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27 April 2000

Ai-yiyi. Somehow I've fallen rather behind on updating, after doing so well throughout most of'll probably be short, got a lot of work to get back to. But soon I'll be back in a mostly-daily pattern. Honest.

Ah, controversy. So young riothero gets all fawny over 'webgirls', namely 'girls with websites'. He says plenty of nice (and no doubt true) things about many women who run their own sites, but the tone is a little... odd. Patronizing.

The reason I admire them? Honestly? They're beautiful (inside) and intelligent. Most of all because they're trying to stand out, and be somebody. They have a website, express their feelings, attitudes, desires. Think back 50 years ago! It was amlost like the housewise didn't have a brain! All through History, and finally girls ARE somebody, and their voice will be listened to, as equally as a man's. I say that's an accomplishment.

So, Screenshot and Medley post their reactions, which to me are summed up in this line:

Fawning over the fact that someone's a *gasp!* "girl" and managed to do something cool just seems to suggest that the fawner still doesn't think of women as people first. And it just gets tedious after awhile.

Also, from Ouch:

What bothers me is the apparent surprise that good sites are being run by women and the feeling that we are being patted on the head. "Good girl, you're really speaking your mind." Yuck. I don't think Mark meant his webgirls site to be that way but I can see how it was taken that way by some.

Pandemonium ensues, with the initial objectors being caricatured as man-hating, woman-controlling femi-nazi Political Correctness Police, holding other people to an impossible standard of behavior. A particularly wild set of extrapolations comes from precocious, attributing all sorts of other straw-man opinions and values to the objectors (without having read much of their archives, I gather, or it wouldn't be so easy to dismiss them as extremist do-gooders):

What happened? When did feminism stop being all about a woman's right to do whatever it is she wants to do, even if it's placing herself in what's considered a subservient position? When did feminism become all about being a bitch quick to correct someone when they commit some imagined insult?

When did feminism become about taking an obviously well-meaning/appreciative/respectful/celebratory gesture and twisting it into something dirty and evil? I'm tired of the pompous, self-important people who claim to be working for feminism, yet are detriments by their very actions.

...etc., etc.

Not that anybody's asked, but I do have an opinion about this: I don't think of their reaction as a particularly "feminist" one. They weren't saying "don't celebrate women, you man, you", they were simply saying "why are you acting so damn shocked that there are smart, cool, web-savvy women?". That's rabid feminism? Gee, I'll have to go correct my jargon manual.

I think of it more like a friend who praises you overmuch for being good at something that wasn't the least bit hard; you might well look at them and say, "What, you thought I couldn't do that? What do you take me for?" That's all this was, to me, and the over-reactions of riothero's defenders bespeak a level of touchiness and knee-jerking quite akin to that of the feminist caricatures they decry.

Finally, I hope Jason Kottke won't mind if I drag in something he said earlier this month about a Slashdot piece on geek girls, because I think his take applies here too:

Well, this is certainly old news: women are people too! Guh. I don't know, when I read articles like these (written by a man, of course), they always come off as "women, despite their obvious technological shortcomings, are coming online in droves...and thriving! Look at 'em go, they're so darn spunky!" What a load of crap.

Now, does that make him (and me) an over-reactive hyper-sensitive feminist-brainwashed man? Or is it just sense? And how is it so different from what Lyn and Amanda were saying? Is it okay for us to say it because we're men? Who's doing the stereotyping here?

Let's all disagree with each other about how seriously we should take Mark's tone and attitude, fine, but the blanket accusations and the pigeonholing of people and the cries of "Censorship!" are a bit over the top.

Okay, that was tiring. Gotta go. More ordinary content tomorrow.

[later update] Of course, after I wrote all the above, I see that Mark has a good response of his own posted. (...that I had to check the source of his page to even get to, since I don't surf with Javascript on... sigh...)

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