Monday, April 02, 2007

Women, Anger And the Web

This topic was a hot one last Thursday. First the mainstream media began commenting on the Kathy Sierra web-harassment case:

Why did prominent blogger Kathy Sierra suddenly cancel the talk she was supposed to give Tuesday in San Diego? Because of specific, sexually graphic death threats posted on her blog and elsewhere on the Internet. One of the tamer threats featured a photo of her next to a noose.

Death threats! If you've never heard of Sierra, perhaps you assume that she writes about religion, the mob or the Satanic Verses. But actually, Sierra writes about cognition and computers. Wrote, actually -- she has also seen fit to shut down her venerable blog, Creating Passionate Users. (Warning: Some of the particularly grody threats now appear there as part of her final post.) "As I type this, I am supposed to be in San Diego, delivering a workshop at the ETech conference. But I'm not. I'm at home, with the doors locked, terrified," she writes, adding as part of an of apology to conference organizers and attendees, "If you want to do something about it, do not tolerate the kind of abuse that includes threats or even suggestions of violence (especially sexual violence). Do not put these people on a pedestal. Do not let them get away with calling this 'social commentary,' 'protected speech,' or simply 'criticism.'"

Then a conservative blogger, Dr. Helen, decided to write on the very same topic: women anger and the web. But what a difference in the framing!

It would be interesting to do a study of all of the anonymous posters of insults on various blogs around the web and see if proportionally, there are as many (or more) women who pen the insults (I am not talking here about discussing issues--I mean ad hominem attacks). Because if that is the case, that more women are behind the anonymous insults, it indicates that deep down, women have learned little from feminism over the last years--they are still too afraid to come out in the open in an assertive and constructive manner. They are still, ultimately, too intimidated to take real responsibility for their actions. It's no wonder they are so angry.

A lot of ifs in that short quote and no evidence. Perhaps it is the custom in the faith-based world that so many conservatives inhabit.

I brought these posts together not to argue that Dr. Helen was responding to the Sierra case (she probably wasn't), but to point out the two parallel realities of much political speech today. While many of the progressive blogs are busy discussing sexual harassment in the cyberspace, the conservative discussion (in the comments attached to Dr. Helen's post) agrees that women indeed are the angrier sex and pretty much out of control.

Which makes me wonder, once again, what it is that women get from the conservative movement.
X-posted on the TAPPED