As The Rotund says, AAAAAAAA!

Since we’ve been talking a lot about bias and language recently, I thought you Shapelings might appreciate (read: fume over) this NYT article, which follows in the grand NYT traditions of 1) writing about young people as though they are another species, and 2) forgetting that our actual species has female members. The article itself is about the stress brought on by the 24/7 demands of professional blogging, particularly in the light of the recent heart-attack deaths of two tech bloggers. I started to skim the article, but I was instantly distracted by the caption on the photo accompaniment:

Matt Buchanan shows blogs may be a young man’s game.

Emphasis all mine, baby. A young man’s game? Really? I guess this article will talk about the different stress management styles of male and female bloggers, right? I read on, waiting for the article to talk to or even mention a female (or, heaven forfend, trans) blogger.

*crickets*

I did find one woman in the article, though! She’s, uh, a blogger’s girlfriend.

I don’t know why I’m so disappointed by the NYT’s complete failure to acknowledge the existence of female bloggers (especially given that they, you know, had a whole article featuring our illustrious leader a few months back). I’m certainly not surprised; after all, lady news gets published in the “Fashion & Style” section no matter what it’s about in the NYT, and most other places it gets dumped into “Odd News,” presumably because women are just so strange! and mysterious! and not like regular people at all!

But still: I am disappointed. I’m disappointed in the writer for not interviewing female bloggers; I’m disappointed in the editor for not finding that problematic; and I’m disappointed in the copyeditor for not correcting a glaring example of gender bias in the caption. Is one article about poor stressed out tech bloggers going to set back feminism by 10 years? No, almost certainly not. But it’s one more snowflake in a fucking avalanche of misogyny in the media. And I, for one, am sick of the snow.

43 thoughts on “As The Rotund says, AAAAAAAA!

  1. This is why I tear my hair out when I hear my students say that “women are equal now!” Yes, yes, all sexism (and racism!) have been eradicated; we can just sit back and enjoy our equal treatment now.

    *sigh*

  2. As a female gamer, who has been largely ignored by the gaming community due to the assumption that only men play video games, I’m familiar with this situation.

    It’s the same thing, except with blogging. Maybe the NYT are so busy living in their own little world, they forgot that women exsist to do more than bring them coffee every so often.

  3. Oh word, Jackie. Occasionally I wander onto feminist gaming blogs, and the stuff they document makes steam come out of my ears. I’m only a casual gamer myself but I can imagine how frustrating it must be.

  4. As a female-bodied (but not exclusively female-identified) person who has been blogging for over five years now, I shake my head in complete lack of surprise.

    I admit that my own reading list is biased towards blogs that interest me, but I see no shortage of female bloggers out there. How freaking lazy does a journalist have to be in order to not be able to find a motherlode of female bloggers on just about any topic? If anything, I would think that female bloggers would be in the majority, given that women are regularly excluded from other forms of self-expression.

  5. Sweetmachine, actually what makes me upset, is womengamers.com. Alot of the stuff I see on their boards is like, “How do we get men to understand they need to pussyfoot around our characters when we play multiplayer” or “How do convince gamers to babysit our kids, when we dump them off in front of the console?”

    Seriously, it’s like, you know what if you don’t know how to play a multiplayer game then don’t play it. You can’t expect people to just drop everything, and teach you how to play the game cause you feel like “I’m just a dumb girl who is playing on her BOYFRIEND’s game console, tee-hee, won’t someone teach me everything even though that will take time out of your game playing time?”

    I think the site should disappear. Clearly most of the women there are not about gaming. I suggested they actually learn the game themselves, like a real gamer, and they got mad at me.

    Oh and before I forget, FragDolls. Totally the “Uhm we’re going to make a forum for gamer girls, but so we don’t disturb your delicate male egos. We’re going to have all the girls who work the site be “hot”, and see to it that they only have a marginal amount of gaming skill, so you won’t have to feel threatened by them.”

  6. Female aspiring filmmaker, and I feel this way almost every time I grab a book or magazine on the subject.

  7. Those types of girls annoy me so badly, Jackie. It’s one thing to actually want to play a video game because you enjoy it. It’s another thing to play it because you look at it as another place for you to get attention.

    I play WoW with my husband and you see girls, all he freaking time, who giggle and talk about crap that doesn’t matter to try to get attention. I despise trying to go over boss strategies and having to listen to a guild princess talk in her phone sex operator voice while she asks exactly what she’s suppose to be doing.

    These types of girls/women, who pretend like they aren’t capable without the attention and instruction from men, set women back a lot. They are the very reason why women don’t get taken seriously.

  8. “These types of girls/women, who pretend like they aren’t capable without the attention and instruction from men, set women back a lot. They are the very reason why women don’t get taken seriously.”

    Ehn. They are *one* reason, certainly. But *the* reason? It’s not the responsibility of all women to defy stereotypes, just as it’s not my responsibility as a fat person to look and smell delightful at al times in order to contradict the idea that fat people are smelly slobs.

    Infuriating? I don’t doubt it. It’s incredibly dispiriting when women play to the system that ultimately oppresses them. But let’s not put *all* the blame on those who haven’t overcome the social conditioning that says this is the way to behave, this is how to get approval. Women don’t get taken seriously because society is fucked up – if it wasn’t, nobody would take you less seriously just because another person of your gender behaved like a numpty.

  9. I guess I could understand if women only made up 1% of the blogosphere (of course, then I would want to know why women were being kept out of that medium). But from what I could find just Googling the subject, women make up at least 50% of bloggers and 51% of readers, so there is no reason to leave us out of the conversation except for bias.

    Speaking of sick of snow… we were almost rid of ours and then got nearly a foot overnight. *sigh* Is it spring yet?

  10. This is the paper that published an editorial about how the time for excitement about a female president has passed. Before we have had a female president.

    I would say about 90% of the blogs I read regularly are written by women. I must be doing it wrong.

  11. Infuriating? I don’t doubt it. It’s incredibly dispiriting when women play to the system that ultimately oppresses them. But let’s not put *all* the blame on those who haven’t overcome the social conditioning that says this is the way to behave, this is how to get approval. Women don’t get taken seriously because society is fucked up – if it wasn’t, nobody would take you less seriously just because another person of your gender behaved like a numpty.

    Very well said, Gingembre. And not only because “numpty” is my new favorite word.

  12. Kate, I am older than you, but not MUCH older; I am 47. Just older enough to be able to tell you that things have gotten WORSE, much WORSE re: misogyny during my adulthood. WHen I was in my early twenties, in the early 80’s, it would have been UNTHINKABLE to talk about women the way that has become normal in the last 8 years. It is almost as though, say, people started saying “jigaboo” on national TV again.

    I am not saying that deeply entrenched, normalized sexism, like NOT having female congresspeople, was any better. But the words of the discourse were far less ridiculous. There was still a snowstoem; but it was a light flurry.

    I think men (in general) kind of GOT IT that you may never get to have sex with a woman again unless you examine your beliefs and ditch the sexism. Somehow, this fear has disappeared; men do not seem to think that EVERY woman they meet is going to be a Feminist, and now they act like it is open season on women (especially Feminists) and they seem to believe that this will not negatively affect their married life or their dating life or their relationship with their MOM.

    The only reason I bring this up is that there is hope; it will change again. I think we are at a nadir of the Pendulum effect.

  13. Gingembre beat me to it, and very eloquently. I would just add that it’s completely understandable to be frustrated and angry at those women — I would be, too! — but they didn’t rig the game to start with; they’re conforming to cultural expectations, and (as all fatties know) they will be punished, and harshly, if they fail to conform. They’re not “setting women back” — they’re where women are “supposed” to be.

  14. “They are the very reason why women don’t get taken seriously.”

    I should have added ‘when it comes to gaming’ at the end of that sentence. Though the behavior they exhibit doesn’t just happen in games. Plus, even if they do cause women who play video games to be taken less seriously, it’s the time wasting that annoys me the most.

    When everyone has to take time out to validate the people who think all they’ve got to offer is a pretty face, it’s indeed frustrating., and perhaps they are just conforming to how they think they are suppose to act.

  15. “Kate, I am older than you, but not MUCH older; I am 47. Just older enough to be able to tell you that things have gotten WORSE, much WORSE re: misogyny during my adulthood. WHen I was in my early twenties, in the early 80’s, it would have been UNTHINKABLE to talk about women the way that has become normal in the last 8 years. It is almost as though, say, people started saying “jigaboo” on national TV again.

    I am not saying that deeply entrenched, normalized sexism, like NOT having female congresspeople, was any better. But the words of the discourse were far less ridiculous. There was still a snowstoem; but it was a light flurry.

    I think men (in general) kind of GOT IT that you may never get to have sex with a woman again unless you examine your beliefs and ditch the sexism. Somehow, this fear has disappeared; men do not seem to think that EVERY woman they meet is going to be a Feminist, and now they act like it is open season on women (especially Feminists) and they seem to believe that this will not negatively affect their married life or their dating life or their relationship with their MOM.

    The only reason I bring this up is that there is hope; it will change again. I think we are at a nadir of the Pendulum effect.”
    -KMTBERRY

    I was just in a women’s studies class where there was a decent mix of women around your age and women around 19-25, and it came up that it was getting way worse. One of the younger women in my class told me that her male roommates told her that she should “Chill out, because it’s not like she’s going to see any change in her lifetime.” and then proceeded to state that they knew they were privileged, and that they were totally cool with that.
    I personally think that a great deal of the problem lies in the continued over-sexualization of women in the media,and the narrowing of beauty standards. and actually, I think that by constantly telling men how privileged they are but not explaining and stressing the ways in which patriarchal practice negatively effects them, we do more harm than good.

  16. oh, yeah, the point of the first story was that I had run into similar attitudes myself, and at least in my generation, find many of those attitudes to be prevalent.

  17. I love (read: hate, as sarcasm sometimes does not translate well via the internet) how the article makes blogging sound like it’s totally high-profile and uber-lucrative, when, for most of us, that is not the case.

    As much as I hate to sound like a buzzkill re the caption, what the hell ISN’T a young man’s game these days?

  18. annaham, what hasn’t been a young man’s game, now and in the past.

    Kate, so not surprised. This is the paper that has never, since I began reading it religiously in the 80s, even reached parity in its book review section, and when questioned about it, whined, “well, one of our editors is a woman and we can’t find enough books by women to review.” It’s a wonder I’m not bald with tearing my hair out. “White Male” is still the standard for everything.

    If men actually acknowledged that we do the same things they do, often better, they might have to acknowledge that we were as smart as they are, and then that might mean they’d have to compete with us, and then they might have to pay us equally, and more of us might actually go to work because we could earn a decent living, and you know what that would do to the economy because who would stay home and buy stuff?

  19. Argh. You know what my current hated media phrase is? Coeds, referring only to (hot) female college students. Ferchrissake, we’ve had women in colleges for hundreds of years, women in colleges with men for, at a minimum, 173 years (hi, Oberlin), and women in colleges with men at significant numbers for 40+ years. Can we declare the phrase archaic yet?

    I’m only 25, and I have noticed things getting worse. Pathetic, huh? So many people my age and younger think that women have equal rights, and that crap’s all over and done with. If I’m not mistaken, women are earning, what, 70 cents on the dollar for equivalent work? Yeah. Equal. Sure.

    The SF/geek world is particularly bad, since it seems that NO ONE HAS NOTICED that there are female geeks yet. And that we probably don’t want cooking games.

  20. Lee, totally with you on the NYT book review thing — but again, I wrote this post, not Kate.

  21. Ha, Stephanie, I agree about “coeds.” It’s a dated term that I see used in the media, but I mostly associate it with Playboy and fake amateur porn.

  22. I am also a gamer I played WoW for about a year and a half. I remember getting really frustrated with the female characters that would dance for money in public. I say female characters because i have major doubts that actual females were playing them; i don’t know many actual female gamers that would ever grind up against a stranger in public to get extra gold, even in game. It pissed me off to think that males get to make the rules and then reinforce them while pretending to be female.

    But my biggest pet peeve is people that pay for companies to level their characters because they never know how to use their new abilities efficiently themselves. There was a tv show on gamers and a portion of it was about gamer couples. This one couple paid to have the wifes character leveled because the husband wanted her to play with him on his level, but she didn’t have the time to level because she had to take care of the kids while he played. Apparently it never occurred to the guy to let his wife play while he took care of the kids for once so that she could level herself.

  23. “The SF/geek world is particularly bad, since it seems that NO ONE HAS NOTICED that there are female geeks yet. And that we probably don’t want cooking games.” – Stephanie

    Ok, I can understand this, but this also somewhat bothers me, cause there are girls out there who actually do like the obnoxiously cute female targeted games. Like the Tamagotchi Corner Shop games, and Cooking Mama. I like Cooking Mama, so like does that make me someone who’s buying into the stereotype of what people think women should like?

    No, I think that alot of women do like obnoxious cuteness. In fact, that’s why there are a good deal of Otaku, (meaning people who like Japan alot) women. Japan has realized what women have known for a very long time:

    Females like things that are cute.

    It really is that simple. If that makes you feel like they’re not targeting what women really want from games, because those games are stereotyped games for women, ok that’s cool. My point is just to say, that there are alot of women out there who genuninely do like those games, and don’t find them patronizing.

    Ok, maybe Cooking Mama is a little patronizing, but it’s not like Tomb Raider or something. You know like, “It’s a game where a girl kicks major ass, but she also dresses sorta revealing and has huge hooters. Cause um, we can’t forget the guys now can we? *whistles*”

  24. Interesting. I thought the whole premise of the article was so blindingly stupid (three middle-aged men out of hundreds of thousands with the same profession have heart attacks in four months? Wow, shocking…) I didn’t notice they failed to find any dead women.

  25. Females like things that are cute.

    Well, no. Some women like things that are cute. Some don’t. Some men like things that are cute. Some don’t. Some women don’t like pink! Some men do! It’s unbelievable!

    The problem is not the existence or non-existence of cooking games or shooter games, but the ridiculously gendered marketing thereof. Women are socialized to like cute things, so those that do are conforming, and those that don’t are called abnormal. I agree with you that there’s nothing wrong with liking a game like Cooking Mama (which sounds fun to me), but there is something wrong with treating it as though because you’re a woman you just naturally like it.

  26. I have been reading political blogs since the 2004 election and every once in a while the instapundit would link to a post all about how “there are no woman bloggers” and then women bloggers all over the blogosphere would be like “Uh… hello?” and then Andrew Sullivan would post something dicky and so would Jeff Goldstien and they’d all conclude that women suck. It’s like… The cool thing to do, ignore female bloggers. It seems to have gotten better now that Mrs. Insapundit and Michelle Malkin, and that law professor chick that he loves…. Ann something? are around to say women hating things for the menfolk. Goodtimes.

    In other news, I used to belong to a girl gaming forum called Iris. It was interesting, they were real gamers really focused on talking about gaming issues for women. No boys allowed type thing, no explaining to boys why this was necessary, just talking about our issues with the games. (Like, the vapid healer characters taht the female’s are always relegated to “But but… it’s a girl!”) But eventually the PC ness alienated me. It was all very… “wow I totally thought this crazy leftist stereotype was made up…. guess I was wrong.”

    We were talking about WoW widows, which is a huge problem where men become more involved with Worlds of Warcraft than they are with their families. I have lost 2 boyfriends to this, and I play the game myself. I essentially said, these women should try to take some drastic action if they can to get their husbands out of this game, and that if they couldn’t, and they were independent enough, then they should leave them. This is apparently EXACTLY THE SAME as saying “It’s these women’s fault that their husbands are addicted to a video game.” I didn’t even use the word retarded in that post, and they reported me!!! For “Blaming the Victim.” *headdesk*

    So just so you know guys, if you are trying to fix a problem, you are accepting the blame for it.

    By this, the law of Iris, it is all the fatosphere’s fault that people hate their bodies and hate fat people. Shame on Us.

  27. What if I do naturally like games like Cooking Mama. What, that suddenly makes me some mega conformist? You know, being a female who likes video games is rather unconformist in it’s own right. As well as being a female who isn’t afraid to be fat.

    I don’t see this as an issue of conformity, I feel everyone should be able to like what they like, and not feel judged for it. Or be pigeon-holed for it.

  28. I don’t see how addiction to World of Warcraft is being victimized. Don’t play the game. If that doesn’t work, take the PC, unplug it, and put it in a storage unit until they come down from the “withdrawal”.

    It’s rediculous that these supposed game addicts are given the same level of sympathy as real drug addicts. Something obviously is wrong at a deeper level psychologically, which would cause them to be addicted to anything be it a game, gambling, whatever. They need to see a psychatrist.

    I’m sorry, WoW addiction just doesn’t seem to be as crippling as Heroin habit.

  29. “Is one article about poor stressed out tech bloggers going to set back feminism by 10 years? No, almost certainly not.”

    That’s because feminism would have to be 10 years ahead of where is actually is for one more snowflake to have that effect. The problem is not that the article was written thusly, but that many people can look at 10,000 articles written similarly in the last six months in media outlets all over the country and say “Pattern? What pattern? 10,000 is well within the possibility of chance! You’re making things up!”

  30. Jackie, we were talking mostly about the wives of WoW addicts, who were apparently victims of their husband’s addiction. Frankly, at some point I think you need to take a little initiative and unplug the internet.

  31. Jackie, there’s nothing wrong with liking cute games or cooking games or otherwise “girly” games. There’s something wrong with saying: “Females like things that are cute. It really is that simple.” because you’re making an untrue and sexist generalisation.

  32. No women bloggers? Really? Check out Time.com’s top 25 blogs…4 that I saw right off the bat are written by women. Maybe more that I don’t know. And I assume some are group blogs with a mix.

  33. You know, I think all forms of addiction are pretty serious. Jackie’s right that WoW isn’t dangerous in the same way that heroine, alcohol or, say, gambling is.

    But I can see how a parent and spouse playing a game in an excessive and driven way might have very real and negative effects on family life. I know it seems geeky, but when a person checks out of a relationship in order to indulge some diversionary, something serious is wrong. I doesn’t seem like over-reaction to me to treat is as such, either. If someone is hooked on WoW and you unplug the PC, that someone could easily choose to stay at work and game or spend hours at the internet cafe.

    And I agree with the others in the “wish I was surprised” column.

  34. You know, back in the dinosaur age, when the little plastic tamagotchis that you carried around were first out, I sold at least as many to boys as I did to girls. The difference was that the toy / game had not been “gendered” yet as a GIRL’s toy / game. Boys and men have the same instincts to respond to “cuteness” as women and girls. The difference is that males are heavily encouraged to deny it and females heavily encouraged to embrace it. The extreme sucess of Katamari shows that males can and will play a cutsey game, as long as they are not socially penalized for doing so. If the protagonist in Katamari was female, though, it would be in the girl ghetto before you could say Hello Kitty.

  35. What if I do naturally like games like Cooking Mama. What, that suddenly makes me some mega conformist?

    Jackie, of course not; I should have said women who like cute things APPEAR to be conforming to social expectations. We all conform in some ways and not in others.

  36. Thank you, Sweet Machine, for saying what I meant in your first comment.

    I’ve heard good things about Cooking Mama, but I have no real desire to play it, and I didn’t necessarily mean to bash everyone who likes it. I like my Super Smash Brothers just fine, but I wish the marketing wasn’t so divisive.

    Since my boyfriend had already admitted a tendency to become addicted to games like WoW, I went to extreme measures (a lot of crying) to keep from becoming a WoW widow . . . like, um, most of my friends. Yikes.

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