Misogyny and blogging…

Catherine Bennet goes off on one about the political blogosphere. Her gripe? Widespread and irredeemable misogyny in blogosphere. She uses the oldest trick in the controversialist’s book, selecting a small number of ‘examples’ to illustrate a largely syllogistic argument. And yet I also think she may have a point.

…the single valuable service of the political blogosphere – to afford interested women a similar glimpse of what respectable middle-aged men do when they think themselves unobserved. For although their ranks are penetrable by women, it is obvious, from the prevailing tone of the entries to political weblogs, that most members of the Grand Order of Bloggers believe themselves, no less than any freemason, or member of the Garrick Club, to be addressing male members of a male-dominated community, in which female partners are comedy figures known as “the wife” (or “Mrs Fawkes”, or “Mrs Ablution”), breasts are “mammaries”, and fellow members can be depended on for companionable chit-chat about music, fallen arches, barbecues, rambling, weights, wanking and all the other subjects that exercise Gary, Steve, John, Dave, Eddie, et al, in the watches of the night.

  • You can find a library full of quotes to prove any point you wish in the blogosphere, this is such an example.
    If blogging is a mens dominated hobby, however, who’s fault is that? This isn’t a secret society that women aren’t let into, or a high-flying job that the female sex is always second choice for. I’ve seen plenty of female bloggers, political and otherwise and I’ve seen no sign to say that their opinions are any less respected than mens (the fact is opinions are not generally respected here anyway, regardless of gender).

    And to say something like “most members of the Grand Order of Bloggers believe themselves, no less than any freemason, or member of the Garrick Club, to be addressing male members of a male-dominated community, in which female partners are comedy figures known as “the wife”” is just bizarre, how can you quality or quantify that? By quoting one website or one blogger?

  • canwebanulstermanplease

    what’s got her all in a tizzy? must be her time of the month.

  • Emily

    To be fair, I think a lot of men refer to their wives as “Mrs. Mybloghandle” to protect their anonymity or privacy. I wouldn’t want my name or personal details mentioned on a blog that I had no part in. In fact, I’ve made it clear to my male friend that if he should ever write about me, he will very abruptly find himself singing saprano.

  • TL

    I thought it was a poorly constructed argument. I had to go over it a couple of times. I don’t know though, I’m all bloated and sensitive so maybe I’ll ask “Mr. TL” to explain it to me. When I move into my bitchy phase perhaps I’ll suggest she get an editor.

  • Emily

    I had to read the article a couple of times as well; it’s actually rather self-defeating, badly argued and poorly researched. A brief perusal of female blogs and the author would have noted that many women also refer to their spouses as “the hublet” or merely by their initials. When writing amusing anecdotes about their children, they’re often referred to simply as “the boy” or what not. I would never post the names of family on my blog either, especially the children.

    The self-defeat comes in when Bennet resorts to simply itemizing a laundry list of disdain about boys being boys when there really are true misogynists in the blogosphere, some of them quite popular and celebrated, that regularly reduce women to brutally negative stereotypes, question their sexual integrity when they disagree with their political opinions and write of their impossibly high expectations for women when they themselves couldn’t be described as much more than average. These are the men that deserve her criticism, not guys who just want to protect the identity of their wives.

  • Rory

    Don’t be so cruel, guys. If Catherine feels that women are being put down and denigrated on political blogsites then that is the reality. It is her deeply felt perception and therefore is real for Catherine.

    But trust bloody men to be incapable of penetrating that reality. Bloody thick, unfeeling….logic, logic, logic….it’s always bloody logic….insensitive bastards….

  • I’ve evidence of the primitive side of man, hunting like wolves in a pack, cheering each other on, preying on a female blogger.
    It raises the old questions like:
    Is it naked misogeny?
    The old “they belong in the kitchen” attitude.
    Are men still afraid of confident, self-assertive women.
    Or is it simply a “fear of freedom” as Erich Fromm entitled his famous study on the mind?

  • Emily

    Rory,
    It’s not necessarily always about “logic.” True, Bennet’s arguments are severly lacking in that department, but men who describe a woman as a “whore” because they disagree with their opinions on Israel are being far from logical.

  • Canadian

    Ah!!! There you are spirit-level 😉

  • sipping whiskey and canada dry 😉

  • Garibaldy

    I’m sure there’s plenty of manhating blogs out there, it’s just we don’t go looking for them.

    I thought this article was rubbish. Yes it’s an overhwlemingly male activity, and males make jokes about their wives. So what? Do women not bitch about their husbands? I believe they do.

  • Emily

    Certainly there are, Garibaldy and they’re no better, but that’s just “whataboutery.” Manhaters do not excuse misogynists and that’s the subject that Bennet was addressing. Women do bitch about their husbands all the time, but I think Bennet’s point was that male bloggers were reducing their spouses to nameless, faceless, unimportant objects by referring to them as “normwife” or whatever rather than use their real names and that’s just a piss-poor argument.

  • Garibaldy

    Emily,

    I agree entirely on the quality of her argument. The problem with blogging and the expansion of comment and features is a decline in the quality of the writing of columns.

  • Canadian

    I think you mean Rye spirit-level 😉

  • bertie

    Emily totally agree with you.

    *Weak joke alert!*
    You make a lot of sense for a woman 😉

  • Emily

    Bertie,
    I also carry an awfully large bat that I’m not afraid to put to use, so mind your words! 😉

  • Jo

    I couldnt agree more with her.

    And she didnt even look at irish bloggers? Perhaps she had a very strict word limit on her piece – I’ll update her next week.

  • Jo

    “men who describe a woman as a “whore” because they disagree with their opinions on Israel are being far from logical”

    In fact, the word used was “tramp” and the subject was Northern Ireland, but the principle is well similar.

    It gives rise to the classic horns of a Dilemma.

    If, as a woman you respond, you attract the pack. The phenomenon of the smartass bitch or dirty mouth girl is phenomenally or pheromonally attractive.

    If you don’t respond the accusation is repeated again and again and again. It becomes a blogging myth, unchallengeable due to its becoming accepted “fact.”

    The durability of the printed insult or slight is greater than the traditional “slagging” which is acompanied with facial expressions, etc. They’re not the same kettle of fishy stuff at all.

  • Emily, Servant of the Dark Lord Xenu

    Yeah but Jo, let’s just say for a second that her argument that male bloggers referring to their spouses as “sluggerwife” or whatever actually held water in that it was done in a belittling “little woman” way. It would be patronizing, for sure, but misogynistic? Misogyny is a psychological pathology and a deep-seeded hatred of women, not slapping the seceretary on the ass for bringing you coffee. It’s a far cry from plain sexism. As I said earlier, I think misogyny exists in the blog community and I feel you’ve even been a victim of it on unfortunate occassions, but Bennet’s examples are hollow. She actually commits a great disservice to women by ignoring the real misogynists and presenting bad examples for her argument.

    Not to mention the fact that many of the women who comprise the bloggerwives are educated, intelligent women and it’s condescending to them to suggest that they’re victims of their own chosing or to believe that they’re sole purpose is to be the wife of a blogger. That’s only how they’re represented by their weaker half on a website that they have no part in other than relation. I’m sure they’ve got a lot more going on in their lives outside of what’s mentioned in a post made by their husband.

  • Jo

    Emily

    I have NO doubt that the wives are intelligent. Like the dreadful “b” word (bigotry) misogyny is something that those most clearly in its grip are its most fervent deniers. Alas, few are in the happy positon of detachment to point out to the ruddy faced Emperors that in fact the clothing situation is somewhat lacking. I agree tho that there could be better supporting evidence cited for her thesis.

  • Cap’n Morgan

    breasts are “mammaries”,

    OK let the bloggers call themm boobies if it makes her feel better

    Or jubblies

    Or Airbags