Is Metafilter a Boyzone? February 24, 2002 6:23 AM   Subscribe

[Mistakenly posted this on MetaFilter - apologies for category error]

Is Metafilter a Boyzone? Was recommending MeFi to one of my girl-pals, and she came back to me with the following: "interesting...but it's a bit of a men's room, isn't it?" When pressed she cited postings like sex classes, gross-out cartoons, nerdish obsession, flimsy pretexts for nudity, and whiny self-pitying threads about failing manhood. Somewhat surprised, and in mild defense, I cited back postings on the horror of honour killings, drag queens talking about false breasts and male self-parody. Now she's actually v. pro-men, and no knee-jerk feminist, so she's got me wondering: Are we? And if so, does it matter?
posted by theplayethic to Etiquette/Policy at 6:23 AM (148 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Wow! Good work, theplayethic!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:35 AM on February 24, 2002


I'd be very interested in seeing how membership breaks down by gender, but that's clearly not possible. Going on instinct alone, I'd have to reluctantly agree with your friend. Does it matter? Well, I'd certainly like to see more
postings from a female perspective simply because it's (sometimes) a different POV than the male one. Hanging out in the locker room all the time gets boring.

Interestingly, if you go over to Fark, you'll see lots of women commenting within the threads and going toe-to-toe with the men on many of the topics that your gal-pal calls out as exclusively male. Of course I realize that for all I know they could be monkeys at typewriters pretending to be human females.
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:36 AM on February 24, 2002


> Interestingly, if you go over to Fark, you'll see lots of
> women commenting within the threads and going toe-to-
> toe with the men

Interesting indeed! I guess that means mefi needs more boobies links?

posted by jfuller at 6:44 AM on February 24, 2002


Gender, like age and physical appearance, only usually matters if one volunteers such information, and even then it still doesn't matter. It's difficult to make assumptions based on the name someone chooses. Carol Anne could be a dirty old man posing as a girl in pigtails for all I know. You might think I'm a human male by looking at my name, but in reality I'm a neutered chihuahua. Reality is subjective.

No one should feel uncomfortable participating in MetaFilter on the outset. Tell your friend to wait until after she's saved a few posts to this place and the good natured people will respond lovingly to let her know just how full of crap she is. Then she'll feel right at home. Then she can respond by telling them just how full of crap they are, and then she'll be one of the boys. Yessireebob.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:54 AM on February 24, 2002


This page in inexplicably linked to this page until Matt gets around to deleting one of 'em.

"And the crowd goes wild." yay.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:55 AM on February 24, 2002


Carol Anne could be a dirty old man posing as a girl in pigtails for all I know.

Actually, she'd be posing as a middle-aged lesbian.
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:08 AM on February 24, 2002


I don't think MetaFilter is an Irish boy band, but if it is true, Matt Haughey would make a better Ronan Keating than Ronan Keating himself. We'd just have to make sure he doesn't go solo.
posted by riffola at 7:08 AM on February 24, 2002


Ooh and Jason Kottke could be our Robbie Williams.
posted by riffola at 7:10 AM on February 24, 2002


i told a girl about metafilter and she likes it, so they cancel out i think :)
posted by rhyax at 7:12 AM on February 24, 2002


I'd appreciate it if my name would stop being bandied about on MetaTalk.
posted by Carol Anne at 7:13 AM on February 24, 2002


I'd appreciate it if my name would stop being bandied about on MetaTalk.

As a girl in pigtails posting as a dirty old man, I just wanted to set the record straight...
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:20 AM on February 24, 2002 [1 favorite]


I think that the vibe of metafilter reflects the gender-assumptions of both western media and the general WWW culture, which is that what men believe to be gender-neutral is actually simply masculine, or at least uninclusive of women's points of view. It's a certain blindness which is difficult to pin down, but is exemplified in that a portion of the threads here are pretty guy-centic, but very few are chick-centric. (The ones that I have seen tend to get few comments, or are hijacked by some guy.) Even the threads that theplayethic noted are not particulary chick-centric - they're about gender and gender roles. Chick-centric threads might include links to Bust Magazine, Women's Leadership Online, Hip Mama, Wired Women, or Bodytalk.(I'm sure there are more conservative women's links around but they aren't on my bookmark list. ) The links would not be of the Venus of Hottentot variety, posting about a woman her sexual nature's sake, but would just be included as part of the normal dialogue.
posted by pomegranate at 7:42 AM on February 24, 2002 [1 favorite]


I'd appreciate it if my name would stop being bandied about on MetaTalk. Everyone says that, but then misses the attention once it's gone ;)

MrBaliHai Fark's audience is 80-85% male - apparently.
posted by RobertLoch at 7:57 AM on February 24, 2002


whiny self-pitying threads about failing manhood.

That's a bit of a troll, theplayethic, considering the patronizing tone of the phrase, but your point is taken, as I have, at times, noted. But be that as it may, considering the present demographics: whaddya expect? It's not exactly the Virtual Howard Stern show, at any rate. It'll be a girlzone with more girlposts, ok? At least you've been doing your part.

And Carol Anne, your posts and comments here are way above par, and, as a consequence, you are a memorable presence, so people use you for an example at times. You're a public figure in a public forum. Overall, we're respecting your privacy. Don't be so grumpy and touchy about being mentioned now and then.
posted by y2karl at 8:12 AM on February 24, 2002


I think MetaFilter runs from neutral to boy-oriented, but it's not so overwhelmingly masculine that it feels like a "guys only" space to me. I am perfectly comfortable posting here, and on the rare occasions when I think something is sexist, my dissenting opinions aren't brushed off or ignored. I like the content, because I can skip the dick swinging contests, read what interests me, and haven't once been subjected to the Nth discussion of the superiority of The Keeper.
posted by headspace at 8:14 AM on February 24, 2002


Ditto, y2karl. But be fair. In the thread originally on MetaFilter, all Carol Anne said - quite rightly and duly followed - was that MeTa was the better place to discuss theplayethic's post. She has not expressed an opinion on the subject or otherwise chipped in. So it does seem at least ungentlemanly that her name be bandied about here.

Lest the poster's point be proven beyond all doubt! And yes, I am aware she can defend herself and that this comment might be misconstrued as an unwelcome chauvinistic remark. But, as Carol Anne often points out, there are rules to be followed and it's a bit much to invoke her and attack her if she's chosen not to participate in this particular thread.

Those of us who know her won't mind much but someone new to this would be sidetracked by MrBaliHai's uncharacteristically ungracious comment about "posing as a middle-aged lesbian" when posing is entirely foreign to Carol Anne's stance and history here on MetaFilter.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:24 AM on February 24, 2002


Yes, Metafilter is a bit of a 'boyzone.' But, up until very recently, most of the entire net was a boy's club. Metafilter could definitely be better than it is, but it rarely strikes me as particularly hostile wrt gender; it just seems to reflect the views of most of its participants, lack of stats notwithstanding, I'd put good money that the large majority of regular posters are men. Pomegranate's point that "what men believe to be gender-neutral is actually simply masculine, or at least uninclusive of women's points of view" is well-taken, and, to my mind, true.
posted by Medley at 8:40 AM on February 24, 2002


Miguel: my comment was not intended to be ungracious or denigrating to Carol Anne whose postings and comments I enjoy very much. I was merely pointing out that she's been quite open about who she is, so anybody characterizing her comments as those of someone posing as a girl in pigtails cannot have been paying very close attention to her posts.

And that's all the bandying about that I shall do for today. M'kay?
posted by MrBaliHai at 8:55 AM on February 24, 2002


I don't know...I respect Carol Anne, but I don't really like using her as the token female, or the female example. Sometimes of her comments are appropriately snarky (when someone's being dumb or mean, etc.), and I think that's why you guys like her a lot. But I don't think that's representative of most of the female MeFites; most are very diplomatic a

I agree with what pomegranate said, but I also think that the girl happened to catch MeFi at a bad time. There are a ton of girls here. I would venture to say that 30-35% of MeFi is female. Maybe even more.

And no, I don't feel intimidated by MeFi or MeTa. I don't think most chicas do either.
posted by jennak at 8:57 AM on February 24, 2002


...what men believe to be gender-neutral is actually simply masculine, or at least uninclusive of women's points of view...

Forgive me for finding fault with this blatant generalization about my entire gender and the way that each one of us thinks.
posted by bingo at 9:05 AM on February 24, 2002


I'm going to use this opportunity to call her Google Anne again. Boy, have I waited for this. BOYS RULE! GIRLS DROOL!
posted by geoff. at 9:05 AM on February 24, 2002


so anybody characterizing her comments as those of someone posing as a girl in pigtails cannot have been paying very close attention to her posts.

MrBaliHai, I get it now. Sorry. But Carol Anne didn't appreciate the elucidation and I still maintain that, unless someone's commented on a post, he/she shouldn't be invoked. Specially if he/she is in a much smaller minority than straight men and women, when the matter at hand has nothing to do with sexuality; but with gender.

Carol Anne didn't comment as a woman(or a lesbian) - she commented as a fellow MeFi. There was no posing involved. Or "middle-agedness". It's as if I said "this should be taken to MeTa" and someone mentioned I was posing as a middle-aged straight man. It's irrelevant. That's all. Thanks for, well, putting me straight. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2002


See what happens when you ask people not to talk about you?
posted by darukaru at 9:09 AM on February 24, 2002


I have never really thought about MeFi or MeTa being a boys club. Granted some of the posts on MeFi could be considered more masculine than gender-neutral or chick-centric.

Last night I was an ad for iVillage.com saying it was the most popular website for women. I have never checked it out until today. If that is what most women see as the "web" it is no wonder that that are not more female members here. I do not care for fluff stuff on TV, in my reading or in my web "surfing". If I need a recipe I have cookbooks to look at, Do not have a baby to name and do not wear a size 2.

I like MeFi just fine and feel I can always depend on the peple here to make me think one minute and laugh the next. Keep up the work "boyz".

I type too slow. Ya'll quit picking on each other "boyz".
posted by bjgeiger at 9:30 AM on February 24, 2002


Personally I hate this "male oriented post" or "female oriented post" type of categorization. What in God's name does that mean? That women aren't supposed to be interested in tech stuff or politics? What is a "female oriented" thread? One about kittens and nurturing and baking coconut macaroons? I just object to this assumption that there are inherently gender specific topics.

Take for instance the TV network "Lifetime", which purports to be 'television for women'. Looking at their schedule, you would assume that all women are interested in is 'Golden Girls' reruns, wedding documentaries, and Delta Burke. Well, I fit that demographic more than any of my female friends, so there.

Besides, according to the tv ads, all women on the 'net are over at iVillage.com anyway, discussing breast pumps.

off topic: when I googled 'Lifetime' to look at their schedule, I noticed Google's description of the network: "(50% Disney-owned)". Isn't that weird?
posted by evanizer at 9:38 AM on February 24, 2002


I think you can find whatever you’re looking for. I didn’t even notice most of the posts you point to as being overly guy centric, and the ones you do mention like 90% of white males not doing as good as they used to seemed more about economics than men, and a lot of the comments were about race more than gender issues.

Looking at a random day like Feb. 22 you get:
  • 4 threads on war on terror or countries involved in said war or foreign policy with respect to said war
  • 2 threads on music/IP
  • 2 threads about TV shows
  • 2 threads about Enron
  • 2 obit threads
  • 2 threads about the impact of internet on society
  • 2 threads on web publishing
  • 1 wacky logic puzzle
  • 1 thread about an earthquake
  • 1 thread about civil disobedience
  • 1 thread about giving birth to dead celebrities (look what this wacky person believes?)
  • 1 thread on criminals profiting from story rights
  • 1 thread about Olympics skating controversy
  • 1 thread about family honor killings
  • 1 thread about taxes
  • 1 thread about legos
  • 1 environmentalists are militant thread
  • 1 sodomy law thread
  • 1 thread about journalists hyping stories
  • 1 comedy/parody thread
  • 1 interesting web find
  • 1 thread about doing nothing
posted by willnot at 9:50 AM on February 24, 2002


Bingo, your response is perfect. - I said "I THINK" ...that what men believe is gender-neutral... etc. I am allowed my thoughts while you are allowed yours - I THINK most women don't see their truth as the objective truth, and build that world view into their communications, while often I THINK men see their world as the objective truth, and assume others do as well. You may not agree with me - great. Why not? What do you have to say about it? How do you think that your point supports or detracts from the original post? I personally find your post's cheap snarkiness to be offputting, and in general when a post gets snarky I don't want to participate. (See Jenna's point above.) I think Dialogue=good. Junior high debate club = irritating, but not intimidating. This is a multifactorial issue - partly gender, partly personality, experiences, maturity, communication style, interest, etc...I also don't spend a lot of time on "chick-centric" sites, but I sure notice the dialogue is a lot different there when I do. And I like Metafilter better for content, the women-centric sites better for discussion of content.
posted by pomegranate at 9:55 AM on February 24, 2002


Ditto, y2karl. But be fair.

In all fairness, Miguel, I hadn't even read the related MetaFilter post when I wrote my comment. I was just reacting to what I read here.

Poser...
posted by y2karl at 9:57 AM on February 24, 2002


I suppose my own doubts about the locker-room tendencies of MeFi surfaced when someone posted a mix-video a few months ago - can't remember the exact item - but it involved some Joe six-pack punching the air on his lounger, interspersed with shots of the collapsing Twin Towers, and porno "facials". As I was watching this in an office context, it was the first time I realised what "NFW" (not for work) really meant. There was a very vigorous debate around it on the site, as I remember - and when I drilled into the radical website that ran the clip, I found this incredibly useful transcript of a Jeremy Rifkin public talk. So, not entirely worthless or reprehensible. But I do imagine what a MeFi with its centre of gravity towards pomegranate's end of things would be like. Thought: would women actually want to see a link for a video-mix that made the same point, in the same way, about clitorectomy (for example)? Or do the sexes just have different attitudes to the politics of gross-out - and does that difference play out on MeFi same as anywhere else? Dunno, jus' wundrin.






posted by theplayethic at 10:02 AM on February 24, 2002 [1 favorite]


theplayethic: I object to anyone who tries to define what post I'll appreciate here by *my* gender. I e-mailed that gross-out cartoon (with a warning, because I'm a little kinder than the poster) to all my friends (and not just the women). Ditto the "Dubya Girls"---which I find wonderfully gender-bending. (Fabulous PhotoShop work! I am in awe!) The sex classes item was just the same- old-same-old rant about shameless brazen college kids. Since I could quote analogous rants from the 1800's, I didn't find that worth passing around.

If your girl-pal doubts my gender, you can find photos of me on my webpage and that's listed in my profile....

Hmm, maybe I should post the giant penises link I also sent to all my friends...?
posted by realjanetkagan at 10:12 AM on February 24, 2002


One thing I noticed too, re the Dubya Girls: There is no nudity on the site, other than Jennifer Anniston's butt. And we'd all seen that before, male and female alike. She mooned us all from newstands, from library magazine racks, etc. I had to see it every day from a magazine rack while working at a library years ago. (It lost its sparkle after pretty quickly, and became annoying.) It's a butt that had sort of become public domain, in a sense. Then George Bush's face was attached to it, for cryin' out loud. A better example of a "flimsy pretext for nudity" could have been found.
posted by raysmj at 10:35 AM on February 24, 2002


Bit of a boyzone? Methinks not. More than once I've suffered a beatdown from Mefi's feminist/PC corps because of my (in my opinion) more realist perspective on gender roles.
posted by owillis at 10:35 AM on February 24, 2002


DO NOT DROP, THROW, OR BANDY. here, here. A name and a place, seldom the face so speakth clear and unto thee, josh if one must but save warbling minutia, flee impatient muse...
posted by clavdivs at 10:47 AM on February 24, 2002


My SO, who is very much a female, assumes a male identity for about 95% of her online socializing. She says that when she uses a fem identity, guys do not take her seriously and they hit on her constantly. She wrote off MeFi and /. long ago because the stench of testosterone was too much for her.
posted by mischief at 10:49 AM on February 24, 2002 [1 favorite]


Funny thing, it never even occurred to me to think of this place as a boy- or girl-zone. What the hell is a gender-specific subject?

As for the idea of any sort of survey on the sex of Metafilter readers - it only matters if you believe that gender necessarily dictates your interests and opinions on any given topic.

Which I don't.


posted by different at 10:54 AM on February 24, 2002 [1 favorite]


porno "facials"=clit[id]orectomy?

Not that the former is one of my favorite things but the equation seems a bit awry.

Men are from Mars, theplayethic is from Pluto?

owillis/=suffering from low self-esteem.
posted by y2karl at 10:58 AM on February 24, 2002


As long as we're discussing the problems of one gender dominating metafilter -- I don't really have a problem with the demographic breakdown except that on this site men often think it's their right to discuss women's bodies and attractiveness. That pisses me off, but then, I live in the real world and boys will be boys.

Two recent examples spring to mind: metatalk thread on suicide girls | metafilter thread about greta van sustren's cosmetic surgery

As a woman, I have a problem with such threads.
posted by palegirl at 11:07 AM on February 24, 2002


What, Greta gets a face job, bandies it about the news and we're not supposed to discuss it? Come on. And Matt accepts the first risque textad, which links to a site where women are openly displaying themselves, and we're not supposed to discuss that either?

It is men's right to discuss women's bodies and attractiveness, just as it is women's right to do the same about men (and don't tell me women don't do it, cause I know better). It is also women's right to discuss other women's attractiveness (which they do) and men's right to discuss other men's bodies and attractiveness (which they don't do enough). Some men get hot for women. It's a natural thing and natural to talk about it on a mostly democratic forum. I have never seen men here cross any lines into insulting tastelessness when it comes to discussing women.

Verdezza and I spent the Olympics opening ceremony thread drooling over Eric Heiden, so I suppose I am just as guilty an objectifying oppressor as the straight boys on MeFi. But, hey, I'd rather a discussion of girl's boobs or boy's butts than an Israel/Palestine thread any day. Let's be sex positive, rather than letting the cold, school-marmish hand of PC come down on us.
posted by evanizer at 2:26 PM on February 24, 2002 [1 favorite]


Except the Greta Van Sustren thread ended up also being about Sesame Street. (?!?) In that way, metafilter's very much like the real world - consistently absurdist, if you're paying attention - only twice as much, or worse, what have you. This can make threads on sexual/gender matters more appealing than you'd find even in articles such as, say, Nerve. (Nerve would never allow a Sesame Street to intrude on their turf. But, frankly, they should.)
posted by raysmj at 2:33 PM on February 24, 2002


pomegranate: You're right, I should have quoted you more completely; it seems I was really quoting Medley quoting you. Actually, I first composed a longer post, and then deleted it because I thought that would be snarky, and because I allowed your post to make me angry, I did not want to post something angry. I'll try not to now, either.

I think that the vibe of metafilter reflects the gender-assumptions of both western media and the general WWW culture, which is that what men believe to be gender-neutral is actually simply masculine, or at least uninclusive of women's points of view.

Okay. I disagree with you about the "gender-assumptions" of western media and "the general www culture." I disagree with you about the exclusivity of metafilter, about "what men believe" (and I would know, at least in one case, beyond doubt), and about your assessment of the differences between male and female points of view, and interests in specific topics. I think that this idea of a certain blindness which is difficult to pin down is insulting to me as a man. The fact that you started your post with "I think" and that you included the phrase "difficult to pin down" (speaking of gender-based ideas, I wonder where that expression might have come from?), does not mean that you weren't making a generalization about people of my gender and the way we think.



posted by bingo at 2:39 PM on February 24, 2002


except that on this site men often think it's their right to discuss women's bodies and attractiveness

becuase women never treat a man like a bit o' meat?
*rolls eyes*
posted by Mick at 3:10 PM on February 24, 2002


Ok, first we're all accused of being too liberal, and now we're accused of being too masculine? You can't have it both ways, make up your mind!

Haha, I kid. I haven't noticed any overt boysclubousity (to coin a phrase), but that may simply be because I am part of the white-male-protestant oppressor-class and consequently blind to everything but my own navel. It seems to me, though, that if the person who is making these accusations insists that certain subjects are male-oriented and other subjects female-oriented, then of course metafilter will be grossly male-oriented, because there are more men than women here, and we all post about things we think are interesting.

But a slightly more accurate and enlightened view, I think, would be that we're for the most part smart enough to be interested in things that are outside of a narrow range of male/female stereotypes. Post something about kittens, people will read it. Post something about how to win in a bar fight, and people will read that too. Welcome to the Virginia Woolf school of intellectual androgyny.
posted by Hildago at 3:25 PM on February 24, 2002


palegirl, don't you have a problem with the objectification of people, rather than the specific male objectification of women? I fail to see how it's a gender thing. Is it worse when the target is a woman, and if so, why? I don't get it.

Also, I won't speak for others, but I know whenever I type something reducing people to physical appearance, I'm doing it with tongue firmly in cheek because the small mindedness of it is absurd, and hence is (at least to me) really funny.

Also, I've never seen a picture of her where I wouldn't nail Ani DiFranco like she was Jesus. Mostly because of her cans.
posted by dong_resin at 4:19 PM on February 24, 2002 [1 favorite]


* blink * I've never noticed an overtly masculine air to MeFi. Even if a thread gets too testosterone-laden, there's usually something there to make me laugh, if nothing else...

:: begins dancing around to the "Free To Be You and Me" soundtrack ::
posted by metrocake at 4:20 PM on February 24, 2002


I gotta second brother dong and sister cake here, palegirl. Compared to most internet forums, MeFi is as chaste as a batallion of Amish nuns. The thread you referred to was about a porn site for pete's sake, so naturally, the attractiveness of the girls is gonna come up. The references were pretty lighthearted from the males and females alike. Hell, if one of the MeFemmes(or evanizer for that matter) wanted to talk about men's attractiveness, most of the MeFi men would be lining up to be treated like peices of meat.
posted by jonmc at 4:35 PM on February 24, 2002


dong_resin: "I know whenever I type something reducing people to physical appearance, I'm doing it with tongue firmly in cheek because the small mindedness of it is absurd, and hence is (at least to me) really funny."

That was precisely my intent, and I'm mildly stunned by the fact my flippant and snarky remark was taken more seriously than it was intended. I certaintly didn't mean to derail the thread into talk of "token females." My original statement in this thread was purposefully flippant and snarky, because I feel the entire concept to be patently absurd. A woman feels uncomfortable entering this arena? It's silly. We're in the 21st century. How can any intelligent person take such a concept seriously?

But once again my words are misunderstood, so allow me to take off my self-awarded duncecap and attempt a moment of clarity. What follows does not include my usual wallowing attempt to achieve an amusing punchline.

I have repeatedly said in here that people should never take what I say seriously, I will further amend that to say no one should take anything anyone says in here seriously, be it gender-specific or politically accusatory or what have you.

We volunteer to come here, cite webpages of interest to each of us and share our grey matter with one another in ways that perhaps cannot be compared elsewhere on the Internet. We do it because we love it. Nothing more nor less.

Is this a boys' club? No. There's no "Goils Not Alowwed" sign on the door to the clubhouse, nor should there be. We're not The Little Rascals here, though often that may be how it feels. Women are very much allowed and welcomed and are an intrinsically important part of what makes MeFi special.

If anyone thinks otherwise I will have words with them.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:38 PM on February 24, 2002


Hey man, don't lump me in with you.
When I do it, it's funny. When you do it, it's offensive.

;)
posted by dong_resin at 4:59 PM on February 24, 2002


palegirl said: men often think it's their right to discuss women's bodies and attractiveness. That pisses me off, but then, I live in the real world....

Wait, wait. It's not my right to discuss whatever I choose on Meta*? While the Internet may not be United States territory, the "real world" I live in doesn't require I forfeit my First Amendment rights whenever I log on.
posted by Danelope at 5:02 PM on February 24, 2002


Dong, when you do it, it's funny to you, and some people may take it as funny as well. Others may take it as offensive. You have no control over how others will take it.

So to that degree, we are lumped in the same pile. *smirk*
posted by ZachsMind at 5:07 PM on February 24, 2002


boyzone? I've heard this complaint before, and I think there's some truth to it.
posted by rebeccablood at 5:10 PM on February 24, 2002


If anyone thinks otherwise I will have words with them.

*shivers in terror*
posted by rodii at 5:22 PM on February 24, 2002


Can anyone name an equal gender-balanced community online?

I think slashdot runs even more geekboy than this place, and it could probably be argued that kuro5hin.org does as well. Fark seems like The Man Show to me. On the flip side, there are women-specific communities, but does any general one smack of good gender balance?

It could certainly be that open, general communites online tend towards male-domination just by the nature of things like Male Answer Syndrome?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:38 PM on February 24, 2002 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the link, Matt. Now I have something to add to my long list of disorders :)
posted by jonmc at 5:45 PM on February 24, 2002


Just to be clear, I'm not being snarky or anything, I really do think Male Answer Syndrome happens, at least it does on all the mailing lists I'm on. Few women post even though perhaps 50% of the list could be female, while mostly men dominate the discussions (even, and especially when they don't know what the hell they are talking about).

Maybe it's just the nature of interaction online that for some reason men feel more comfortable posting (in general)?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:48 PM on February 24, 2002 [1 favorite]


I'd say it has to do with populations online in general, and then what posting styles are rewarded in any given forum. if a woman isn't willing to play by boys rules in a boy-dominated forum, she generally won't be heard, or not heard as clearly. neither will a boy, for that matter.
posted by rebeccablood at 5:57 PM on February 24, 2002


Well, if you don't mind me using you as an example, rebecca, I don't think that's true. Your posts generaly are restrained, fair-minded, and free of bluster and pissing-contest credential flashing, which are all traits that are commonly associated with the worst tendencies of male netizens(myself included).
Which is why you're one of the more respected people here.
As I said a few comments back, mefi is generally speaking free of the more egregious "hey baby" crotch-grabbing behavior I've seen other places. The main reasons being one, it's not what people come here for and two, if people wanna act like chimps there's plenty of other more welcoming places.
posted by jonmc at 6:08 PM on February 24, 2002


if you don't mind me using you as an example, rebecca,

well, thank you, but I am often out-shouted in many conversations. I don't feel that my posting style is encouraged by the community as a whole, or you'd see much more of it.

anyway, I can see how someone coming here for the first time would get the boyzone hit. it may not be as bad as some other places, sure. and I think women have a place here if they want one. but what's your imaginary mefi contributor? most people I've talked to about it (not many) imagine a young man, young enough or nerdy enough not to have a whole lot of life experience.

that may not be true of every individual, but it's the hit that the few people I've talked to (women) get; and actually, I find that when I contextualize some of the behavior that bothers me most in those terms, it makes more sense to me.
posted by rebeccablood at 6:18 PM on February 24, 2002


but what's your imaginary mefi contributor? most people I've talked to about it (not many) imagine a young man, young enough or nerdy enough not to have a whole lot of life experience.

They couldn't be more wrong, just judging from the MeFi'ers I've either met in person or via e-mail and AIM. Just a breif list:

an ex-punk rocker housewife
a rock-n-roll obsessed linguistics expert
a CGI expert who digs tiki stuff
a former ranking member of NOW
a beer-making financial executive
a black Republican Britney and Superman obsessive
a gay christian conservative
and of course a Portugese cocktail-enthusiast posting machine...

Introduce your freinds to the small sampling I've mentioned and they'll see this place is no kind of "zone" except for one that says "Welcome, and feel free to throw in your two cents!" which is why, despite it all, I keep coming back.
posted by jonmc at 6:31 PM on February 24, 2002


rebeccablood: The issue you're describing isn't really gender-specific, is it? I mean, there just may be a few obnoxious female posters who are also, as you say, young and nerdy and without much life experience.

Although, to be fair, I have encountered plenty of older folks who don't seem to know shit about shit, and nerdiness doesn't mean naivete.
posted by bingo at 6:39 PM on February 24, 2002


but what's your imaginary mefi contributor?

I've always imagined you all as saucy co-eds. Even Matt.

But this is the wrong thread to say that, isn't it?

I don't feel that my posting style is encouraged by the community as a whole, or you'd see much more of it.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'my posting style', here, rcb. I've never seen anyone (bar one cretin a while ago who shall goes nameless, since I forget his name) speak of you, in the sense of your presence here, in anything other than respectful and appreciative, if not downright glowing, terms.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:48 PM on February 24, 2002


burp.
[picks nose, scratches balls]
posted by quonsar at 6:50 PM on February 24, 2002 [1 favorite]


If mefi is a boyzone, i never noticed it (and I'm female), but maybe that's because most of the posts i find interesting would probably be classified as male-oriented. (Incidentally, I always find it a little hypocritical when women point to threads about [pick a subject - wargames, technology, terrorism, whatever...] and complain that they're "male-oriented" threads. Doesn't that just reinforce the stereotypes? only boys would be interested in X, Y, or Z?)

re; the 'male answer" syndrome - there's a book by psychologist Barbara Kerr called "Smart Girls" in which she tracks participants in a gifted and talented program for several years and then attempts to explain why the male graduates were exponentially more successful than the female graduates, and why the girls that were successful made it in spite of those obstacles. One of the things she points out is that girls are often taught to relate failure to ability; whereas boys are taught that failures were largely the result of circumstances and bad luck. if she's right, it would explain why women are less frequent posters here. Posting something and being shot down for it would have more of an effect on women than men, and they'd be less likely to risk putting themselves in that position again.
posted by lizs at 6:51 PM on February 24, 2002


Jonmc, my friend and brother - recognize these last four words are guyspeak for "I like you very much", but that this is not the way intelligent people go about expressing their affections. It's shorthand - sincere but shallowly and affirmatively presented.

It all depends on whether you care to be heard by women. Talking man-to-man is a young man's thing. It purposefully excludes women. For example: superficially discussing boobs or other physical stuff, like sports and war, with no appeal to abstract thought - only to hardware and outward performance.

I may be a traitor to my "class" but I think I myself am guilty, 99% of the time, of guy-talking. Sort of hoping women will not read what we say or somehow "discount" it as play. So theplayethic's, palegirl's and rebeccablood's gentle and patronizing objections ring true. Even young women are not like men: they're more interested in truth and generalities; stuff that transcends gender and age. Their playfulness is universal - if condescending - whereas ours is just silly.

They don't find it funny; we do. Perhaps we men could accept our grandstanding displays of masculinity as the obvious(and therefore unnecessary)childishness we enjoy, despite our better knowledge - since there's no way women can be more sensitive and intelligent than we are.

Only much less eager to prove the opposite; as we sometimes, all too often, are...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:56 PM on February 24, 2002 [1 favorite]


Hey! I just realized that the "nerdish obsession" link at the top of this thread is to my Superman post. Harumph.

Superman is an American mythical icon, sometimes portrayed as working directly for the President. What they're going to do with him in a post-911 could be interesting to a lot of people, men and women, nerds and non-nerds. Also significant (and part of the post) is the fact that the director is best known for Charlie's Angels, a girl-power movie worthy of an entirely separate discussion on gender. Neither of the last two live-action Superman efforts (both on TV, Lois & Clark and Smallville) are just targeted at boys, to be sure. The post was about the question of what Superman would mean today, and whether the new movie could/would be in any way profound in terms of what's going on in the world and in America. It's not like I was proposing we debate the difference between red and gold kryptonite.
posted by bingo at 6:59 PM on February 24, 2002 [1 favorite]


Acually, Miguel, the list was just my way of showing how diverse our little corner of the web actually is, and how absurd it is to view it is as any kind of "zone" with all that word's connotations of clubbiness and exclusivity.
For instance, where else could I, a guy who spent most of his adult life(so far) shelving books for a living converse as a peer and equal with people who've actually written books.

Although, I can appreciate that the presence of the fairer sex here on mefi does play a role in keeping things from becoming the intellectual equivalent of the WWF. I've seen it in the real world, too. Up until about three months ago, the staff of the store I work in was all male. Then a girl was hired. Her presence has definitely curbed some of the locker room atmosphere. Although she's started cussing like a sailor and getting into playing-the-dozen's style insult's with us, so it goes both ways. Oh well, it's all good.
posted by jonmc at 7:11 PM on February 24, 2002


Posting something and being shot down for it would have more of an effect on women than men, and they'd be less likely to risk putting themselves in that position again.


i hate the idea that women don't post because we might feel intimidated, and i can't say that's ever entered into my decision to post or not on metafilter or anywhere else. i think male answer syndrome is an interesting idea - are women more likely to stop and think "will my 2 cents add anything unique to this discussion? do i need to make myself heard here instead of just reading something and moving on?" i don't know. but it's an interesting question.

that's of course entirely separate from the question of post content, which is good for the most part here, but clearly veers off into posts that aren't so interesting/welcoming to women posters, as theplayethic linked above. there are clearly times when i and the other women i know who post here roll our eyes and wonder why we keep coming back. i suppose the only answer to that is "optimism".
posted by judith at 7:13 PM on February 24, 2002


...or perhaps I'm just feeling bummed that I seem to be one of a very few Mr.Men and Little Miss enthusiasts around here...
posted by jonmc at 7:15 PM on February 24, 2002


but bingo, superman has 50 years of 15-year-old-boys-reading-marvel history behind it, and most everyone's first reaction to hearing about anything superman related is that it will probably appeal to teen boys.

offtopic thing I have to mention but don't feel like discussing: Charlies Angels was a girl power movie?!
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:15 PM on February 24, 2002


bingo: I tried to start such a thread several months ago. The post regarded an article that discussed the possible cultural significance of movies including "Charlie's Angles." The thanks I got for it? The message was, "Hey, stop thinking like a man, already. Broaden your horizons." (It was a man who told me this, specifically, one with praise of "Samatha Fox Strip Poker" on his blog.) The post could have been better phrased, and the article wasn't the most well-written (the author was trying to hard make the facts fit the typology or theory, but so do plenty of esteemed academics). Not trying to toot my own here. Just want to point out the difficulty of trying to have interesting discussions in the gender department.

(Just for the record: I sent the article to a Sarah Lawrence graduate who'd been a film studies major around the same time. She loved it. Go figure.)

posted by raysmj at 7:21 PM on February 24, 2002


a black Republican Britney and Superman obsessive

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I AM A DEMOCRAT.

I voted for Clinton, I voted for Gore, I'm Pro-Choice, I get Blueprint magazine, I have a signed White House letter and picture from Clinton, I can't stand GWB!!

[the rest of your description is accurate] :)
posted by owillis at 7:31 PM on February 24, 2002


mathowie: But there have been three or four hit songs regarding Superman in recent years, two in the past year or so alone. Then there are the Superman references on "Seinfeld," the TV dramas, etc. I don't get into "Superman," and am terribly sick of the Man of Steel-oriented pop songs - I think anyone who writes another one, especially a drearily earnest one, should be taken out and shot without trial - but obviously he's still has more than a little cultural cachet. Maybe, again, it's a phrasing thing, a way of making it plain that, "This isn't a goofball teen discussion here." I know jonmc hates this, but irony could help.
posted by raysmj at 7:35 PM on February 24, 2002


I look forward to the year when a white guy's hanging out with a black guy and goes, "hey? Isn't this supposed to be black history month?" and the black guy goes, "Nah, don't worry about it. Where's our big boobed slaves with the drinks?" (from the blue side)

Nah, not a boyzone at all.
posted by rodii at 7:37 PM on February 24, 2002


ok, sorry...If had any graphic skills I'd photoshop a Democratic donkey being ridden by Britney in a Superman costume just to show my contrition. But I don't so I'll go off to the penalty box to drink watermelon Pucker from my Goofy Grape mug. *sniff*..

no offense ray, but since when do I hate irony?

posted by jonmc at 7:40 PM on February 24, 2002


rodii, care to provide a link so that comment can be read in context? (Not that I can imagine a context that would redeem it, but I just gotta know...)
posted by Optamystic at 7:46 PM on February 24, 2002


Since you praised Jedidiah Purdy, and praised the Replacements for not being ironic, etc. Seemed fairly clear to me: "Here is a man who doesn't like irony." Or at least the tossed off, unthinking sort. (Jed doesn't know the word's definition, but that's an entirely different story for another thread, which I hope never comes along. Oh, and the Mats could be ironic, but didn't constantly wear a self-conscious smirk. I was basically suggesting a written smirk there.)
posted by raysmj at 7:48 PM on February 24, 2002


It was on tonight's BET/Black History Month thread, Opty, but I didn't want to make the particular poster the issue. Just offering it as something that someone thinks can be said "in public" here.
posted by rodii at 7:51 PM on February 24, 2002


Since iorny is being mentioned, I can't believe you took me literally, ZachsMind. On a comment about sense of humor, too.
Irony is god.
posted by dong_resin at 7:53 PM on February 24, 2002


Irony is god.

And, since we've all been duly informed that irony is dead, it would follow logically that god is dead. Glad we finally got that settled. Now put down your guns and have a margarita.
posted by Optamystic at 7:58 PM on February 24, 2002


Point taken. You're correct about Purdy not knowing the words definition. What Purdy's railing against is flipness and vacuity, which I agree with him on. And when I said the Mats were unironic, I meant that the genuinely loved the rock-n-roll they made and weren't offering it with a wink and a nudge,"this is so cheesy that I like it" type of attitude(ie their Kiss covers were not meant as camp), that seems so prevalent.
Irony, however, properly employed by an expert is terrific, and I've been known to use it here on occasion, like my last comment. Actually, now that I think of it Purdy's failure to make the distinction between irony and flipness may be one reason why his book was written off by many.



posted by jonmc at 7:59 PM on February 24, 2002


If someone being moronic is a moron, why isn't someone being ironic an iron? (rhymes with Enron)
posted by rodii at 8:08 PM on February 24, 2002


a black Republican Britney and Superman obsessive

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I AM A DEMOCRAT.

Methinks our crypto-celebrity Mr. Chris Matthews of Hardball doth protest too much. Sorry, Chris, but I just had to out you. The game's over--I just couldn't keep it a secret any longer. Say hi to Bill Bennett for us next time he's on the show, OK?

And you thought he was a black Republican... Suckers!
posted by y2karl at 8:09 PM on February 24, 2002


mathowie:but bingo, superman has 50 years of 15-year-old-boys-reading-marvel history behind it, and most everyone's first reaction to hearing about anything superman related is that it will probably appeal to teen boys.

Some people's reaction will be. But Smallville is a hip show that is definitely aimed at both sexes, and the Superman movies of the 80s were popular with multiple demographics. The version that almost-was, also mentioned in my post, was going to be Nicolas Cage as Supes, directed by Tim Burton...if Burton was at the top of his gothic form, and they had a good script, imagine the bizarre crossover demographic they could have hit!

Anyway, the fact that Superman has so much history behind him is all the more reason why his appeal is wider than that of the average superhero...he's accessible to the general public. Most people have a basic idea of who he is and what he can do, who his arch-enemy is, etc. Those fifteen year-olds have grown up over the years, and they are not all nerds. Plenty of people who grew up watching the really old TV show are still with us.

Anyway, even if it's a reference that sets off some people's nerd alarms right off the bat, I think they're not looking far enough, and they certainly weren't looking at that post very hard. I'm not saying it was brilliant and profound, but it was more than a survey about obscure nerd trivia.

Speaking of which, Matt, it's DC, not Marvel. ;)


posted by bingo at 8:11 PM on February 24, 2002


Looks around thread
"Nope, no pathetic loner comic/sci-fi geekboys here."
Glances into mirror
"Oh shit."
posted by Optamystic at 8:19 PM on February 24, 2002


Dear God owillis, how could you shout something so profane in here? :-P

Well, as the conservative non-Christian queer here (you weren't referring to me in your list, were you jonmc?), I can say that I like the locker room antics of some of our boys. It's cute.

As far as crudeness being a boy thing, anyone remember the camgirls?
posted by evanizer at 8:22 PM on February 24, 2002


I was actually, based on this comment, if I'm wrong, my bad, no offense intended, just figured you're enough of a regular to deserve a shout-out with the rest of my crew.

To clarify on my irony point, I give a real life example. At this exact moment, I am enjoying my mp3 of the Crystals "He's Sure the Boy I Love" Many people seeing that on my list(and there are plenty more just like it) would assume it's there as some sort of "camp" gesture to pull out as a goof. It's not, the girls sing their hearts out on the song and I'm genuinely moved and incited to get up and boogie by it. Consuming something for the sheer purpose of mockery(especially something created in earnest), is what irks me about what Purdy calls "ironic" folk.
posted by jonmc at 8:34 PM on February 24, 2002




I'm doing a lot of drugs to forget the camgirls, evanizer.
By the way, I never really got an answer to my question, which I originally directed to palegirl, but seems to be pretty a prevalent attitude :
Is objectifying women somehow worse that doing it to men? Are the social situations we live in so far removed? I'm not trying to be clever by being obtuse or anything here, I'm honestly a bit confused by the idea.
I know when people are about they tend to bring up things like rape as being the natural end result of reducing women to body parts, but it seems to me that kind of behavior has more going with general misanthropy than "Hey, nice cans", which, while tacky, isn't necessarily harmful. I get "nice ass" from gay men sometimes, and I don't particularly feel assaulted.

Somebody from the x chromosome side of the ballroom wanna help a brother out?
posted by dong_resin at 8:53 PM on February 24, 2002


Jon, that's not really the Crystals! It's Darlene Love, the most sincere singer of all time. Mmm, Darlene. I salute your good taste. I listen to Spector stuff all the time, no irony required.

(Seriously, the Crystals broke up/were broken up and were replaced (under the Crytals name) by Darlene and the Blossoms for a couple records, including that one.)
posted by rodii at 9:00 PM on February 24, 2002


Uh, maybe I lost track of what this thread is supposed to be about again? Is obsessing over 60s rock minutiae boyzone behavior?
posted by rodii at 9:01 PM on February 24, 2002


I gotta say something regarding boob talk:

I admin a small but active (~200 messages a week) mailing list. After the departure of one male who was rooming with one of the females on the list, it is now exactly 50/50.

After a few years, you learn things about people, like the moment I put it all together and realized that every person on the list has a keen (and lascivious) appreciation of female breasts. But, then again, the last time there was extended boobie talk it was about some of the deeply unerotic things accompanying difficult nursing for the mom in our list's only couple to tie the knot.

The only time in many months that I had to be admin bad guy was when one woman came down on another woman and made her feel shut down.
posted by NortonDC at 9:04 PM on February 24, 2002


Is obsessing over 60s rock minutiae boyzone behavior?

Not if it's about Darlene Love. Besides my best music obsessin' , record-rack prowlin' partner is my lesbian ex-girlfreind, who would be welcome in any of the so-called "boyzones"(comic stores, bars, record stores) that I haunt.
posted by jonmc at 9:05 PM on February 24, 2002


I was trying to get at just this thing in my post of a few days ago. I'm with rcb generally on the whole deal. It's a boyzone in many ways, I generally don't mind it but every now and then there's a thread that I not only don't like but don't feel much like commenting on because I don't want to get into an argument over whether I'm being overly sensitive. This, of course, accentuates the problem. However, I also don't want to see it be any different except for possibly encouraging other women to pipe up more in order to balance it out some.
posted by jessamyn at 9:29 PM on February 24, 2002


"Since iorny is being mentioned, I can't believe you took me literally"...i cant believe you didnt say "Bukkake" in a thread containing such...things.
posted by clavdivs at 9:35 PM on February 24, 2002


I may as well have, for the all the response I've gotten.
posted by dong_resin at 9:40 PM on February 24, 2002


I certainly feel comfortable here as a female, though apparently a lot of people assumed I was male at first - perhaps without an obviously male moniker, everyone would be assumed male - the default gender. I disagree that what's considered "neutral" is really masculine, though it's certainly arguable that posts that could be seen as stereotypically one gender or the other are more likely to fall on the male side - there's a better chance of football or beer posts than babies or clothes. But I'd skip posts about any of that. Except possibly beer.

Personally, I have no issue with people "objectifying" women. Being bisexual, I guess I sort of do it myself, to some degree. However, I think the reason the problem comes up is that it's possible, or at least perceived, that male and female sexuality work a little differently. On that thread about the video that had all the "facials", I made a comment saying how I couldn't understand how that was sexy and something like "nature's a bitch for making that so appealing to men".

Soon after that Dan Savage ran a column about his fantasy of (some sexy actor) coming in (some sexy actor)'s face and a question from a reader about why he wanted to see him come in the other guy's face. He said that demeaning the second guy was part of what made it so hot, and compared it to "marking territory". I doubt very many women have major fantasies in this vein. Still, in general being offended is useless. If you disagree with someone, explain your POV. If it's useless to discuss the issue / it's already beaten to death/ etc, then just ignore it.
posted by mdn at 9:43 PM on February 24, 2002


Methinks our crypto-celebrity Mr. Chris Matthews of Hardball doth protest too much

BUY MY FRIGGIN' BOOK!

Seriously though, I think Mefi leans towards argumentation and a bit of grandstanding which may tend to be more "male" things versus quiet discussion and agreement. But then I guess if you ask women to step up to the plate and just swing the bat you're asking them to be more "male". Oh well.
posted by owillis at 9:47 PM on February 24, 2002


dong_resin asks: Is objectifying women somehow worse that doing it to men?

While I'm obviously not palegirl and won't attempt to speak on her behalf, I am a female and will venture a response.

The quick answer is, of course, no. Making anyone an object isn't a nice thing to do, but both females and males do this all the time. I'm pretty sure the reason a lot of females find this to be a problem is due to the sheer volume that this type of thing occurs in. By volume, I mean the amount and loudness, by the way. Men tend to be more open in their "appreciation" of the female form than women do. That's not to say there isn't a market for Chippendale's or that women don't send each other "naughty" pictures via email. But, on average, I would assume most people agree that men partake in these sorts of activities more often and in greater numbers than women do.

Most topics transcend gender lines and even the few possible ones already mentioned in this thread seem to be pretty tame. Take the suicide girls textad thread, though. For some reason, discussing the morale and financial implications of taking this type of textad turned into a "hey, this is what I like in a chick - big tits!" fest, complete with links to everyone's favourite preview pictures.

Now you can play the "boys will be boys" card and assume it was inevitable to steer the discussion from the moral and financial implications of accepting such an ad to people scouring the site to discuss the participants. But I think where some people get turned off is that it becomes a question of asking, "Gee, do we have to go in this direction yet again?"

The bottom line is, people should be able to talk about pretty much whatever floats their boat. But it's important to think of the "audience" as well. It's one thing to sit in your worn boxer shorts and ratty t-shirt while scarfing down a macaroni and cheese frozen dinner in front of TV at home. But head out to a nice restaurant and you're expected to dress a particular way and use those manners your parents taught you. It's the same thing in online communities. People expect a certain amount of decorum and saving the "am I hot or not" chats for your good buddies and being a little more restrained in public might be something to think about.

This isn't to say that I see Metafilter as a Boyzone or was offended at the suicide girls thread. I'm just trying to give a female's point of view and give some thoughts on what might possibly be the issues affecting some people.

Oh, and I know this was very heterosexually written in an attempt to be succinct, but just chop and change genders to suit.
posted by cyniczny at 10:11 PM on February 24, 2002


But I'd skip posts about any of that. Except possibly beer.

Vindication at long last :)

He said that demeaning the second guy was part of what made it so hot, and compared it to "marking territory".

Read that. Not sure I believe it entirely, Dong_resins bukkake refs notwithstanding. Male sexual attraction and activity is bound up with aggression, to a lesser mark dominance (but more ownership), far more than female sexuality, which seems more emotionally than physically charged, despite (perhaps because?) of the far greater capacity for physical pleasure in the act...?

Take it a step sideways, and you get male aggression linked with the other enjoyments we take from life: boxing matches, boardroom antics, drinking bouts, warfare... and arguing. Create a forum for arguing, and males will show up and act aggressively, for the simple reason that it gives us pleasure. There is, for us, a certain awful beauty in destruction. And we each are intimate first with the dark, gleeful maniac within us each. Apollo? Meet Dionysis, he'll be making you do mean, destructive shit the rest of your days... when we can do so on an individual, man to man basis, more so the better. Men have more in common with wolves than with women, and our greatest test is vying for Alpha.

Please forgive my clavdivsian nonsequitoria, it's late.
posted by UncleFes at 10:13 PM on February 24, 2002


Fes just did a far more articulate job of making the point I tried to make here. among other places.Thanks for being my mouthpiece, unc.
posted by jonmc at 10:29 PM on February 24, 2002


clavdivsian nonsequitoria

Ooh, now that I like.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:41 PM on February 24, 2002


Upon going back and looking at the links from the top of this post even further, I think it's worth pointing out that the "sex classes" take place in a women's studies deparment, that "flimsy pretexts for nudity" connects to a thread that is mostly about the non-erotic nature of the imagery, that "whiny self-pitying threads about failing manhood" links to a thread that is mostly a complicated argument about race and economics, and that "gross-out cartoons" links to a thread started by Arqua, who I assume is female, and which does not contain one comment that genuinely praises the link or even shows much interest in it. I think theplayethic's friend spent about 30 seconds on this site, total.
posted by bingo at 11:17 PM on February 24, 2002


I have never seen a more important MeTa thread. Bravo, theplayethic!

If you feel (as I do) that MetaFilter could only benefit from folks such as Jessamyn and Rebecca Blood participating more frequently and fully, then you might try asking yourself "how can I contribute to creating a more appealing atmosphere?"

Personally, I ask myself "why do many prominent MeFiers of color (and God knows how many lurkers) so often refrain from posting in heated discussions of race?" Much of this "no girls allowed" stuff plays out as a "whites only" dynamic as well -- and if ya don't know, now ya know.
posted by sudama at 11:42 PM on February 24, 2002


OK, time to objectify men! My current obsessions:

Derek Parra: totally cute and hot. God, those thighs!

Chris Klug: Is that a snowboard in your spandex suit...?

Apolo Anton Ohno: Oh the things I dream about that soul patch...

And dong_resin, Your ass is number one in my book after those leather chaps...

Any other boys to objectify?
posted by evanizer at 11:54 PM on February 24, 2002


sudama: If you feel (as I do) that MetaFilter could only benefit from folks such as Jessamyn and Rebecca Blood participating more frequently and fully, then you might try asking yourself "how can I contribute to creating a more appealing atmosphere?"

But...those very people are participating quite often in MetaFilter as it currently exists. That's why you didn't have to explain who they were.

Personally, I ask myself "why do many prominent MeFiers of color (and God knows how many lurkers) so often refrain from posting in heated discussions of race?" Much of this "no girls allowed" stuff plays out as a "whites only" dynamic as well -- and if ya don't know, now ya know.

Of course, this is not a "no girls allowed" establishment by any stretch of the imagination.

As far as the race thing goes. In my experience (offline) white people are, in general, not that interested in getting into a heated argument with non-white people about race. And, at least in modern American society, for a non-white person to initiate, let alone contribue to, an argument over race with a white person is not exactly rare. Online, though, I don't see how the virtual blindness of the medium could tip the balance the other way. All I can say is that some of the most prominent voices here are (or at least claim to be) non-white.
posted by bingo at 12:09 AM on February 25, 2002


Another funny thing happened to me recently where I *gasp* said something bad about black people (yes, we're human too) and the person started calling me racist and prone to stereotyping until another black Mefian posted some data to back up my assertions. The one problem I've noted on Mefi (especially with my pal Adam :) is that on racial matters there is a tendency to just blindly accept whatever the "civil rights" person may be saying under the assumption that us black folks are somehow more holy because we were slaves a long time ago.

I am a perfect example that black people can be just as pompous and rude as anyone else.
posted by owillis at 12:22 AM on February 25, 2002


And, at least in modern American society, for a non-white person to initiate, let alone contribue to, an argument over race with a white person is not exactly rare

Actually, if you're going to speak in generalities - outside of the coasts I would venture to say most white people DON'T have conversations on race with non-whites.
posted by owillis at 12:24 AM on February 25, 2002


The sheer volume of putting up with being objectified makes it a bit more offensive for women than it is for men.
That makes sense to me. If I dealt with it ad nauseum, it'd likely piss me off, too.
Question answered. Thank you, cyniczny.
posted by dong_resin at 12:26 AM on February 25, 2002


Speaking as a girl, most of the time I really enjoy the level of discourse here. There have been some posts that made me cringe, many by one person who is gone now, but the overall tone is not anywhere near as offensive and blatant as some of the stuff you see on fark or other nasty parts of the internet, thank goodness....Yours for better links every day,
posted by Lynsey at 12:38 AM on February 25, 2002


By the way, I'd just like to note that if I really wandered into a room where bukkake was actually going on, I'd shuffle right on out, join the witness relocation program, and then cry a lot. Thanks.
posted by dong_resin at 12:55 AM on February 25, 2002


Great thread, like listening to one of those end-of-party, bourbon-driven conversations that leaves people (of both sexes) closer rather than further away from each other.

Certainly, my experience of posting on MeFi has been that I can't fuck up a post - I have to "get it right" (or at least interesting). I agree with lizs's point about the "men failing/bad luck", "women failing/poor ability" mentality: if you put up a post that no-one shows much interest in, then the guy thing is to shrug it off and try again. Actually, though, when I'm feeling insecure, it does make me feel as if I don't grok this community well enough, and I hold off from posting for a while.

But that's one of the things that's supposed to characterise hacker/net culture - we freely open ourselves to the judgement of our peers, getting gratification from being recognised for our abilities. The question being: Is this kind of "cooperation-through-competition-and-comparison" - which is what makes MeFi as vibrant as it is -a gender-neutral, or a gender-specific thing? Is net culture mostly dominated by boys/men, because it goes with the grain of how men hang together in real life? I wonder whether the mobile net will make a difference - it's much less about peacock display, more about intimate one-to-ones.

Not trying to enrage or outrage anyone - just hoping to keep things interesting. For my part, I love the combination of civility and vitality in MeFi. Thats why I keep coming back.

PS: Showed my (not very nerdy) girl-pal this thread, after her initial comments. She said that what struck her was the sense of some women posters speaking up for the first time - but not all speaking with the same line - which was good. Actually, she also loved the guy who just burped and scratched his nuts.

posted by theplayethic at 2:05 AM on February 25, 2002


Hey Evanizer, if you manage to get ahold of Apolo Ohno, can I watch?

Once again proving that men don't own the market on objectification. Bring on the twinks!
posted by headspace at 6:58 AM on February 25, 2002


Chicks are cool.

And I object to being lumped into the generalization of men thinking.

I don't think.

As for the level of discourse, I think that there would be less need for flame-retardant finger gloves for many of the people here if more of the converstaions were dominated by women. Because I think pissing matches do tend to occur more often between two guys than two women, and usually because the guy is trying to look smart or witty, or just trying not to loose. (Not that there is ever a winner or looser, of course)
posted by rich at 6:59 AM on February 25, 2002


She said that what struck her was the sense of some women posters speaking up for the first time - but not all speaking with the same line - which was good.

No offence intended at all, theplayethic, but I don't see why it's particularly important that women, or men, speak up. Why do we need to draw these (to me, arbitrary) lines across gender? Why not start worrying about whether we have a good spread of age, race or nationality here?

I don't post to MetaFilter, or MetaTalk, very often. Why not? I guess I just don't usually feel that I have anything that important to add to the topics being discussed. Also I'm usually quite busy. I don't think it has anything in particular to do with whether I'm male or female. Do others think that their gender affects their posting behaviour? (And if so, how can they tell? -- like most people, I've only had the experience of being the one gender, in this lifetime at least).
posted by different at 7:10 AM on February 25, 2002


dong_resin:Somebody from the x chromosome side of the ballroom wanna help a brother out?
1. you have an x chromosome...
2. I agree with everyone above that it IS the sheer volume of sexual comments that makes it different for men to objectify women. I also think that it is the sexual threat that men as a class are to women as a class. There is same sex rape, I would never discount that, I think though that rape has been used as a tool to subject women; and where there are no women around (e.g. prison) men use it against men to establish domination. Regardless, the sexual comments are NOT the same as rape; but you can only rape someone if you have first objectified them, made them a something rather. And loud comments, such as 'hey baby nice tits' are a way that men assert their dominance over women.

I think that these two reasons make it different for women to say things about men's butts, and for people to post ad nauseum about whether they prefer natural or tacky siliconed women.


I'm not trying to be argumentative, and I am a person who likes stupid jokes and silly comments, and I do play with the boys in my professional life; but threads like the Hottentot Venus thread are often derailed, as was Pale_girl's thread about the woman who was raped in South Africa. Perhpas it would be nice if MeFis showed more restraint in making sex crimes a joke. Oh, that sounded snarky, I didn't mean it like that I'm not trying to be snarky, it would be nice if people showed more restraint when it came to these touchy subjects. I agree with the above where ciniczny said that we should be well-behaved here in public. I should perhaps too.
posted by goneill at 7:45 AM on February 25, 2002


If someone being moronic is a moron, why isn't someone being ironic an iron?

This is a longstanding convention in science fiction circles. See for example the title of this Spider Robinson Story.
posted by kindall at 7:58 AM on February 25, 2002


The cited thread is a year and a half old. Using that to paint a picture of MetaFilter might not be very illustrative.

That said: Perhaps it would be nice if MeFis showed more restraint in making sex crimes a joke.

They didn't make the crime a joke. They made the well-deserved plight of the rapist a joke, not the act, and not the suffering of the woman.
posted by NortonDC at 8:03 AM on February 25, 2002


well, thank you, but I am often out-shouted in many conversations.

Out-shouted != heard less.
posted by rushmc at 9:02 AM on February 25, 2002


Because I think pissing matches do tend to occur more often between two guys than two women

Well, to be fair, the anatomy facilitates it more....
posted by rushmc at 9:03 AM on February 25, 2002


Even young women are not like men: they're more interested in truth and generalities; stuff that transcends gender and age.

Seems to me that YOU must be pretty interested in generalities to make a wild general statement of such a magnitude!


posted by rushmc at 9:06 AM on February 25, 2002


rushmc: Out-shouted != heard less.

maybe not, but it doesn't encourage me to post. it comes down to, how often do I want to reitierate my point? especially when its obvious that other participants are not even listening?

dong_resin: Somebody from the x chromosome side of the ballroom wanna help a brother out?

what goneill said. I like sexual banter as much as anyone, but there are problems when that's a major component of discourse.

1) it gets old

2) it's *less* fun when you're a woman (from my point of view) since there is always the threat that a man could rape a woman (I know that can't happen online, but in general, it taints the whole thing.)

it's hard to explain this the right way....it's like having hannibal lector tell you you have nice eyes. it depends a lot on the guy's attitude. sometimes it's really uncomfortable, and there's not much you can do about it.

3) it especially gets old when men pretty much insist on sexual banter (or flirting) and take offense when you don't want to engage in it. when a man advances unwanted sexual attention--even of this kind--it can be uncomfortable. there are just enough jerks around who sort of *insist* on it, that it becomes obligatory behavior rather than voluntary fun.

4) it gets really, really old when anyone discounts you because you're female, and this is one way that commonly happens.

most of that stuff is offline behavior, but it just generally makes the "joke" less funny all the way around.
posted by rebeccablood at 11:03 AM on February 25, 2002


Thank you for the replies, goneil & rcb.

1. you have an x chromosome...

Heh. You assume too much.
posted by dong_resin at 12:28 PM on February 25, 2002


I asked a woman friend of mine once how she felt about the constant attention paid to her because she was female--actually, the question was about the idea someone had been putting out that women should and in fact mostly did feel flattered when men told them how attractive and faahhn they were. This didn't really click with me and, I suspected, not her either.

She said, "Remember that New Year's Eve party we went to once where there was a little dachshund that had a thing for you?"

I said, Oh, the one that kept humping my shoes and just would not leave me alone?"

She said, "Yeah, that one. Did you feel 'flattered'?"
posted by rodii at 12:57 PM on February 25, 2002


I think that analogy only really works if you find some dachshund's attractive, and if you might have given him more of a chance if he had made the right approach, and if you were dressed up in a way that dachshund's were meant to find appealing.
posted by bingo at 1:20 PM on February 25, 2002


"But...those very people are participating quite often in MetaFilter as it currently exists. "

Re-read the thread. At least one of the women you mentioned has already said that they would contribute more frequently here if things were even a little better in that regard.

I personally think that some of the women here go against a general trend. They are here despite the fact that some people (a minority, I grant you) here obviously have problems sharing an internet space with them (low self esteem? Yes, agreed)

Anyway, they way I see it (and I could be wrong) you could say that a lot of the Women here have already found some coping strategies and are, in general, doing ok. That doesn't mean things couldn't be better.

Now, if only we could speak to some of the ones who left, or were put off from getting involved in the first place.

I don't buy the idea that "This is just how the internet is, put up with it" Matt has set the bar for metafilter so much higher in so many respects (better content, better quality of discourse, and so on) that I think we could definitely aim higher in this regard also.
posted by lucien at 1:35 PM on February 25, 2002


lucien: Many, perhaps the majority, of the voices that I have come to know and respect during my time here are, or seem to be, female. I can't of course answer your argument that they are exceptions with any proof, I can only say that I don't believe it. The fact that some of them say they might post more often if they felt more comfortable doing so...well, so would a lot of men. Much is made of pissing contests and the whole Alpha paradigm, but the truth is that not all the male apes challenge the Alpha. Some of them just want to sit on a rock and eat grapes.
posted by bingo at 2:23 PM on February 25, 2002


Seems to me that YOU must be pretty interested in generalities to make a wild general statement of such a magnitude!

Why rushmc, that's pretty rich coming from the smoothest living operator on MetaFilter. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:18 PM on February 25, 2002


Oh for petes sakes Bingo, I wasn't casting aspersions on the quality of the stuff the women here write. My favourites also include most if not all of the Female participants of Metafilter.

I'm not saying, "don't listen to what they have said" That's rubbish. In fact, I was asking you to do the direct opposite of that when I asked you to re-read the thread. What I am saying is the fact that some are pointing out that a few women do use Metafilter, doesn't mean that everything here is fine and dandy. Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn't. That obviously the women who are here have found a way to cope (I'm not saying that they are 100% thrilled with the way things are here) and I would like to also get the opinions of the women who have given up, or were put off almost immediately. Impossible I know, but I think it would be interesting to talk to them.

"The fact that some of them say they might post more often if they felt more comfortable doing so...well, so would a lot of men. "

We couldn't have that. Because there really are a lot more men here to potentially feel dissatisfied, aren't there? It might cause a stampede, or something.

I think a lot of women are put off complaining by societal inculcation over time, they are told they are "too sensitive" or that they are "just being a bitch" or that it simply isn't polite to complain. Whatever.

BTW I don't "get" the "nerdish obsession" part of this thread. Aren't there any nerdish obsessed women out there? I think that's a self-limiting idea.
posted by lucien at 6:00 PM on February 25, 2002


Comments like: "Shut up and press your thumb against the wrapper, bitch" make me less interested in participating in MeFi, for example.
posted by jessamyn at 6:09 PM on February 25, 2002


Visit settle's profile page for a lexicon of tenderness.

But just don't, you know, criticize him.
posted by Kafkaesque at 6:23 PM on February 25, 2002


Yes. And how about "I usually get a date fairly drunk before sex and this would make things complicated, like asking her to drive to a motel", from the same thread? Or is that OK, because "it's just Postroad"?
posted by rodii at 6:30 PM on February 25, 2002


lucien: re: girls into nerdish guys

i recall a thread where more than one girl mentioned the attraction of stuttering guys. i have yet to meet any such girls in person, however.
posted by moz at 6:43 PM on February 25, 2002


hmmm... can settle be asked to leave or anything? what is settle? um with postroad - we know he is kidding because it's postroad - we, the community, know who he is - albeit a dork. but settle? that's some scary stuff...
moz - they really are very attractive, but only when they are also nerdy -and intelligent too.
posted by goneill at 7:46 PM on February 25, 2002


I think the current thread on Monica Lewinsky is a pretty good example of the MetaFilter's neutral/boyzone split personality. Some people are talking about the topic of the documentary and the events which spurred it, other people have digressed into rating her attractiveness and commenting on her weight. (What, would it have been more acceptable for the president to cheat on his wife with a thin, pretty girl?) And it's the sort of thread I don't bother to join, because while the discussion half is interesting, it's not so interesting that it overwhelms my annoyance over the sexist banter. Meanwhile, it was really cool reading everybody's reactions to the Consent Condoms thread.

My conclusion? MetaFilter contains multitudes.
posted by headspace at 10:32 PM on February 25, 2002


lucien: I know what you meant. We seem to be disagreeing about some pretty hypothetical things that cannot be proven either way.


posted by bingo at 10:49 PM on February 25, 2002


Sometimes I just don't want to be bothered.

I feel like I get tired of explaining to people that, say, I don't expect to see a check in my lifetime, don't want one and would back a settlement check for every American if it ever went to trial, that I don't care if it hurts race relations, that reparations is a fascinating legal question that goes to the heart of America, to the concept of it as a country, and that FPPs that reference, say, slanted Gannett coverage and gratuitous mention of Johnnie Cochran just poison the punch bowl, piss in the Post Toasties and put the debate on the defensive before anyone (except, say, pracowity) can get to it.

I think about the time it would take to explain to some posters why what they're saying is kind of fucked up, and suddenly I'm all exhausted.

So maybe I'll send an e-mail to someone or an instant message, and maybe I'll get a thoughtful response, a note back, a recommendation of a book, and I'll feel better. I'll remember that everyone who posts here is human, prone to foible and frailty, in need of space and still just as likely to tell me to back the hell off.

Or maybe I'll fly off the handle, like I have once or twice when the N-word or "rice boys" came up, and I'll back down after a minute. I don't spend all my time being black in every thread I read, honest. But I read every thread with that perspective in mind and others, too, and in the same way that everyone here does, one click at a time.

Sometimes all I want to do is to decloak, spread some snark and go on my merry way hunting boojum or looking for a lefthanded spanner.

Sometimes I go finding stuff for owillis (mostly because every once in a while, he'll challege my Nader-voting "truths" and I tell him when his really blatant biases start to piss me the hell off).

Sometimes I wonder why there aren't more people of color on MeFi. Have I brought any over, signed 'em up? No, I haven't. It's not some secret I keep to myself. Do I still have the right to complain. I hope so.

Sometimes I think I can count the blacks (African-Americans) on two hands. Asians? I feel like they're more visible, but maybe that's because I feel like I'm looking for them. Latinos? I can only think of a few. Out of almost 14,000 members (and maybe what, a 1,000? 2,000 regular active posters), sometimes MeFi feels very white and it's a creepy feeling. I know, I know: if it's a serious problem, I should go off and start my own board. Hey, I wouldn't put it past me. But most days, I like MeFi, and I still feel like it likes me. I want to belong here, and willing myself to, wonder of wonders, seems to make it so.

MeFi clan ain't nothin' to fuck with.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 2:48 AM on February 26, 2002


Ahem
posted by feelinglistless at 7:47 AM on February 27, 2002


oh, couldn't we have gone a few days wtihout pr0n on metafilter?
posted by goneill at 9:04 AM on February 27, 2002


goneill, a day without pr0n is like a day without sunshine...
posted by jonmc at 3:35 PM on February 27, 2002


... or jergens hand lotion + my Kermit the frog puppet.
posted by dong_resin at 4:17 PM on February 27, 2002


"Hi ho!"
posted by dong_resin at 4:25 PM on February 27, 2002


it would be you guys responding - wouldnt' it...

and jergens hand lotion has lots of valid uses.
posted by goneill at 4:53 PM on February 27, 2002


Does it ever.
posted by dong_resin at 4:57 PM on February 27, 2002


it would be you guys responding - wouldnt' it...


to me and dong MeFi's just something to do between trips to stileproject ;)
posted by jonmc at 5:11 PM on February 27, 2002


don't you speak too fast for mr. resin; and I don't even want to know what stileproject is...
posted by goneill at 5:54 PM on February 27, 2002


I don't even want to know what stileproject is...

Well if you do visit stileproject.com, be prepared to alternately laugh hysterically, blow chunks and weep for the state of humanity.

No wait that's MeFi...

Well, imagine if Matt, Drew from FARK and Larry Flynt had a baby...the offspring would have created stileproject.

posted by jonmc at 6:07 PM on February 27, 2002


you Tarzan! me Jane!
posted by kv at 6:58 PM on February 27, 2002


Thank you kv, you have sufficiently answered the question (with a little help from your friends...)
posted by goneill at 7:33 PM on February 27, 2002


This is all rather puzzling to me. I don't know which of you are (really) female. I don't care which of you are female. I'm not going to meet you. I'm not going to date you. I'm not going to marry and mate with you. Your "femaleness" may well give you a different and interesting perspective on certain things discussed here--and I value that--but it may not. Even if it does in some instances, it is only one among many differences among the many posters here, and hardly the most significant.

If someone feels threatened or unwelcome here, that's an issue I find relevant and important. If someone feels outnumbered or vaguely uncomfortable or burdened by overweening evidence of the site's majority gender...act to change the ratio or the tone through your contributions. Immaturity is NOT a sex-linked characteristic. Be comfortable with who you are, and bring what you have to the table and, by all means, scoff or object if you feel someone else is behaving like a fool, but surely this should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, not couched in broadly damning, divisive language that is extremely unlikely to change any attitudes.
posted by rushmc at 10:15 PM on February 28, 2002 [1 favorite]


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