Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Boys' Club, or Why Girls Can’t Blog

As a part of this heinous and almost completed semester, I am in a Child Development class. There are about 30 girls and 0 boys in it. I didn't want to sign up for it, but it's a prerequisite for a class I have to take in a couple of semesters, which class is required for my major and thereby I had to suck it up and take Child Development.

I’ve actually learned quite a lot, and my final project is a blog that will go unnoticed through the annals of the Internet, the only exceptions being my husband (my editor) and the TA, who will almost undoubtedly under-appreciate the amount of effort or the sheer number of hours I have poured into it. She will probably not even show it to my teacher who would probably love it. (For the record, I turned it in and got all 200 out of 200 points possible for the project. She didn't read a single post, which I know because not a single post had a page view when I saw the grade.)

The TA looks like this, only angrier.

I will, of course, get over that fact, because that’s what I have to do every time I blog. My personal blog, which sums up what Casey and I do in real life (yes, we have a life), has gone untouched by either myself or page views for the last month simply because I have been incredibly short on time and other than my dear friend Natalia, my in-laws, and every now and again my own parents, no one reads it anyway. The weird thing is, I always post a link on facebook, but no one wants to read another boring almost-housewife blog. Am I totally off base? I don't have any adorable kids for cute pictures or funny quotes. I don't craft often. I post pictures of food... I guess I just don't have much to go on.

As they say in Spanish, my “ganas” (desires, but a way better word) to write for this blog are also almost entirely gone because other than my Ladies post, which has been stumbled upon by a number of people looking for either anti-feminist propaganda or ladylike quotes on Google, no one seems to read things that I post. I just want a little validation...

Like this, only not for parking.
Okay, I’m not fishing for sympathy, I promise. The point I’m trying to make is that this place feels like a Boys’ Club. I don’t mean Expert Textperts specifically, I mean the bloggernacle, the blogosphere, and the Internet in general (how fMh gets by is beyond me). I know this blog hasn't had a ton of traffic, but I feel like I'm getting left in the dust here.

I spent serious time and effort writing and perfecting a post that I thought was spectacular on the Spanish Civil War (seriously, it was really interesting and applicable to us today... history is cool, guys! Wait... where are you going? Come back!) and if I'm not mistaken it got fewer page views than any other post we've done here, and zero comments. So I went more mainstream, I wrote what I considered to be a very enjoyable, well thought-out post about Miss Piggy and Kermit. Muppets, right? Who doesn't love the Muppets? Again, few views, no comments.

I've posted comments before on BCC posts and basically given up because I always feel ignored there, completely left out of the conversation. I think one time out of 20 I got a side comment that no one else remarked on. Interestingly enough, BCC actually did a post a few months ago on Mormon Blogging and the Good Ole Boys' Club. You may not have noticed it, because it was written by a woman. It is legitimately interesting (in spite of what you may think, having been written by a woman and all) and makes the point that talent and interest isn't lacking, but somehow the women just get left out. Women create their own separate space on the internet (the post mentions the bloggernacle specifically as having compartments for women) and it is obvious in academia as well as in the bloggernacle that there are just tons of dudes.

Even here at Expert Textperts we have three liberal men and one fairly conservative girl posting. I don't have statistics on the entire bloggernacle, but I'd be willing to bet the ratio isn't far off.

Even as a teenager surfing the occasional forum I found myself immediately and completely ignored - even in forums I frequented, The only exceptions to forum invisibility resulted in getting hit on, called a n00b, or attacked for no reason. I would get private messages I had to delete just based on the subject line. There were occasional defenders, but not in the public forum. Only in PMs would I receive a half-sorry excuse from an onlooker, "That was pretty lame back there..." Is there, somewhere, a corner of the Internet made for girls?

Like this, only without the bronies.
Sure, now we have Pinterest, but that's a recent win and a lot of people insist it's too girly. I love having a spot to save great recipes or decor that I can save for later and my friends take those and share them with more people. It's the first site I've ever known of where girls can socialize without the pigs coming in and ruining the good times.

Internet patriarchy is ruining the fun of blogging, discussing, and commenting for me. My opinions either get stepped on or ignored.

Back to Child Development (yes, I brought it up for a reason, that's what good writers do even if no one reads their posts...) The class is a girls’ club, but not in a good way. There is no open discussion of anything other than the dumb things we did as kids or the one girl in the back always talks about how she's raising her kid better than the scientists in the book raised theirs. An all girls context isn't the solution for me, because at least in this class there's no good intelligent discussion of the interesting points made by the book (which was written by a woman, so they probably didn't read it anyway).

In the book, (yes, I actually read the textbook), it points out that one of the biggest differences between the genders is the natural tendency of boys to externalize problems - lashing out in retaliation or even redirecting anger somewhere else, but always externally. Girls, on the other hand, internalize problems. We feel bad about ourselves, we withdraw, and the only lashing goes inward. We rip ourselves to shreds with guilt and shame and we're really good at telling ourselves how worthless we are.

This is not opinion, guys. This is fact. It’s in my textbook.

Like this, only with an uglier cover.
Some girls are better than others at this, and it’s a daily struggle for others. I like to think I sit somewhere in the middle, but I’m worse than I like to think. Oh, that post only got like 40 page views while everybody else got like 200? Well, that’s my fault. I wrote a bad title. I wrote a bad post. I screwed it up. My humor was off. I even end a lot of my posts in questions, trying to stimulate discussion. Can I just stop caring? That would be great. But it’s not my nature.


Well, girls? Am I alone in this?


  1. I think this was a great post, and I'm sorry that a guy is adding numbers to your page views and not a girl ;). In my experience however I have a ton of girl friends on Facebook with blogs and hardly any guy friends, and I also have a few straight guy friends that are posting stuff to pinterest on a daily basis. I find this topic very interesting. :). Good luck getting more page views!

    1. Alan! Thanks for reading and commenting, I don't judge commenters on gender. ;) Thanks!

  2. First of all I read your blog... believe it or not. haha But I think you are not alone in this. Though a lot of my friends do not care whether they get a lot of page views or not. The biggest thing is, though it's nice to be validated by others, it's at times really necessary but some times we need to learn to be happy with ourselves and okay that we wrote something out just for yourself(as well thought out as yours are, and very enjoyable because it actually brings stimulation to readers minds and it's not just a baby blog or 'poor me' blog) You have something good to say. Just thought i'd let you know.

    1. Thanks, Gerri, I believe you read... like I told you the other day I was feeling a bit ranty when I actually wrote it, I know there are others who read my stuff. You make a great point about needed to be happy with ourselves regardless of what others think/do/say or not think/do/say. Thanks for the comment and for being a great friend. :)

  3. Woot! I read your regular blog! :D

    The reason I don't comment on most posts here is because I feel infinitely inferior to all four of your writers (not just the guys). And, while I loved your Muppets post, I haven't seen the most recent film, so I figured I shouldn't throw in assumptions/judgments/thoughts since they might not be valid.

    And I think it's funny that you say that so many in the blogosphere are men since I think the majority of what I read is written by women (friends, family, random blogs I stumble across). The most popular blog that I read is Epbot.com, which is written by Jen Yates, writer of CakeWrecks. Maybe I'm just reading all the wrong stuff. :D

    1. You do read my regular blog AND you got a shout-out for it! :D

      I don't think you're inferior to me, I always love your comments on my other blog and I'd love to see you comment more on here.

      Also: OHMYGOSHWHATYOUHAVENTSEENTHENEWMUPPETSMOVIEWHATSWRONGWITHYOU?! Sorry, had to get that out of my system... Seriously though, you really need to see it. It'll blow your mind. You make a good point about how many female bloggers there are out there; I think the problem is less with how much access we have to blogging and more with how little attention received in the same circles as male bloggers. Does that make sense?

  4. I think this post raises a lot of good points and I have questions (not too surprisingly) regarding the patriarchy of the internet. But for right now, I'm interested in the book's claim about gendered approaches to either externalizing or internalizing problems. I was wondering if you could explain a little more: does it address this as a matter of sex (anatomical and biological development), gender (generally more a matter of social development often but not always associated with one's sex), or perhaps even sexuality (social and cultural ideas regarding one's sexual practices and identity)? These three terms can be defined differently, I'm just indicating how I'm thinking about it.

    I ask because over the last few days (or weeks) I have been thinking quite a bit about how I internalize problems. I realize I do a fair share of externalizing as well and I own and acknowledge that I am not an average adherent of socialized masculinity; however, those facts aside, I would claim that I internalize problems quite a bit. This morning I shared some text messages with my brother about he does a very similar thing. General LDS Church leaders, be they male or female, tend to give talks to women about not beating themselves up where as men get more calls to repentance. The thinking is that women are hard enough on themselves and men are not. What exactly does your book say to this? I assume it does not address it directly, but I guess I'm wondering what exactly the book says and how you might extrapolate it to talk about this? Because to me it's not necessarily that women beat themselves up more than men but that we SAY that women do that and so we see it or it becomes our reality. Or perhaps, women articulate the process and results of internalization and externalization differently than men. In other words, on average there is not a distinction in process but what is manifested during or after the process varies. I also wonder how recognizing that far more men commit suicide than women might play a role in our consideration of this idea.

    Or was it talking more about simply in development--like maybe the sexes even out after development, but during they are skewed? What research is the textbook referencing?

    As for what can be done to address less abstract and academic points, I think I can do better at sharing all other posts made on this blog on Facebook. I think I always meant to put the Muppets one on my wall but failed to get around to it. Plus, I think it's a fabulous question to consider how our blog might inadvertently repeat patterns of patriarchy. Do you see any actions we could correct as administration and contributors or do you see things more rooted in the readership? Where do you see the boys club operating with three liberal men and one conservative woman being problematic? Do we create an environment which makes certain perspectives feel unwelcome or belittled? If so, are there ways to change the atmosphere while remaining true to certain convictions? It's a difficult question, no? How do I advocate for the strength of my own belief which might be completely irreconcilable with yours while also indicating that I respect the merit of your belief, your right to hold it, and your capacity to share it? If I contributed to a space--in real or virtual realms--which shut people down, I would have to confess to a failure to live up to my own feminist convictions. Okay, I'll stop talking.

    1. Thanks for the novel, Allan, and sorry it's taken me awhile to come up with a good reply... The author generally does a good job out pointing out the nature vs. nurture conflict although in this case she doesn't really bring it up specifically. She doesn't mention whether she believes externalizing boys and internalizing girls are living up to their sex or gender roles. It's a fact though, at least where I grew up, the girls started rumors and the boys pushed people around. It was just the way bullying works.

      The book references Bruce Franklin Pennington (2002), The development of psychopathology: Nature and nurture, Carolyn Zahn-Waxler and 5 or 6 others (2008) Young children's representations of conflict and distress: A longitudinal study of boys and girls with disruptive behavior problems. Development and Psychopathology, 20, 99-119, and Jill B. Becker and others (2008), Sex difference in the brain: From genes to behavior. Based on the titles of the studies, looks like both sex and gender get addressed a little.

      As for now, I think one of the best ways we as contributors and administration on this blog can make it better is to promote conversation. I think once we start commenting we do a decent job of keeping it up, but when I don't get commented on, I'm less likely to start commenting on other posts. If we keep up healthy conversation even just between the four of us I think we can greatly improve the way we see each other academically and colloquially. I love talking with all three of you, but it's hard to feel like I want to contribute thought-provoking texts if no thoughts appear to have been provoked.

      In my OP I really only addressed page views as a source of validation, but If my post has only 10 page views but 10 comments, I'll be far more pleased than a post with 50 views and zero comments. I don't feel unwelcome or belittled, rather forgotten. Basically, by showing appreciation for one another regardless of point of view, I think the environment will be open and welcoming to anyone who wants in.

  5. Brooke, I read your posts more than anyone else's who contributes to this blog.

    Re: men externalizing women internalizing (Look! We're patterning our behavior after our sex organs!) I'd say it's a pretty accurate generalization with exceptions. You'll always have anomalies like that one ^ I've become more of an externalizer myself, in the past year or so.

    For what it's worth, regarding the discussion, I've watched the body blog (which you know and love) and have tried to look for patterns as to which posts get the most views/discussion. The things I've been able to pinpoint (with exceptions) are that 1. the more heavy the topic/open the reader, the more discussion, and 2. when folks post anonymously, it is less likely for conversation to ensue (with the exception of today's post). It doesn't seem to have anything to do with gender (though that could be related to the nature/audience of the blog)

    I was a member of a forum years ago (shameless nerdery) and I felt that there was a pretty even balance between strong male and female voices. There was even one woman who arrived late on the scene but for whom there was instant respect. She was known by many of the members for her intelligence, scholarship, and heart, and when she spoke, we listened.

    Listening didn't always mean responding.

    For what it's worth, remembering my experience in DC, comedy is a boys' club too. But that's another discussion. Possibly an entire blog post.

    I love what you write, Brooke. Your posts are provoking and essential. Keep writing and I will keep listening and make more of an effort to write what I think and to converse with you.

    1. Dana, THANK YOU a.) for reading my posts and b.) for pointing out the sex organs thing, how funny! I know I myself have had some serious externalizing moments (mostly when I was younger, more rebellious, needed more outlets, etc.) but I'm mainly an internalizer now just like my uterus. HA.

      You make a good point that listening and responding are not the same - but the internet is a completely different animal than real life. I'm glad you participated in a forum where you felt everyone was heard, but I think especially on the internet it's easier to feel left out without active response. Face to face there are any number of nonverbal cues that indicate whether people are listening to you, but on the internet, how can you tell? No one is giving you a firm gaze that says in and of itself, "I get that. Thanks for sharing."

      I'm glad you love my posts, Dana. I really appreciate the feedback. :) Also, I should have a post for you by the end of the day.

  6. I love your stuff. Of course, I am your mom! That said, I can't wait to read your entire blog from your class, I have it pulled up, but am currently doing 3 jobs and trying to keep the house in order. Guess who is failing miserably at all jobs and housekeeping and has 2 thumbs? This gal! It's all good, I'm going to the Bahamas and will actually have free time for reading!

    You make good points and ask better questions. I personally refuse to participate in conversation with some of the male dominated groups on the net as they are either so nasty or snarky that I feel like commenting is a "pearls before swine" thing by the time I'm done. No Thanks. And I do have intelligent things to offer, but why would I waste my time when the response will come from some "dude" that feels validated if he can come up with the best crushing comment to the lowly woman who dared comment. Seriously? I bet most of those jerks are NOT getting laid and therein lies much of the problem. (I should probably lay off commenting on blogs after midnight... just saying).

    Keep blogging Brooke, you have a voice that deserves to be heard! Love you!

    1. Thanks Mom, I'm glad you read my stuff. :) The whole point I'm trying to make here though is that even though some people are reading, it's hard to feel like my writing makes a difference without any kind of feedback (see my above replies to Allan and Dana).

      The men on the internet really can be pigs when they feel like they're among other nasty pigs. I'm lucky I've managed to avoid a lot of the piggishness. Sometimes.

  7. I always appreciate how you are able to keep the rest of us contributors in check. That's true altogether, but especially when you outright don't agree with us--it's so nice to have someone help us avoid being a self-congratulatory blog of like-minded folks, and help us instead to actually investigate what we're saying and think things through fully. I'm thinking mostly of when I wrote my faith blog post, and you raised very good questions about it that, ultimately, helped me personally to rethink a lot of what I wrote and, hopefully, helped other people who read it to do the same.

    1. Thanks Brett. It can be hard to keep you guys in check sometimes (read: YOU... I kid! I kid!). Not really. I'm glad you feel like I've raised questions to help you think more deeply about your own posts, and that's the kind of conversation I'd like to see the four of us have more often. Keep writing, I love your posts, even if I disagree because it helps me see another point of view and helps me raise those types of questions instead of sitting there going, "Oh yeah, I agree with that. I agree with that. Oh, that too." We don't need sheeple around here, just some good, open conversation.

  8. It's kind of interesting looking at what posts get read and commented on in general on this blog, given our sort-of dual readership: one one hand, it's very much a conversations among friends (contributors and Facebook) and when I started it that's all I thought it would be, but on the other hand there's the public ldsblogs.org/bloggernacle connection, which also influences what kinds of things we write about.

    But anyway, given how much of my life is devoted (spent? wasted?) online, I can't say I'm envious of the nonsense women have to put up with on the internet...both of the hyperaggressive, piggish variety and the more subtle and harder-to-substantiate neglect and marginalization that I often hardly notice from my position of Straight White Male privilege (SWM: The Easiest difficulty level http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/ ). So yeah, I expect you'll hold me accountable if I contribute to that marginalization, because I reckon we both need each other to keep ourselves honest :)

    1. Thanks for sharing the straight white male article, I think you could write a pretty decent post about it and spread the good word...

      I think the ldsblogs.org/bloggernacle connection has made us a little lazy sometimes, we expect others to comment (who often don't) and wait until a post is old to even think "Oh yeah, I should have said something on that a few days ago." Yanno?

      Blog-wide goal to improve our own conversations before we expect others to come in and start the conversation for us?

  9. Brooke,

    Firstly, great post. I honestly did not know that other people cared about page views in the same self-flagellating way that I do. I sometimes want people to 'like' my post on facebook and use that as the metric of how good my post is and other times I want lots of comments. At still other times I want certain people to comment. I even remember calling my Mum and telling her when one of my favourite Mormon thinkers left a comment on a post that I had written.

    Secondly, you wrote:

    "I've posted comments before on BCC posts and basically given up because I always feel ignored there, completely left out of the conversation."

    Let me offer an apology for whenever I may have ever ignored one of your comments on my posts at BCC. If I never have then I agree with you that all the bloggers at BCC are lame and self-interested blog-snobs.

    From my experience, there is a real difficulty with online communication, especially on blogs, where we have limited time and lots and comments. We tend to skim through the comments to find those people we know and (in all honesty) like. BCC authors can be guilty of this. This is my round-about way of saying, give us a chance and keep coming back. We want the conversation, we really do. I was roundly ignored for about 6 months and then I was asked to write some guest posts. It can be weird like that. Sometimes I still feel ignored and now they are my friends.

    1. Thank you Aaron R, not only for reading and commenting, but for appreciating my self-centeredness and the heartfelt apology. It's so nice to hear that there really are other people on the other end of the internet that see what I write and I'll have to give BCC another chance. :) If you see my name float around there, don't be afraid to say hi!