What is blogging while female? What is it about so many blogs, whether they are of the liberal, conservative or middle of the road blogs that sexism becomes the mode of what is deemed civil discourse? What is female empowerment and what constitutes an on-line civil society and how does it contribute to the overall meaning of civil society? In the end, how do we become more effective communicators and more inclusive of other voices.
I’ve been on-line so-to-speak since 1988, when I began participating in the EICBBS, with my 1200 baud modem and my interest in energy related issues. It was a civil forum run by professionals. We discussed energy and energy related issues, and most of us had more personal knowledge of those participating. The energy community at the time was small, so we knew each other personally. Since that time, the on-line world has evolved into a reflection of society at large and it isn’t reflecting a pretty picture.
E-communities can be terrific, when the participant is not on the outside of the active part of the community. Obviously like-minded people gather in these communities to discuss issues and life in general. It seems however it is easy for these communities devolve into cliques or what I like to call “the bully posse”, where camaraderie is traded for ideological purity, where rational discussion is literally frowned upon, where some lie in wait for certain commenters or bloggers to begin their attacks, not letting up until said commenter just disappears.
As women, we’ve been dismissed and condescended to the entirety of our existence. I could tell you stories, because as women we weave the stories of our personal lives into how we communicate our ideas and how we form our worldviews. As some have surmised, it is how we gain our voice. We carry those stories with us, it is how we evolve as people, it is how we connect as humans. I realize this is only acceptable once you are truly a member of the group, it is only then that the overly male population of the blog allows that type of communication style. If you are not part of the group, this style is often referred to as meta and deemed unacceptable. But this is the method we use to coax women out of their shells, how they gain their voice in a world that intends them to remain voiceless. Knowing that men and society overall finds our style almost wholly unacceptable, leads us to form our own communities, where our style and our efforts to find our voice are nurtured and deemed acceptable. We have made gains, many, but there is much sexism that remains and permeates many e-communities, including this one.
More disconcerting of course is that the Presidents methods are deemed ineffective because of course he utilizes a less confrontational style, so here and many other blogs, certain bloggers call the president a coward, a wuss, a pussy, much of the language used to deride him, even in the “liberal/progressive” community falls right into the trap of overt sexism and many women react strongly to those words. When I see them here in a blog, in a comment, I become depressed, because it is one more indication that women and our methods of being in the world are not acceptable. It seems to easy for so many in the so-called progressive community to use degrading feminine terminology to taint the President. Deeming him as unacceptable as most women, because we engage in community building, we seek to make change by compromise and building bridges, and daily on liberal blogs those methods are derided.
It depresses me because it indicates as a society we’ve made few gains in our efforts to become equal, even in the so-called liberal/progressive political movements. We’ve lost, because the majority of men then still see us as inferior to them and because this President seems to be one who believes, as many women do, that we should build bridges with those who don’t hold the same beliefs in order to build a better and more civil society. They seem to view him merely as a woman, who is inferior to them. If what I am writing were not true, why on earth would anyone in a professional capacity say that Hillary should loan the President one of her balls? Inferring one more time this President isn’t man enough to do the right thing, by fist fighting and arguing and making a spectacle of himself ala Anthony Weiner or Alan Grayson. There is rampant sexism in progressive e-communities and it turns women off. I realize it is merely a reflection of how our society has evolved. However it does make it difficult to fully participate in those communities. The words used against us and the President cut like a serrated knife, ripping us apart, reminding us we are not to be included in creating solutions because how we relate to the world is simply not acceptable.
I personally don’t know how to be a part of that kind of community I believe it is a concerted effort to erase women one more time from society. It is an effort to silence us one more time. These are concerted efforts to limit civility and drive wedges into communities that might have once been more cohesive. I have a stake in the future of this society, I don’t want a future where we our first instinct is to do nothing more than fight. We have to work hard to attain a truly civil society and I believe the same is true of any on-line community. It falls to each of us as individuals to curb our tendencies to create disparate tribes that continually war with each other over ideology, if we do not, our society falls apart, and we only have ourselves to blame if this happens.
Crossposted at DAGblog