Sexism and the SD blogosphere

Not a hat tip, but a full bow to Cory at Madville Times for speaking up and saying what many of us progressive/liberal/any stripe bloggers thought: what in the hell is it with “Today’s Babe” at Todd Epp’s blog? I know that, at least historically, Buddhism has been viewed as sexist but I wasn’t aware it factored in to those who claim to tweet dharma.

As I told Cory in a quantity v. quality comment to his post, I fully agree with his observation that “‘success’ as a blogger may be better measured in terms not of hits but of influence.” Cory also notes why, if this is influence, it’s the wrong kind. “Pictures of pretty women we don’t even know probably don’t create change. Drawing more random Google hits from horny guys probably doesn’t build much community… at least not the kind of community we’re hoping for.”

My ears blistered when I imagined what my three daughters would say (with a small hope they would be so vociferous in part because of how their mother and I raised them). That’s why I was very happy to see some of South Dakota’s female bloggers give their perspective. Here’s some excerpts:

Rebecca: “I’d rather be in the ‘Not-Babe’ category–thanks, even if it means not so many hits. Because another problem with this category is its name: ‘Babe.’ While Epp claims he is celebrating, not diminishing women, the diminutive he uses to describe the women he’s ‘celebrating’ tells a different story.”

Angie: “Yes, objectifying pretty women drive[s] traffic/sell magazines. But that doesn’t make it less damaging. Is anything that makes money (no matter who it harms) permissible now?”

Anna: “It’s not enough that I’m headed toward a Ph.D. in my chosen field, or that another contributor just received a law degree. It’s not important that we’re lobbyists, strategists, educators, canvassers, envelope stuffers, ticket sellers, or board members. What’s really important to liberal guys is that we look like Esquire models while we’re doing it.”

Now I’m not trying to pile on. After all, I complained about the use of “babe” more than five years ago. But not only do things like “Today’s Babe” objectify women, it undermines the fact that some men are, or at least try to be, gender-blind. Check the last sentence from Anna. I know she’s using some editorial hyperbole but “babe” pictures suggest an inherent sexism in all males, regardless of political views.

Yes, Todd, I voted immediately in your poll that this is BS. But as Angie asked, “If the poll shows a positive response from readers, does that really justify continuing the objectification of women in South Dakota?” So, thanks to Cory for speaking up when we all should have. In fact, this father may owe his three intelligent and accomplished daughters — and all women — an apology for weighing in so late.

… it’s important to remember that feminism is no longer a group of organizations or leaders. It’s the expectations that parents have for their daughters, and their sons, too. It’s the way we talk about and treat one another.

Anna Quindlen, NY Times, Jan. 19, 1994

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