Almost a year ago, popular tech blogger and author Kathy Sierra canceled a speech, and stopped writing her blog, after receiving a series of gruesomely explicit threats of death and violent rape. Things like that happen online. What really disturbed me about the incident was the number of “decent, well-intentioned” bloggers–mostly, but not exclusively, men–who just didn’t get it. I read a number of blog postings about how it’s a rough world out there, and if you’re going to blog you just need to develop a thick skin. After all, lots of guy bloggers get hate mail to, don’t they?
Never mind the fact that men at least like to think they can defend themselves in a fight. Never mind the macho culture that enables men to feel continually empowered in a way that women, who always live with the threat of rape from some stranger or–more likely–acquaintance never can. If some anonymous blog commenter threatens to punch me in the face, that’s no different from a woman blogger being threatened with rape, mutilation, and murder, is it?
It’s the casual sexism and misogyny of the online media that I want to take on here. The promise of online media is that it is accessible to anyone–that traditionally unrepresented voices can make themselves heard through blogging, podcasting, and other digital media. However, stories like this one in Podcasting News show how far the reality falls short of the ideal.
As reported on the ClickZ Network:
Businesses hoping to get the attention of 18- to 34-year-old women should consider buying ads on Web sites that offer so-called “long form” video installments related to popular network TV shows, according to Nielsen Online.
The company said its VideoCensus syndicated online video measurement service, unveiled last spring, is finding women tend to watch more online versions of TV network programs than do their male counterparts. Men of the same age range gravitate more toward sites like YouTube that feature consumer-generated content, according to the VideoCensus data.
But the headline given to the same story in Podcasting News is a bit pithier: Men Want It Quick And On Demand; Women Like To Take Their Time And Enjoy It. Illustrated, of course, with a photo from the marketing video podcast French Maid TV (which, incidentally, has not released an episode since July 2007, making its relevance to the story even more remote).