When Feminists Attack Other Feminists for Page Views

Yesterday, Slate’s Emily Gould dropped this post accusing Jezebel of playing on women’s insecurities to pimp them out to advertisers and masking said tactic in the guise of feminism. If the post itself weren’t a mess of contradictions and hypocrisy, the fact that she used the oldest trick in the online feminist playbook – trashing another feminist or feminist blog to ostensibly protect the movement but really just trying to gin up inner circle controversy to get more hits on Google – would be enough to make many of us call bullshit.

But the post is a bizarre sort of mess, built primarily on the claim that Jezebel writer Irin Carmon’s fairly nuanced and well reported look at gender discrimination in the writing and on-air department of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show is not, in fact, feminist journalism at all. According to Gould, Carmon’s post, especially her query as to whether Olivia Munn got her new Daily Show gig less because of her comic chops and more because of her large male fan base, is part of a regular pattern by the feminist blogs to incite “what the writers claim is righteously indignant rage but which is actually just petty jealousy, cleverly marketed as feminism.”

Wait a minute. Since when is it not feminist to ask why a show has only had two consistent on-air female correspondents in seven years and can’t seem to keep women on the writing staff? Aren’t we still for gender equality in the workplace? Since when is it not responsible journalism to track down people who’ve worked inside what’s been repeatedly reported as a “boy’s club” and ask them if, in fact, the reports are true? And since when is it not ok to ask why certain women with certain qualities get hired while others do not and why women are held to a different standard than men in applying for the same job? If feminism isn’t about rooting out and exposing the nitty gritty of sexism, I’m confused about what we’ve been doing all this time.

No matter, though, because attacking Carmon’s post is just a jumping off point to get Gould to her main argument: feminist blogs, en masse but especially, especially Jezebel, are guilty of applying a faux-feminist bent to the glossy magazines’ tactic of playing on women’s insecurities to get high traffic and, therefore, advertisers. The insecurity in the Daily Show piece was about Olivia Munn as an example of what feminist women evidently fear most, a woman who “dares to seem to want to sexually attract men” – an offensive, contradictory assertion based at once on tired stereotypes of feminists as scared of or opposed to sex and women as catfighting bitches so threatened by one another as sexual rivals they fail to focus on the important things.

Yet even posts on what most would agree are important things, like body image and beauty standards, are suspect in Gould’s eyes. There is probably a bit of truth here: all feminist bloggers know these topics are sure to stir up the commenters and most post something at some point or another that simply bemoans the existence of beauty standards and the stars who meet them without saying much about how to change those standards or mitigate their impact on women.

Yet, it’s possible these particular posts get lots of page views and comment action because banging up against beauty ideals is a very tangible experience of sexism that most women face every single day in varying forms. The impulse to read and talk about this experience online is less a manifestation of insecurities than a desire to have the experience of oppression validated by a sympathetic sisterhood. That isn’t about advertising but about the very necessity of feminist community – we know we’re not crazy or alone because our sisters feel the same way and together maybe we can do something about it.

Which is exactly why Gould’s solution to this supposedly disastrous problem with the feminist blogosphere is so bizarre (emphasis mine):

It’s certainly important to have honest, open conversations about the issues that reliably rake in comments and page views—rape, underage sexuality, and the cruel tyranny of the impossible beauty standards promoted by most advertisers and magazines (except the ones canny enough to use gently lit, slightly rounder, older, or more ethnic examples of “true beauty”). But it may just be that it’s not possible to have these conversations online.

Congratulations, Ms. Gould. You’ve managed to suggest putting yourself out of a job while also uttering one of the most absurd, out of touch sentences on the internet as of late – and I assure you, that’s not an overstatement for page views.

For many in my generation, the internet feminist community serves the same purpose as consciousness raising groups of the 1970’s. Feminist (and womanist, gender justice, mujerista and women’s liberationist and the many subsets of these) blogs are where we get angry over shared grievances, organize against said inequalities, and build and strengthen our feminist community. Disagreements that break out in the comment threads over everything from what’s offensive and what can be reclaimed to the very meaning of the term ‘feminism’ serve the same purpose as heated debates in women’s studies classes: to sharpen our critique and analysis and build on the shared knowledge and ideology of varying expressions of varying feminisms. The difference is that, while the playing field is nowhere near as equal as it should and must be, the participants in the conversation don’t have to pony up $30,000 a year or even leave their apartments to join in.

This unique opportunity to build a movement in such a space is why the most disturbing aspect of Gould’s piece is how she seems to see herself – and the feminist bloggers who write for outlets large enough to concern herself with bashing – as the arbitrators of what’s “feminist” and important and commenters and writers on smaller sites as mere puppets to be led around at will. Not only does this adherence to hierarchy reek of hypocrisy from those purportedly trying to abolish it’s twin brother, patriarchy, it excises those most in need of community and support from the conversation. Since many, though certainly not all, of the women considered online feminist celebs are white and educated and often heterosexual and living in the big cities, it’s not hard to see exactly which voices are being marginalized in their dismissal as part of the big group of lemmings.

If you think the existing posts on body image are doing little more than making women feel worse, a point that can definitely be made, take a page from the fat acceptance blogs and ask readers to submit pictures of what they consider beautiful or be a little bit vulnerable and talk about a personal experience with body hatred and what helped you out. It’s obvious young women need and want to talk about it, so why not be a part of the solution?

I, for one, would take a thousand of these posts over one more from a well positioned feminist deciding for all of us that attacking another well positioned woman or blog is the most important feminist issue of the day.


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46 comments for “When Feminists Attack Other Feminists for Page Views

  1. Convenient
    July 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Gould’s article is problematic so I understand why people are pissed at her for doing the same thing she claims other sites are doing, but you know what I’m going to applaud her for? I’m going to applaud her for having the guts to call Jezebel out. For one, Jezebel constantly calls people out on their shit (fair enough, that’s the point) but then the authors come around and pull a similar stunt.

    For instance, when a well-respected womanist blogger cites why she is not a feminist, Jezebel got a bit upset. “Well, there are PLENTY of women of color on this site and this site and this site”. Ok, but “plenty” doesn’t mean 1 or 2 per site. So the authors and readers believe it’s ok to dismiss a WOC perspective on feminism and why she is a womanist instead, but it’s ok, because they still kinda sorta agree with the original author of the post they are kinda sorta disagreeing with. Umm…? That was the biggest explosion of WOC calling on Jezzies on their bullshit. It really amazed me as a new reader. It also saddened me that I had to moderate for moderators who just weren’t there…=/

    My issue is this: If you’re going to call people out, whether it be Jon Stewart or Lady Gaga, or whoever, don’t pretend like Jezebel does not pull the same racist and sexist stunts from time to time. Gould seemed to be trying to make many points, and failed many times, but I think she sees the irony in many of Jezebel’s articles.Oh, and Jezebel SHOULD NOT be immune to criticism. Why is this ok to some people?

    It’s also fascinating to see the commenting hierarchy that continues to go on. I don’t want anybody telling me it’s not true, because I know it is when I post something and it never gets on the main page of the article and when I have had people agree with me that hardly post on Jezebel anymore or they have tried to sign up for the site and they never get approved. I guess “every site” has their favorites. Hmmm, feminism for all eh?

  2. July 7, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I didn’t like Jezebel’s article. They called out the Daily Show when their own company’s flagship blog, Gawker.com has only one women on the masthead. Pot meet kettle. In other news, Emily Gould just had to jump on the bandwagon with the feminist blogger angle. Her column was more muddled than a mojito.

  3. July 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    “For instance, when a well-respected womanist blogger cites why she is not a feminist, Jezebel got a bit upset. “Well, there are PLENTY of women of color on this site and this site and this site”.”

    Yeah I think I recall that one. As if not being a feminist makes you wrong or something by default.

    “So the authors and readers believe it’s ok to dismiss a WOC perspective on feminism and why she is a womanist instead, but it’s ok, because they still kinda sorta agree with the original author of the post they are kinda sorta disagreeing with.”
    That’s what you call “Well since we agree with some of what you are saying you should really come and operate under our banner.”

  4. Lance
    July 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    It’s unfortunately that Slate went about their critique of Jezebel the way they did. There are much better critiques of the piece out there, including some nice first-hand accounts that completely contradict the thesis of the Jezebel piece —

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/message?xrs=synd_facebook

    http://jezebel.com/comment/25575844

  5. Shinobi
    July 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    I don’t actually see anything of value in Gould’s article at all. First off It’s just so much inside baseball among “Big” feminist websites, which is approximately as interesting as listening to my teenage cousin tell me about the party she went to last weekend and how such and so and whosiwhatsit… well,… you get the idea.

    None of the blogs I read have any problems criticizing Jezebel, Slate, Broadsheet, Gawker, TPM, ETC. I don’t think anyone EVER has said that Jezebel was above criticism, just like The Daily Show is not. And if they do a poor job responding to that criticism, well then it will be here on the interenet for all to see and all to make up their minds.

    The thing I love about blogs is that when you have a point, you have a point. When you don’t someone else can write a blog post telling you that you are wrong. That is what makes blogging different from the MSM. If Jezebel or Slate or any other website that used to be sortof a blog and now thinks they are a media empire thinks that they are immune from the death of a 1000 cuts that will come if they constantly piss off smaller bloggers, well, they have another thing coming.

    But when you write a barely coherent post about a post where someone else actually had a point, arguing that they shouldn’t ever actually make points because it makes them sound like a jealous harpy, oh and also Cheetos, well, then you’re just a hack.

  6. July 7, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    I’m sort of unclear why the discussion is about who “gets” to criticize who, and not the validity of specific criticisms. This isn’t a sport someone’s trying to win.

  7. Ostien
    July 7, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    It seems Gould’s main gripe (or a cover argument) is the way websites generate revenue through ad loads and ad clicks and connecting that to “shock posts” that are intended to outrage commentators to in turn play well in this revenue system of ad loads and ad clicks. An interesting argument and perhaps one that has some merit, but that merit extends far beyond feminist blogs and to the internet blog community as a whole. Though I am still not convinced as Gould’s argument hinges on an standard of what is acceptable debate and arguing that the internet has no place for this acceptable debate (something that is clearly not true, this blog as an example). Gould does argue that the type of revenue generation the internet uses lends itself to sensationalism (but that ignores sensationalism that has been and still is prevalent in newspaper and of TV, get people shocked enough by a title to buy or keep watching). Gould just simply singles out comment based blogs for creating long discussions based on outrage (and perhaps a bit of internet trolls feeding it, but really that just comes with the territory).

    So what we shouldn’t be outraged? We shouldn’t share our opinions because ads are involved? Of course we should be outraged of course we should share, this is the internet and as a proud citizen of it I say we need more of it!

    So there is a good point buried in Gould’s post (even if it, as I suspect, is largely unintended and a cover for some bizarre jab), that the internet is not as free of a communication venue as we all may think that it is still subject to capitalist rationalities that may pray upon insecurities. I say may and that calling out sexist bullshit where it exists does not constitute that. This is more of a concern for more commercial blogs that heavily rely on that revenue rather then smaller community contributed blogs such as this one. I say its a concern but nothing more (no deep rooted problem with feminism or of all blogs), something to be aware of that the internet is not immune to sensationalism in order to score a buck.

    If that was the purpose of her post I’d be on board, we need to be aware of large money seeking entities praying upon us, or fears and insecurities, whether it be on TV or online. However, the attacking feminists blogs for somehow being the only ones susceptible (and I’m not saying the Jezebel post even constituted any need for this type of concern) and making it this some systemic feminist “problem” is bullshit. She disagreed with the Jezebel article but instead decided to spend the bulk of the argument about some flagship cause of this “outrage world” of hers and making some grandstanding about exploiting insecurities.

  8. July 7, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    The irony, of course, would be that the criticism of Jezebel for self-undercutting link trolling came from someone, anyone, who writes for Double-X!

    figleaf

  9. July 7, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    This whole thing seems more than a little silly. Last I heard, there wasn’t some litmus test requirement to be a Feminist. Now, we’ve certainly done a good job recently of explaining why Sarah Palin and a whole new group of Anti-Feminists masquerading as “Feminists” aren’t really what they proport to be, but that’s different.

    Yes, faux controversy and conjecture does get a tremendous amount of hits and traffic. But then again, it was called Yellow Journalism in the 1890’s and it produced the same result. What I always seek to do is to not engage people who only want to stir other people up for their own ends, regardless of what those might be. It’s difficult, particularly when they needle us, but I simply don’t have the inclination or the energy to want to get in the middle of a flame war with any person or entity, profit or no profit.

    If we take our eye off the ball and get down in the trenches with this drama storm, we forget the whole reason it broke out in the first place. Women aren’t included in equal numbers in lots of different venues and careers, television comedy being one of them. We’ve had our sober analysis as to why this is, but I’d rather us further the argument. We’ve identified the problem. Now, knowing what we do, what can each of us do to increase female participation in fields traditionally male-dominated?

  10. Convenient
    July 7, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    It’s not about who gets to criticize who. It’s about being able to dish it out when people call you out on what they feel is wrong. Now, if you don’t think your statement or post or whatever is wrong, fine, but don’t just play along and laugh and make snarky comments as you always do to avoid true discussion on what’s problematic about either side. Jezebel should not, and is not, above criticism and nobody should be in the blogosphere. Here we are, talking about Gould’s crappy article, and some people can’t dig deeper into the problems of Jezebel. If you like posting at Jezebel and LOVE Jezebel, cool, but that doesn’t mean that other people can’t “call people out” just as people are questioning and getting pissed at Gould’s article. I am very glad she wrote the piece of crap, because now people are discussing things that are not just about getting hits or revenue or whatever, it’s about hypocrisy. And yes, I know Gould is a hypocrite in what she wrote, but I really don’t care about her for a number of reasons.

    Let’s just agree that if we’re going to give criticism, let’s be able to take it. If you all disagree with me, then I’ll take that disagreement or criticism or whatever comes my way. It is what it is…

  11. July 7, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    I tend to agree with her internet statement. The internet is an invaluable resource, but conversations on forums, message boards, and comment threads are prone to immature name-calling, constant sarcasm, and treatment of other people that no one would condone in “real life.” It’s a new version of consciousness-raising, but they’re not always (I’d venture to say rarely equal in terms of quality of discussion.

  12. DiMi
    July 7, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    I’m a black woman, and I do have issues with Jezebel’s racial politics, but I think the Daily Show article is legitimate. Here is my real concern, which I placed in the comments on Jezebel, but which they hid:

    I read the entire Daily Show Women Employees’ Letter. It is UNCONSCIONABLE for the show to ask women employees to sign a document that states that no gender or sex discrimination has ever occurred in their workplace and that their boss is a wonderful person. Unless dozens of women spontaneously decided to write and sign the exact same letter at the exact same moment, then somebody wrote that letter and asked others to sign it. When they did that, this constituted a subtle form of intimidation because every person who REFUSED to sign it would be identified as a potential problem – specifically a potential lawsuit. Who would refuse to sign the letter? Nobody who wanted to keep her job.

    The Daily Show Women’s Letter is disturbing because it’s the kind of document that women employees -especially lower-level ones – would feel pressured to sign or worry about losing their jobs. Any woman who believed that there would be no consequences for not signing that letter – as I’m sure they were assured – would be an idiot. That letter is a greater indictment of sexism at the Daily Show than the initial article, and that story needs to be investigated.

    We need to focus on the problem of an employer of ANY race or gender pressuring employees of ANY race or gender to sign a document claiming that they have never experienced discrimination. The women of The Daily Show never should have been asked to sign that document. Their names are on the internet. If one of them were to ever file a gender or sex discrimination lawsuit against the show, even for future discrimination, this letter could be used to discredit her. That letter preemptively inhibits future discrimination litigation, which I believe was its purpose.

  13. July 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I find the problem is that there are a lot of people expounding on problems and problematizing problems that may or may not be problems without also, if not offering solutions, offering space to brainstorm solutions. I’m fond of the how-to in consciousness raising spaces like blogs, if anything because I see the blogosphere as a big filing cabinet full of subjects, observations and experiences that are ready for a person with access and need to take advantage of. I’d rather know that I helped people figure out a way to craft workable solutions in their lives than to know that all my writing was doing was making me another ladder rung in some other blogger’s writing career, or padding someone’s Women’s Studies 101 reflection paper.

    Also, I think it’s useful to remember that blogs like Slate and Jezebel are not designed to promote feminism, they are designed to appeal to women at large in order to sell advertising space that appeals to women at large to hock products to women at large. We’re watching two corporate entities fight over who has more cred.

  14. July 7, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    I think what everyone (especially Michelle Dean in this article from The Awl: http://tinyurl.com/2bjr3hd ) is forgetting in their criticism of The Daily Show and its diversity level is that shows like TDS rely upon crops of unpaid interns to find people to hire on as full time staffers. And who has the time and means to live in New York City with a full time job but no income? The answer, of course, is people of means. And sadly, people of means in this country are still more often white and male. Any criticism of TDS’s staff makeup should be directed to the larger culture, and not just TDS.

  15. bellareve
    July 7, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    DiMi – Really well said. I hadn’t even thought of it from that angle.

  16. Erin
    July 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    @Convenient

    That was Renee at http://www.womanist-musings.com/

  17. July 7, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    DiMi — Holy shit, I didn’t even think of it that way.

  18. Convenient
    July 7, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    @ Erin.

    I knew who it was but I was being sarcastic and trying to see if anyone remembered who I was talking about because it seems like that day was one that some people on Jezebel would probably want to pretend didn’t happen. It was a storm of comments with no real moderation except for the WOC or who had to clean up people’s messes.

  19. July 7, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Jezebel trashed first and got owned by the Daily Show’s women. Hilarious.

  20. July 7, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Jezebel moderates their comments so the most controversial and outrageous get bumped up and the moderate comments get hidden. That’s just how they do, and that’s why I don’t really respect Jezebel anymore. Plus, nowhere do they state they’re a feminist blog, they just include content that appears to have a feminist slant or they republish content for free that is written by feminists, but they can always fall back on the “well we never said we were feminist” excuse because they don’t explicitly say they are. Their tagline is “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing.” Not exactly a feminist rallying cry.

  21. Athenia
    July 7, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    @Tasha Fierce: I’ve noticed that too. Like, a year ago, the funniest comment was the comment that got bumped up. Now, it seems, the most stupid comment is bumped up so all the other commenters can gang up on that person.

    I do think Jezebel does write articles just for the page hits (“Lady gaga doesn’t get a pass”), but I do feel The Daily Show article was legitimate. I mean, seriously, 3 women in 7 years? Let me say that again. 2 women in 7 years? And one just in the last few weeks? And that one who is NOT known as a comedian?

    That’s really unacceptable.

  22. JV
    July 8, 2010 at 1:04 am

    The one thing I’ve taken away from the entire back and forth surrounding “The Daily Show” article(s) and also Wonder Woman’s new costume is that these reaction pieces — all within their niche echo chambers — cultivate and encourage ill-informed and somewhat mindless outrage.

    I have no problem with Carmon asking the question about the validity of Olivia Munn’s tryout with “The Daily Show.” I think it’s an appropriate one to ask in a piece. I was floored when I saw Munn’s first episode, and my initial reaction was, “Wow, this seems like a cynical and shrewd maneuver by ‘The Daily Show’.” I’ve seen Munn on G4, and the “let’s humiliate the sexy woman” type of humor she’s subjected to (from interviews I’ve read, it sounds like she doesn’t write her own stunts/sketches) didn’t seem to match the humor of “The Daily Show.” But I didn’t think giving her a tryout made the show sexist. And unfortunately, Carmon’s piece fell short of making that case, largely for its lack of getting comment from women on staff. (Yes, the show wouldn’t allow her access, but that shouldn’t be good enough for a reporter. You need to sit on the story until you can get the story. And I don’t blame Carmon; that’s the downfall of entertainment journalism, which I have worked in over the years.)

    I found the Wonder Woman indignation even more distasteful (yes, I’m a comic book geek). It was filled with straw men, wild assumptions and just buckets and buckets of wrong information, whether the diatribe be about destroying Wonder Woman as a feminist icon or an American icon. And all of it coming from people who hadn’t picked up a Wonder Woman comic book in the past decade, if ever. That sort of undermines your credibility about caring for a character you haven’t been following. Clearly, her icon status was fine in your eyes during the whole time she wasn’t making headlines. Boy, I hope the comic book didn’t have a story in the past 10 years where she was the most hated person in the world because she purposely killed a man (justifiably so, to save the world) on live TV and even pals Superman and Batman treated her like shit, ’cause, y’know, how dare a woman do that. Yeah, that would’ve sucked if it happened in her comic book, circa 2005.

    Point being (there is one), these types of posts are really just rabble-rousers to get outraged over serious and legitimate issues but aiming them at targets that have very tenuous — if any — connections to those issues. What results, though, isn’t a discussion about the underpinning issues, but a ridiculous free-for-all of bullshit slinging and pissing contests that makes everyone look bad. We’ve gone from “The Daily Show” is sexist to Carmon’s jealous to Jezebel sucks to Fuck you, how dare you bad mouth Jezebel to … I don’t know what the next thing is going to be, Gawker Media flicked my taint?

    And it’s a shame because outrage used to be a powerful thing. Now, it’s just a cheap way to get retweets. In fact, I should be outraged now. But I can’t even muster a “meh.”

  23. July 8, 2010 at 2:35 am

    Yeah, the critique was valid, but the crapstorm it’s started with everyone blogging about everyone else blogging about the Jezebel thing is just overkill. It’s like every internet famous white feminist blogger has found one more thing they can beat to death.

  24. chich
    July 8, 2010 at 7:15 am

    The slate article resonated for me b/c it came on the heels of a day in which the normal powers that be at jezebel decided to hand control over to a person who I guess is normally in charge of a brother sports site (although readers didn’t know this unless they scrolled through earlier posts) He seemed to be posting things just to mock readers, and if people didn’t roll over with laughter in comment responses, they were criticized (by the editor, but sadly, mostly by other readers) for not having a sense of humor/ being too uptight. And all I could think is that I’d been played, and for what? A fun experiment by Jezebel staff? Crazy high hits & comments (which they got)?

    That feeling of being mocked for being a feminist/womanist or interested in feminst/womanist issues is something we get practically everywhere, and the fact that Jezebel did it too just makes me question their motives and whether it’s a site for me to return to. I agree that the slate post isn’t perfect, but I think there’s definitely some truth to the author’s critque. (full disclosure: I’m not all that familiar with the slate blog). I’m also new to feministe but I want to say how much I appreciate this post and this platform for respectful discourse.

  25. passerby
    July 8, 2010 at 8:01 am

    I’m from the UK and happened on the Slate article by chance and many of the references passed me by ie I’m vaguely familiar with the Jon Stewart Show but know nothing about the personalities.

    Howver I thought many of the point made in the article were good, but not exclusive to feminist blogs.

    For instance the Guardian’s blog CiF (Comment is Free) outrageously courts contreversy to bump up its hits (it depends on advertising) and one of its favourites is to use feminist “issues” to attract basically right wing white male reactionaries. (And no this isn’t a cliche but the fact that it is evident from the comments that CiF allows that many are white middle class men who are outraged at any idea that women, let alone women who are not hetrosexual, not white etc., have an opion or a sense of injustice. Women who comment in a joking way about men hating women get deleted, but men are allowed to express anti woman, sexist rubbish and usually get high ratings.

    I’m using this as an example of why I think it is the medium that undermines the message. For instance the Guardian would never print letters that responded to articles that contained the level of venom and cliched statements of opinion.

    So moderators do set the tone and the level of discussion and can skew what appears to be a majority response to an article or issue.

    But more importantly than this, however much being part of a virtual community may seem to provide support, it is in no way a substitute for the actual act and fact of working with and discussing face to face with women.

    To even suggest that blogging and comments are the equivelent to consciousness raising is ridiculous. ie CR led to actual activities and real personal support. Blogging, facebook etc., just consume women’s time so that they are not actual DOING.

    Please dont react to this as some sort of old school feminism vs new school feminism.

    There have been loads of studies showing that time spent in the virtual world is time not spent in real human contact. One worrying part of this is that particularly young women rely on their facebook existence and interactions to get a sense of who they are (and how important).

    It may turn out that the internet far from freeing us is making us prisoners of the medium.

    This article on feministe helps illlustrate that talking about talking about is the way that most now use the internet.

    Its time consuming and non productive.

    Why not run a poll on each of the blogs, that claim are in some way feminist or aimed at women to see which if any of them have actually helped women change their lives, confront a violent partnet, get a pay rise / equal pay, etc., etc..

    If not many have, then add up all the time women have spent commenting on other comments on other comments, and wonder whether that time might not have been better spent in talking to women locally and forming a local support group.

    These blogsphere storms merely help obscure the real struggles that are going on.

    A little less ego and a bit more communal action might be a better option.

  26. latenac
    July 8, 2010 at 8:31 am

    I give credit to Gould for admitting her own post was doing the same thing she was criticizing Jezebel for and I thought the heart of her article was correct. Sorry to me the original Jezebel piece was poorly written and researched. If I were at The Daily Show and someone called me asking to comment on disgruntled former employees who hadn’t been there for years I would have said “no comment” as well.
    I do wish The Daily Show hadn’t responded at all though. The memo was funny, I thought and did address working conditions for women on the show. However, why comment at all? Just hire more women as the opportunity arises. When they were criticized for having mostly white male correspondents, they hired Assif Mandvhi, Wyatt Cynac and Larry Willmore.
    As for Olivia Munn, whatever. It takes everyone awhile to get used to a new correspondent.
    There is a dearth of women writers and on air talent on all of the late night shows. And valid criticisms can and should be made. A good article about that would not be a single article that aggregates stories that are over 5 years old. A better article would have touched upon the past and looked at what is happening now and then explored what could be done going forward. From what I understand the whole industry is about referrals and those referrals tend to come from old boys networks. I also read The Daily Show removes all identifying info from writing samples it receives so people are evaluated on their writing merit alone when they get called in.
    Obviously The Daily Show still has a way to go but to discount the recent events – that they just hired a new female correspondents and 2 female writers recently and ignoring Kristin Schaal’s contributions – and playing up things that happened years ago is well a great page view driver according to Nick Denton’s recent memo.

  27. July 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    It has come to my attention that the prior comment I left on this thread was perceived as offensive. So please allow me to clarify my original remarks.

    Regarding The Daily Show, I think that a lot of the writing on the show is equal-opportunity mockery but it fits in a vein of humor that doesn’t equally value women and their contributions
    and that is the issue. This is stating the obvious, of course. The Daily Show is simply trying to be sure that they keep their ratings share, so how much can we blame the show and its writers versus the audience that continues to demand it?

    We are the audience, and if enough of the audience demanded something else, then there might be more women on staff and in front of the camera. But I’m not sure that controversy is the best way to go about it.

    Now, a general comment or two. Being one of the few males who frequent this site and others like it, and, arguably the most frequently vocal one, my male privilege asserts itself in odd ways. What I say gets an instant kind of attention, but with that attention comes a severe, exacting scrutiny. If I have any general criticism of Feminist spaces, it’s that it seems as though you are only as valued as your last comment. I might say 99 inspiring, helpful, insightful things, but if only one of them invokes a negative response, then it seems like everything else I’ve done is forgotten.

    This degree of reactivity was precisely what I was talking to in my original post. It doesn’t matter why we’re this unforgiving and reactive. What does matter is how our rage reveals more about our own prejudices and less about the issue at hand. We know how to be properly outraged, but it’s been my experience that anger lends itself well to childishness, pettiness, cheap shots, and low blows. None of these are empowering.

  28. RD
    July 8, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I read the entire Daily Show Women Employees’ Letter. It is UNCONSCIONABLE for the show to ask women employees to sign a document that states that no gender or sex discrimination has ever occurred in their workplace and that their boss is a wonderful person. Unless dozens of women spontaneously decided to write and sign the exact same letter at the exact same moment, then somebody wrote that letter and asked others to sign it. When they did that, this constituted a subtle form of intimidation because every person who REFUSED to sign it would be identified as a potential problem – specifically a potential lawsuit. Who would refuse to sign the letter? Nobody who wanted to keep her job.

    The Daily Show Women’s Letter is disturbing because it’s the kind of document that women employees -especially lower-level ones – would feel pressured to sign or worry about losing their jobs. Any woman who believed that there would be no consequences for not signing that letter – as I’m sure they were assured – would be an idiot. That letter is a greater indictment of sexism at the Daily Show than the initial article, and that story needs to be investigated.

    We need to focus on the problem of an employer of ANY race or gender pressuring employees of ANY race or gender to sign a document claiming that they have never experienced discrimination. The women of The Daily Show never should have been asked to sign that document. Their names are on the internet. If one of them were to ever file a gender or sex discrimination lawsuit against the show, even for future discrimination, this letter could be used to discredit her. That letter preemptively inhibits future discrimination litigation, which I believe was its purpose.

    My thoughts exactly…or at least, that that was clearly intimidation and not okay.

  29. Tahi
    July 9, 2010 at 9:49 am

    What irked me most about the Jezebel article was that it treated Allison Silverman’s and Sam Bee’s contributions like mere anomalies instead of positive contributions to smash the myth of the “boy’s club” that Jezebel insisted TDS was. I don’t know how it’s helpful to describe Allison and Sam as the show’s “female defenders”, which cheapens their impressive credentials and, I argue, done so to hold up the pre-conceived notions of sexism that made the article possible. And her leaving out Kristen Schaal for the most part and Nancy Walls entirely just makes this article poorly researched and not really in the interest of rooting out sexism, even if that might have been the author’s attempts.

    This doesn’t mean the stories reported by women who’ve had less than satisfying experiences working there should be ignored. But that also doesn’t meant the positive examples should be treated as inconsequential. This article might have done more good if it explored a way to make women contributors like Sam and Allison more the norm, even on a theoretical level, rather than insist dogmatically TDS is a bastion of unapologetic sexism and you’re all deluded chumps for watching (I know, I exaggerate, but I have so little sympathy for the Jezebel author. After the TDS open letter her response was basically, “Well, if only someone had talked to me before all this happened!” which is just really passing the buck for poor research and realizing that your straw-man article can in fact be questioned).

  30. eilish
    July 9, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    @Comrade Kevin:
    re. your first comment: talking about the lack of women in the field is addressing the issue. It’s getting the attention of the people in charge. Calling it drama that is not worth debating comes off as dismissive of the people who are engaging in the conversation.
    re. your second comment: When you say “we are the audience” and “we are getting what we demand”, who are you imagining you speak for? Your audience wouldn’t be male-dominated, would it? Are the people saying “Enough with the presumption of male-dominance!” part of the audience you see?
    People do not achieve political and social change by asking nicely for it. They have to kick up a stink and make the people responsible for the status quo uncomfortable enough to change.

    Tahi: the article was about the disparity between numbers. A question was asked about discrimination. “Well, Jezebel isn’t a feminist site and Carmon wrote a bad article” isn’t an answer.

    Gould is telling us that Jezebel isn’t worth reading. What will she achieve by doing this?
    Dismissing women because of their alleged lack of worth has been a very successful strategy in making women vanish from history.
    Which is the better strategy for encouraging conversation and contemplation of societal change: “don’t bother with her” or “read it and see what you think”?

  31. Donna Martin
    July 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    I read the entire Daily Show Women Employees’ Letter. It is UNCONSCIONABLE for the show to ask women employees to sign a document that states that no gender or sex discrimination has ever occurred in their workplace and that their boss is a wonderful person. Unless dozens of women spontaneously decided to write and sign the exact same letter at the exact same moment, then somebody wrote that letter and asked others to sign it. When they did that, this constituted a subtle form of intimidation because every person who REFUSED to sign it would be identified as a potential problem – specifically a potential lawsuit. Who would refuse to sign the letter? Nobody who wanted to keep her job.

    The Daily Show Women’s Letter is disturbing because it’s the kind of document that women employees -especially lower-level ones – would feel pressured to sign or worry about losing their jobs. Any woman who believed that there would be no consequences for not signing that letter – as I’m sure they were assured – would be an idiot. That letter is a greater indictment of sexism at the Daily Show than the initial article, and that story needs to be investigated.

    We need to focus on the problem of an employer of ANY race or gender pressuring employees of ANY race or gender to sign a document claiming that they have never experienced discrimination. The women of The Daily Show never should have been asked to sign that document. Their names are on the internet. If one of them were to ever file a gender or sex discrimination lawsuit against the show, even for future discrimination, this letter could be used to discredit her. That letter preemptively inhibits future discrimination litigation, which I believe was its purpose.

    My thoughts exactly…or at least, that that was clearly intimidation and not okay.

    I would be interested to know how you came to this conclusion. Do you know whether the letter was generated from the top? Whether there was a group of women at lunch who decided that they did not appreciate their, as they themselves put it, “family” being attacked? Whether a group of men said “here, sign this or else”? Whether the “or else” was explicit or implied?

    I think it is irresponsible to make such accusations absent any facts. If someone has an inside scoop, I would really be interested in hearing it.

    And any employment lawyer will tell you that in the face of evidence suggesting that the Daily Show does employ discriminatory practices, a letter which a plaintiff signed because she felt coerced could easily be negated by alleging duress.

    It is not clearly intimidation. It would certainly be if it was generated in the manner claimed. But at face value, it is not intimidation and it makes me ill that such clear attempts to ascribe motivations and actions to the women who signed the letter have been accepted by some people as absolute truth.

  32. Blue Jean
    July 10, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Comrade Kevin,

    We know how to be properly outraged, but it’s been my experience that anger lends itself well to childishness, pettiness, cheap shots, and low blows. None of these are empowering.

    Hey, that fits neatly under the You’re Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry trope from “Feminism 101”. Try for four more and I’ll yell “Bingo!”

  33. ginmar
    July 10, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Tahi, did you just deliberately avoid the fact that there’s only been TWO women in front of the cameras in any substantial way in seven years? One of those has only just been hired, actually. That’s kind of the point. And you either avoided it or missed it.

  34. DiMi
    July 10, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    eilish: Your critique of Comrade Kevin is spot on. Men who genuinely care about feminism need to realize that if they are truly allies then they should not simply dismiss our concerns; they should at least try to understand them even if they don’t agree with them.

    I think Gould’s article was just the self-serving effort of a mediocre writer to get the boys in power to pay attention to her. The price was betraying other women, and she paid it gladly.

  35. Donna Martin
    July 12, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    It seems that anything a woman does that does not meet your feminist ideals must necessarily have been done to garner male approval. That’s a big logical leap and an unfair one, at that. Is it not possible that she actually believes what she wrote, however mistaken you believe her belief to have been? Why is the next shot over the bow “you are betraying women” and/or “you are trying to get the boys to like you”?

    That seems as anti-feminist as anything that Gould wrote.

  36. eilish
    July 12, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Donna, why do you think Gould wrote the article?
    Do you believe her premise that Carmon and the others are acting out of jealousy and spite?

  37. Tahi
    July 13, 2010 at 7:59 am

    @ginmar Actually, with Kristen Schaal and Nancy Walls (the former who still does occasional pieces for TDS), that makes four. And I’m not including a few other women who have made it onscreen on The Daily Show (I only started watching in 2006). These women have made valid and substantial contributions to what is considered a “boy’s club”, and I maintain the Jezebel article cheapened their credentials in order to peddle a story. I don’t know how that’s in the interest of addressing sexism, watering down a woman’s life accomplishments to the pity-filled description of “female defenders” for a hatchet job of an article. As a huge fan of Sam Bee, Kristen Schaal, and former executive TCR producer Allison Silverman, I felt the need to point this out.

    And it’s obvious you haven’t watched the show if you think Olivia Munn is only the second female to make it on air there (an exaggeration I’m sure the Jezebel article would be pleased with), so I wouldn’t go by the info given by the original article.

  38. Sheelzebub
    July 14, 2010 at 1:51 am

    Now, a general comment or two. Being one of the few males who frequent this site and others like it, and, arguably the most frequently vocal one, my male privilege asserts itself in odd ways.

    And YOU assert your privilege in rather overt ways. For instance, when you say the following:

    What I say gets an instant kind of attention, but with that attention comes a severe, exacting scrutiny. If I have any general criticism of Feminist spaces, it’s that it seems as though you are only as valued as your last comment. I might say 99 inspiring, helpful, insightful things, but if only one of them invokes a negative response, then it seems like everything else I’ve done is forgotten.

    Kevin, it’s not all about you. And the reason why you get blowback is because when you make comments like this, you’re derailing. And when you make comments like this, you’re ignoring the fact that when you make a comment that gets a “negative” response, it’s because you’re doing what a lot of men do–use dismissive language, mansplain about how we are to run our movement, and engage in stereotypes about women and feminists.

    This degree of reactivity was precisely what I was talking to in my original post. It doesn’t matter why we’re this unforgiving and reactive. What does matter is how our rage reveals more about our own prejudices and less about the issue at hand. We know how to be properly outraged, but it’s been my experience that anger lends itself well to childishness, pettiness, cheap shots, and low blows. None of these are empowering.

    Thank you for mansplaining to us what we feel and what we should do about it. You haven’t demonstrated this at all, of course. People aren’t being unforgiving and reactive when they hold you accountable when you assert your privilege–they are pointing out some uncomfortable truths for you. They are also bone tired of dealing with people who have more privilege and power than them lecturing them about the Proper Way to Do Things, about The Way to Be Polite, and What the Important Shit Is. Putting up with that shit is not actually empowering. If our anger in the face of your patronizing post bothers you, that’s your problem.

  39. Donna Martin
    July 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Donna, why do you think Gould wrote the article?
    Do you believe her premise that Carmon and the others are acting out of jealousy and spite?

    I’m not sure what these questions have to do with my original point. I don’t know why Gould wrote the article. But I certainly think saying the only reason she wrote it was because she’s a mediocre writer who was trying to impress the boys is pretty anti-feminist. Pointing out anti-feminism with more anti-feminism is not an enlightened way to make a point.

    Moreover, my original question has never been addressed, which is why are the words of the women who work at the Daily Show being so summarily discounted as the product of coercion?

  40. Jennifer Drew
    August 3, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Feminists need to stop attacking other feminists & concentrate on what feminism is really about…attacking people who are NOT feminist.

  41. Jennifer Drew
    August 3, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Comrade Kevin…I wouldn’t go looking for any brownie points as “one of the few men who post here”. It’s a feminist blog. On any feminist site you care to mention, there are “a few good men” like yourself butting in with “yes, but” comments…feminists do not need you “mansplaining” to them. Know your place. You are no longer a human being with “your take” on matters…save your manspeak for your non feminist female friends. Feminists are not impressed by anything you say, ever. At best you are an “ally”…as such your job is to shut up & just tacitly agree with everything you read on these pages ( unless they were written by other “few men” mansplainers ). The best you can do to repay the damage you have done is to apologise to Sheelzebub for offending her & all feminists for having an opinion that conflicts with theirs, then crawl away. Once you log off the net, you’ll doubtless find someone who has better things to do than patronise you & despise you for being born male…it’s got to be better than trying to join a club that just is not interested in having you as a member, isn’t it?

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