SXSW Notes: Why Is Professional Blogging Bloodsport For Women?

Why Is Professional Blogging Bloodsport For Women?

Discussion led by Rachel Sklar and Rebecca Fox

More links can be found on the Bloodsport For Women blog.

Sklar: Blogging is great for women, not suggesting that it isn’t, but want to ask why the slope to attacking is steeper and more slippery for the things that women do online as opposed to men.

Commenter: I thought that when blogging and Internet started to become popular that gender would not be an issue. But there are many examples of misogyny on the Internet. I had no idea some of this ugliness existed. Autoadmit(?) message board where a bunch of rowdy law school guys posted about how they wanted to rape and harass female law school students. Involved following the women around. When theyu were Googled would also appear. Result was those that allowed it to happened had tarnished reputations and were outed.

Sometimes on the web people feel free to expose ugliness and to be oppressive to others in a way that they don’t in “meat space”.

Sklar: Free speech balance is difficult in law and problem for a much wider web.

Low barriers to entry and giant megaphone = internet. Allows space for extreme and offensive point of views.

Commenter: Free speech applies in a public environment – in “my blog” it is my space and my rules. Happy to engage in conversation and debate, but offensive attacks will be deleted. People get confused about the context of free speech.

If someone posts anonymously and they say something nice i still delete because my rules are to not display anonymous posts.

Sklar pointed out the sexism inherent in blog comments and mainstream media in around the Hilary Clinton campaign. It seemed gender-based Hilary bashing was ok.
“she only got where she was because her husband was screwing around”

Sklar – “I was told I was alarmist”.

Commenter: Annoyed that owmen are so willing to attack other women online.

Caroline McCarthy CNET news – Is there not a problem of self-proclaimed feminists taking the issue too far? There seems to be an unwritten rule that you are succumbing to catfights if you criticise another woman.

Some people take it too seriously and feel they can’t disagree with other women.

Sklar: Everything is a continuum – some is bitchiness and some is legitimate criticism.. Problem is you see legitimate criticism as being dismissed as catfighting. Experienced that myself and been written off as a catfighter – doesn’t happen when you are engaging with a man, or man engaging with a man.

Caroline McCarthy – male tech bloggers chest thumping over breaking embargoes is seen as acceptable. Not the case for in-fighting between women.

Fox: What are the consequences for professional female bloggers?

Heather (Fray lady)- it probably won’t go away its par of the course. The Internet without snark would be strange. It seems to me is what women want more, more influence, income, visibility and engagement in topics that mean something to me.

Don’t wait for men to tell you it matter – not Michael Arrington or someone else.

Sklar – online space is a really safe space for intelligent discussions. But the language that can be used is sometimes the problem.

Commenter: When our bodies and sexuality is up for questions we need a spacer outside of the tit for tat and back and forth where you can talk about these topics so you can.

Lauren – wrote about being in college and family and friends read my blog. You have to own it. It’s naive to think you can write about your personal choices online where people can’t see how they hurt you and no one will comment badly? That’s not going to happen. You can’t backpeddle, you have to own what you say. That was a big step of self-actualisation. TO have my mum ring me and ask e why I would publish things. I get annoyed – you’re not shouting into a well and people are going to give you feedback.

Commnenter – Put up a blog and mentioned I was a feminist and received comments involving death threats. Was writing about gardening.

Fox – is there a tension between getting in there and engaging and empowering and the decision to make your blog personal.

Commenter -A lot of what happens online, is the same time-honoured techniques of shutting women up.

People want to engage me in the same arguments all the time and I am fed up with having my time wasted and as a women I think you have to pick and choose. If you don’t get down in the mud with these people and show not as important to engage with then you can move on. Don’t waste your energy.

There is a need to support other women when they are experiencing that sort of name-calling.
Male and female bloggers could all be very supportive of each other.

Sklar I have had professional repercussions for talking about Hilary Clinton but it does exist.

Sasha – Jezebel and Salon wrote articles about women writing intimate things would seriously increase page views. Women are the more courageous when writing about the “juicy” stuff. When you write a personal essay you have to reveal complexity and flaws and people online just don’t get that – if you admit you’re not perfect that will be a point of attack.

Commenter – Gawker – everyone on that network gets a lot of hate mail, Michael Arrington gets death threats. As many horrible threats come to men. Any women doing the same blogging job was getting more threats an depersonalised . But the way to deal is to be cooler than the people that try to wind you up. Someone who got sent a picture of a penis, sent back a picture of a cleaver.

Lisa- attorney and blogger. Personally I am a veteran of online community and I feel that it’s all valuable it’s up to us to be leaders and set up positive examples – if you want to respond to the negativity it can be a healthy outlet of debate, but there are legitimate unhealthy behaviours and times when you won’t want to feed that and reinforce the positivity.

Patricia – I feel the power in this room. There are a lot of entrepreneurs figuring how to make money out of women online. 53% US population is female. Appeal to this room – there are issues and there are issues. We should be worrying that there is only one female supreme court justice., instead of worrying about who called you a c***.

Every generation of girls have an underlying understanding that women will be better than their mother, women then realised the game is stacked. Continuum of shutting up a women because she is fat and not having these.

Commenter: How do people feel about people like ijustine?

It’s ok they do it, even though don’t like it – point of feminism.

Sklar – Summary
Pick your battles
It’s not ok and everyone knows it’s not ok – we need more people to highlight this.
Being more than a woman – more than just that category.
Massing voices is a way.