix. In effect, there appears to be a self-segregation going on: men read and comment about “boy” topics and wimin read and comment about “girl” themes. This can be seen on a larger scale in the topics covered by political blogs written by wimin versus those (the majority) written by men, which makes me think that the “problem” is not exclusive to KP.

This bothers me. I do like to think of myself as writing about exclusively “male” topics since I believe that subjects such as international relations, foreign policy, labour politics, democratisation and regime change, and security issues are (or should be) matters of universal interest. Likewise, I do not believe that topics such as rape, child-raising or workplace harassment are exclusively female concerns. But until Anita comes back, it appears that KP is becoming the political blog equivalent of a (somewhat polite) rugby clubhouse.

So I guess the question of the day is whether there is a self-segregation of wimin’s versus male topics, and if in fact this blog, for worse in my view, has become masculinised (sic) beyond repair.

88 Responses to “The masculinisation of this blog (or how it became a pissing match).”

  1. Quentin on September 5th, 2010 at 05:46

    I read KP because the subjects are of interest. It has nothing to do with gender this or gender that. If you talk about politics and security issues then I’m interested- but if the concern is gender then someone has to leave KP and start another blog.

  2. Carol on September 5th, 2010 at 06:55

    I’ve been thinking pretty much the same thing as your partner, Pablo. And I’ve become less interested in visiting and reading KP.

    I can be interested in security issues, but IMO, there seems to be a guy thing in becoming fascinated with the minutae of security and gun matters, that over-rides an analysis of the relevant social and political issues.

  3. M on September 5th, 2010 at 08:26

    In a recent MA looking at NZ political blogs I believe something like 85% of them were written by males (white, postgrad qualification, middle class) and of those that comment on political blogs around 75% fitted the same profile as the writers.

    Us wimin do comment but we lack the numbers to make an impact on many of the blogs we read (an indeed don’t always identify ourselves as ‘female’ when we comment)and tend to only be noticeable on feminist posts or blogs.

  4. Juan on September 5th, 2010 at 09:06

    It’s the constant bloody navel-gazing that turns me off.

  5. Pablo on September 5th, 2010 at 09:35

    Juan:

    If you are incapable of handling any depth of reflection, then this is not the blog for you. There are plenty of shallow ponds for you to go play in. Please do.

  6. Monkey Boy on September 5th, 2010 at 10:57

    Yes Pablo, that last comment really shows how much you have taken your partner’s ‘pissing match’ criticism on-board. For all you intellectual pygmies, you are cordially invited to Monkey With Typewriter, where, trust me you will never run the risk of being intellectually belittled.

  7. QoT on September 5th, 2010 at 12:56

    @Carol: I think it’s important to consider that defence issues being “a boy’s thing” isn’t automatic or ingrained. It’s socialisation, and I think it applies multiple times in this issue – so first, there’s the question of girls and boys being steered into liking/learning about different things, and defence issues and feminist issues around family are pretty much at opposite ends of the spectrum in that regard.

    Then I think there’s probably an impact of socialisation on how men and women tend to talk. I think the discussions on male- and female-dominated blogs can be very different in tone and attitude and what behaviours are normal or acceptable.

    It’s not a hard-and-fast rule by any means (says the woman watching professional wrestling who writes a fairly antagonistic “masculine” blog) but I think it’s an important consideration before we start talking about “self-selection” as though commenters exist in a vaccum unaffected by the society they live in.

  8. reader on September 5th, 2010 at 13:52

    What has your partner told you about this post Pablo?

    I think your chosen examples of male and female interests says it all really. How bloody insulting.

  9. George D on September 5th, 2010 at 13:54

    You’re also struggling with people who would rather generate heat than light. What you do about that, I don’t know.

    I miss Anita’s commentary. Astute and aware. I hope she’s back soon.

  10. Dylan on September 5th, 2010 at 14:32

    Iraq, Afghanistan, US dominance, international security, all seem topics which are not inherently disconnected from the issues of rape, child-raising or workplace harassment that your partner mentions.

    By example, a substantial issue which from time to time you touch on has been the Wahhabi and Taliban treatment of women in Saudia Arabia and Afghanistan respectively. Equally, the inreasing dominance of the Taliban in South Waziristan is clearly having a subtantial impact on the rights and lives of women and children.

    As regards Iraq, under SH women seem to have been treated relatively reasonably; with the increasing impact of Shia groups in Iraq clearly (?) women’s rights will begin to erode.

    Phil S recently raised the issue of sanctions in Iraq pre-invasion, and how the effect of the invasion has arguably reduced child mortality there- and I reacted a little off-topic and a little pissed off, that sanctions were an international not a local intervention: given the epidemic rates of malignancy and embryopathy in Afghanistan, this is a major issue for women and children- clearly Phil and I do not (?yet) agree that the outcomes are for the better, but I think there would still be much to be discussed here and I imagine that you (PB) would be the man to lead the discussion.

    These were just some brief thoughts on why I think the topics you discuss CAN be ‘girl’ topics.

    However, I’d also like to add to what has already been touched on- some of this gender divide seems simply unavoidable. For example, many local blogs which are either feminist-influenced (thinking The Hand Mirror) seem to exclude the possibility the males might have a stake in some of their topics and arguments- abortion being a good, if controversial example.

    Equally, ‘anti-feminist’ blogs with female authors (the main example I can think of NZ Conservative– which I won’t link to because their authors and moderators work directly to exclude contrasting viewpoints, including reasoned and rational comments and serve only to tolerate and perpetuate their own ideas) seem to be unable to tolerate contrasting viewpoints and are seen to be frequently asking individuals NOT to comment on their blog.

    And yet, the likes of Emma Hart seem to weave pleasantly in and out of these feminine discussions without clearly excluding men- evidenced by comments from both genders. Others, including Russell of PA, seem to hit a good balance because of the broader scope of their blogs, including ‘general entertainment’, and in Russell’s case his personal interest in autism spectrum disorder and the resulting impact of research, resources, and policy in this area.

    However, I think there is a trade-off that is made: either coast gently between topics of general issue with the occassional point or underlying current of special interest, OR do what is done so well at KP: which is to specialise on a few areas of interest and enter into them with abandon; to be inclusive but appropriately intolerant in moderation whilst fostering vigorous, if occassionally passionate (… p also = pissing…), argument.

  11. QoT on September 5th, 2010 at 14:55

    At risk of a derail, Dylan, I disagree with your characterization of THM. I would say that again, there’s a number of social factors at play in why a feminist-focused, only-women-writers blog doesn’t attract many male commenters (though there are several). And abortion simply doesn’t work as an example for me – to talk about what “stake” men might have in “abortion” is to seriously over-simplify the issue.

  12. reader on September 5th, 2010 at 15:03

    Hang on a minute. Don’t you go blaming Pablo’s partner for the particular female interests chosen. Correct me if I’m wrong Pablo, but I’m guessing they came right off the top of your head not hers.

    Feminist blogs talk a lot about feminist and women’s issues because they’re feminist blogs. Much as gardening blogs spend a lot of time and space talking, well, gardening. Masculinist blogs may talk a great deal about specifically men’s issues, but I doubt anyone would extrapolate from reading them that prostates and fatherhood are men’s interests to the exclusion of broader issues or matters that primarily impact on others.

    If you’re wondering what examples someone else might have chosen as being of particular interest to women, how about health, the environment, community issues, social justice…..

  13. The Big Dog on September 5th, 2010 at 15:13

    I do not miss Anita’s blog.
    It was too often bourgeois, bored/boring and exclusive.
    I have my disagreements with Pablo and Lew, but I always find them interesting, elegantly phrased and worthy sparring partners.

  14. Dylan on September 5th, 2010 at 16:37

    QoT, actually I don’t think THM was a good example either in retrospect, I was thinking of one particular author who seems (i.e. from the way I’ve read her posts) to reflect this perspective. Oh well.

    And abortion simply doesn’t work as an example for me – to talk about what “stake” men might have in “abortion” is to seriously over-simplify the issue.

    I agree with you on this; I think that is my point.

  15. Pablo on September 5th, 2010 at 17:48

    Sorry reader,

    but you either have missed the point of my post or are reading to much into it. However, you are right in that I did pull the choice of topics off the top of my head. But hey, I am a boy.

    Here is the backdrop. My partner commented on how Anita’s absence had gradually turned the blog into a male pissing match, mostly because of my choice of subjects. Her focus was on the apparent self-selection and the tone of the commentators, rather than on the subjects per se. That generated a discussion over the course of a few weeks about the cause and effect aspects of this cunundrum. We both miss Anita’s posts, and that was the point of departure, we agree, of the slide towards masculanisation. Which again, raised the question of why that is so.

    Surely you must realise that my short list of stereotypical “female” concerns was designed to illustrate the point rather than be a definitive statement (or opinion) about what constitutes “female” issues.

    Monkey Boy: Thanks for that. I forgot to provide a link.

  16. Monkey Boy on September 5th, 2010 at 18:04

    ouch….

  17. Hugh on September 5th, 2010 at 19:26

    Is there the possibility of recruiting a female author to fill Anita’s shoes?

  18. Carol on September 5th, 2010 at 20:00

    QoT, you seem to have missed my point a bit. I wasn’t labelling topics as gender-differentiated, but was referring to the MANNER of discussing them: ie IMO, there tends to be more guys who get into discussing the minute details of war, guns etc., whatever the cause. Nor was I pointing to causes for this as being natural (or due to socialisation – I didn’t see it as especially relevant to the issue at hand).

    Actually, I’ve always tended to be labelled as a “tomboy” with lots of interests, activities and behaviours that others label as “masculine”. But I’m neither that interested in extended & endlessly detailed discussions of so-called “girlie” topics (like relationships and personalities/motivations), or the ones more commonly done by guys – like ones narrowly focused on details of guns and war strategies.

    I’ve tended to skim the discussions here lately, so I can’t really tell how much of a “pissing contest” they’ve been. But lately they haven’t focused very strongly on political, social or cultural topics in a way that interests me.

    And I do usually find Anita’s posts incisive, engaging and thought-provoking. In the past I have been very interested in some of Lew and Pablo’s articles/posts – not so much lately.

  19. Rex Widerstrom on September 5th, 2010 at 22:15

    Hmmm… one too many a snoot has been cocked, has it?

    Taking a supercilious attitude to commenters, such as opining I have little of worth to contribute, isn’t something I’d characterise as “masculine” since it’s achieved from the safety of a keyboard and behind relative anonymity rather than, say, face-to-face (I’d also have walked away then, mind you, but it’d have been a little more courageous – a trait I associate with masculinity).

    I immensely enjoyed Anita’s contributions and the later addition of Lew as a contributor means KP’s posts remain on my “must read” list but not someplace I can be bothered engaging in debate. If I want snarky passive-aggressive responses, I’ll phone Michael Laws’ talkback show.

    This effort, after about 18 months silence, was prompted by the sheer hypocrisy of the sentiment expressed in this post.

    If looking for the reason comments have become “a pissing contest”, look no further than a lack of respect for other people, Pablo.

    And what’s with that description anyway? Ironically, your ‘nothing of value to contribute’ judgment was arrived at after I complained the meaning of a comment was inverted by censorship deleting my use of equally innocuous “bad” language.

    Now… I wonder, as outraged writers of Letters to the Editor always inevitably say, whether you’ll publish this?

    Adios.

  20. Pablo on September 6th, 2010 at 01:48

    Rex:

    Welcome back. It appears that you are still quite angry about my enforcing the comment policy code on vulgar language on you long ago. Your exile was voluntary, so it simply reflected your unwillingness to adhere to said policy. Today you did, which is a good thing.

    However you still seem to fail to understand that at KP we simply try to maintain a hard line on threadjacks, rudeness, silliness, stupidity and insults. Although I am sorry that you remain wounded by that negative encounter early last year, that unpleasant moment served its purpose in that from then on the number of nasty, snarky or otherwise non-contributing comments has declined dramatically. Should you ever get over your personal animus towards me (and I must say that reference to Michael Lhaws was a cruel blow), and abide by the house rules, you are welcome to rejoin the fray.

    On the subject itself. The fact that your first paragraph attributes certain characteristics as “masculine” nicely illustrates the larger problem, e.g. courgaeous=male. The implication is that wimin are not, and the way you phrased the paragraph further implies that since I am not courageous (because I am a supposed keyboard warrior), I am therefore, in your mind, a hypocritical coward, i.e., a “girly” man.

    That says a lot more about your gender perspective than it does about my choice of subjects and approach to commentators.

  21. Bruce Hamilton on September 6th, 2010 at 11:39

    Obviously, as a mere male, my comments aren’t going to repair any imbalance. However, I’m curious whether readers are willing to identify blogs that discuss similar topics and maintain appropriate respect from commentators of both genders.

    By their nature, blogs represent the facade that owners wish to present to passers-by. People choose to enter, browse, chat, and leave. If the blog is attracting the “wrong” customers, then the owner can choose to stock other items, as this shop is on a busy street. Pablo, if the current customer profile really bothers you, then change the merchandise.

    The above post seems, to me, to be an indulgent introspective perception that you can easily adjust – if you so desire. If it’s not, then you’ve just discovered how some people perceive you :-) .

  22. Dylan on September 6th, 2010 at 12:23

    By their nature, blogs represent the facade that owners wish to present to passers-by. People choose to enter, browse, chat, and leave. If the blog is attracting the “wrong” customers, then the owner can choose to stock other items, as this shop is on a busy street. Pablo, if the current customer profile really bothers you, then change the merchandise.

    Agree BH.

    Hmmm… one too many a snoot has been cocked, has it? …

    Disagree RW- I like the moderation policy, and I think the resulting quality of discussion strengthens the blog.

    …since it’s achieved from the safety of a keyboard and behind relative anonymity rather than, say, face-to-face (I’d also have walked away then, mind you, but it’d have been a little more courageous – a trait I associate with masculinity).

    There are multiple legitimate reasons for wanting anonymity- removing gender from the argument for instance; I presume most would assume Dylan is a male first name. KP has our email addy’s. We’re not talking about face-to-face- that’s the main strength of blogging isn’t it, i.e. asynchronous forum-style communication.

    Abuse, and meaningless partisan swipes just detract from the experience for me. Having said that, I doubt you’ll ever be able to avoid impassioned responses to topics of war and politics. The recent KP attempt at combining opposing viewpoints was interesting, and not surprisingly wasn’t an immediate success- I look forward to more; the willingness to include an opposing viewpoint also strengthens the content and the tone of the blog.

    It’s interesting to see other’s approaches to moderation- I enjoy DPF, but trying to wade through the rubbish posts is one of the reasons I don’t subscribe to the blog – an excellent recent example:
    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2010/09/some_changes_to_the_demerits_system.html#comments

    Pablo, I’ve been interested in your writing since I was at med school at UoA- had a friend in a couple your classes, and when I was bored with mine I’d occassionally sit in the back of yours; ended up taking a summer-school politics paper which I thought you were coordinating (but ended up being taken by someone else):
    The aforementioned topics are obviously your professional and academic strength, but broadening the topics would I’m sure be challenging and interesting, whilst potentially achieving some of what you are touching on (if that is your intention).

  23. Trouble on September 6th, 2010 at 14:57

    What’s with “wimin”? Is it a reference to the NZ accent, or is it harking back to the reclaim-the-language thing that’s a minority movement even among feminists? It’s not house style at The Hand Mirror (where you can barely move some days without tripping over some man wanting to give his perspective on abortion), or most other feminist blogs I’m aware of.

    Because if you want actual women to read and participate in your site, it’s worth finding out what we like to be called.

  24. Dylan on September 6th, 2010 at 15:26

    What’s with “wimin”? Is it a reference to the NZ accent, or is it harking back to the reclaim-the-language thing that’s a minority movement even among feminists?

    Strange thing to pick up on. I’ve just taken it as Pablo’s “drawing hearts for the dot of the ‘i'”, or any number of other ‘-isms’ which people use to differentiate their own speech/writing. Spelling it ‘wimin’ given that the latter ‘i’ is the phoenomic equivalent of the schewa (which is difficult to include in routine typing), isn’t completely incorrect either.

    …it’s worth finding out what we like to be called.

    Is that women between the ages of x and y, residing in New Zealand, in the year 2010, of a self-described ‘feminist’ political persuation, or is this just you?

    Because, given the convoluted history of usage for terms with meanings resembling women, even in current usage, I don’t think once can really generalise- for example, I have had a middle-aged female patient become aggressive and angry toward me using the term lady with her, and likewise I have had an older female patient lay a complaint for my usage of woman in regards to her.

    This seems a good starting point for the above: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/women

  25. Pablo on September 6th, 2010 at 17:17

    Sorry trouble:

    Your refer to “we” as if you speak for all wimin. You certainly do not. I use the gender neutral term simply to avoid the “man” in woman because I consort with females that do not like the diminutive. As they say in Spanish: cada cual lo suyo.

  26. Carol on September 6th, 2010 at 17:20

    Trouble, “Wimmin” was adopted as one of the spellings for women by 2nd wave feminists. It was in use in England when I lived there. I think 2nd Wavers adopted “women” as the preferred word for females, as it had the least negative associations, and didn’t infantalise females. However, many felt ithe spelling indicated that females were a secondary form of “man” eg men with a woom, or “wife-man”. So many feminists adopted alternative spellings so that the “man”/”men” part of the spelling was eliminated. Hence “wimmin”, “womyn”, etc.

  27. Hugh on September 6th, 2010 at 17:33

    Ironically the “wife-man” formulation wasn’t originally a description of women as an appendage of men – in the original Old English, “man” was a generic term meaning roughly “human being” and what we would now call a “man” was called a “waepman”. For some reason the prefix disappeared for males but not for females.

  28. QoT on September 6th, 2010 at 17:38

    @Hugh – by all means correct my exceedingly rusty OE, but I think “wer” was more commonly used for “man”, and “mann” was “person” (usually plural, and of course given the society likely to be assuming all- or mainly-male groups). Hence “wer-wolf”.

    And of course the “wif” word/prefix was simultaneously “woman/female” and “wife” as with modern German “Frau”.

  29. Monkey Boy on September 6th, 2010 at 18:15

    My understanding was that ‘wimmin’ was a satirical version on one of the rather nasal estuary English pronunciation many feminists appeared to adopt as their cassus belli. I thought it was initially popularised by Private Eye.

  30. Trouble on September 6th, 2010 at 18:58

    I do know the origins of alternative spellings ie womyn, wimmin etc, it’s a political neologism that never caught on in wider English (unlike chairperson and humankind) and was an instant target of mockery in the early stages of “political correctness gone mad” backlash. I remember a young misguided male friend of mine in the early 90s insisting that feminists called women “woperbodies” in order to avoid any hint of male language.

    I’m just surprised to see it used outside of feminist circles in a way that’s apparently not intended as parody. To me it seems a little trying-too-hard, plastic tiki tokenism. And in a discussion about how to include more women, I think that’s a relevant point to make. I don’t claim by any means to speak for anyone other than myself, but I rather take exception at being told by a couple of people with masculine names that I’m not entitled to talk about women as “we”. You might want to think about how welcoming and inclusive that is.

    For what it’s worth, to me, women = neutral (though to older people it’s got a lower-class or disreputable tone); ladies is old fashioned faux respect or ironic; girls is a younger form of ladies, and female is awkward I-don’t-know-what-I’m-meant-to-say or outright misogynist.

  31. Dylan on September 6th, 2010 at 19:34

    I’m really not sure how things got along this far, it’s kind of amusing…

    … and female is awkward I-don’t-know-what-I’m-meant-to-say or outright misogynist.

    I’m surprised to read that, I’ve never heard a woman say that before nor have I read it as a point of reference, although perhaps you’ve ‘read-into’ the tone or context or something extraneous-
    female is the basic descriptive term for gender in both the health professional and scientific world, the genetic female (XX) being the basis for reference (although clearly not an absolute reference). This also does not just refer to the biological, since gender psychology also usually refers to the male/female dichotomy, or combinations/variations thereof.

    But then I suppose gender identity isn’t a common issue and perhaps that’s where the offense lays- I have to confess I’m a bit clueless on this one…

    But misogynist, really? Any other women care to comment?

  32. Carol on September 6th, 2010 at 19:49

    Well, I must say, I’ve often seen feminist women use the spelling “wimmin”, and that includes on occasions in recent times. Now and then I use it myself. I also use “laydee”, “grrrls” and “female”.

    Really I find there’s no word for women that doesn’t have some negative connotations, so I tend to use all of the above, depending, I guess, on my mood at the time, or the context.

    I don’t have a problem with men or women using “wimmin” or “female”. I tend to feel it partly depends on HOW these words are used, and the context, that contributes to it conveying a negative/positive view.

  33. Hugh on September 6th, 2010 at 20:34

    But then I suppose gender identity isn’t a common issue

    Quoted for humour

  34. Phil Sage (sagenz) on September 6th, 2010 at 20:39

    Pablo – Success!!!!

    You have changed the subject from guns and war to matters of far greater import.

  35. Trouble on September 6th, 2010 at 20:46

    If you’re talking biology or health, female or male is perfectly natural. Same if you’re using it as an adjective. If you’re talking about individual people, sometimes it comes off as pejorative. You wouldn’t describe someone as “that female/male over there” because female/male includes animals as well as people. It’s all in the context. I’ve seen it used to imply that someone is technically female but not sufficiently feminine to warrant “woman” or “lady”.

    I don’t have any problem with anyone describing themselves as whatever spelling of woman as they like, but none of the major NZ feminist bloggers seem to use wimin or other variants. It’s just not a category that I feel includes me, or, I’m assuming because of its rarity, a lot of other women. And if your issue is becoming more inclusive, then that might not help.

  36. dave brown on September 6th, 2010 at 21:31

    I’d rather fight over Anita’s long hiatus than penis length.

  37. QoT on September 6th, 2010 at 21:56

    The perjorative nature of “female” as a noun was, bizarrely, best illustrated in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – whereby the most misogynist species in the known galaxy never actually use the word “woman”.

    Dylan, if you read up on feminist discourse you will find fairly easily that “female” is not “the basic descriptive term for gender” – it’s the basic descriptive (binary-normative) term for sex, chromosal, externally-apparent, or otherwise. Conflating sex and gender? Kind of a big problem for many, many people.

  38. Lew on September 6th, 2010 at 22:11

    There’s irony in that this thread — about, ahem, ‘women’s’ issues — has become rather like the sort of pissing match Kate mentioned.

    Have to take some responsibility for this trend. I have a very deep interest in gender issues (it’s all ‘identity politics’, right) and particularly in the media and public representation. For instance, I’ve been meaning to post for ages on the fact that the four women on the front bench — Tolley, Bennett, Wilkinson and Collins, and to a disproportionate extent Wong, Lee and Turia also — bear the brunt of the opposition and commentariat’s attacks against the government. I accept there’s a legitimate argument as to performance and competence here, but there are also gendered aspects which need to be examined a bit more. But I’m sort of on hiatus too, at the moment, and even before the second bub was born my attendance was patchy and my attention focused on other concerns.

    So, yeah, I could be posting on topics with a wider appeal than the ongoing skirmishes between Chris Trotter and myself a bit more often. The bad news is that it won’t be happening for a while. I can barely find time to shower these days, let alone gather my thoughts sufficiently to write anything much.

    L

  39. Dylan on September 6th, 2010 at 22:59

    Hugh: Awesome.

    QoT: True that, conflation I am guilty of- http://www.who.int/gender/whatisgender/en/index.html.

    Lew: It has, but I doubt the irony is lost on anyone, and it is kind-of amusing.

    It’s also kind of funny imagining people furiously googling the etymology of women and define:’x’-ing each other’s vocabulary.

    Pablo: Maybe this is just the baby you’ve raised, one big pissing machine- why not roll with it?

  40. Monkey Boy on September 7th, 2010 at 06:58

    I’m still trying to stop visualising Anita’s ‘long hiatus’….

  41. Carol on September 7th, 2010 at 07:59

    For me most of the loss of interest in KP of late has been that the discussion has often got bogged down in discussions of details that seem of marginal interest/significance. Or maybe that they are of interest to only a small group with specialist interests.

    I’m interested in identity politics, and have enjoyed some of Lew’s selected images and media representations put here for discussion. I’m interested in cultural/lingusitic analysis too, but really want some accompanying analysis of how this relates to specific material realities/experiences as well. However, it is underestimating women readers to assume that the issue is that we are ONLY interested in gender/feminist issues.

    For instance, I am curious to see some analysis/discussion of the significance of Hager’s Le Monde exposure of the location of the Israeli spy base. Does it just locate activities that most investigators/researchers already knew of, or does it provide new insights into the workings of Israeli security services?

    Anita is very good at covering a range of issues, in depth, and with a focus on the specific significance they have on people’s lives, political processes etc. Lew & Pablo also have done some very good analysis in the past. To me the issue comes back to HOW it is done, and keeping the discussion focused on key issues of significance for a fairly wide readership.

  42. Chris Trotter on September 7th, 2010 at 09:23

    I stagger out of this commentary thread (and the posting which precedes it) with the words of Euripides ringing in my ears:

    “Those whom the Gods seek to destroy they first make mad.”

  43. Lew on September 7th, 2010 at 09:32

    Maintaining your usual standard, there, Chris.

    L

  44. Chris Trotter on September 7th, 2010 at 09:56

    Always happy to oblige, Lew.

  45. The Big Dog on September 7th, 2010 at 11:10

    Bennett gets criticised because she is hopeless, horrible and hypocritical. Tolley because she is the worst education minister this country has ever had. Etc.
    Seriously, e hoa! I can’t believe you’re buying into this Tory spin.

    Another one for the someday files:
    how this “feminism” squares with you indigenist beliefs,
    “women aren’t allowed to speak on the marae”, blah.

  46. The Big Dog on September 7th, 2010 at 11:11

    PS. Blogs are the pissing match of the twenty-first century. That’s a no brainer, as Lord Joyce says.

  47. Lew on September 7th, 2010 at 11:28

    TBD, as I say, there’s an argument to be made regarding performance and competence, but I’m not persuaded that’s the whole story.

    As to speaking on the marae — yes, a significant source of friction, and a matter with which I’m uncomfortable, but it’s not really my place to ‘square’ it. It is presently being ‘squared’ in the proper contexts by those with a direct stake in it. As you probably know.

    L

  48. Chris Trotter on September 7th, 2010 at 13:57

    Yeah, right, Lew.

    Just like all those Afghan “wimmin” are going to “square it” with the guys holding guns to their heads in “the proper context” of a Kabul sports arena.

    How far into the “debate” do you think they’ll get before their brains are scattered all over the soccer pitch?

    Or is that too “masculinist” a question for you?

  49. Lew on September 7th, 2010 at 14:44

    Chris, honestly?

    If you’d bothered to check you’ll find I’m in favour of a continuing NZ involvement in Afghanistan for this very reason.

    If you’d like to put forth an argument that Māori women are similarly helpless, then please do. But you and I both know it’s not so.

    L

  50. just saying on September 7th, 2010 at 16:01

    In the beginning I have to admit I was taken in. But since I’ve realised that this thread is pure satire, I’ve enjoyed popping back for a giggle.

    btw the Chris Trotter take-off was pure magic, if maybe a little harsh…..

  51. Luc Hansen on September 7th, 2010 at 22:17

    I certainly agree that wider content in terms of subject matter may help with the pissing problem, but we do have to recognise that women, oops, sorry, wimin, in general just don’t blog as much as men.

    And I think also that sometimes our posters reply to comments when, really, they should leave their post to stand on its merits – easier said than done, I know!

    And perhaps cut the commenters some slack as regards the staying on topic stuff, as reading through them can be great fun and you never know, some just may contain the odd, very odd, gem.

    Like Lew, and for the same reason, my blogging has decreased, and it won’t really get any better for another year yet. This does distress me on one level, but the cause of the fall off is a great source of joy, of course!

    So let’s get back to current affairs. Perhaps we could explore why all the concern expressed these days for Afghans was quiescent before the latest invasion, and why Lew and Chris endorse the principle that guided the failed US invasion of Vietnam – destroy the village to save it.

    There are estimates that the combined death toll of the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures (Iran yet to come?) is over 1.3 million people – I would love to see some objective analysis of how this horrific number of dead is justified by some abstract world view.

    And this is, of course, a prime example of topic drift. Sorry.

  52. Chris Trotter on September 7th, 2010 at 23:15

    Seriously now, Lew. Though you are quite correct when you say that Maori women are not as helpless as the women of Afghanistan, my rather brutal point still stands.

    In aggressively patriarchal cultures the ability of all but the strongest and most assertive (or perhaps just the most highly-born) women to “square it” with their menfolk is purely notional.

    Western culture is one of the very few in recorded history where an entrenched male power structure has even theoretically conceded equal rights to women.

    Early Islam was remarkably egalitarian, but the ingrained patriarchal traditions of the societies which embraced the teachings of the Prophet seem to have been quite swiftly reinstated.

    The tragic reality is that, outside of the Western cultural sphere, male fear and hatred of women is growing stronger – not weaker.

    Leaving the problem for women to “square” unaided strikes me as coming pretty close to the counsel of perfection.

  53. Lew on September 8th, 2010 at 07:31

    Chris, this isn’t the place to continue it, but you’ve misread ‘taking an active interest but not intervening where intervention is neither needed nor wanted’ for ‘leaving unaided’.

    Anyway. Enough threadjack.

    L

  54. Pablo on September 8th, 2010 at 10:01

    My take after reading this thread, other than to state that Phil Sage had the best line, is that it appears that blog pissing matches are not exclusively male, although the topics may be. Oh, and that precision in phrasing politically charged terminology is essential but will not stop argument due to different preconceptions of meaning.

    The new question I have, in light of this thread, is whether threadjacking is a predominantly male behaviour. It sure seems so to me. And if so, is that because males that may not be faring well in any given argument prefer to change the subject while females prefer to simply stop commenting?

    Two items of note: 1) I deleted one comment that was a personal insult to my partner that otherwise contributed nothing to the debate, so it is clear that some men have issues whenever the subject of gender difference is raised; and 2) I wrote the post while attending a rather eleborate Southern wedding in Savannah, Georgia (home of the slave trade in the days of the confederacy). Let us just say that gender roles were, uh, reified in both the ritual and the behaviour of most of those attending the event. The irony of writing the post and reading the negative reactions to it from some of the readers while in that context was precious indeed.

  55. ak on September 8th, 2010 at 12:53

    And so, ladies and gentlemen – or should I say luddles and gelcicoons so as not to offend har har – we come to the end of little tour tour of the kiwi blogosphere via Farrar, Trotter, Campbell and Pablo; many thanks to you who have stayed with us on what has been a sometimes gruelling journey and before we say our goodbyes allow me to leave you – fittingly I think at this point of our departure – once again with ak’s Law:
    “While comment numbers rise in direct inverse proportion to post quality, their standard remains post-determined”

  56. Dylan on September 8th, 2010 at 15:15

    The new question I have, in light of this thread, is whether threadjacking is a predominantly male behaviour. It sure seems so to me.

    I don’t think so. I think the post/topic itself has more to do with threadjacking than the gender of the posters- the wider the scope of the topic, the more inclined people are to digress- a downfall of any forum or essay. QoT (I think) above points to abortion as an example of this on THM- I’ve certainly seen threadjacking from female(-sounding names) on this topic (although I suspect I’ll be told otherwise, in objective terms of course).

    And if so, is that because males that may not be faring well in any given argument prefer to change the subject while females prefer to simply stop commenting?

    I don’t think so either. Opinionated (and a whole bunch of other fair synonyms…) people blog, and opinionated people post on blogs, I think it’s that simple.

    Is threadjacking really that bad? I think discussion and argument is diminished when blog moderators control discussion too harshly. The strength of this medium is its flexibility- CT uses his blog to mainly post his published articles, Idiot/Savant as a monologue, Public Address seems to focus to cultivate a broad community of interests, whilst NZ conservative and THM seem to focus of strengthening their own ideas and focusing their community: all legitimate uses, all with very different results in the comments section of their blog.

  57. stargazer on September 8th, 2010 at 23:40

    I certainly agree that wider content in terms of subject matter may help with the pissing problem, but we do have to recognise that women, oops, sorry, wimin, in general just don’t blog as much as men.

    b******t. i’d suggest you look at the blogroll on the hand mirror if you’re having trouble finding where the women bloggers are. just cos you don’t read them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

  58. Dylan on September 9th, 2010 at 00:01

    Stargazer, this isn’t supposition- Andrew Cushen’s Masters thesis at the University of Auckland, explored this in 2009:

    http://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/2292/5809/02whole.pdf?sequence=2

    I haven’t looked at the methods, but the commentary I’ve read has been positive toward the research in general, e.g.:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2010/07/httpwwwdncorgnzsitesdefaultfilescontent474html.html

    I haven’t seen any commentary on any female- or feminist-centric blogs, although if you find any would you mind posting it here? Kiwiblog posters touched on the dominance of males in the results, but its not a great environment for that sort of discussion really. Arguably this may not be reflective of the entire ‘blogosphere’, but it’s a fairly decent census.

  59. QoT on September 9th, 2010 at 07:49

    Without having time to do close reading, Dylan, I think the KB link you posted may contain the vital information:

    79% of (political) bloggers are male and 21% female

    There has been significant argument, at least in the Aussie blogosphere, about how one defines “political” – to sum up very quickly before I dash to work, a blogger at Larvatus Prodeo lamented the lack of women political bloggers, the likes of tigtog and lauredhel from Hoyden About Town said, “UM, HELLO?” and were told,”Oooooooooooh, but you blog about little-p politics [home, family, disability, gender, race], I was talking about Big-P Politics [Parliament, legislation, political parties].”

    The clear assumption being of course that all those little-p politics aren’t real political discussions.

    I’m pretty sure [pre-first cup of tea] I myself didn’t volunteer as a blogger for Cushens’ thesis because I thought his criteria didn’t quite cover my own little efforts.

  60. Lew on September 9th, 2010 at 08:13

    … and I think that, right there, illuminates a big part of the problem.

    At present KP is, by and large, a big-P politics blog. Pablo is a political scientist and that’s where a significant part of my training lies as well. Even my frequent ruminations on matters of race and gender and so on are oriented toward the big centralised ‘hard politics’ aspects — elections, exercise of power, policy influence , &c — and I admittedly don’t have a very great interest in writing about the micro-level impacts of those things (though I read a lot of blogs which do).

    Anita does, to a much larger degree, and while Dylan’s generalisation about female bloggers may not hold true in the general case, the linked paper (which I don’t think should surprise anyone) it is true of big-P politics blogs. Including, it appears, this one.

    L

  61. Carol on September 9th, 2010 at 08:17

    It seems to me there are also several regular female commenters over at The Standard…. but don’t know the statistical breakdown.

    Pablo said:

    is that because males that may not be faring well in any given argument prefer to change the subject while females prefer to simply stop commenting?

    I don’t know that there is a gender difference here (and I question the “not faring well” judgement).

    It is just as likely to be an individual thing, or maybe, in my case, due to age/experience. I have been participating in online forums of one form or another since the mid-90s. In my experience, I think I usually make my main points in the first couple of posts in a dedbate, then positions can become entrenched, and increasingly fractious. In past times I was probably more inclined to continue, but now feel it just becomes repetitive.

    These days also, maybe I just don’t have the time or energy to put into continuing a prolonged debate with diminishing returns.

  62. reader on September 9th, 2010 at 09:19

    I’m glad you posted this Carol.

    When I read that not-so-veiled shot from Pablo I was tempted to make an angry and sarcastic response. I didn’t because of the reasons you list, and the fact that I usually try to back off when I feel angry and want to tit for tat (don’t always, but usually regret it if I don’t back off, and no Pablo, not because I don’t feel I can hack it with the big boys). It just doesn’t progress any kind of discussion when egos get heavily invested and positions polarised.

  63. Pablo on September 9th, 2010 at 09:52

    reader:

    Do not take it personally because you read me wrong. I was just stirring the bottom of the thread based on an abstract generalisation based in turn upon observation of the way this and other commetn threads have gone on KP. I meant no harm and cast no aspersions here on you or any other individual.

    Blogging for me is an outlet for non-scholarly editorialising and reflection in reasoned and polite fashion (schoarly simply meaning having to go through the anonymous review process with extensive citation of primary sources and the relevant literature, less people be offended by the characterisation). I get annoyed with trolls and insolents from time to time, but by and large have a rather flexible editorial position with regards to comment deviations, criticism (including of myself) and other extraneous interjections. But once they go ad homina, comments are subject to my irritation or outright deletion (and be aware that I only mediate the posts that I write and do not interfere with how Lew and Anita handle their threads unless cursing or vulgarity are involved–something that they reciprocate).

    I posted this comment simply to air an open question about the gender component of posts and comments. If you re-read the thread you may find that there is something for everyone’s ax to grind in the thread.

  64. Hugh on September 9th, 2010 at 11:47

    I feel much the same way Carol. Sometimes it can be worth continuing past the second comment, when people seem to be open to modifying or at least further explaining their positions, but it’s more the exception than the rule.

  65. Dylan on September 9th, 2010 at 18:23

    QoT, agree the scope was narrow. Were there any numbers cited in those Australian discussions? Your choice not to participate detracts from the work as a whole, do you know many others whom chose not to?

    That distinction between little-p and big-P politics is interesting, and since I’m not a political scientist or anything remotely related, I’ve not read that before. Perhaps in future years someone will perform a broader survey based on an exploration of the distinction.

  66. Tom Semmens on September 10th, 2010 at 12:21

    Pablo, in your case debate is almost always framed in a way that basically only invites white, male feedback, since the debate is always framed in hegemonic, white, male terms.

    A good example of this is your recent attempt to frame a debate on the success or otherwise of the invasion of Iraq. The terms that you demanded be adhered to might be perfect for a white, all male audience of middle aged Washington policy wonks, but by excluding any other perspective (like even simple morality) you simply replicated an echo chamber.

    Just as heaven cannot brook two suns, it seems the two male contributors to this blog cannot brook two world views.

  67. Tom Semmens on September 10th, 2010 at 12:35

    Having said that, maybe you post something up about Stephen Wilce, so we can all marvel at the brilliance of our sleuthing secret service.

  68. reader on September 10th, 2010 at 14:18

    Hell Pablo,

    I came back over to acknowledge that, rereading the thread as a whole (rather than piecemeal from my inbox), last night, did alter the my perception of the discussion, and clarified for me, the particular subtext that got my own “shackles” up so reflexively.

    And I saw the comment you are reponding to above, and like you thought it was an unnecessarily nasty and cheap shot.
    -and you delete it, which is ok, but you then (without even the context from the deleted post),launch into an attack on a former student equally cheaply and unnecessarily.

    What the…?

  69. Tom Semmens on September 10th, 2010 at 14:44

    That was indeed a stupid cheap shot.

    Errr…. I agree with you? Since I edited and deleted the comment within a minute of putting it up? Did you bother checking what was finally published?

  70. reader on September 10th, 2010 at 16:07

    I think you should reread what I wrote Pablo. I thought that comment you deleted was personal and abusive. I wasn’t trying to rub salt in the wound, and I’m sorry if that was the effect. I don’t know the back-story. I think you are assuming I do, but all I know of you is this blog.

    As for peril, being chucked off this site wouldn’t even be the worst thing that’s happened to me in the last ten minutes.

  71. Andrew W on September 10th, 2010 at 17:16

    Can we please have a new post, perhaps something about ships and planes.

  72. Pablo on September 11th, 2010 at 00:32

    TomS:

    I just pulled your revised posts from moderation. It is a pity that the first one went through because as is quite clear, it hit a raw nerve. I still wonder as to what posessed you to launch such an unprovoked and mean spirited attack on me.

    reader: I have decided to delete my response to Tom’s first unpleasant comment and the one to your objection because they simply rehash a painful event that has left a permanent stain on my life and contribute nothing to the thread.

  73. Tiger Mountain on September 11th, 2010 at 10:50

    It is subject matter more than anything else that determines gender participation here. This is usually a very polite place compared to many blogs.

    One of the best debates ever at Kiwi Politico was on “NZ public intellectuals”. Some of the above snarky, self serving, nasty even, responses to Pablo further illustrate the need for more PIs as opposed to keyboard snipers.

  74. Rex Widerstrom on September 11th, 2010 at 20:08

    It appears that you are still quite angry about my enforcing the comment policy code on vulgar language on you long ago.

    Firstly, no I’m not. I’m still quite angry that you felt the need to offer a generalised critique upon the quality of my contribution to online debate across the entire blogosphere.

    Censoring a humourous comment (to Pascal’s bookie, IIRC) which contained some innocuous “vulgarity” (no worse than “pissing contest”) was irritating.

    Indulging in uncalled-for sweeping personal criticism was annoying.

    Secondly, lest anyone take from your comment that I indulged in generalised vulgarity over an issue or insulted another commenter (something I am very careful not to do, beyond perhaps gentle mocking of some of the blogosphere’s more extreme characters) I should point out that the “vulgarity” was in the context of an imaginary RWNJ’s response to something PB had said.

    Your exile was voluntary, so it simply reflected your unwillingness to adhere to said policy.

    And, judging by your response, it shall remain so. The taking of an “offence” by a person to characterise them as wholly worthless is indeed a favourite tactic of Lhaws (“These children wrote to me in Maori! Therefore their opinions are worthless and their intent inflammatory!”). I don’t think it has any place in civilised discourse.

  75. Pablo on September 12th, 2010 at 08:57

    Rex:

    Suit yourself. You are welcome back anytime. Just keep it clean and on-topic.

  76. QoT on September 12th, 2010 at 19:49

    That distinction between little-p and big-P politics is interesting, and since I’m not a political scientist or anything remotely related, I’ve not read that before. Perhaps in future years someone will perform a broader survey based on an exploration of the distinction.

    Well, the thing with that would be that it’s not exactly a political science issue – it wasn’t the Serious Male Political Bloggers who quantified it or acknowledged that what women blog about still constitutes politics.

    Related links: Woolly Days and Hoyden About Town.

  77. Anita on September 12th, 2010 at 20:50

    I’m planning to be back next Sunday. I promised to stay out of thing for three months after surgery, and that’s next Sunday :)

    I’m taking suggestions for posts… definitely some gender issues playing on my mind, not to mention my horror of the recent batches of prurient media commentary and the invisibility of the poor.

    I’m not sure I agree it’s the topics that make the gender difference, I think it’s the way we write about the topics. Maybe I should try writing about Pablo’s kinds of topics and see how it is different :)

  78. Dylan on September 12th, 2010 at 21:18

    QoT: My point was that it would be interesting to see someone formally investigate the concept you mention within the scope of the blogosphere. I don’t really care who owns the term (discipline-wise), I’m just interested in its application.

    Those links you provided were interesting though.

    However, your original distinction “little-p and Big-P” was much more neutral than your “Serious Male Political Bloggers” comment- since you don’t have data to back-up the idea, isn’t your latter characterisation in danger of being interpreted as sexist, or perhaps it is just premature?

  79. QoT on September 12th, 2010 at 21:35

    … Dylan, the “Serious Male Political Bloggers” line was kind of directly referencing the entire “where all the female pols bloggers at??” question.

    And I have to say that your insistence that you’ve never heard pol sci people talk about this distinction, and wouldn’t it be great if someone did some real research, and whether different “disciplines” “own” the label? Very classically male-centric, academic-centric, “rational study”-centric and something which is probably part of the “Not Real Politics” problem.

    Because of course women just talking about their experiences can’t possibly count as theory, right?

  80. Dylan on September 12th, 2010 at 21:36

    Anita, I’ve just gone back and explored some of your old posts- in particular one relating to a police press release relating to rape. I’ve found them enlightening, and I’ve enjoyed the breadth of perspective reflected in the commentary- for posts like this, I think what makes them ‘classics’ is the breadth and depth of the commentary. It must be bloody difficult for you guys to facilitate in a way which fosters discussion like that.

    Rex, the one thing I like about KP is that when I’m reading it at work, I never feel like I have to worry about whom is looking over my shoulder (literally, and from information security) when reading the comments section. Obviously not all blogs are like this, even those listed in KP’s blogroll. Abusive comments, particularly those that drop the f-bomb, c-bomb, or whatever-other expletive device, make it difficult for me to continue to read and contribute to the comments section of a blog. I realise not everyone is in the same position, but it is another reason why I perceive KP’s approach to comments as a strength.

  81. Pablo on September 12th, 2010 at 21:44

    QoT:

    Speaking as a political scientist regarding the distinction between large P and small p politics (which I see much like large D and small d democracy), it has always been shameful that small p politics, and all wimin-related issues in fact, have been ghettoised within the discipline. Thus wimin are always assumed to be experts in, and want to teach gender politics when in fact many, such as my partner, do not work in that subfield at all. But then again political science is a traditionally male dominated discipline so it should not be surprising.

  82. Hugh on September 12th, 2010 at 22:10

    I’ve always found the dominance of men in Pols to be a real tragedy. I’ve seen so many bright young women studying Pols as undergrads – they rarely choose to make it their major. I ask them why they don’t remain and it’s rare they have anything bad to say about Pols, they simply prefer some other discipline. (Of course it may simply be they are reluctant to badmouth Political Science to a Political Scientist’s face).

    That being said Pablo I think you may be overstating the case there. Although a lot of small p “politics” is studied at the fringes of Political Science, where it tends to overlap with sociology or anthropology, this is where some of the most vital research and writing is taking place, both within NZ and internationally.

    I know of a lot of theses and books currently being written which are pitched at a level that has little direct relevance to “capital P” politics. Some by women, but some by men, too.

    That being said, in Pablo’s sub-specialty area, security studies, the imbalance may be sharper. I’m not in a position to comment, although I wouldn’t be entirely surprised given the nature of the discipline. In my experience it’s not that women are disinterested in war or violence, it’s more that they tend to be more interested in the strategic than the tactical – more interested in discussing the big picture of war in Afghanistan, goals, preconceptions etc, than the small-scale, such as equipment, battlefield tactics, individual leadership etc etc. Of course Pablo covers both, but I can see why the latter might lead a female audience elsewhere. (My own personal tastes are rather “female” in this area, as already mentioned)

  83. Pablo on September 12th, 2010 at 22:24

    Hugh:

    You are quite correct in your appraisal. Pol Science is a heavily gendered discipline where sub-fields like international relations (IR) are male dominant while others such as comparative politics (CP) have a more even gender distribution inn the ranks. Political Theory and Public Policy also tend to be male dominant, as is the discipline as a whole. What is interesting is that in some countries such as Singapore there are more female political science undergraduates than male because men are “supposed” to study the hard sciences, law or engineering rather than the “soft” social sciences and arts.

    I also agree that small p politics tends to be studied more in the fields of political sociology and political anthropology, to their credit.

  84. Dylan on September 12th, 2010 at 22:36

    QoT:
    I think ‘women just talking about their experiences’ CAN count as theory, although this can be applied slightly wider than women and blogging. Anecdotes are great for deduction and for creating theories, which is the strength of blogging’s informality.

    But theory isn’t ‘truth’ nor is it ‘knowledge’, and theory it will remain without data to back it up. By labelling it academic-centric you imply systematic reinforcement of assertions is a bad thing- I disagree with you. Male-centric? Well if that is what you want to believe than that is sad reflection of your worldview and I believe also an untrue reflection modern epistemiology.

    With my assured good intentions, I would be keen to discuss our disagreement in a separate thread, but I think we’re dragging this thread a bit far off the (admittedly broad) topic.

  85. Hugh on September 12th, 2010 at 22:49

    New Zealand is such a country, Pablo. At least in the last few years, and in the first year of Politial Science courses. The difference is that for the most part they don’t stick to it.

  86. reader on September 12th, 2010 at 22:55

    To Pablo – E tu, kia kaha!

    To Anita,
    I for one, would be delighted if you, or any of the KP team were to take up the issue of the invisibility of the poor.

    On a general note – is there a way that the emailed follow-up comments by could be set at a delay, so just the edited and moderated posts reach our inboxes?

  87. Anita on September 12th, 2010 at 23:12

    reader,

    On a general note – is there a way that the emailed follow-up comments by could be set at a delay, so just the edited and moderated posts reach our inboxes?

    Maybe. I will poke around in the innards of the beast at some point.

  88. stargazer on September 14th, 2010 at 11:55

    i think the distinction between big P & little p politics is not quite correct. the guys in that aussie debate on “where are the women bloggers” just didn’t seem to recognise that the analysis & debates by women bloggers were just as much about legislation, legal processes etc. ie they fit the definition of big P very well. it’s just that the topics they relate to – disability issues, breastfeeding in public, paid parental leave, access to home births to give some examples – didn’t seem to be of any interest to the men who were asking where the women bloggers were. which is what caused so much anger in that debate: the women were doing exactly the same kind of in-depth analysis on issues that actually affect all of society but getting little recognition for it.

    as to why they haven’t been commenting here, it may the “how you’re writing” rather than “what you’re writing” thing. it may also be the comment threads, which are definitely better than many blogs, but the responses can still be pretty aggressive some times, which i personally find off-putting but may not affect others. but then i don’t comment much on other blogs anyway.

    edit: also, very much looking forward to your return to blogging anita!

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