March 02, 2005

Heaven Help Us

Yes, it's a March madness of a different sort: Estrogen Month. Go vote, if you are so inclined, for your favorite "gal-in waiting" from among the prospective female bloggers Elayne's selected to be included on her roll. The selection will update daily. Now that's commitment.

(I happen to be on today's list, but I can say without false modesty that you'd be a fool to vote for me--you regular readers, you know how regularly I flake out of blogging entirely. The dependability, it is not my strong suit. Doesn't mean there aren't some great blogs featured, though--so happy voting!)

Posted by Ilyka at 02:18 AM | Comments (2)

February 27, 2005

Estrogen Week: Putting A Bow On It 2

I hope you're all ready for your yummy estrogen-filled post featuring women bloggers from the left side of the political spectrum. (Since I do know of more liberal female bloggers than Ilyka, I added a few.)

Organizing Principles from The Sideshow

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

And that, my friends, is the organizing principle of liberalism. The "general Welfare" and "the Blessings of Liberty" are meant to be the goal of the United States of America - it says so in the very first sentence of the Constitution. It is the obligation of the government to "secure" these things for us.

Breaking Free From the Power Suit from Feministing.

While I'm still wrestling with Givhan's critique, I'm struck by the fashion conundrum that powerful women are left to wrestle with. By breaking with her usual uniform -- "a bland suit with a loose-fitting skirt and short boxy jacket with a pair of sensible pumps" -- Rice got cast a dominatrix. While I personally think that the "power-suit" is an extremely unflattering look, why does breaking free of a two-piece suit imply sexual deviance? It seems that even in wardrobe choices, critics are eager to impose the virgin/whore dichotomy on women.

The American Dream from One Good Thing.

I've written about my grandfather before, but it seems timely to bring up again his unusual views on the raising of girls. He just flatly refused to do it. He refused to raise a daughter and refused raising granddaughters three more times. Girls, he said, were boring. They were dumb. All they ever wanted to do was sit around and play with dolls and wear white gloves and dresses and fix each others hair and he wasn't going to tolerate that sort of crap in his house. Only boys for him, yes sir. My mother, and after her all her daughters, learned to respond to some variation of "Boy!" when he called after us. Now that we were acknowledged boys, it was all right to teach us to fish, to build soap box cars, to teach us football and baseball, to hunt after alligators. (Sometimes, late at night, when no one was watching, my mother, as a child, was permitted to sit on his back while he stretched out on the floor with the newspaper turned to the box scores and allowed to roll his hair up in curlers, but nobody needs to know about that.)

And it starts again from Pinko Feminist Hellcat.

It seems perfectly okay for men to call us manhaters, dykes, frigid, witch-hunters, repressive, "victims", and censors for having the gall to question the value of rape porn (you don't even have to advocate censorship, just criticize it), ask why it is that women's bodies are used as ornamentation for magazines as diverse as Vogue and Maxim, point out that the wage gap does exist, and say that being promiscuous doesn't mean one deserves to be raped.

Call them on this, and suddenly it's Pinochet's Chile. I mean come on, enough already.

Well, I Can't Read A Map... from Plum Crazy

but I’m not sure this study really explains why. My main issue with the study is that it focused on adults and, discovering differences in how adults process data, attributed the cause to genetics. The problem is, by the time you’re adults, any effects of socialization would be in full swing, so how could you reasonably be sure that the differences were not socialized as opposed to genetic? Are we so damn sure that we don’t unconsciously teach boys and girls different methods of problem-solving?

A Blogosphere Prediction from Rox Populi (I couldn't not link a post that refers to Matt Yglesias as the Danny Bonaduce of the blogosphere).

Set your watches. Sometime in the next 72 hours, Danny Bonaduce of the blogosphere Blogaduce will comment on the "women and blogging" issue.

Wade Horn To Drum Up Grants For Abstinence-Only Education from Trish Wilson.

Horn is better known for promoting marriage and "responsible" fatherhood. He is one of the founders of The National Fatherhood Initiative, which has printed out "Father Facts." Those "facts" were lists of flimsy statistics that blamed "fatherlessness" (code for single and divorced mother homes) for a host of social problems such as juvenile delinquency, low S. A. T. scores, drug and alcohol addiction, and teen pregnancy. These statistics malign single and divorced mother homes. They also oversimplify and misrepresent problems exacerbated by poverty and lack of adequate support systems by insinuating that these families can rise out of poverty if the father is present in the home. Preferably, that father should marry the mother. Hence, the arrival of marriage initiatives promoted by Gallagher and McManus, funded by DHHS

Warning: Cell phones contain Pavlov's Bells! from Watermelon Punch.

Why on earth do people respond to their phones ringing like Pavlov's Dogs?

The State of the Black Union: Jesse Lee Patterson from

What I hear from black leaders is that we need to be pro-active in demanding better. Not one person on this morning’s panel — a panel about what black folks can do to better Black America — said “The white man done did me wrong.”

The Real Crisis from Random Thoughts on Politics.

In an ideological fervor, Bush and his acolytes have been fanning the flames trying to convince the American public that there's a social security crisis. With claims of future bankruptcy and the implication that without significant reform today's young people are tomorrow's destitute elderly, the Bush team is waging a full-bore campaign to eliminate them most successful social program we have and to replace it with a high-debt, high-risk alternative straight out of the GOP handbook.

Where are the African Women bloggers? from Black Looks.

Now all this talk of women bloggers, minority bloggers, bloggers of colour etc is great stuff BUT no one is talking about AFRICAN women bloggers, especially those blogging from Africa rather than the diaspora. If anyone's voice is lost it is that of African women. When it comes to the mainstream media and even the" alternative" so called "progressive" media and that includes the Blogger world, technologically we don't exist - but actually we do. A few weeks ago I reported on the African IT initiative

Hell and high water from Body and Soul.

With the near certainty of Ibrahim Jafari becoming prime minister, it's impossible to conceive of women's rights being equal to what they were in pre-war Iraq. Jafari was behind a move last year to make sharia the legal basis for family law. An "ayatollah in a suit." As Juan Cole recently discussed, the American press tends to portray him as a "secularist," but that's like calling George Bush a democrat. He makes a few noises in the direction of the ideal, but actions speak louder.

Casing Casey from Suburban Guerilla.

Bob Casey's a lot like his old man, the deceased former Governor. In Casey Sr.'s inaugural speech, he told his supporters if they voted for him because he was against abortion, they needed to understand they'd also voted for all the social programs and supports necessary to stop abortion - including the taxes necessary to fund them.

Cross-posted at Plum Crazy.

Posted by plumcrazy at 02:53 AM | Comments (0)

Estrogen Week: Putting A Bow On It 1

We're wrapping up Estrogen Week with a couple of link round-ups featuring posts from women bloggers. Here's your first round-up filled with estrogen from the right side of the political spectrum.

Of All People from Not Exactly Rocket Science (who, BTW, has the coolest scrolling title ever; and I don't say that just because I love Pinky and the Brain).

Most Americans don't even get this, but the fundamental difference is that mainstream conservatives and moderates have already moved to the internet as a place where they can air their views, likewise the extreme fringe left. The mainstream liberal doesn't have to look to the internet to express his opinion, it's already on the TV and in the papers.

V is for Voting from Okie Minnie Me.

There are more than the 2 parties putting up candidates to run for the White House. Oh sure! Those people have about as good of a chance of winning as does Jo Lo’s latest marriage lasting but I say if you don't vote don't bitch about whose in office. You didn't participate in the election process so SHUDUP!

Conservatives Pick A Soft Target: A Cartoon Sponge from Random Gemini Weirdness.

I am an intelligent adult, with the power of speech and am able to communicate myself to others well enough that the idea that I need my public school district to purchase a video, featuring Spongebob Squarepants--a character who is entertaining largely because he is intellectually challenged and that's putting it in an extremely mild light, to explain about other cultures to my children is patently offensive. It is an affront to my intelligence. It is an affront to my views of the world. It ignores my needs as a parent in favor of the needs of others who feel that their culture is not being featured enough in the world view.

A different kind of control from Pamibe

San Francisco is giving its residents the opportunity to vote for or against gun ownership. More than simply disarming their citizens, this measure would prove fatal to viable businesses. What small business owner can afford to close up shop and move both his source of income and family to another city?

A fellowship of honor, however defined from Sisu

Like the Robin Williams character in "Dead Poets Society," our favorite bloggers are forever jumping up on their keyboards and asking us to look at what we think we know in a different way. Jack of TigerHawk returns from a business trip to DC with an intriguing challenge:

Of Mice and Men from Res Ipsa Loquitur.

I've been watching, with growing amusement, the impending disaster of our Mayor Dan's Grand Plan for 'revitalizing' the downtown Fayetteville area by using Tax Increment Financing district(s). (A TIF basically works by allowing a municipality to earmark property tax moneys for special urban renewal projects.) Mayor Dan and our esteemed city council recently created a TIF district, which was primarily aimed at renovating a long-defunct hotel off the dowtown square. But Mayor Dan's Plan has hit a slight snag.

Small Dead Feminist from Small dead animals.

I speak as a woman who has worked in a male work setting for all of my adult life. I can say with some authority that the time has come to dismantle organized feminism

Our Mission Is Our Message from such small hands.

But think about it … isn’t that the way many Christians approach American culture in the 21st century? Is it any wonder so many unbelievers tune us out? I’m not saying we should change or water down the gospel message, but what can we do?

Why Handguns Are Better Than Men from The Bitch Girls.

After finally getting around to reading Jeff's weekly gun news, I saw Kim's list of reasons guns are better than women. I thought I had previously posted my reasons guns were better than men, but I couldn't find it. So, just a little too late for Valentine's, here's the list:

If you go after the King, you better kill him, or you'll be killed yourself from The Irish Lass. The permalink is bloggered, so scroll down to the second post.

I was really the only one asking these questions. Most party members were unconcerned. A member of the Rules Committee told me "When you choke on a piece of bread, you don't always die, but it's a possibility", clearly believing that she was already dead.

Why the Exit Polls were Misleading from The Patriette.

Republicans were nervous by Tuesday afternoon. Sitting at the Bush-Cheney headquarters in Saint Paul, we knew things were close. They'd sent in a team from D.C. not only to encourage us, but to remind us: The exit polls were showing a Kerry lead.

How could exit polls be so wrong

Sigh from Tightly Wound.

Am I the only person in America who's tired of this crap? The DaySide program will feature little miss "careers kill children's souls" alongside little miss "oh, woe is the stay-at-home mommy," the whiny authoress of the correctly much-mocked Newsweek piece. And to what end, beyond ratings and self-flagellation fodder for people who are incapable of making decisions without the approval of some invisible other

Parenthetical Parenting Thought from Tulip Girl.

One of the things that saddends me most about the Ezzo materials is how proponents of the program are quick to blame the mother when the promised results of the program are not seen. If it "works"--then it is to the praise of the Ezzo books! If it doesn't, either the parents were not being consistent with the principles or they were being "too flexible."

The Mommy Trap: When 'Having It All' Isn't 'All That' from Villainous Company.

As I read Ms. Warner's overlong screed, I struggled to reconcile the lives of these Desperate Housewives with my own experience as a mostly stay-at-home wife and mother for 18 years. And I realized that somewhere, there was a dramatic disconnect between the Living Hell she describes and my memories of motherhood. What was wrong with these hyperactive, self-absorbed, "liberated" women?

Cross-posted at Plum Crazy.

Posted by plumcrazy at 01:20 AM | Comments (1)

February 26, 2005

Estrogen Week: Help Me Wrap it Up

UPDATE: Can you believe I got someone to help with this? I am the luckiest person in the world, I tell you.

So soon you can say hi to Lesley, mistress of the House of Plum.

Thanks to everyone who volunteered--wait, that would be just Lesley. THANK YOU, LESLEY!


Yeah, I'm soliciting a guest blogger. There are two posts I wanted to get up that I'm just not going to have time to get up. These are:

  • A link roundup of the remainder of the girly side of the blogroll: Find some good posting from the following conservative women--

    Not Exactly Rocket Science

    Okie Minnie Me


    Random Gemini Weirdness

    Res Ipsa Loquitur


    Small Dead Animals

    Such Small Hands

    The Bitch Girls

    The Irish Lass

    The Patriette

    Tightly Wound

    Tulip Girl

    Villainous Company (NOTE: You MUST include this one. I owe her several links. Also, Cassandra rocks.)

  • Another link roundup, this time from the left-leaning women Kevin Drum had so much trouble finding. Feel free, if you have one, to use your own link collection (I'm still working on expanding the blogroll in this regard), but I'd like it to include, at a minimum, some work by:

    Avedon Carol


    One Good Thing

    Pinko Feminist Hellcat

    Plum Crazy

    Rox Populi

    Trish Wilson (NOTE: Another must-include.)

    Watermelon Punch

    Send email to ilyka[at]ilyka[dot]mu[dot]nu, and I'll toss you the keys. You can help with either post, but preference will be given to the first volunteer who wants to write up both.

    Help me out, now, so I can get back to my regular job of providing you fair and balanced citizen journalism whatever free content I feel like giving you at the moment, you shameless moochers. Well, that, and stalking Hubris.

    Posted by Ilyka at 12:09 AM | Comments (8)
  • February 25, 2005

    Estrogen Week

    I hereby proclaim it Estrogen Week at Ilyka Damen. Because why not? And because I'm not writing a damn thing about Hunter S. Thompson, forget it, you can't make me.

    Now enjoy this banner from Michele. I know I do.

    (New posts will appear below this one, because--that banner! It's awesome!)

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:42 PM | Comments (15)

    Estrogen Week: Poor Larry Summers, Victim of Political Correctness

    Yes, yes: Poor Mr. Summers. Why, all he did in his talk about women in science and engineering was point out what everyone knows anyway:

    There may also be elements, by the way, of differing, there is some, particularly in some attributes, that bear on engineering, there is reasonably strong evidence of taste differences between little girls and little boys that are not easy to attribute to socialization. . . . So, I think, while I would prefer to believe otherwise, I guess my experience with my two and a half year old twin daughters who were not given dolls and who were given trucks, and found themselves saying to each other, look, daddy truck is carrying the baby truck, tells me something. And I think it's just something that you probably have to recognize.

    There are two other hypotheses that are all over. One is socialization. Somehow little girls are all socialized towards nursing and little boys are socialized towards building bridges. No doubt there is some truth in that. I would be hesitant about assigning too much weight to that hypothesis for two reasons.

    First, most of what we've learned from empirical psychology in the last fifteen years has been that people naturally attribute things to socialization that are in fact not attributable to socialization. We've been astounded by the results of separated twins studies. The confident assertions that autism was a reflection of parental characteristics that were absolutely supported and that people knew from years of observational evidence have now been proven to be wrong. And so, the human mind has a tendency to grab to the socialization hypothesis when you can see it, and it often turns out not to be true.

    The second empirical problem is that girls are persisting longer and longer. When there were no girls majoring in chemistry, when there were no girls majoring in biology, it was much easier to blame parental socialization. Then, as we are increasingly finding today, the problem is what's happening when people are twenty, or when people are twenty-five, in terms of their patterns, with which they drop out. Again, to the extent it can be addressed, it's a terrific thing to address.

    (Incidentally, that's a whopping logical fallacy in the second-to-last paragraph above. Consider:

    a. Some people suggest differences in scientific ability between men and women can partly be attributed to socialization.
    b. Some other variations in human behavior once attributed to socialization have since been proven not to be attributable to socialization; therefore
    c. The set of gender differences we are currently discussing cannot be attributed to socialization.

    Uh, no. And he's president of Harvard.)

    Yes, yes . . . poor Larry Summers:

    Today this study from the American Institute of Physics argues that the disparity in the numbers between men and women working as university faculty in physics actually begins before college and is not a result as of a lack of innate ability etc.
    What's all this fuss about? We know women's brains are different from men's. They can't even read maps as well:
    I remember studies like this being on the front page of Time in the 1980s. Women, men, math, maps, different areas of the brain. Same stuff. But look at the percentages. You still got millions of men and women who don't fit into the categories. We are all a lot more variable than these studies suggest. (Actually, the studies themselves are usually rigorous, but the popular science reporting isn't. Remember, this is the same MSM that reports on the war in Iraq and the 2004 election. Scientists are not happy when their findings are generalized out of all recognition.)
    I'm telling you, it's those rotten PC police, stifling dissent just like they always do:
    These days, to be politically correct is to be a cowed conformist, too afraid to speak the truth which -- surprise! -- invariably turns out to be an old conservative idea.

    We have come full circle so that uttering a stereotype is classified as daring. Soon, the brave new thing will be to call your 56-year-old secretary a "girl" and the forward thinkers will say that white men can't jump. Summers's own breath of fresh air was to challenge the notion that men and women can be equal at science -- an idea so politically correct that not a single woman has held a math chair at Harvard in 370 years.

    Barbara Grosz, chair of the Harvard task force on women in science and engineering, recaps the argument with some exasperation: "The criticism of Summers's talk was not that the ideas he expressed were politically incorrect, but that they were just plain incorrect." How come, she wonders, when Summers talks he's being open-minded and provocative, but when his challengers offer a spirited rebuttal they're accused of trampling on academic freedom?

    When will these P.C. monsters learn to just trust the science? WHERE'S THE SCIENCE?

    When they do study sheer cognitive prowess, many researchers have been impressed with how similarly young boys and girls master new tasks.

    "We adults may think very different things about boys and girls, and treat them accordingly, but when we measure their capacities, they're remarkably alike," said Elizabeth Spelke, a professor of psychology at Harvard. She and her colleagues study basic spatial, quantitative and numerical abilities in children ranging from 5 months through 7 years.

    "In that age span, you see a considerable number of the pieces of our mature capacities for spatial and numerical reasoning coming together," Dr. Spelke said. "But while we always test for gender differences in our studies, we never find them."

    Poor, poor Larry Summers.

    (Credit where it's due: Boston Globe and NY Times excerpts via feministe [here and here], whose coverage of this incident has been the most comprehensive I've found.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 10:53 PM | Comments (6)

    February 24, 2005

    Estrogen Week: Michele Versus Michelle

    It's Catalano v. Malkin on the subject of teenagers and cutting. Guess whose take I prefer? (Note: Before you rush off to add your two cents to the comments, I really recommend reading the update.)

    Longtime readers know I have some personal experience with the whole cutting thing. I don't think it's too relevant for me to go into much more detail beyond what I've already said about it in the "About" section; that is:

    I used to do this back then [as a teenager], too. It wasn't called that at the time. So far as I know, it wasn't called anything besides "way f---ing bizarre." I picked the habit up from a guy, which is odd, because it seems to be mostly a girl thing.

    I disagree with most of the theories about why kids do it, but it would be getting into a long story to explain why that is--and guaranteed, someone who's never done it, never known anyone who did it, and has no idea what he or she is talking about, will argue with me. I stuck to the arms, and I don't have any really serious scars or anything, so most of the time anymore I've forgotten I ever did it.

    (Oh man, did I really just blockquote myself? I'm not sure I'm ever going to be able to forgive me the pomposity. I understand if you can't, either.)

    I mention it because I think Michele's strongest point is that this isn't, in any way, a subject that should be dealt with using gross generalizations, i.e.:

    Llamabutchers raises my hackles by suggesting that divorce/broken homes (how I hate that phrase) is a root cause of this self destructive behavior. Secure Liberty also blames it (a specific case that all three blogs write about) on the kid being upset about her parent's divorce.

    Do you know anything about the statistics of cutters that you can just whip that little nugget of information out?

    If you listen to some people, you'd think that every single child of divorce is doomed for a life of crime, drugs and despair.

    Maybe they're not all broken homes. Maybe some of them are fixed homes, you know?

    As I mentioned in Michele's comments, my parents were not divorced. My family attended church regularly. My parents believed in, and taught, traditional values. These attributes, so highly regarded in socially conservative circles, not that there's anything wrong with that, are no insurance at all against self-destructive teenagers. Hate to break it to you, "fixed" families, but as a matter of fact yes, it could happen to you. You could wind up having a kid who does this. It's not a disorder exclusive to Democrats, fans of emo music, or marathon swimmers in the low-culture sewer.

    As for what it really is, well, I leave that to the experts, to the mental health professionals. I can say I've talked to other former cutters, and the best I can come up with is that motives vary.

    The passage of 20-odd years since I last did it also dulls my memory regarding why I did it. From what I can recall of how I felt back then, I'd say it was a sort of twisted self-defense thing, a way to show that sworn enemy of teenagers, "the world," that it could quit trying to hurt me any time now because, see?--I already hurt myself. I can hurt myself just fine, world. I'm tough, and I can take it, so you knock it off. That sort of goofy reasoning, if you can even call it that; the sort of thinking that makes sense to you at the time but just seems, uh, dumb once you get a little older and get a little perspective. "The world," obviously, was not out to get me. A merry band of bitches at high school was, perhaps, but high school, thank heavens, is not "the world."

    And that last is more or less what I'd say, what I have in fact said, to a teenager I knew was cutting: This passes. All the aggro and the bullshit, well, guess what?--You grow up and get to trade it all for new aggro and new bullshit. But it's still better, and you may not know it now, but you do want to get there, and you want to get there with as few scars as possible. If you need help to do that, get help to do that--but don't hurt yourself like this.

    You know what I wouldn't say? I wouldn't say "quit listening to that depressing music." I wouldn't say "such a shame; I'll bet if your parents had stayed together, this would never have happened." I wouldn't say anything trite or trivializing or dismissive or simplistic about a serious subject.

    And frankly?

    Malkin's old enough to know better than to do that either.

    (NOTE: No comments. As always, you're welcome to email me, but we will not be having any circle jerks on this subject, for what I hope are obvious reasons. Thank you for understanding.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:34 PM

    February 23, 2005

    Estrogen Week: Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness

    Which is why I always recommend Victory Soap to my nearest and dearest.

    (Not related, really, but holy crumb, am I sick of that "EW" preface on every post already. The pool's open for bets on whether I'll make it through a week of using it. Already it irks me.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 10:33 AM | Comments (3)

    Estrogen Week: The "Man Smart/Women Smarter" Argument

    Noticed something while following the comments at the Washington Monthly update today: A little post edit. Nothing wrong with that; sure, it's usual to call attention to an edit with an "UPDATE" label or similar notice, but I admit I don't always do that myself (especially if it's something minor, like finding a typo or misspelling that would eventually drive me mad).

    This one, however, changed the meaning and sense of the post significantly. The original ending to the post read:

    Hmmm, should I defend myself? Only to this extent: the reason I suggested that women are turned off by the "fundamental viciousness" of blogging and opinion writing is because many women have told me this (and have told me the same thing in non-blogging contexts as well).

    But hey — click the links and decide for yourself. My critics certainly make a spirited — if anecdotal — case for the proposition that women have no problem being as nasty as men.

    I think the countering of anecdotal evidence--in this case, women bloggers' acknowledgement of their own existence--with, uh, anecdotal evidence ("many women have told me") has already been adequately covered elsewhere, notably in the comments. Let's skip that, and note the text added later (emphasized in bold):

    Hmmm, should I defend myself? Only to this extent: the reason I suggested that women are turned off by the "fundamental viciousness" of blogging and opinion writing is because many women have told me this (and have told me the same thing in non-blogging contexts as well). Men are so routinely dismissive of women and so fundamentally dedicated to playground dominance games that many women decide they just don't want to play.

    But hey — click the links and decide for yourself. My critics certainly make a spirited — if anecdotal — case for the proposition that women have no problem being as nasty as men.

    Reads at first almost conciliatory, doesn't it? "See? You really can blame the men! Just not me!" Men are so awful that women just opt out and "decide they just don't want to play."

    I have two problems with that: One, it's really chickenshit to shift the blame over to those men who clearly don't have a problem with women as purveyors of opinion, which is just what the first part of Drum's statement does ("Men are so routinely dismissive of women . . . .").

    Two, it's what I call the "Man Smart/Women Smarter" argument, because I never took women's studies in college and am thus stuck labeling stock arguments using calypso songs. I am starting to think maybe I was too hasty on the whole "feh, women's studies" thing back in the day. Anyway, for reference:

    Let us put man and woman together
    And see which one is smarter
    Some say man, but I say no
    The woman got the man like a puppet show

    It ain't me, it's the people that say
    The men are leadin' the women astray
    But I say that the women today
    Are smarter than man in every way
    Well that's right, the women are smarter
    That's right, the women are smarter

    It goes on with that "that's right! The women are SMAR-ter!" line oh, about 23,527 more times if you're listening to the Grateful Dead version, which I don't recommend, and never mind how I ever got so lucky.

    Beyond its helping me to continue my vocation of hating the Dead with scorching intensity, I don't really have a problem with the song itself. It just makes for a handy mental tag for myself when I run into the argument that women don't want to get in the game because, really, the game ain't that great and, gosh, we males are actually kinda dumb and immature for playing it in the first place, and . . . hey, you know what this actually proves, this whole lack of female political bloggers?


    And I'm so sorry if that's going through your head right now, but you see? Fits kind of nicely, doesn't it?

    But this is that "special" kind of smarts that only women or minorities ever get credited with, and I mean "special" here as in "olympics." We're that special kind of smart that knows how to stay out of the clubhouse, because really, it's filthy in there and you could get splinters. We're that special kind of smart that chooses not to cheapen ourselves with rough discourse. We're that special kind of smart that elects not to say what's on our minds, because discretion is the better part of valor. We're that special kind of smart that decides against debating with others because it's so uncooperative and divisive, and after all, we as a sex are blessed with that special kind of smart that excels mostly at nurturing.

    Don't get me wrong--I'm fine with nurturing and I'm fine with women having unique qualities. What I'm not fine with is being handed a list of those qualities by another human being like a set of product specifications and being labeled "nasty" when I don't measure up to them.

    That's what this argument does: It throws women a bone; it's always phrased conciliatorily; and it always winds up with a pat on the head and a reminder that we really don't want what we say we want, and that we should be content with our "special" smarts. Or to use an example, rewrite Drum's closing words by substituting only a handful of them:

    . . . the reason I suggested that women are turned off by the "fundamental viciousness" of political leadership is because many women have told me this (and have told me the same thing in non-political contexts as well). Men are so routinely dismissive of women and so fundamentally dedicated to playground dominance games that many women decide they just don't want to play.
    And then consider what Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Golda Meir, Bella Abzug, Indira Gandhi, and Margaret Thatcher might have to say about that.
    Posted by Ilyka at 09:28 AM | Comments (9)

    Estrogen Week: Our Neighbors to the North Edition

    I admit it: I kind of like the blog brouhahas. They help me find more stuff to read--because I don't have enough. I will never have enough.

    But all of a sudden, I have lots.

    Being American in T.O. has two great roundups posted comprising the work of female Canadian bloggers, writing from a libertarian/conservative perspective. It's quality stuff here: everything from day care to unions (and that store that helps Ilyka eat, Wal-mart) to Condi to the U.N. to ninjas.

    Yes, ninjas. Ninja wives. I think Jim's tongue just fell out his mouth.

    Oh, and there's something about Hunter S. Thompson in there, too, just in case you can't get enough of that sort of thing.

    I can't do it justice, really. Just head over and read and link, read and link. I'm pretty sure you'll find some new additions to your links there.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:32 AM | Comments (3)

    Estrogen Week: Hysteria

    So, listen, I want to know something: Are you being hysterical if, after someone's asked you the same dumb question several times, ignoring the answer every time, you finally lose it on that person? As in--

    Person 1: Where're my keys?

    Person 2: On the key holder in the hallway.


    Person 1: Have you seen my keys?

    Person 2: Yeah, they're on the key holder in the hallway.


    Person 1: I can't find my keys. Do you have them?

    Person 2: No. They're on the key holder, in the hallway.


    Person 1: I just do not know what I've done with my keys.

    Person 2: You put them on the key holder, in the hallway. That's where they are right now, in fact.


    Person 1: You know, I'm looking for my keys here, and--


    Because if that sort of outburst qualifies as hysteria, then yes, I would agree that many of the women commenters to this post are getting a little hysterical.

    I wonder why?

    Oh: Right.

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:14 AM | Comments (4)

    February 22, 2005

    Estrogen Week: Blogroll Raiding, Part II

    Where are all the women bloggers? Well, here are some:

    Remember my lengthy reminisce of a youth spent vowing to visit Nicaragua? Julie Neidlinger just returned from there and is promised to post details "soon." Ah, here they are.

    Susan B. of LilacRose has a good selection of links on the Terri Schiavo case, which she admits she finds frustrating to argue about:

    An argument people often make in defense of killing Terri (or "letting her go" as they euphemistically put it) is that her parents are in denial -- that they simply can't face that their daughter is already gone. But I for one am glad that her parents and siblings are standing by her -- because of stories like this.
    Little Miss Attila is turning things over to a guest-blogger for awhile. But I had to link this post of hers: "I Just Walked Away . . . from an argument over at Dean Esmay's site"--stop right there, ma'am. We've all been there. Truly.

    "Don't drive crazy in Taiwan," says Mad Minerva in a note-to-self moment, and after reading the story she links, I agree with her.

    Who knew Mamamontezz was such a romantic?

    Treat her the way you would if you wanted her to marry you all over again, as though your whole future depended on it. Assume that this could be your last night together. Love her like you believe you'll never love again for the rest of your life.

    Want to get her a nice present? What, haven't you been paying attention?

    No big stupid balloon, no long stemmed roses, no satin box of candies that no one really likes, no sexy lingerie; just be her lover and her friend with no expectations and no demands. No piece of shit from the counter of the gas station, or plastic wrapped flower from the grocery store.

    Exactly. And now for a comments advisory: If anyone wants to argue that this is "bullshit" and "not really what women want, just what they say they want," please go argue with her, not me. I've had it with the women-bullshit-themselves arguments. Are we clear? Good.

    Margi Lowry mourns comedian Bill Hicks' passing "on a near-weekly basis." He sounds like someone I would have enjoyed and (worse) someone whose name I should have known, but it's just not ringing any bells. If anyone has recommendations for where to start, I'll gladly take them.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:35 PM | Comments (3)

    Estrogen Week: But You Never Responded to That One Guy

    That's right; I didn't. Probably because I wrote that post already once--hell, just put "death of sexism," in quotes like that, into Google and see which dainty morsel of femininity turns up for it--and you know something? Sometimes you gotta know when a guy's just trolling for attention. And a guy who appears to base much of his reasoning on The Bell Curve is probably that guy.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

    Estrogen Week: Deep Thoughts

    Ah, the benefits of logic, reason, research, and academic rigor: It's too bad women will never know the joy of them, isn't it? We have to leave that sort of heavy lifting up to the menfolk. And, ladies, I'm pleased to report we're in good hands:

    And the men have spoken. They have researched their hypothesis, they have found statistics to back it up, they have given examples, and they have published it. Women of the blogosphere, you have been informed as to why your numbers are so low in the NZ Bear Ecosystem. No, wait. You have been told why your numbers are so low in the political blogging sphere. No, wait. You have been told why your numbers are so low on the Op-Ed pages of America's newspapers. (Isn't that how this whole thing began?) Actually, you've been told why two male political bloggers, one liberal, one conservative, think that women are not more represented in the Ecosystem. It's because you don't like to argue politics.
    This is so a read-the-whole-thing post, it's not even funny. Oh, but see, there my pretty little head goes again: How can I ever be taken seriously, how can I ever be respected, when I use such colloquial language in my writing? Maybe if I dried it up more, maybe aimed for something a bit more academic, a bit more . . . boring. Let's try this:

    Yourish's thoughtful take on the relative scarcity of women in political blogging is well worth reading in its entirety for its scrupulous marshaling of dafdsaoidsajisj

    I'm sorry; I fell asleep. Trying to ape the dull-as-dirt style of James Joyner and other Instaclones nearly always does that to me. (Holy food fight, but I love it when Meryl gives James the business. Talk about your target-rich environment.)

    As the gents say: Read the whole thing. Heh. Indeed.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:04 PM | Comments (3)

    Estrogen Week: Blogroll Raiding, Part I

    A quick tour of some female-authored blogs:

    The beloved Ith of Absinthe & Cookies remains House-bound. I worry and fret, lest they create a Television Without Pity forum for this show and she sinks irretrievably into House mania.

    Oh, I'm just kidding--like I'm any different when it comes to Desperate Housewives. Please. Besides, she's got an excuse: She was booze-blogging. And guest-blogging for Baldilocks.

    Ith continues to turn up some real gems, like an article on life in the French countryside, and how it's not as idyllic as you think. Quel surprise.

    Angelweave has discovered the Polymeal, a new set of dietary recommendations. Check it out:

    Wine? Dark chocolate? YUM! I like fish, fruits, veggies, almonds, and garlic, too. Wine and dark chocolate together: heaven. Fireplace and mood music optional.
    Beats the pants off low-carb tortillas, I'll bet.

    Annika's Journal says one thing leads to another when it comes to fomenting hatred. It's like she thinks actions have consequences or something! I can't excerpt it due to its link-heaviness, but: a must-read.

    Debbye of Being American in T.O. threads neatly through the complexities of Rafik Hariri's assassination in Lebanon and the impact of its fallout on U.S.-Syrian relations. She has several posts up, but I'm partial to this one:

    There is a lot odd about all this. If indeed Syria did order the killing, it was either an act of incredible arrogance or one of desperation. If the latter, it may have been in part a reaction to the success of the Iraq elections -- Syria must recognize that the Ba-athist strategy of relying on al-Zarqawi to disrupt those elections backfired in a big way and they have irretrievably lost Iraq as an ally. If the former, Syria may have signaled their response to UNSC resolutions calling for an end to the occupation.
    Over at Cake Eater Chronicles, a post on--well, let's just say my first thought was, "First they came for the smokers . . ."
    What was funny, though, was when someone would get righteous with me and said cigarettes should be illegal. This presented a bit of a leap: these people morphed from concerned customer to activist. I told these people, hey, go right ahead and make them illegal...and just you wait. Once the government and the health advocacy groups don't have smokers to beat up on, they'll start aiming for other people. They'll go after the obese, because of course they don't need to shove all that unhealthy food down their gullets. They'll go after people who eat too much refined sugar, because that causes Type 2 diabetes. What about red meat? Doesn't that lead to heart disease? Why, heck, they might just go after people who drink too much caffeine! Of course, I would generally say this to them right as I was handing them their coffee.
    Love that last line.

    What with Helen living in England (and sounding more like it every day), and me having spent a lifetime enjoying British idioms and vernacular as conveyed via television, novels, movies, etc., I thought I was pretty up on the differences between American and U.K. English. But as Susanna Cornett notes, there's always something new to learn:

    Several have asked me, "What does gutted mean in Jolly Old England?" I asked the experts - the people who thought I was funny for not knowing - and here is what they say.
    I had no idea, myself. As an American, I hear "gutted" and automatically conclude, "by fire." Guess again.

    Having previously mentioned the Dizzy Girl last week, all I'm gonna say for her blog right now is that I love the new skin. I mean LOVE.

    Doves and Pomegranates appears to be on hiatus, but I still enjoyed Havdala's post on the challenge of finding attractive, yet modest, clothing:

    The only thing I disagree with about Dressing With Dignity is the idea that it's hard to find attractive modest clothes nowadays (I'm roughly defining modesty as longer skirts, no decotellage and quality fabrics that aren't clingy or diaphaenous). I think it's much easier to find interesting, attractive modest clothing now than it ever has been simply because there is so much choice. You can have any look you like today and no-one will blink which Ithink is just fantastic. I love clothes. I love colour. I love the textures of velvet, tweed, lambswool and raw silk and I buy from shops like Monsoon, East, Jigsaw, Hobbs and Austin Reed all of which are available on almost every British high street (and I assume the same variety exists in most of western Europe and America). I rarely go to one of them looking for clothes and leave empty-handed.
    Eve Tushnet asks a question of pop music fans: "Why is '80s music just better?" No comments to that post; write up your theories and send her the link, if you have your own site, or reply via email. I think it's kind of cute that she's already had responses to this from two priests.

    Fistful of Fortnights examines the options for the author of BatesLine, a blog responding to a cease-and-desist letter from the Tulsa World (you can get the background on that here). Bloggers who think they're automatically protected by "fair use" may want to consider what Sadie has to say about that:

    This letter in question received by Mr. Bates is not harrassing in any way, as it is a routine cease-and-desist letter. The material is copyrighted and encrypted by the newspaper, and they do have the right to ask you not to use it. It is not 'fair use' unless a court declares it as such. With copyrighted material, it is not their burden to defend it as such. Copyrighted material is the intellectual property of the holder of the copyright.
    Especially something to consider for those who favor the "quote it all" approach to posting; I would wager most publications, though perhaps not the Tulsa World, are more forgiving to those who link "just a taste" and advise reading the whole thing.

    I'll have more linking later. I started this as one enormous post, but I think link-outs have more value if they're not crammed all together. White space, it is your friend.

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:45 PM | Comments (1)

    Estrogen Week: Oh Where, Oh Where Have the Fee-males Gone?

    Yes: Again that question is asked--

    . . . if you take a look at the Blogosphere Ecosystem, which for all its faults is probably the closest thing we have to a consensus measure of popularity for political blogs, you will find exactly three women in the top 30: Michelle Malkin, La Shawn Barber, and Michele Catalano. (There are a few group blogs in the top 30, but those are very heavily male dominated too.)

    That's a grand total of 10% of the most popular political blogs. And to gaze even more deeply into our collective navel, that 10% is 100% conservative. On the liberal side, Wonkette weighs in at #33 and TalkLeft at #48 — and that's it for liberal women in the top 100, unless I've missed someone.

    So what's up? There aren't any institutional barriers in the traditional sense of the word, which means either (a) there are fewer female political bloggers and thus fewer in the top 30, or (b) there are plenty of women who blog about politics but they don't get a lot of traffic or links from high-traffic male bloggers.

    And again the question is answered in the most self-serving terms possible--

    My guess is that it's a bit of both, and the proximate reason is that men are more comfortable with the food fight nature of opinion writing — both writing it and reading it. Since I don't wish to suffer the fate of Larry Summers I'll refrain from speculating on deep causes — it might be social, cultural, genetic, or Martian mind rays for all I know — but I imagine that the fundamental viciousness and self aggrandizement inherent in opinion writing turns off a lot of women.
    "Imagine" is right; there's certainly no critical thinking going on here. Having proposed the most supportable theory, that "there are plenty of women who blog about politics but they don't get a lot of traffic or links from high-traffic male bloggers," a theory supported by a quick review of his own blogroll, Drum concludes instead that the delicate flowers of blogdom are averse to the medium's "fundamental viciousness." What can you say to that beyond, "Bitch, please" . . . ?

    I don't want to use myself as a counter-example, as I've more or less phased out any political blogging per se (and one of these days I'll get into why I've done that). Besides, I'm not a liberal blogger. But hundreds of other women bloggers on the left end of the spectrum write about politics every day. They're out there, for those who can be bothered to look.

    As for whether conservatives are more inclusive in this regard . . . that may have to be a whole 'nother post. My short answer would be "yes and no." I don't think it's necessarily better, but it is different. I can't imagine, for instance, emailing the admin of a new blog portal for conservatives to request more diversity on the blogroll, and getting such a polite and (seemingly) well-intentioned response as this. More likely, I'd be lectured on how conservatives "don't go in for all that quota and diversity crap." And depending on the manners of the person administering the site, it might or might not be implied that I was a man-hating Communist feminazi who was simultaneously on her period and in need of a good lay. (I think most conservative men are civil and well-mannered, but the ones who aren't really, really, really aren't. Perhaps that's the "food fight" nature of the medium that my vagina makes me naturally "uncomfortable" with; yet I suspect that no one has ever suggested Mr. Drum was in need of a blowjob because he expressed an unpopular opinion.)

    Then again, it's difficult for me to imagine needing to send that email in the first place, seeing as how Blogs for Bush, in contrast to PEEK, has no shortage of women on its blogroll. This, I think, is mostly because Blogs for Bush, unlike PEEK, was built from the ground up; willing participants simply sent in their URLs and got added to the roll. PEEK's hierarchical, we-select-the-best-blogs-for-you approach naturally hinders the diversity of that selection.

    That's what's interesting to me about this--that a grass-roots approach, one you'd think would be a natural favorite on the left, seems to be more favored by those on the right. And there is the clue for liberal women bloggers: Link each other; force each other to "bubble up" through the Ecosystem. I first saw this approach taken by a conservative female blogger: Write up a link-collection post, aiming to include blogs with less traffic than your own; specify that you will include any bloggers in the next day's link collection who trackback that post (which they'll gladly do, if they're newer, smaller, or just that hungry for traffic), and watch your inbound links (and thus, your Ecosystem ranking) rise. Like the bubble sort algorithm it resembles, it's neither the quickest nor the most efficient way to pop to the top, but it has the benefits of being effective over the long term and inherently cooperative in nature, and these merits, I think, more than compensate for the drawbacks.

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:22 AM | Comments (13)