Is there a gender divide on Slugger?

Interesting inteview with Margaret Ward co-author of Irish Women and Nationalism: Soldiers, New Women and Wicked Hag. She gives Slugger a mention, but wonders whether there is a deep gender divide in the readership of the site, considering the apparent dominance of male contributors. It’s a subject that Jo’s been thinking through over on her own recently established blog.

  • Jo

    I think female commentators have to fight their corner – and I believe that Ive demonstrated my ability and willingness to do so! πŸ˜‰

    As to whether its more or less difficult/bitter when people recognise you as female, Im not sure. I believe that women have a sensitivity to nuance which the more aggressive and pugilistic may miss in their intent to score points. Some men, to their credit, notice that!

  • smcgiff

    How can one tell from the names or are we assuming masculinity from the tone of the writing. Which would be sexist.

  • fmk

    such sensitivity says smcg is a guy, without even having to look at his email addy πŸ™‚

  • Baluba

    Well lving in a paternalistic, patriarchal society, who would really be surprised if this was the case?

  • smcgiff

    ‘such sensitivity says smcg is a guy, without even having to look at his email addy :)’

    Talk about stating the obvious, loike! πŸ™‚

  • Kelvin Doherty

    Patronising comments directed at one female blogger – ‘deluded puppy’- don’t really encourage others to post do they.

  • Animus

    I think Slugger can sometimes be dominated by silly point-scoring and foolish arguments – maybe men enjoy this more? Or perhaps women find it tiresome? More men than women are working in jobs which give them the opportunity to fritter away the days playing on blogs, so it does make sense that more men than women contribute to Slugger.

    I have noticed many bloggers assume everyone else is male – with the notable exception of threads relating to abortion.

  • peteb

    Let’s be clear about the accusation in that interview, Mick.. the question on gender balance is prefaced with a sweeping statement, namely – “Slugger OΒ’Toole provides a forum for debate now Β– but I find contributors pretty sexist or misogynistic.”

    Undoubtedly some are.. but I’d suggest it’s the aggressive tone, often accompanied by insults, implied or otherwise, of those who engage in the more argumentative threads that is being criticised.. and unfairly characterised as sexist or misogynistic.

    That’s isn’t to say the aggressiveness and the insults aren’t a problem.. they are. But they’re a problem because they get in the way of any discussion of the relevant topic.

  • Foggy

    IΒ’ve been a regular reader of this site for months now but have only recently began to contribute to debates.

    I can honestly say that IΒ’ve never seen any sexism on here towards female members, but as previously stated, some of the usernames can be a bit ambiguous.

    IΒ’m female blogger too as it happens, and out of the friends I have who have their own blog the vast majority would be female also.

  • Jo

    Thanks for that one lol, I was going to rise above it…but….yes its that sort of ad hominem that I think puts people off. I contributed last year to finance related websites and was pleasantly surpised when people posted that this was their first time posting and they thanked me for being so direct and not tolerating any b/s.

  • Sharon

    I have never had anyone discount my opinion on ‘Slugger’ simply because I am a female , but it has happened me on other sites – most recently on the ‘’ site where my comments have been dismissed with the reply – “Yeah , but are you hot…? “ and/or being called a ” lil minx… “ .
    The thread goes off on a tangent then about that ‘issue’ and the political context is lost .
    But I refuse to comment on sites using a false identity – if posters are unable to drag themselves above that subject then that is their problem , not mine .

    Sharon .

  • bertie


    that job as minister for woman in the parrallel universe is still open, so are you interested and if you say “yes” how do I know that you won’t change your mind. We all know what you women are like πŸ˜‰

  • fair_deal

    Was there not an aspect of misgoyny on the recent Ruth Patterson thread? There were loud complaints of playing the ‘woman’ card when she offered her explanation of the interview. The thread was woman not ball.

  • bertie


    this may be one of the very few times I take a slightly different view to you.

    I don’t really know the woman as well as others seem to do, but I did think that they were reading too much into someone gabbling on camera, to a question she was not expecting. However, I was a little uncomfortable with her commnets about being a woman as I do not accept the notion that men can’t be moved by the distress involved by the family. It’s just too easy and women do their cause no service by overplaying that card.

  • Alan

    *I believe that women have a sensitivity to nuance which the more aggressive and pugilistic may miss in their intent to score points.*

    What a load of sexist tosh, since when did nuance become a feminine preserve?

    The discussion reminds me of a couple of things.

    Firstly, David McNarry’s comments at NICVA on how the UUP encourage women into politics – “We keep telling them, it’s not a beauty contest, you know.” – But he just didn’t get it.

    And, to keep a bit of balance, ( and maybe something that needs researching, Margaret) there was the time when this site saw a rash of republican comment from posters using feminine names but who subsequently turned out to be men.

    Now my old mate Carl Jung . . .

  • Jo

    Thank you for that dismissive, unreasoning, pugilistic response, Alan.

    Point proved, I should think.

  • Alan

    “Point proved, I should think. “

    Hardly. I’d like to know when and how the feminine is more perceptive of nuance than the masculine. Is that not a proper point to make? You completely fail to substantiate your statement.


    confrontational, perhaps, but not dismissive.


    I thought the question was perfectly reasonable.


    I’ll admit that one nuance of the statement could be seen as pugilistic, but equally another could be exasperation (In thirty-five years or more of feminism have we not learned?).

    In any case,as far as I’m concerned, your comment was sexist. Why should sexism be given a free ride just because it is a woman who is being sexist.

  • Jo

    By dissecting my post word by word, you finally display some sensitivity towards nuance.

    Your initial response to my post was blustering impulsive and dismissive, exactly as I thought and provoked. πŸ™‚

    If you’re exasperated about equality, thats a pity, but hey, you should get used to it.

  • slackjaw

    I don’t think it’s too much of a generalisation to say that men these days, for whatever reasons, are more inclined to obsess about conventional politics than women, and that that partly explains the imbalance here.

    Also, as with other webpages of its type, Slugger seems to attract quite a lot people intent on polishing up their own prejudices and seeking affirmation for their own identity or world-view, rather than participating in genuine exchange. That’s not a criticism of Slugger itself; rather, it’s probably a limitation of the format.

    But identity is tied up in a lot of the debates. Whether you want to or not, you don’t just speak as an individual. You speak as a unionist, nationalist, P, RC, whatever. Even if that is not your intention, it won’t stop others attributing you with that viewpoint.

    That isn’t always a bad thing, but the same sort of thing probably happens with women. I know of a couple of women who have posted here under men’s names because they do not wish their contribution to be treated as a ‘woman’s contribution’.

  • Jo

    Thats very thoughtful, are you a woman? πŸ˜‰

    Seriously, I do agree with you – the medium is restrictive and obsession over constructing defences of a world-view takes precedence over reading and understanding others. The impulse is to type a response first and then get caught up in irrelevancies – one reason why I try to keep reading/writing to a 90-10 ratio πŸ™‚

  • Alan

    *If you’re exasperated about equality, thats a pity, but hey, you should get used to it.*

    I work on a day to day basis with equality issues. I’m exasperated that some people seem content with stereotypical statements that attempt to bolster their own prejudices.

    Equality is not about peddling whimsical impressions of difference. It is about making change happen for people who suffer society’s discriminations.

  • Jo

    This is part of the niggling nitpicking that I think would put a women off posting here.

    In trying to make a point, (and having it proved!) I have my posts dissected in a way that a man wouldn’t and a woman, quite frankly, couldn’t usually be “arsed with”.

  • bertie

    I think that different sites have different tones and some of it is relevant to the gender issue.

    Love Ulster started off as a rash of (possibly testosterone fuelled) sectarian mudslinging. With tightening up and introduction of more moderaters, the tone is calmer, more woman appear to be posting and there is now a high degree of serial(and sometimes parallel) flirting going on. (When was the last time anyone got hit on at Slugger?) Woman can have an advantage and sometimes manage to get away with basically saying to a man “you’re analysis is sh*te!” whilst doing the cyber version of fluttering their eyelashes!
    On ATW, which is unashamedly unionist and anti-terrorist and can have a bit of man playing, there appears to be quite a good gender balance, with the regular female posters showing themselves as comfortably ensconced and holding their own.
    Of course if you’re looking for a bit of political topical debate with lots of photos of scantily clad totty and an undertone of lesbianism (all for masculine consumption), you can do not better than Jo’s site.

    There is something about to suit most tastes;)

    *bertie tries eyelash fluttering incase it may prove useful*

  • Yoda

    In trying to make a point, (and having it proved!) I have my posts dissected in a way that a man wouldn’t and a woman, quite frankly, couldn’t usually be “arsed with”.

    You obviously don’t remember Davros.

  • Animus

    Jo – if one capitalises on being a woman as having a special skill (nuance?) and as you admit, flirting, one can expect people to discount your opinion. I would think less of a man who did the same, truth to tell. Being a woman does not ensure a good understanding of equality issues, even if it does provide the basis for anecdote.

    I think the medium of weblogs is a somewhat stilted form of communication for many. We aren’t in a room together, we can only rely on the printed word, and in my case, while I’m doing things at work. I don’t seem to have the time to spend blogging or responding that some posters do. I think that spending a good deal of time on posts engenders debate, but it can also encourage some to write long diatribes.

  • maca

    “On ATW, which is unashamedly unionist and anti-terrorist

    … that’s debatable *ducks for cover in case DV is reading*

  • Jo

    Sure, animus, being just a woman, all I wanna do is flirt.

    {I did refer on Joblog to the set of serious heads I find on Slugger sometimes, didnt I?}

    The truth or veracity of anything I say, or claim, is logically unconnected with my character.

    That “airhead” enough for you?

  • martin

    what ever happened to Davros anyway.
    what was Davros-was he an extreme SDLP supporter or a very mild Unionist

  • Animus

    Jo – I didn’t say you were an airhead, but you can’t have it both ways. A man who tried to flirt his way our of an argument would be ridiculed, rightly so (am I wrong? Do I just need more sleep and suffering a humour bypass?) I know a blog isn’t to be taken too seriously, but the nuance thing is just plain silly, and the sort of stereotype that works against women, not for women.

  • Jo


    Look, its a way of defusing what can be sometimes a heated situation which leads to people typing something silly or abusive…it CERTAINLY doesnt mean I’ve run out of argument… πŸ˜‰

  • bertie

    This reminds me of Queen Katherine Parr. She mad ethe dangerous nistake of debating religion with her hubby (Henry VIII) and he was getting mighty sick of it and allowed her Catholic enemies (and nothis is not an anti Catholic story but its hard to tell it without making reference to this;)) to draw up charges of heresy which could have led to her being burnt at the stake.

    She found out about this and played an absolute blinder.

    Henry started to discuss religion with her deliberately to see how far she would dare to dispute with him. She kept her head and said that she didn’t really know. He made some remark along the lines that that hadn’t stopped her before.

    She then told him that she had questioned him and put some ideas to him, to take his mind of his bad leg and so that she would have a chance to learn from him.

    He was super chuffed and tore strips of her enemies when they came to arrest her.

    Would many men fall for that now?

  • martin


    your not suggesting that we burn Jo at the stake for heresy are you ?—

  • Jo

    KP was obviously a very astute thinker/manipulator.

    What happened to her in the end?

  • martin


    Katherine Parr, the last of Henry’s wives, was a different choice for the aging King. She was the daughter of Thomas Parr of Kendal, a modest country squire who had distinguished himself in the service of both Henry VII and Henry VIII. Thomas Parr died in 1517 and his widow chose not to remarry. She encouraged the education and advancement of her children, a trait Katherine would show in her treatment of her future step-children. Katherine’s brother, William, was given the title of Marquess of Northhampton in 1547.

    Katherine was first married to Sir Edward Burough, but was widowed shortly after in 1529. Her second husband was Sir John Nevill, Lord Latimer. He was a wealthy landowner in Yorkshire and had an estate there called Snape Hall. He died in 1542 and had no children by Katherine.

    By this time, Katherine was becoming well known for her learning and overall sensitive and caring nature. She was also gaining an interest in the rising Protestant faith.

    Not much is known about Henry’s courtship of Katherine. However, before the King stepped in, she may have been considering marrying Thomas Seymour, brother to the late Queen Jane and uncle to Prince Edward. Katherine rejected Seymour’s proposal in order to marry the King, although she probably didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. 18 months had gone by since Kathryn Howard’s execution by the time Henry and Katherine Parr were married on July 12, 1543.

    Henry’s health had been declining such that his last wife must have been as much a nurse as anything else. Katherine managed to soothe the King’s temper and bring his family closer together. Although the Queen was scarcely older than the Princess Mary, she, along with Elizabeth and Edward, saw Katherine as a stabilizing mother figure. Katherine arranged for the best tutors for the children and encouraged them in their learning.

    Katherine’s interest in Protestants almost proved to be her undoing. Factions at court were envious of the Queen’s influence on Henry and sought to destroy her by linking her with the ‘heretical’ religious reformers. But Katherine wisely made a show of her submissiveness to the King when confronted and probably saved her life. Katherine outlived Henry, who died January 28, 1547.

    Prince Edward succeeded as Edward VI. His older uncle, Edward Seymour, Lord Somerset, became Protector since the young king was not yet 10 years old. The other Seymour brother, Thomas, once again sought the hand of Katherine Parr, and this time she was free to accept.

    Katherine was soon pregnant with Seymour’s son, and gave birth to a daughter named Mary at Sudeley Castle on August 30, 1548. Unfortunately, Katherine did not recover from the childbirth and died on September 5.

    Katherine Parr is buried at St. Mary’s Church at Sudeley Castle