Mormon Blogging and the Good Ole Boys’ Club

In September 2006 NPR ran a story on a study of numbers of women in academia (or lack thereof), particularly science. Maria Zuber,   commenting on the study, made good points that I think are also pertinent to the structure of the Bloggernacle and the conversations we have. Firstly, the tendency in academia is to, as Zuber put it, “stay close to shore.” Academics tend to recognize excellence if it looks like their own work. Likewise bloggers tend to read the kind of content and join the discussions they themselves like to produce, and think those are the best conversations to have.

Patrick Mason, Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont, noted the problem this creates in his survey of graduate students in the Bloggernacle.  As described by Joel at Juvenile Instructor,  “A few graduates students felt that the Bloggernacle actually Balkanized Mormons by [creating] very small and distinct spaces for specific kinds of thought and discussion.”  For example, Feminist Mormon Housewives focuses on feminist issues within the church, as does The Exponent  and Zelophehad’s Daughters, while Segullah attracts mostly conservative readers; each blog maintains a distinct tone. Juvenile Instructor focuses on historical discussions. Millennial Star takes a uniquely conservative approach.

This tends to conceal the overall picture of the Mormon experience and contribute to navel gazing and emotion driven discussions rather than good analysis. Of course that isn’t to say all Bloggernacle discussion need to be serious and analytic of Mormonism culture, history or theology (there is certainly room for humor) ; but if we really want to expand our understanding of who we are as a people and what our faith and culture mean to us not only individually, but collectively, then it behooves us to come together on different themes and listen to one another. I also don’t mean to say that all the blogs should discuss the total sum of Mormonism all the time and maintain absolute objectivity, but Balkanized certainly is an apt description of the atmosphere.

Mason also, “argued that the blogs sometimes enforced patriarchy by becoming ‘boys clubs.’”  It’s not hard to miss the ratio of female to male bloggers on the big blogs. Why is this? I can’t help but wonder if some of the Balkanization is caused by this problem. Women bloggers may be compelled to create their own space in the Bloggernacle because male bloggers don’t take them seriously, don’t think certain (female-oriented) kinds of discussions aren’t worth having and/or interesting, don’t think the point of view of many female bloggers is valid, or, as in the case of academics reading scholarly papers, don’t recognize themselves in the writing (in both style and content), so choose not to engage.

One contributing factor that might be suggested is that women don’t care as much about Mormon blogging. But as Zuber said, “Don’t blame the pipeline.” In academia the study showed there are enough women in the pool to choose from, but they aren’t utilized in the academic field. “Talent is there and the interest is there,” Zuber said.  For the committee who appoints them, “The tendency is to ask, How will they fit in? What research do they do?”  Zuber also mentions that during their childbearing years women have less time because of childcare to do research. I’ve noticed some of my favorite bloggers left the blogs after the births of babies. It’s hard to write thoughtful comments when a two-year-old needs lunch, even harder to write a post.

Do you agree with Mason that Mormon blogging sometimes inadvertently reinforces patriarchy? How? Are our discussion too compartmentalized?  Is it problematic? If it is, how can we fix it?


  1. Chris Gordon says:

    If my own experience is any guide, it certainly is a bit easier to sneak in a blog read, a comment or two, or what have you at the expense of my boss and client’s time than it is for my wife to do so at the expense of hers.

  2. Mark Brown says:

    Chris, I used to think that too, until I saw Facebook. In my case, at least, the ratio of female/male partipation is the inverse of what it looks like in the bloggernacle. I conclude that there is something qualitatively different between blogging and Facebook which tends to appeal to women.

  3. Interesting. I look forward to hearing more.

    We see the same thing on the forums/listservs of both my husband’s and my primary professional organizations (different fields). Women give as many papers at annual meetings, but don’t post as often on the electronic communication.

    So I am not sure that skewed ratios are unique to Mormondom.

  4. I’m far more comfortable commenting on female blogs. I’m more likely to feel confident enough to jump in with my point of view in a room full of women so it doesn’t surprise me that in a blog full of women’s voices I choose to comment, but a blog with a majority of male voices I often choose not to comment.

  5. Chris Gordon says:

    @Mark, If rumors about HP group are true, then are men just somehow wired (culturally or genetically) to get more enthusiastic about pontificating generally and pontificating about the gospel in particular?

  6. MikeInWeHo says:

    “Do you agree with Mason that Mormon blogging sometimes inadvertently reinforces patriarchy?”

    At least in the parts of the Bloggernacle that welcome people like me, I see no indication of that. On the contrary. The diverse, rough-and-tumble environment of a blog like BCC is the exact opposite of a hierarchical patriarchy.

  7. Brava mmiles for “going there” on this topic. Often I wonder if we in the bloggernacle are too confident in our freedom from the problems of sex, race, and class homogeneity that we criticize elsewhere.

  8. Steve Evans says:

    Very good topic, mmiles. I don’t have easy answers there. I tend to think that mormon blogging is more often than not a reflection of general mormon culture and its weird female/male dynamics.

  9. Mark Brown says:

    Chris, (# 5)

    Yes, I’ve heard that about high priests. Last Sunday the high council speaker displayed that attribute to perfection.

    Cynthia, I agree, and I think there is also something even more subtle going on. I feel comfortable interacting with you and mmiles and other women here because your style of discourse is familiar to me. I can address you “like one of the guys”. That isn’t the case with many female bloggers. Sometimes I don’t engage them because it expect that I will have to spend half my time translating into an unfamiliar idiom.

  10. Love this m. I see a whole lot of patriarchy around the bloggernacle, but as I am used to dismissing the patriarchy it doesn’t bother me enough to keep me out. ;)

    In all seriousness, what I see is a whole lot of silencing in the conversations, as opposed to the posts themselves. I think BCC does some of the best work out there on feminism, sincerely, but I still don’t comment here a ton and I don’t think that’s any one of the blogger’s fault. It’s not BCC’s fault. It’s the nature of the internet with a special extra helping of Mormonism on top.

    Women’s experiences or opinions are often dismissed or ignored on the internet. You betcha. But add an environment where men have god-given authority and women do not, and there is a whole new layer of subtext keeping people away. If a woman needs to have a conversation in the few minutes she has between responsibilities, it’s much easier to do it in a place like facebook where she doesn’t need to be prepared to arm herself for battle.

    There is a drastic difference between a Mormon woman saying to a male poster, “Nope. You’re wrong.” And a priesthood holding Mormon man saying to a female poster, “Nope. You’re wrong.” Even when you understand thoroughly that priesthood should make no difference in that conversation, all the subconscious ghosts of cultural conditioning we receive to respect respect respect take a toll.

    I think for many people that conversation is not interesting or rewarding enough to pay the toll.

  11. Chris Gordon says:

    To address the OP questions:

    “Do you agree with Mason that Mormon blogging sometimes inadvertently reinforces patriarchy?” I’d say that the simple answer is yes, insofar that Mormon blogging is a reflective of Mormon culture, or at least a segment of it.

    “Are our discussion too compartmentalized? Is it problematic?” Probably and maybe. I mean, the value of the Internet is that you can find a niche so easily where you otherwise can’t find one. If I’m surrounded on a weekly basis at church by people whom I love but with whom I do not feel comfortable engaging in the type of conversation found on a blog, then that blog becomes a breath of fresh air. If I find a blog whose tone or topic or viewpoint doesn’t harmonize with my own, then I’m probably not going to spend much of my limited free time there.

    As to whether that’s problematic, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for blogs as a mechanism for real critical thinking of an academic vein, then of course it is. It’s an extension of the same problems you can run into at the university level generally where too much homogeneity leads to myopia. If you’re not looking at a blog as a type of casual critical thinking (if that exists), then not so much of a problem as a choice along the lines of “Wall Street Journal or NY Times?”

  12. Chris Gordon says:

    And Reese, I’m so sorry that there are that many cultural ghosts. Truly, I hope we get to a place where they go away.

  13. MikeInWeHo says:

    “I see a whole lot of patriarchy around the bloggernacle….”

    Can anybody here identify specific examples, because I just don’t see it. This may be my bias, though.

  14. It’s your bias.

  15. MikeInWeHo,
    One example, when women comment they are often ignored or dismissed (which leads to less commenting by women over time). As Reese said, women tending to children don’t have time to arm themselves to respond to comments, so they don’t bother commenting.

  16. Mommie Dearest says:

    I think all blogs are slightly different, depending on what quadrant of the balkans they originate from. That said, I think they do reflect our natural tendency toward patriarchy (for lack of a better term) to some degree, depending on the blog and/or topic. To the degree that they reflect the good ol’ boys club, I suppose it could be said that they reinforce it. It’s only problematic to those who encounter it as a problem (to whom I believe we should be attentive) and I see good things happening to mediate it often enough that I am encouraged by the efforts. In the past, I have read through whole threads on this blog and others where I know all the commenters are male, and my responses remain in my thoughts and not in the comments for a variety of reasons, one of which, I must admit, is that I’m intimidated to speak up in an exclusively male discussion. Old habits die hard, if they die at all.

    I bet this thread puts the halt on the Heavenly Mother conversation. ;-)

  17. MikeInWeHo says:

    I know that I live in a very different environment than Mormon culture. It’s gender non-essentialist to the core, almost a photographic negative of Mormon culture (for better and worse). So perhaps it’s not surprising that I see scant evidence of patriarchy in the Bloggernacle.

    This might also shed some light on what the rest of you are experiencing. The Bloggernacle represents anonymity. How do you know that male commentors are priesthood holders, or even active members? Heck, how do you know they’re male at all? You can’t see the person typing, and almost none of us have met each other in person. Who is gst??? (That should become the “Who is John Galt?” of the Bloggernacle!)

    So we rely on our imagination as to what the other participants are really like. I am not inclined to imagine patriarchy in the ether of the Bloggernacle, but Reese and others probably do. Makes sense.

    If there are specific examples of patriarchal behavior in the Bloggernacle, I’m open to being shown them.

  18. As is the insidious nature of patriarchy in our current age, it’s hard to pin down as an overt example. But I’ll give you a couple little things we see CONSTANTLY at fmh.

    One of our readers was talking with her home teacher who was telling her all about the bloggernacle, without realizing that she was a regular participant. He was telling her about the bloggernacle hierarchy, which blogs were the “big” blogs, which were the “smaller” blogs, etc. Never once did he mention FMH. I think it’s safe to say we hang with the “big” blogs, but we were not even on his radar. And to be clear, this conversation was not about which blogs he found the most relevant, it was about which were the biggest in terms of traffic. This is not even remotely an isolated incident.

    FMH is often, sometimes lovingly, sometimes not, described as the place where we talk about poop. That’s not a description we shy away from as we are all brazen women and men with sick senses of humor, but when the people who not so lovingly describe us that way they are trying to say that what we talk about isn’t Important. But really, what is more fundamental a symbol of the harder aspects of parenting than poop? Someone who says poop isn’t Important is saying that parenting isn’t Important, specifically mothering isn’t Important. And again, not saying that poop is gross or inappropriate to talk about, but not worth their time.

    I have written posts discussing what minor changes the church could make to include women more, and been virtually shouted down saying that changing tables in men’s bathrooms weren’t a problem, weren’t necessary, was frivolous to worry about, despite the fact that it is the most simple possible solution to support women’s involvement in Sunday practice and serve as a symbol of equal parenting. Again, not men saying they disagreed with my thesis, saying that this problem didn’t exist.

    And of course, there’s always the problem with men being able to refer to authority women don’t have. I don’t mean that men are invoking the priesthood, but they do invoke experience. It is difficult for a woman to stand toe to toe with a man who can say, “In all my years serving Bishop….” or “In my time teaching Gospel Doctrine….” since so many wards still have men in that calling the majority of the time, or even “On my mission…” since the proportion of missionaries are skewed so heavily male. None of those things are wrong for the men to say, if they’re pertinent to an anecdote and not a means of trumping a woman in a conversation.

    Any one of these incidents is extremely easy to dismiss on their own, and some might be tempted to accuse me of oversensitivity. But these are just the first few things that came to the top of my head and are small parts of a large web of interactions that combine to make a woman’s experience less rewarding in these conversations.

  19. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 15 “When women comment they are often ignored or dismissed.”

    Really? Somebody tell that to Cynthia L, Kristine or Ardis (and many others). I don’t see that pattern at all, and I have been in here a long time. Seriously, I just don’t see it.

  20. I’m having a hard time coming up with a comment. I agree that the gender dynamics make it difficult to take part in most blog conversations. I expect, though, that if too many women say that, we’ll be countered with “I don’t see it,” “Give me examples,” “Who’s stopping you from participating?” “Stand up for yourself,” “So you’re saying I should not give my opinion because I might hurt your feelings?” and all the usual ways that too many men respond to women who state a problem. The problem is there, though.

  21. Mike, I must come across very differently from the way I feel, because, yeah, except when I’m playing the clown, I *am* ignored and dismissed. When I joke around the boys will joke back, but when I express something more serious or more personal … well, let’s just say I don’t do that much for a very good reason.

  22. The women you’re choosing as your sample size are women who have extremely hard won credibility. They have proven themselves “worthy” of attention through their brilliant insights and regular engagement. They’ve fought through the web.

    Now go back and read #4 from jks. Go find any thread and find a poster who appears female, who you are unfamiliar with, and see what the reaction was to her.

    I love you Mike, seriously, but pushing this, “I don’t see it, I just don’t see it” stuff IS a patriarchal behavior when you have me and m and jks and Ardis saying it’s here in this conversation alone. Maybe try, “I don’t want to be patriarchal, help me out.” instead of implying we’re totally wrong.

  23. I think the whole discussion is misguided. The analogy between faculty appointments and Bloggernacle participation is wrongheaded. There are a very limited number of faculty appointments, they are difficult to get, and they are controlled by existing faculty. There is no limit on blog formation or blog commenting — anyone can participate. Literally anyone. No entry barriers.

    Furthermore, there’s a definition problem: what is the Bloggernacle? For some contexts I prefer to think of the term as covering only those blogs that regularly discuss LDS issues, but in this context one ought to recognize the large number of LDS “mommy blogs” that periodically discuss LDS topics. If they are included (and why shouldn’t they be?) then participation by gender seems more balanced.

  24. I agree with Ardis and Reese that while the patriarchal behavior isn’t usually overt (especially here), it’s a subtle underpinning that keeps me from commenting. Like others have mentioned, I often just don’t feel like having to arm myself in order to comment. It’s strange because I work in an overwhelmingly male dominated field and I feel very confident in my interactions with my male colleagues and in collaborating with them and voicing my opinions to them. Which makes my reluctance to engage here all the more puzzling to me since I’ve actually met a few of the bloggers here and they really are nice people. I’m dwelling on the fringe and it feels more comfortable to me than mixing it up with y’all here in the comments. I’m going back to lurking now…

  25. I agree with Dave (#23). My first thought reading through this was “where’s the data?” Without some definitions and data, this is just really arguing impressions versus impressions.

    I have a hard time imagining somebody like Ardis being ignored or dismissed. But if she says it happens, I’ll take her word for it.

    Personally, I don’t feel like I’m ignored or dismissed because of my gender — but then, I don’t comment much or say anything very significant anyway, so I guess I figured if I’m ignored or dismissed it’s likely due to the content rather than externalities.

  26. I don’t see the discussion is misguided at all. The big LDS blogs very much set the agenda for what is discussed and how it is discussed. They also suck up the lion’s share of the energy and traffic related to “discussion of things Mormon by Mormons and those friendly to Morons” on the web. Now that’s the nature of all niche media environments but that doesn’t mean that the gender issues that were raised in the OP aren’t relevant to the bloggernacle. As others have commented, these issues aren’t unique to the Mormon media sphere, but I tend to take Reese, Ardis, etc. at face value when they say what they have said.

  27. This idea of arming oneself to participate is interesting. There are many conversation on both the left and right, both among men and women, that I feel like I usually just don’t have the energy or volition to engage. Even some among friends.

  28. “it’s a subtle underpinning that keeps me from commenting. Like others have mentioned, I often just don’t feel like having to arm myself in order to comment.”

    I feel that way all the time…even on my own posts. As MikeInWeHo says, BCC is rough-and-tumble, but isn’t that just a natural part of communicating with intimidatingly smart people?

  29. re: why women tend to participate more on fb

    I think that some of the issues described by Debra Tannen in Gender and Discourse (1996) may be influencing the way that we communicate in cyberspace. In American contexts, women are socialized to communicate in ways that are supportive and encouraging. For example, whereas women technically interrupt in conversation more than men do (again, this is in U.S.-based studies), they typically do so in order to affirm what the speaker is saying; they express agreement, sympathize/empathize, or interject a relevant and related example that supports the speaker’s main idea. Men are far more likely to interrupt with an abrupt change of topic (and are far less likely to suffer social disapproval for doing so), and, as was touched on upthread, it is far more socially acceptable for men to pontificate at length on a given topic.

    In other words, I think it’s likely that the short text boxes and formatting on fb lead too conversation dynamics that ease supportive interchanges, and these interchanges are more reflective of the way that women are socialized to communicate verbally. In Mormon contexts, this is further complicated by LDS social norms and subcultural conditioning. Like Reese said, “add an environment where men have god-given authority and women do not, and there is a whole new layer of subtext keeping people away.”

  30. Mommie Dearest says:

    This is not a misguided discussion. It’s real, there is a gender component to it, and it happens all the time and probably escapes your notice. Women observe a discussion with mostly men participating, we have thoughts to add to the discussion, and we don’t bother. Why? That’s where it gets individual and more complex, but for all of us gals part of it will be that we are intimidated to join in a robust discussion of only men. This is based on dozens (or more) of past experiences which color our dealings with men in groups, and for LDS women, that will include lots of priesthood interaction.

    I’m pointedly refraining from assigning you good ol’ boys any more blame than I am willing to bear for this myself, and I fear the blame portion of this discussion is loaded with baggage I’d rather not muddy things up with. Who cares about the blame percentages if you just want to understand and learn if you can change it for better? So please let’s not go there.

    I’d be surprised to meet a woman who doesn’t get this, but it always pleasantly surprises me when I meet a man who does. It happens more often than it used to.

    And don’t ask me for data. I don’t have time for that bs today. Go back and look at some old posts and threads if you want to see some evidence.

  31. I don’t see the patriarchy. I think it’s a myth.

    On an unrelated note, I’d like to ask Naismith, jks, Cynthia L., Reese Dixon, mmiles, Mommie Dearest, Ardis, kim, and lindberg to stop commenting. They’re making me feel uncomfortable. Not because they’re women per se, but more because they aren’t men.

  32. Excellent post, and very important discussion.

  33. There is no limit on blog formation or blog commenting — anyone can participate. Literally anyone. No entry barriers.

    Or, perhaps, there are simply no barriers that you’ve noticed.

    I actually agree with you, Dave, that Bloggernaccle participation isn’t all that analogous to science faculty appointments, but I think this discussion couldn’t be more worth having.

    Relatively early in my blogging life I was informed by a male blogger that an experience I described could not have happened, because it was logically impossible for such events to occur. It remains one of my favorite examples of all the worst gender dynamics of both the church and the Internet.

  34. There’s no limit on blog formation, but there are dynamics to what you signal with how you set up your blog (which service you use, what the design and layout is, etc.). Look, for example, in the difference in aesthetics between the major (and major-minor [like AMV]) bloggernacle blogs and mommy blogs. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that those signals also have an effect on who decides to stick around and comment.

  35. I invoke the sigma principle. Women and men are a sigma apart in many important aspects of our lives. Enough to notice but not enough to inhibit conversation altogether. Therefore women are 70% less likely to blog than men for a number of reasons. Here is one, there may be more:

    I think the main difference between this blog and FMH blog is the general level of competitiveness. Men love a scrap and an intellectual scrap is not that much different than football. I live with a very (!!) intellectual woman who seldom posts because, I think, the general level of competitiveness is the same as in a football game, struggling over moving the ball 10 yards or punt. She thinks (I think, I will ask later tonight when she gets home) why engage in that huge effort with so little return and the possibility of humiliation at worst and at best non-engagement, because the other guys are intent on blocking or running with the serious opposition. It is a game. She does not like competition. She reads and posts occasionally to FMH. She likes to read the scriptural blogs, the old testament exegeses for example, because they are complex and meaningful. They do not struggle over small bits of territory. (She reads BCC but does not post.)

    Because of the game-like qualities, she (and other women) might ask, “What is the value, then?” (see #25)

    I realize this is a generalization. I love to generalize, looking for the Grand Unifying Theory. (ie. the sigma principle.)

  36. >17

    I know that I live in a very different environment than Mormon culture. It’s gender non-essentialist to the core, almost a photographic negative of Mormon culture (for better and worse). So perhaps it’s not surprising that I see scant evidence of patriarchy in the Bloggernacle.

    Living in a “gender non-essentialist” culture is not not at all the same thing as growing up female, which means that you adopt female discourse among women but are expected to adopt male discourse in mixed groups because male culture dominates those groups. (Oh, but if you adopt male discourse well enough to beat men at their own game, then both men and women will condemn you for being unfeminine. Good luck with that!)

    When you’re in a dominant group, your own privilege as a member of that group is invisible to you because everyone else adapts to your social norms. The best you can do listen carefully to members of minority groups and trust that the problems they bring up over and over again really do exist, even if you can’t see them.

  37. The best you can do *is* listen carefully . . . (*sigh*)

  38. I don’t know about patriarchy but I’ve encountered bloggernacle matriarchy, both ZD and fmh silence opposition by banning without warning.

  39. I do not care for rude, aggressive behaviors. There’s limited time in life so the best use of it is in productive, meaningful discussion where I either contribute to, or gain from, the group presentation of info or wisdom. Alternatively, a good laugh with friends is always productive. When this sort of thing is not happening, I’m outta’ there! Other fish to fry, baby!


  40. what’s funny? I really don’t want to comment on this for all the reasons that Reese and RW’s wife state. I don’t have a big past experience to give me kudos and why would I compete over this stuff. Someone will probably make fun of typing mistake I miss because five things and two people were happening at the same time.

  41. Reese Dixon says:

    Men can, of course, absolutely, feel similar hesitancy to comment or engage, whether from a personality trait or time
    Management, the company of the conversation or just personal preference.

    The difference is the frequency with which women deal with hostile or apathetic reactions, and the potential reward that awaits them if they do.

  42. Firstly, I agree, anyone can participate in the Bloggernacle. I certainly didn’t mean to say that academic departments=blogging community, but simply that there are a few things we can draw from the comments of Maria Zuber that I think are applicable.

    While I’ll leave it to Ziff to come up with the stats on female/male commenting rates here is some noticeable data:
    Ratio of Men to Women perma-bloggers

    Wheat and Tares 10 men 2 women 4 unknown
    BCC 18 male 6 women
    Times and Seasons 17 men 4 women
    Mormon Mentality 8 men 4 women 3 unknown
    Doves and Serpents 5 men 6 women

    I am leaving out FMH because FMH has an obvious niche that is for housewives. I’m sorry if I’ve overlooked other blogs.
    I’m not proposing that we all need to be interested in everything on the blogs all the time, or that one blog need to encompass every_single_conversation there is to be had. There is room for niche blogs to be sure. But from this discussion it is apparent there really is a problem. Women often feel like they can’t join the discussion if they can’t engage in the same language and style as the men (note Ardis’ comment about joking with the guys). For the record, I think BCC does a good job, although there is room for improvement, at having a wide variety of discussions with lots of different viewpoints and voices.

  43. #42 mmiles

    It is the sigma rule, almost exactly.

  44. I see many women (LDS or not) weighing their comments against their willingness to look stupid, just in case they are met with a dismissive shrug and an implied, “Well, nice try, but shouldn’t you be reading a magazine about home decor or something?” Whether or not such attitudes exist, many women imagine them. I’m guessing that some men do as well, but women are often extraordinarily self-critical and suspicious of their own words–at least women like me are, and I know that I’m mirrored all over the place. In the same way, we tend to apologize for our messy houses–even if we’ve spent hours cleaning. (I had a wonderful visitor, also a BCC blogger, last week and it felt GREAT to not feel any pressure to apologize for my disastrous house–neglected for days because of my nasty flu. The sisterhood I feel in the bloggernacle is real and sweet.) It’s wonderful when great female voices like those I find on BCC and elsewhere speak so brilliantly and with such nuanced consideration. BCC feels like home to me, and I find no hint of patriarchal framing. Then again, that may be just the other bloggers’ respect for the elderly. Or fear that I’ll make them a protagonist in a story someday.

  45. RW,
    Maria Zuber would call your sigma rule the Larry Summers’ idea.

  46. I totally get what RW is saying. But I am glad that people feel the need to ‘arm themselves’ to comment here. It makes it worth reading.

  47. If becoming a BCC blogger is what it takes to become a character in a Margaret Young story, I may have to rethink some things.

  48. Ziff compiled some statistics on frequent bloggernacle commenters back in 2008. The lists of the ten most prolific commenters at each site were full of men for Times and Seasons (9), By Common Consent (10), Mormon Mentality (9), New Cool Thing (at least 9), and Millennial Star (at least 8) and full of women for Feminist Mormon Housewives (at least 8), Mormon Mommy Wars (at least 9), and Exponent (at least 9). Zelophehad’s Daughters alone had more than 3 of each sex in its top ten. Obviously, the ten most frequent commenters are not representative of all commenters, but I think the conclusion is clear: to have integrated group of commenters a blog needs lots of fun statistics.

  49. Wait,
    I thought we were all females…Shoot. I nominate myself to help BCC increase it’s women writers by one. Now who are we firing on the male side to even out the score?

    On a serious note, I don’t bother reading the BCC book reviews since most are by men for men–and forgive me for rudely saying this: it’s annoying to read “Such-and-Such author is great, and not just because I know them!”

  50. Why do you assume the book reviews are for men? I read (or aspire to read) almost all of those books. Am I doing something wrong?

  51. Most of the comments are written by men and frequently the way the poster knows the book author is through employment. I hope to read all the books too, but decided to skip the reviews.

  52. “frequently the way the poster knows the book author is through employment”
    I think that’s almost never true, actually. Not that you shouldn’t skip the reviews, if you want to, but you shouldn’t feel excluded from a non-existent club!

  53. I love that line “excluded from a non-existent club”, it probably best describes what mmiles was talking about–some women feel left out simply because our life experiences as a whole don’t match up with the experiences male posters have.

  54. Sometimes I think men might feel hesitant to engage women in the blogs or comments because they don’t want to seem like or be accused of picking on a woman. Perhaps its the modern version of “you don’t fight with a lady”. Men are keen to go to battle and “win” against each other only now it’s the battle of ideas. There could be some inherent sexism in the fact that “beating” a woman in a battle of ideas just isn’t satisfying and manly. Since men can no longer do pistols at noon to prove themselves we trade barbs over the internet to prove our worth.

  55. Or maybe you’re just scared the girls will kick your ass ;)

  56. That. That right there.

  57. What Kristine said. In spades.

    In unrelated news, BCC would love to add vocal, smart women with lots of time to write. Does anyone know any?

  58. Okay, I’ll bite.

    I read BCC but I very rarely comment, and much of the reason is that my preferred mode of discourse is probably more stereotypically female. Whether the “femaleness” of the way I prefer to communicate in groups is due to nature or socialization is probably another conversation. Whether I should be ashamed of or apologize for the way I feel most comfortable communicating is another conversation too. But the truth, for me, is this: I usually engage in conversation in order to reach consensus with others and to try and expand my own understanding. Generally speaking, I am not all that interested in the more competitive rhetorical wrestling matches that sometimes occur here at BCC. I enjoy reading them, sure (which is why I do read BCC). But I don’t want to participate very often.

    Here’s a good, quick example. There’s a real disdain at BCC for emoticons. I like emoticons (she says shamefacedly). I know many people, male and female alike, who think it’s probably indicative of some weakness on my part to occasionally rely on a smiley face to get my point across, but I’ve found that, if used judiciously, a well-placed emoticon can be quite useful in online discussion. There’s a part of me that feels like the disdain for emoticons has something to do with the fact that they’re too “nice,” too “weak,” too . . . female? I don’t know.

    Anyway, I’m not blaming anybody here at BCC. Different blogs have different modes of discourse and BCC serves an important purpose. But in much the same way that I sometimes find it hard to raise my hand during ward council, I sometimes find myself typing comments and, instead of clicking “post comment,” deleting them and walking away. Is this partially my fault? Definitely. But it also has something to do with the fact that the mode of discourse itself seems to exclude me somehow.

  59. Steve, I have no time to write, and like all of us, I’m losing brain cells every day, but I’m vocal at least sometimes. I promised you a guest post about a million blogyears ago; let me know if and when you’d still like it.

  60. This is making me want to write a blog post… Too bad I have a stack of poems calling, “Grade me!”

  61. Margaret, simply post the poems here and let us grade them. After the McNaughton haiku thread I heard a very reliable Internet rumor that this is actually a poetry site.

  62. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 22 Fair enough, Reese. I hear you (and thanks for the cyber-love). That’s the first time in my life I have been told I engaged patriarchal behavior. Wow do I feel butch right now!

  63. In the past, I have read through whole threads on this blog and others where I know all the commenters are male, and my responses remain in my thoughts and not in the comments for a variety of reasons, one of which, I must admit, is that I’m intimidated to speak up in an exclusively male discussion. Old habits die hard, if they die at all.

    Old habits indeed, Mommie Dearest. I have the same problem here and on Wheat and Tares and Times and Seasons. Generally I can get past it, but there have been plenty of times when I haven’t, too. Often depends on the topic… and, yes, whether or not other women have posted in the comments before me.

  64. I was just going to say that I really like this post and am enjoying the discussion very much, but then my jaw just dropped to the floor, “fMh is a niche blog” for housewives? Seriously? We kid right?

  65. What Angela H. said in #58. :)
    I’ve typed comments and deleted them without posting too.

  66. Angela, the discourse cannot include you if you refuse to participate! I loved your comment. I cannot abide emoticons, but know this: there is a smiley in my heart for you.

    Eve, the BCC door is always open to you.

    Miri, you’re doing pretty darned well!

  67. Angela, if it helps, I’m with you on emoticons. I’ve had to argue with myself about them, because I despise internet shorthand and I don’t like interrupting a post or comment that is otherwise fairly intellectual-sounding (I like to think) with a stupid smiley face. But. I have decided that it’s one of the sacrifices you have to make for internet communication. When you don’t get body language, you miss a lot. Emoticons are the only way we can mitigate that deficiency a little bit. And in the end, I feel like I have a certain level of responsibility to get my intent across, since I can’t expect others to just imagine my body language into the conversation.

  68. Lisa,
    Sincere apologies, but I do think FMH is a niche blog which is devoted almost exclusively to feminist hot button issues. That isn’t a bad thing, but it is what it is. Housewives was a poorly chosen word (despite that being how the blog describes itself), but who else talks about poop? Again, not that that is a bad thing, but it serves a certain audience, what that sorely needs to be served. I just wish there was more overlap.

    Newly Housewife,
    That is not at all what I was talking about. I’ve never seen a book reviewed at BCC written for men or for women. They may be written for certain audiences (audiences which frequent BCC), but gender has nothing to do with it. Furthermore, employment? There’s really no connection.

  69. Also, Steve brings up a really valid point, women don’t have as much time to blog. :( (for Angela)

  70. I tend to think that viewing feminist issues as “niche issues” and the women who congregate there as serving a niche (you know that niche that makes up more than half of all human beings) is really kinda part of the problem.

  71. Lisa,
    I agree if feminist issues are seen as exclusively women’s issues that’s a problem. I also agree if childcare and poop are seen as only women’s issues that is also a problem. FMH certainly isn’t just for women. But when a blog exclusively talks about feminist issues, it’s still a niche blog, just like Jezebel and Feministing are niche blogs. But I can also see how my earlier words are, in fact, part of the problem, and I’m glad you called me on it.

  72. part of the problem

  73. I like emoticons, too, Angela. :)

    Most Internet conversation _is_ conversation, like it or no, and conversations benefit from clues beyond words. This moves too fast to be like an exchange of letters. The permas here are to a (wo)man top-notch writers, and that may give it the feel of headiness. That alone filters, I’m sure. It probably should filter me … But generally comment threads are fast and loose and benefit from emoticons. I should likely put a wink after ever thang I say.

  74. Not Ophelia says:

    “But when a blog exclusively talks about feminist issues, it’s still a niche blog, just like Jezebel and Feministing are niche blogs”

    And when a blog talks about Mormon issues it must be a niche blog too. In fact under that definition I’d say that ALL blogs must be niche blogs….

  75. I think this is a good question. I don’t think the LDS blogs are a boys club or reinforce patriarchy, even though there are more men than women on several of the group blogs. As was pointed out, W&T has more male writers than female, yet the women are the leads. I’d rather just get writers who tee up interesting discussions than just giving their own perspectives. Every one of our writers brings a unique set of interests to the table. There isn’t one of them who is sexist or wallowing in his male privilege.

    When I think of staples of the ‘nacle, I think of both men & women. And the men are all people I can imagine changing diapers, teaching relief society or cross-dressing for the ward Halloween party. I think the men who are blogging are generally pretty feminist, whether they write about it as often as we do or not. Maybe like Stephen Colbert can’t see color, I have a hard time seeing what sex people are on the internet (this has not caused any awkward Crying Game moments IRL, I hasten to add). When I first started up in 2008, thanks to neutral pseudonyms I imagined about half the people I was conversing with to be women until I discovered one by one that many of them were men. Perhaps this is the Mormon Masculine Mystique.

  76. mmiles #45

    I do not mean the sigma rule in any depreciating way, just as a way of quantifying differences and understanding each other. Else why would women be taking over higher education and executive offices? After long last (millennia?) society has reached a point where the female gifts can shine forth.

    I have said this before but it bears repeating. An experiment was done where the subjects were made to sit in a room full of objects and then list those objects later. Women did better unqueued than men, queued. This is utterly beyond the sigma rule, more like a two sigma rule.

    In this Darwinian world diverse abilities wait, unused, until circumstances change and the abilities give the possessor a survival edge. So this odd ability of memory can have enormous ramifications, maybe in corporate boardrooms or in diplomacy.

    So the sigma limit differences will produce extraordinary women. I mean, look at Hillary Clinton. She has accomplished miracles of diplomacy. In three years she has accomplished more than the men in the previous regime in eight and did it without firing a shot. She was likely deeply involved in arranging the affairs in Libya, which led to the defeat of Qaddafi. She is at the point of crushing Iran with real economic pain. Our previous male dominated (You cannot count Condi Rice sandwiched between those alpha males) regime angered the rest of the world into non-cooperation and let Iran slide with no repercussions for eight years, and sent high level people to Libya to cement relations. Do you like male or female diplomacy? Who does a better job?

    I bow down to the power of women and pray that their good natures will prevail.

    I hope that women will have a moderating and sensible input into the testosterone-soaked blogasphere.

  77. Steve #66: Even though you won’t type it on the page, knowing there is a smiley in your heart warms mine.

  78. #49, 51 Newlyhousewife: On a serious note, I don’t bother reading the BCC book reviews since most are by men for men–and forgive me for rudely saying this: it’s annoying to read “Such-and-Such author is great, and not just because I know them!”

    I’ve written 23 book reviews (give-or-take a few sort-of reviews) since joining BCC last year and I’ve known only four out of those 23 authors prior to reviewing. I don’t consciously gear any of the reviews to men, or to women for that matter, so speaking for myself I’m sorry that I’ve given an impression of writing for men. I realize there may be some things about the books I review that a woman might be more likely to notice or emphasize than a guy, but I can’t really escape that. As far as commenting on book reviews, I’ve noticed that book reviews aren’t apt to gather a huge response, and I wish more women (and men!) would comment when I review a book. FWIW.

  79. PS- good post, mm, I appreciate the fact that this is being brought up. I’ve written about the balkinization of the bloggernacle before too.

  80. There is no limit on blog formation or blog commenting — anyone can participate. Literally anyone. No entry barriers.”—Dave (#23)

    So says a writer whose post “God and Science” from January 25 can still be found this morning linked above the fold at the Mormon Archipelago. Anyone can write, and anyone who wants to seek out writers has several means available. Some of the more popular means do have a degree of legacy built in, though, that is an entry barrier to other writers who wants to be read.

  81. Steve Evans says:

    #80, just so. There are no barriers to blog formation, but there are enormous barriers to sustainable community creation.

  82. You feminists think your told to shut up and go away on the bloggernacle? That is too funny. Try commenting as a conservative believing Mormon. Getting ignored is the better reaction. Mostly you’ll be made fun of, scorned, told your an idiot, and generally dismissed as a troglodyte.

  83. That’s an interesting way to put it. Legacy is part of community. Steve, I respect that you have worked with others through the years to keep BCC thriving.

  84. True that, Jettboy. If anyone is marginalized in Mormonism it is the conservative believing Mormon.


    -a guy who was banned from M* several months ago.

  85. Thanks for proving my point BHodges with your brilliant and non-sarcastic reasoned response.

  86. I love America, for in this land of opportunity, we can all pull ourselves up by our bootstraps to be victims.
    (This is also true in our satellite nations, such as Great Britain, but less so, and only because of our influence.)

  87. And we are talking about the bloggernacle and not Mormonism on the outside world. They really are two different worlds. I will agree that they are night and day differences.

  88. Signed,

    -a guy who was banned from M* several months ago.

  89. Steve Evans says:

    #86 for BCotW.

  90. #86, BCotW – seconded.

  91. Thirded. Jettboy, the Bloggernacle doesn’t just include the less conservative blogs, does it? I’m sure everyone has some places where they’re not received as well as others, just due to the nature of the different communities.

  92. NO,
    Yes, BCC is also a niche blog. But the issues covered are of a much broader range within the Mormon niche. I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  93. “There are no barriers to blog formation, but there are enormous barriers to sustainable community creation.”

    True. And even when Maria Zuber suggests departments shouldn’t just look at who will fit in, the reality is that things run smoother in any department, any business, any blog, and any church–when people “fit in”. Of course that doesn’t bode well for religion, especially when part of the message of Christ was to overcome such barriers. I hope we try to break down those barriers, and do to some degree, on the blogs.

  94. Peter LLC says:

    Mostly you’ll be made fun of, scorned, told your an idiot, and generally dismissed as a troglodyte.

    Perhaps, but you are able to share your views on enemy territory, so to speak, which is more than some of us can say.


    Another guy who was banned from M*

  95. I agree with Lisa that a good part of the problem is that things are seen in our society as unimportant that actually are some of the most important things in life. Raising children and keeping them clean and healthy, having peaceful and welcoming homes, preparing nourishing and tasty meals, providing for the needs of the sick and the dying, all are of primary importance to the human species, yet generally are dismissed as not worth discussion in most arenas. Why is that?

    Why are women’s thoughts and ideas about *any* subjects ignored or dismissed so easily, (not just those unimportant by definition because thought to be “female”)? Why do so many women use emoticons to assure that their statements aren’t taken as having an aggressive tone? Why do women so often include apologies or other softening language when stating their views? Why do they have to phrase a correction of a man as a request for information rather than plainly saying the words “you’ve made a mistake here”? Why is aggression in women seen as ugly and bitchy rather than assertive and confident?

    Any male who doesn’t see all this or believe it happens, I’d like to challenge you to comment under a female screenname for a few months, and see what you think. Women are more than half the population, and societies who don’t listen to women are losing over half their intelligence, talent, innovation, and advancement. We all lose when that happens. It’s vitally important that we realize we have a problem and take steps to correct it. The bloggernacle seems a very good place to begin.

  96. Steve Evans says:

    “I’d like to challenge you to comment under a female screenname for a few months, and see what you think”

    It wasn’t so bad.

  97. Steve Evans says:

    But yes, Tatiana, I agree with you and think it’s a really awful situation.

  98. MikeInWeHo says:

    Steve, you would look gorgeous in drag. Just sayin’. WeHo Halloween Carnival 2012. It’s on.

    But more seriously, Steve & Tatiana, what steps could be taken in the Bloggernacle to correct the problem?

  99. Melissa DM says:

    A couple of quick thoughts. I haven’t read the comments yet so forgive me if I’m repeating. First, it’s taken me multiple sit-downs to write this comment because each time I start typing, a toddler comes and grabs my hand and demands something. So time is a major issue as is forming coherent thoughts when constantly distracted. It’s no coincidence that I ended my blogging tenure here shortly after Kid A was born.

    Secondly, the bloggernacle is overwhelmingly populated by academics and lawyers, no? I remember being unpleasantly surprised when I guest-posted here in the beginning how combative readers and fellow bloggers were- ready to jump on any point and argue it to death. Once I got used to it, I enjoyed it. But I can see how that would intimidate readers/writers not used to having to be ready to defend their thoughts. Look, most women coming through here are not in the profession or mindset where they’re constantly having to do this.

    These hint at deeper issues but I’ll leave it at that.

    Also, it’s taken me so long to type this that I almost considered just deleting it and walking away- something that happens frequently. So I’m just going to hope my comment is coherent and hit post.

  100. “But more seriously, Steve & Tatiana, what steps could be taken in the Bloggernacle to correct the problem?”

    I’d suggest that from now on, everyone has to pick a uni-sex moniker, like Stacey or Leslie. My moniker–“jimbob”–would not need to be changed because it’s short for “jimbobbie,” which can clearly go both ways.

  101. re: 100
    I love that idea

  102. MikeInWeHo says:

    Steve: Jimbob’s idea could form the basis for a fun little experiment. Why not put up a post wherein everyone must use a new and strictly uni-sex moniker? We could all be in there, but with true anonymity this one time. The moderators would immediately delete comments that didn’t conform to that rule. Throw in a controversial topic to get things started and let the games begin!

  103. I’m also one who feels the need to arm herself with unassailable sources (i.e., NOT Wikipedia) and years of debate school to participate in some threads. It’s not that I can’t, it’s that I’m tired. Tired of the SSDD internet debates. I was around on Usenet lo these many years ago and I had the time, energy, stamina, and balls to jump in the cage and draw blood. It was fun. It just isn’t any more.

    Re emoticons: I have learned by sad experience that not using a strategically placed emoticon can lose me money. I’m a whore, so I use them. Strategically.

  104. Wow. I knew this post would generate lots of comments quickly. It’s an important subject.

    Fwiw, the combat vs. consensus view is the one toward which I lean.

    I tend to use lots of disclaimers and qualifiers in lots of my comments, but I also have no problem / hesitation sometimes saying, “That’s just silly / stupid.” I’m sure my willingness to do that is influenced by the fact that I’m a guy who has had to say that professionally numberous times – and been in a position of “authority” where I wasn’t condemned for saying it that way.

    Oh, and did anyone else see the irony in comment #36? Katya, you made a very good, very important point, but I suspect you don’t know Mike and his situation very well. Just saying.

    (In typing this paragraph, I know I’m illustrating what I said in the previous one – but, in my defense, I would have typed it regardless of the sex of the person who wrote #36.)

  105. I’m so glad we decided to use only unisex monikers! I finally feel free to comment on this blog! Yay!

  106. Interesting timing. Check out the following over on FMH:

  107. #99 I remember being unpleasantly surprised when I guest-posted here in the beginning how combative readers and fellow bloggers were- ready to jump on any point and argue it to death. Once I got used to it, I enjoyed it. But I can see how that would intimidate readers/writers not used to having to be ready to defend their thoughts.

    I think initial interactions make a big difference, too. I know of at least one woman who posted here at some point, felt she got dog-piled, then swore the whole thing off as a waste of time due to dogmatic rejection of her perspective. From my view she came across as dogmatic herself, which helped spark the reaction she received, and didn’t care to really take a stand and defend her stance so she bolted. Lack of time, confidence, patience, or substance might have played a factor, any of these. Lurkers might not even take the chance to receive the dogpile if they’ve read someone else’s comment, agreed with it in their mind, and then seen a barrage of countering comments. It’s easier to just go where your already-held beliefs are validated rather than openly challenged.

    I don’t have any kids yet and my little dog is having her nap time, so I was able to type this up in one swipe, though I really am supposed to be doing the dishes and laundry before I go to class. Slacker.

  108. Clark Goble says:

    It’s interesting since there is such a big diverse set of blog topics. And honestly most of them I just don’t find interesting. I prefer the more doctrinal or historical topics. But it seems to me in that area some of the top bloggers (and among my favorites) are women like Ardis, MMiles, and others.

  109. “Oh, and did anyone else see the irony in comment #36? Katya, you made a very good, very important point, but I suspect you don’t know Mike and his situation very well. Just saying.”

    Oh Ray. Are you saying that gay man = straight woman in the unholy hegemony that is bloggernacle hierarchy? Because if i have learned anything from Tina Fey, it is that a gay once-Mormon male is actually the equivalent of a sassy Latina.
    I’m kidding about the last part (insert lopsided, humble yet hopeful emoticon- maybe with an offset ballcap) but serious about asking you to check your assumptions about gender and sexuality.

  110. Steve Evans says:

    Two thumbs up for offset ballcap emoticons.

  111. #96 BCOTW, except I think Evans is ineligible.

  112. Honestly, I don’t often comment on BCC because I feel that unless you are a regular commenter, even if you point out something that someone else specifically said, you are ignored. You have to be willing to play the debate game, and while it’s something that I often enjoy, it’s not often something I have the time or inclination for. I also find the tone on T&S and BCC a little presumptuous at times and unwelcoming to those of us newer (ish) to the bloggernacle. On FMH or The Exponent, though, I feel that I can weigh in and my comment is considered by others, even if I am newer to the game. I am also significantly younger than many other commenters/posters and I am very conscious of my lack of experiences. I often don’t comment (especially on political posts) because I don’t want my comment to be glibly dismissed or outright ignored.

    I do comment occasionally on Wheat and Tares though because I feel that the conversation is more casual, the subject range wider, and the community is more inclusive.

    I’ll also add that anyone who thinks that FMH is a niche blog about poop hasn’t read the range of posts they include. Winterbuzz’s series on the wives of Joseph Smith for example, were all grounded in history and were rather academic. Recently, there was a post about language acquisition and gender. To be honest, anything that applies to women deeply involved in the care of their children is brushed off as irrelevant.

  113. Oh man, LL, that is some delicious irony- half of your sample was from a BCC guest, Brad Kramer! I love Wheat and Tares every time I read it – I am just worried about my head exploding (insert emoticon of combusting brains) if I add one more Mormon blog to my daily list.

  114. Steve Evans says:

    Anyone who thinks that FMH is a niche blog about poop is stupid.

  115. I’m contemplating starting a blog about nothing and everything. Mostly male contributors and book reviews and doctrinal and historical stuff, not because I have anything against women or housewives or poop, but just because I don’t want it mistaken for a niche blog.

  116. Steve Evans says:

    Brad, how about the “only review books written by fellow employees” niche?

  117. I totally agree with Lauren’s comment. I’ve been reading BCC and occasionally commenting for years. Even though I read it frequently, I rarely comment. Mostly, my comments are ignored. Because there is always a dialogue going on amongst those who are all the regulars and because half the time I feel like I would need to really spend time articulating a cogent thought if it were to ever be met with anything but silence, and I often don’t have time for that. On FMH, I still don’t comment all time (time constraints being the main reason) – but I read it equally as often as BCC and comment at a far greater frequency. The main reason I can point to is that I am not worried about 1. being ignored or 2. having to articulate my thoughts in some super interesting way to be heard. It’s just a different vibe over there and while BCC may not mean for it to seem a little like a boys club – it feels like a boys club to me where a few select females have managed to make it through and be the token girls who can hang with the boys.

  118. >104

    You mean that Mike is gay? No, I was well aware of that when I wrote it and I definitely see the parallels between gays and lesbians interacting in (dominant) straight culture and females interacting in (dominant) male culture, but being a member of one minority group doesn’t make one an expert on being a member of another minority group.

    I guess you don’t know me and my situation well enough to know how often I lurk on the “big blogs” and how aware I am of the back stories of frequent commenters. Just saying.

  119. “Are you saying that gay man = straight woman in the unholy hegemony that is bloggernacle hierarchy?”

    No, even as I’m sure you didn’t think I said that.

    Katya, thanks for the clarification. That’s makes a lot more sense, frankly. It makes it cleat what you know about Mike, while the original comment had no hint whatsoever that you do know about him.

    Words on a screen are very easy to misundertand (just saying. *grin*) – which also applies to this discussion.

  120. It also makes it clear.

  121. Hell, I wish I was a fellow employee of the authors I’m reviewing. Will someone out there please, for goodness’ sake, get me a job in publishing?

  122. I think you should review books about your fellow employees’ poop, BHodges.

  123. I’m just a student right now, unemployed. Maybe Chicken Delicious’s doodies would make for good reviewing.

  124. #105
    Hello there, Pat. I’m glad I can jump in and comment now, too.

  125. Ardis, careful. Your blog is frequently populated by poopy stuff. Buffalo chips, manure baited fly traps, and let’s not forget all the talk about bowels and constipation by that paragon of advice for young women, Catherine Hurst.

  126. Star a blog, BHodges. I review Toby’s litterbox for a guest post.

    I do like MikeInWeHo’s suggestion in #102. That would be a lot of fun and should result in a followup post where we talked about what happened and why. Participants should also agree not to deliberately plant clues to their own identity or to out other commenters whom they think they recognize, but just have a good discussion about whatever the topic is.

  127. No matter what handle I use, you’ll recognize me by my illiteracy. *Start a blog … *I will review …

  128. Of course, kevinf. That’s because I ain’t no niche blog!

  129. The way to get ignored on the big blogs is to say something so true and so eloquent that no one can possibly take issue with it or formulate a worthy response. Believe me, I know.

  130. #129 = teh awesome.

  131. #129 = also, BCotW nomination

  132. I’m not shy. I comment. I make a fool out of myself. Sometimes I’m ignored. Sometimes I’m corrected. I make typos. Sometimes I’m actually funny or say something meaningful.

    I comment because I have children. I like the back and forth in a discussion-it reminds me I have a brain. I like hearing differing perspectives-it knocks me out of my little world. I like commenting and feeling like I have done something that stays done. Frequently I read because I’m tired and trying to stay awake..if I don’t get my brain functioning at a two syllable level it is more likely to just go comatose. That doesn’t make for very meaningful comments…or even logical comments.

    I have noticed the disparity in number of bloggers, and commenters. I haven’t noticed whether the lack of reactions to my comments was based on gender. I kinda still feel new here.

    After my experience with FMH I was happy to be ignored a bit here.

    I will say I was pleasantly surprised that long long ago on a discussion about Evolution…when I brought up my questions about the fall and how it fits…without references to Nibley or studies or papyri stacked up…I really appreciated the response.

    If we do the gender neutral handle…I promise to spell check that day.

  133. Spelling and grammar errors are equal opportunity offenses.

  134. I comment here a lot and I am friends with some of the permas. I still feel ignored most of the time. We all feel that way.

  135. I’m not saying they aren’t…just that *I* will need to avail myself to a spell checker.

  136. I really like the idea of a post with all gender-neutral handles!

    I often feel the same way as LovelyLauren, except that for me Wheat and Tares has been the worst, not the best. :) I like their articles a lot, and often go through “liking” comments, but I don’t comment much myself. Times and Seasons feels more neutral – just as likely to get ignored, but less likely to get ripped up. For some reason BCC has been the easiest of the co-ed blogs for me to break into. Maybe because the first few posts I read here were about feminist issues, so I felt more comfortable jumping in. Also, Cynthia and Kristine both made a point of saying something to me about those comments and that was immensely helpful. I still feel awkward here more often than not, especially compared to fMh, ZD, and The Exponent. But I manage.

  137. Steve Evans says:

    Miri, it helps that you’re awesome!

  138. I’d like to see the gender neutral blog post experiment happen on both FMH and BCC, maybe in conjunction with April Fool’s Day? Oh wait, that’s General Conference…

  139. I would be happy to participate, as long as Ray agrees not to out my sexuality.

  140. Parent Dearest says:

    It’s a drag on my blogger life to be so swamped with real life. On the other hand, I’m getting ever so much done!
    Thumbs up for #129; you get much more response with borderline moron comments. Intelligence and good sense get lost in the ever rising tide.
    Yay for “co-ed” blogs! Yay for fMhlove!

    For the record, I think we manage pretty well at being civil and doing damage control when gender wars darken our horizon. Although, the next time I see a good ol’ boys thread here, I’m going to point it out.

  141. “I would be happy to participate, as long as Ray agrees not to out my sexuality.”

    So let it be written; so let it be done.


  142. CrazyPersonCreek says:

    Then I am at a loss as to what you meant, Ray. Am I missing something?

  143. Rosalynde says:

    My theory is that it all has to do with whether you prefer to engage with ideas via argument or personal experience. Most people have a strong preference for one over the other, and it’s boring/confusing/pointless-seeming to try to adopt the opposite mode. I know I strongly prefer argument; when I read comment threads that are about sharing personal experiences, I find myself wondering what the point is and I rarely have anything to contribute. I suspect lots of folks have the same reaction when reading argument-based threads. Most blogs develop a pretty consistent tone over time favoring one or the other. It also seems clear to me that there’s a coherent (but not absolute) gender distribution between the two modes.

  144. Christine H. says:

    Gender neutral? No way! I prefer gender bending.

  145. Steve Evans says:

    That is the previously unknown 5th Style of Bending studied by Avatar Aang.

  146. Mmiles, thanks for the apology. When I read your #42 and had to do a double take, I decided surely he means he is excluding fmh because the title indicates its contributors are more likely a particular gender.

    But, as I think about it more, I think this in fact is one of the problems of sexism. To me, fmh isn’t a niche blog. But to the traditional male viewpoint there are regular (male) things, and then there are female things.
    Despite my 7.5 years on the bloggernacle as a commenter, I don’t really have a complete picture of it or the trends or the pulse of things. I’m not part of any sort of in crowd, but I do wonder this: The question we need to ask isn’t why there aren’t more female contributors & commenters on the “regular” blogs, but maybe why does the bloggernacle community consider the male dominated blogs to be regular and the female dominated blogs to be niche/other. Half of us are female, and half of us think that blogs with female friendly topics and female communication style is real, interesting, purposeful and relevant. Maybe the the accusation of sexism isn’t that men don’t make females feel comfortable on male dominated blogs, but that men think it is not worth their time to be a part of female dominated blogs. If they did, what would that look like?

  147. Hot Fish Plaid says:

    ^ My new gender neutral handle. I will use it on occasion. I haven’t yet commented on this thread. I have commeted in the past on other threads. Things that I shall not specify have taken up my time and energy, lest I give any hints. I look forward to reading your comments perhaps tonight. I haven’t decided which handle to use.

  148. jks,
    “I decided surely he means he is excluding fmh because the title indicates its contributors are more likely a particular gender.”
    I am a she;)

    Secondly, It is not that I am drawing a line between male dominated vs. female dominated, but by content alone. Maybe I don’t visit FMH enough, and if I did, then maybe I would find their content is much broader than it used to be.

    Assuming you are right, would it be beneficial to the types of discussions we have for different kinds of communicators to engage with one another? Do you feel your academic training has taught you to communicate in certain ways? or rather that it was easier for you to become an academic because you already preferred communicating in certain ways?

  149. Rosalynde, yes. I much prefer to engage ideas through personal experience. Lately when I have posted at Segullah I have geared questions toward personal experiences. They are my favorite comment threads, because I’m interested in the stories and I can just enjoy the camaraderie. Also I have blog fatigue, and I don’t want to post a comment and then feel the need to keep checking on the comment thread.

  150. Mostimportantly says:

    I don’t comment because by the time I read a post, there are already 146 comments and I assume everything important has already been said. Oh, and I am late to the party because I have been mothering small children all day and have just now finished watching Grey’s Anatomy. Blog time!

  151. Multitask!

  152. “Maybe I don’t visit FMH enough, and if I did, then maybe I would find their content is much broader than it used to be.”
    I still feel like you are saying that being a woman is a niche, but being male is normal. As I hinted earlier, I don’t know for sure what is considered the necessary topics or type of traffic to be considered top bloggernacle but surely there is a female heavy blog that must qualify?
    I don’t want to hold up fmh as some sort of perfect blog, but it is the one I am most familiar with. My concern is that girls are willing to read books with a male main character, but boys will refrain from female character books. They are books “for girls.” Sure, the book (or tv show) can have one woman (Underworld, Castle come to mind), but she’d better be hanging with mostly guys for it to not be labeled as a chick flick.
    In a perfect world since I am very typical LDS stereotypical woman (40 year old temple married SAHM with four kids) that what interests me in discussing Mormonism online should somewhat interest the community as a whole. There is sexism not just in asking why women aren’t watching a football game, but also in not getting up and walking away from the football game in order to join the women in whatever they are doing.

  153. I haven’t commented in ages though I lurk here and at other Mormon blogs frequently. I guess the things I used to like to discuss are “niche” issues which all revolve around gender related inequalities and ambiguities but I’m tired of repeatedly banging my head against the wall about them.

    For me, thinking about gender issues in the Church collectively is nothing short of maddening – especially when you see them discussed in thread after thread and inevitably some male commenter enters into the discussion to dismiss and gloss over them and correct the women. My reaction to this is most often one of anger which doesn’t make for writing a terribly coherent or nuanced addition to the conversation.

    I’ve mostly turned my energy and focus more keenly to the immediate decisions of my own life for now.

  154. Very good point, jks. I only met a handful of men in my many literature courses at BYU who would ever have considered reading widely from female-authored books outside of a special “gender studies” course. And I remember how shocked the boys in my 6th grade English class were when our fabulous (male) teacher told them they were going to have to read a “girl” book (Anne of Green Gables) while the girls read a “boy” book (Call of the Wild). Let’s just say the girls were way more eager and much less surprised at how much they enjoyed their assigned reading. Who knew a girl could be so much like Tom Sawyer and love puffy-sleeved dresses at the same time?

    Sorry about the anecdotal comment. Rosalynde’s comment made me smile: she was the dazzling star pupil in my advanced critical theory course at BYU–Marxist and feminist theory–and very few of even the men in the mostly-male class would take her on. Certainly not me! And I had so many anecdotes to share about my experiences under patriarchy, but the discourse of the class was so very…..male. :) <—–ahhh!!! emoticon!!! sorry!!! <—–ahhh! gratuitous exclamation marks! can't be helped! I'm an easily excitable female!

  155. “There is sexism not just in asking why women aren’t watching a football game, but also in not getting up and walking away from the football game in order to join the women in whatever they are doing.”

    That is maybe the most sexist comment I have read in a while. Why do you automatically assume no women watch football?

  156. mmiles, I think you’re great truly, love the post, love this discussion, but really and truly, every time you’ve mentioned fMh it has been with a patina “the other” of the female experience. You repeatedly insist that posts by, for and about topics that primarily affect women are somehow “less broad”, are separate, (and not equal) they are indeed “niche” as compared to the “broad” ranging discussions here. I think BCC is fan-freakin-tastic, but as you pointed out, it isn’t a gender neutral utopia, it’s a blog primarily by, for, and about men. What is it about the man blog that you find so inherently broad and basic and central (as opposed to nicheish). Why do you see the average BCC post (by for and about men) as the main stage, and the average fMh post (by for and about women) as the scribbling women gathered in the breakfast nook?

    There are a million reasons why a person might choose to spend more time at one blog or the the other, tone, personality, interests, but it is just so blatantly obvious that one of the biggest deciding factors is your sex, are you a man or a woman? Cross over sure. Would I love to see more, hell yeah. Still . . . . Insisting that the male dominated blogs are central, and the female dominated blogs are niche, is at it core— a huge—- part of the problem. (especially considering that you admit that you don’t know enough about what we actually write over there to judge fairly the broadness of our female experiences, and interests, passions, and study. )

  157. About the inclusion and exclusivity of different sites, I think we all read the ones (blogs and authors) we like most and we comment where we feel we fit in. I like many of the articles on BCC, but the conversations are too long by the time I can get to them, so I don’t often comment. Plus, I read them on Zite sometimes which doesn’t have a comment feature. If there were like & dislike buttons I’d be more likely to read through the discussion points because some of the discussion is just brilliant and witty here, which I love!

    As for FMH, I just didn’t fit in there when I first started participating in the ‘nacle. At the time I felt it was kind of a niche blog, and since I’m not a housewife, I was more interested in the general stuff, snarky, politics, Mormon culture, etc., on sites like Mormon Mentality and BCC. I also felt Exponent II had some great writers and good topics, but the audience of commenters was too small to get engaging back then. Since then, I joined the FMH FB group, and I love it because the discussions are great, the atmosphere welcoming, and the participants are diverse; plus I don’t have to read a bunch of long OPs – the conversation starters there are usually just a quick note. There are non-housewives and non-Mormons there too, so I no longer feel like an outsider.

    If women are intimidated by the argumentative nature of the discussions, I don’t know that I’ve seen that at W&T, but we only have one lawyer on staff and our blog is more generalist.

  158. I lurk around this blog every once in a while and enjoy some of the posts, although I find the tone fairly cold and clinical (except Police Beat Roundup, of course). I enjoy fMh because it tends to discuss issues with more personality, and isn’t afraid to speculate about what the church could be. BTW, they have fairly consistent male contributors to the site as well. Overall, BCC may be more pragmatic about changing church culture, but it’s too full of defensive intellectuals for my taste.

  159. I should have added about FMH that the fact that there are also men participating there is something that persuaded me to rejoin the discussion – because it was further evidence that these were issues people of all kinds should and do care about. Many of the male ‘nacle bloggers are also feminist, although I would personally like to see even more of this. I really haven’t encountered many men in the ‘nacle that are sexist or dismissive of women (fewer than in the church at large where they are also not that common in wards I’ve been in), although I only just discovered there is a manosphere which was quite shocking!

  160. One of the somewhat disturbing aspects of blogging is the hunger for interactivity. Too often it calls to mind the part in Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 movie where Linda Montag has a part in the television program she’s watching at home. “What do you think, Linda?” “Why, Linda, you’re absolutely right!”

  161. >119.

    “. . . the original comment had no hint whatsoever that you do know about him.”

    Aside from referencing the “gender non-essentialist culture [of same-sex relationships],” you mean?

    Seriously, Ray, you made an assumption about me, you were wrong about that assumption, and now you can’t admit that any part of that could have been your own fault or due to your own biases.

    I make a comment here for the first time in months (about female perception and experience, no less) and get jumped on by someone who assumes I have no idea what I’m talking about. Can you see why some women might be reluctant to jump into the fray? (Even more to the point, do you think I’ll be commenting again any time soon?)

  162. Christine H. says:

    Are the BCC posts by woman…also by, for, and about men?

    Anyways. Both BCC and fMh have in-groups. I think that the difference between the two is more style.

    No wonder I keep coming back to BCC: I love defensive intellectuals!

    Chris H.

  163. I tend to think that some of the experiences being described on BCC are evident at FMH and other realatively cohesive social media outlets. I also tend to think it is easy to label things outside one’s favored community. I also think that niche is a term that is fairly descriptive of most blogs.

  164. Katya, I read your comment wrong – and I implied I had done so. I didn’t know you, so all I had to use were the words you wrote – which gave no indication whatsoever that you knew Mike in any way. The best example of that is that you had to add the “[of same sex relationships]” in your last comment, because it wasn’t there in your first one. Iow, I didn’t see any indication you knew Mike is homosexual – that you interpreted “gender non-essenitalist culture” to mean “gay community” (which might seem obvious to you and me, but there was no way to know that); I haven’t seen your name in lots of comments over the years here; I made an incorrect assumption that you didn’t know that about him. I have no problem admitting that – but . . .

    I really do think this exchange illustrates what is being discussed on both sides, since you got defensive and aren’t going to comment any more simply because I read your comment and made an incorrect assumption. I thanked you explicitly for clarifying; I said “words on a screen are easy to misunderstand”. That wasn’t an explicit apology, but I sincerely meant, “I’m sorry. I misunderstood your words.” Then I read your next comment that says, “now you can’t admit that any part of that could have been your own fault or due to your own biases.”

    Like I said, words on a screen are easy to misunderstand, and sometimes a particular man doesn’t say things the way a particular woman would say them. Soemtimes men and women say things that women and men misunderstand. Sometimes men and women assume motive, intent, bias, etc. about women and men that just isn’t there. I made that mistake about you – and I thought I said so clearly. Obviously, I didn’t say it clearly enough, but I really did think I had thanked you for your follow-up comment and expresed regret over the miscommunication.

    I think that is relevant to this duscussion, since now I’m being accused of being arrogant for not admitting I was wrong (when I thought I had done so) and for having a bias I actually don’t have.

    I’m totally willing to put down the hatchet you think I’m carrying. I’m totally willing to admit, again, that I read your comment incorrectly. I’m totally willing to state that I made a mistake in the way I interpreted it. I am not wiling, however, to admit a bias I don’t have – and I think that the way this conversation has played out is a really good example of the point of the OP.

    I’m a man; you’re a woman. I made a omment that had NOTHING to do with you being a woman. I would have said it if the name on the comment was John or Bruce or Daivd. It wasn’t a result of bias of any kind – but that’s where we are now: a man defending a comment to a woman who is angry at him for saying something he didn’t mean to say. (Yeah, that’s stereotypical, but NO, I’m not trying to shift blame and duck responsibilty.) I’m being coldly analytical – and that also is relevant to this post and discussion, I think.

  165. Due to time issues, I tend to read and respond to comments without paying any attention to someone’s handle, which may or may not correspond to their IRL gender anyway.

  166. Sister Markus von Braun says:

    “defensive intellectuals”

    That is probably the nicest compliment I have ever received in my life. It is so much better than being an offensive intellectual, like at some of those other niche blogs.

    (p.s., If anybody is unclear about the difference between offense and defense, there’s this thing called the Super Bowl on TV this weekend, and I’m planning a Relief Society watch party.)

  167. Steve Evans says:

    Lisa, the niche thing isn’t an insult. It’s a descriptor. All blogs represent niches in one form or another, they all have a fairly specific focus. That doesn’t demean the importance of what gets discussed at FMH, BCC, Gizmodo, Mashable or anywhere. BCC tries to talk about Mormon themes in a generalized way, but as you’ve pointed out that often defaults to the male voice and the readership is probably male in the majority. FMH doesn’t pretend to take a generalized approach, and the readership is probably female in the majority. Those are obvious differences, and pointing them out doesn’t place one blog as superior to the other in the least.

    That said, BCC is superior to every other blog in the entire world, so there’s that.

  168. Ray, I really do love you and admire your sincerity and generous heart but…that last comment made me barf a little. I am predisposed to extend the benefit of the doubt to you knowing your good intentions but in this case I just can’t. You didn’t so much apologize for misreading Katya as much as you apologized on her behalf. That seems…different. Your further reducing this to just being an “angry” female incapable of grappling with your cool-headed analysis is…it’s bad, Ray. And I am still left not understanding what your original point was if not “a gay man can’t be accused of patriarchal behavior because he’s all up in teh gay.” That’s a paraphrase.

  169. Steve Evans says:

    “I’m a man; you’re a woman.”

    Thus begins an epic tale of 70s pickup lines.

  170. I just checked Keepa’s Facebook Insights page. If FB users who “like” Keepa are representative of Keepa’s readers in general, then the gender breakdown is 52%-48% (doesn’t matter which is which, does it?). That makes me happy. We’re a niche blog in most ways, but not in gender!

  171. I thought the irony was that in a discussion about dismissing perspectives based on gender, Mike was told his perspective wasn’t valuable because he is not female. Maybe his outsider perspective isn’t as outside as a he thought and maybe only women can gauge how often they’re dismissed, but accuracy doesn’t preclude irony.

  172. Steve, my problem is not at all with fMh being described as a niche, fMh so totally is a niche. My problem is with fMh being described as a “niche” as compared to the BCC (and other man blogs) as being “broad”. BCC is full of great gobs of awesomeness, but there is nothing more inherently broad, central, core, general about what you do here, other than that it’s mostly done by men and therefore not ‘other’ girly and worthy of a sigh and a “not that I pay attention to your narrow female scribblings anyway.”

  173. I thought the irony was that in a discussion about dismissing perspectives based on gender, Mike was told his perspective wasn’t valuable because he is not female

    Well, except for the fact that he kept saying, “I don’t see it, I don’t see it, I don’t see it. What are you talking about? I don’t see it.”

  174. Steve Evans says:

    “nothing more inherently broad, central, core, general”

    I dunno about that. I think BCC certainly tries to appeal to lots of different audiences and tries to hit lots of different topics, and while you can (probably rightly) dispute how actually generalized BCC really is, FMH by its own definitions is not generalized. Now that doesn’t make it any less central or core, absolutely not, but in terms of general? Broad? Hrm, dunno about that. But I completely agree with you that FMH’s particular focus doesn’t make it a site that should be dismissed or ignored.

  175. There are 165 comments here. Really, who’s got the time. Female here. I barely have time to browse some, but 165, no way! I’ve got things to do. Lucky guys who’s got time to spare to write here, and I don’t mind wrestling with the guys, if and when I have the time! I love men, they are a lot easier to talk to, simple, straight thinking. LOL.

  176. actually I just realized it was more like 174 when I wrote the above.

  177. From 2005, “Why don’t women write many good op-eds?”:

    “Paul Newman put his finger on it when he said: In our family I make all the big decisions like what the official Newman Family stance is on nuclear disarmament, while my wife makes all the little decisions, like where we’ll live and where’ll we send our kids to school.”

    “The median woman’s life is simply more important from a Darwinian perspective than the median man’s life because women are the limiting resource in reproduction, so they can’t afford to waste their lives on disinterested interests, like all those guys who submit op-eds to Dahlia Lithwick about, say, the Lebanese situation even though, in practical sense, Lebanon is irrelevant to their lives.

    “Now, back to round-the-clock Lebablogging!”

    The ephemeralness of that last line was a nice touch.

  178. You didn’t so much apologize for misreading Katya as much as you apologized on her behalf. That seems…different. Your further reducing this to just being an “angry” female incapable of grappling with your cool-headed analysis is…it’s bad, Ray. And I am still left not understanding what your original point was if not “a gay man can’t be accused of patriarchal behavior because he’s all up in teh gay.” That’s a paraphrase.

    Exactly. Thank you for nailing it, CrazyPersonCreek.

  179. CWC, I’m perplexed over your reaction to Ray. I thought he was generous, thoughtful and fully willing to admit both his culpability and his error. I don’t see how he could have said it better or any clearer.

  180. I hit the post comment too soon…

    I don’t see how he could have said it better or any clearer unless you want him to prostrate himself, capitulate and admit that his thoughts have no value. Just like Mike is supposed to merely roll over and give up instead of asking for something more than vague impressions, impressions which may well be true but which, after almost 200 comments, have still not been supported. A lot has been said about men’s approach to discourse as a blood sport demanding total submission, but in this thread the demand for total submission seems to be coming more from women than from men.

  181. “You didn’t so much apologize for misreading Katya as much as you apologized on her behalf.”

    I’m sorry, but I can’t see that. Please help me understand what you meant.

    “Your further reducing this to just being an “angry” female incapable of grappling with your cool-headed analysis”

    I tried to say explicitly that I was stereotyping to try to make a point that was relevant to this post and the discussion. I didn’t say “incapable” – not once – and I didn’t mean to imply it. I didn’t say “just being an angry female” – not once (meaning I didn’t say the difficulty in communicating was only (or even fundamentally) about anger or Katya being female.) – and I didn’t mean to imply it I didn’t say “cool-headed” – not once – and I didn’t mean to imply it. (I said “cold” – meaning “devoid of warmth and feeling” – and that’s very different than “cool-headed”.) I’m a hardcore parser, so I choose my words very carefully.

    I said, in this case, I misread Katya – and I tried to say it was my fault for doing so initially – that it was MY misreading that caused the initial misunderstanding. She said I am unwilling to take any responsbility for any of this – and I said that simply isn’t accurate. However, once the misunderstanding occurred, I said I wasn’t the only one who was misunderstanding someone else. I then said she appears to have interpreted my misunderstanding as a male bias toward a female commenter – and I said it was nothing of the kind. Therefore, I tried to say that both of us have been “to blame” for the way our conversation developed – and, ironically, it could be casued by some stereotypical male/female conversation issues that are relevant to this post.

    Maybe I’m misreading again (and I mean that, since I really do believe one of the core issues is that words on a screen are easy to misunderstand), but I think Katya is angry at me – and I think part of that is because she sees me as a man who is attacking her (a woman) verbally. I don’t see it that way, but it’s how I read her words – and maybe part of the issue is related to this post and the rest of the discussion.

  182. jks @ 152 laments that more men don’t see fit to participate at fmh’s in its discussions of feminist issues. laurad @ 153 wishes that men who don’t always agree with her/women on feminist issues would just stay out of feminist discussions in the bloggernacle.

    I’ll admit to being confused as to what I’m supposed to do to make the Mormon feminist community happy, in spite of my gender-neutral moniker.

  183. “I don’t see how he could have said it better or any clearer.”

    Let me take a run at it.
    Ray: When I said, “Katya, thanks for the clarification. That makes a lot more sense, frankly. It makes it cleat what you know about Mike, while the original comment had no hint whatsoever that you do know about him,” what I was doing was absolving myself for failing to get the point you were making about privilege and implying that the mistake was yours for not making explicit that you were aware that as a gay man, MikeInWeHo can NEVER enjoy privilege; for Heaven’s sake, the man is a known homosexual. I see now that was incorrect. Hugs? Maybe a backrub?
    Katya: Thanks so much, Ray. And no, that’s creepy.
    Ray: Oh, are you mad again?
    Katya: I was never mad, Ray. Just tired. Very, very tired.
    Ray: Is it because you live in a patriarchal society that expresses hostility to women culturally, politically, spiritually and physically? Or is it because it’s your “women times?” I’m trying to be sensitive here.
    Katya:You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.
    Ray: As a bald man, I take offense at your characterization. Friends off.

    *sigh* even in my imagination I can’t seem to make a happy ending.

  184. #183 – I’m sorry. I can’t see it. I want to see it, but I can’t.

    Maybe I’m being too literalistic, but I can’t get from there to here. I’ve tried; you’ve tried; Katya has tried. I still think the difficulty in my not being able to see it is relevant to this post – but maybe that’s just me shirking responsibility for my blindness and has nothing to do with sex differences. (My own emotional reaction, not your words, I know.)

  185. 182: Here’s a starting place. Don’t assume that the Mormon Feminist community is a monolithic entity with one point of view. Approach each person you encounter as an individual, regardless of what is in their pants.

    Would you say there’s any kind of behavior you could engage in that would make the entire BCC community happy? They can’t even agree on the proper use of emoticons.

    d;) That’s a smiley with a jaunty sideways baseball cap on.

  186. Oh, and I should say explicitly (just to make sure it really is clear) that if I had realized Katya knew Mike is gay, it would have changed my initial comment dramatically – and this whole conversation wouldn’t have happened as it has happened. Thus, the blame for the course of the actual conversation as it has developed rests with me and my mistake. I understand that.

  187. OK, Let me try.

    There are two problems here Ray. One is your communication with Katya, another is your approach to privilege and gay men, which you have not addressed at all.

    1. Your apology has been made clear now, but let’s go back to what set off this problem with Katya. Instead of saying, “Sorry, I was wrong.” In analyzing the misunderstanding you put the initial blame on Katya. “Oh, I didn’t understand because you didn’t do X enough.” That doesn’t count as an apology, even when you’re owning up to being the one who didn’t understand because you’re blaming Katya for causing the problem. Nobody wants sackcloth and ashes, we want understanding so this problem goes away.

    2. As was said upthread and you don’t seem to acknowledge, being a member of one minority group does not give you park-hopper access to understanding all minority groups. As a straight person, I have privilege in interactions with gay people, even though I’m a woman. As a man, Mike has privilege in interactions with women, even though he is gay. Privilege is not a strict hierarchy, but a complex system of motivations that it is always useful to examine from every angle.

  188. @ Comment #26

    I think we could all stand to be a little more friendly to morons, male and female, on the web.

  189. Bornholm Islander says:

    I’m a slightly left of center moderate, politically. I play guitar. I eat lots of vegetables. I have a gender neutral handle. And I’m a Moron.

    See more at

  190. “Would you say there’s any kind of behavior you could engage in that would make the entire BCC community happy?”

    I would advise them to look at this ( If that doesn’t make you happy, it may be time to see a professional.

  191. Without offering any reflection whatsoever on the merits of the exchange between Ray and Katya and other participants to that discussion, I note that in my experience it is unusual to see such exchanges conducted chiefly by women (I don’t often read the feminist blogs, though, so maybe my experience is skewed). Such exchanges are common among men at T&S and BCC and elsewhere: A disagreement or misunderstanding occurs and there follows a usually heated round of commenters talking past each other, challenging others’ views and defending their own positions, demanding explanations for word choice, and usually degenerating into a “you said X” “where did I say X” “right after Y” “I didn’t say that; so-and-so did” — and in general there’s a lot of chest butting and ego defense and far more interest in winning than in understanding. (I’m not saying that’s where the Ray-and-Katya exchange is, or is going, only that I see familiar elements).

    It’s *that* kind of arguing that purports to be about ideas but is only about ego that I hate about comment threads, and which cause me to bow out early or not participate at all. It’s *that* kind of arguing that I consider a manifestation of the good ole boys’ club, far more than the fact that there may be more male bloggers in the ‘nacle.

  192. No, thank you sir. I do not sully my braintemple with secular blogs. I do however meditate on this image every morning for 30 minutes and I suggest you do the same. There are so many “shelf” items that make so much sense to me now. I know it will work for you too. (You can tell that your heart has been converted when you went to blog about wacky fecal accidents-like there’s any other kind!- explore all topics through the lens of deeply narcissistic anecdotes -ibid!- and use the time you would have deconstructed patriarchy by re-structuring your food storage. AMIRITELADIES?!

  193. I think that kind of exchange is nongenderational. it’s extra fun on a multiples pregnancy sites when you add extra hormones in the mix, but it’s equally as common, but slightly differently manifest, among all men.

  194. Lamplighter says:

    Thank you Ardis. I just wanted to send them all to their rooms. You did a much better job of it.

  195. 1) So, am I correct in saying, cwc and Reese, that you see this whole thing (the entire conversation, not the initial misunderstanding) as my fault? I’ve agreed that the initial problem was my fault and offered an apology – but I’m reading that there was no “blame” whatsoever anywhere else for the flow of conversation after that initial mistake on my part.

    All I’m trying to say is that this has been a mutual misunderstanding with suggested issues that are sex-related (including the way my “apology” was worded and understood differently by different people) – and, as such, I believe it has been relevant to this post. At least, that’s my perspective. I’ll drop that now; I’m probably beating a dead horse.

    2) ” As was said upthread and you don’t seem to acknowledge, being a member of one minority group does not give you park-hopper access to understanding all minority groups.”

    I agree; I’ve never disagreed; I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. Sorry I didn’t make that crystal clear, also. **I didn’t know that Katya knew Mike is gay.** Therefore, my comment was caused by that misunderstanding and focused on that misunderstanding. As I said, that comment would have been very different if I’d known that. In the rest of my comments, I was trying to focus on the discussion about conversations, and I didn’t address the one about minority status. I’m doing so now. I don’t believe that and didn’t intend to convey that idea. I apologize.

  196. Ardis, fwiw, I’ve tried very hard in my comments not to “chest bump” and turn it into a fight or contest of any kind. I don’t think it’s been a contest or fight of any kind. I think it’s been a sincere effort to explain and understand. I know that’s been my attempt. I’ve tried very hard to try to understand why my comment sparked what it sparked – and I think I understand now better than I did up to this point – even though, in all honesty, I still don’t understand #183 at all.

  197. Jimbob,
    I have never joined the ranks of the Mormon feminists or self identified as such though I understand and appreciate why many do and I enjoy reading their contributions from time to time. If I thought these groups increased my personal power to improve things in the church then I would probably be a part of them but that’s not my perception and getting involved in these conversations tends to make my blood boil.

    I spent an hour and a half last night trying to temper my emotions to offer a post that begins to reflect my frustrations around these issues and how they are inevitably responded to by some male participants — voices that stir me up because they reflect extremely dominant discourses held in the church that I feel I currently have so little power to alter.

    I can’t help but wonder about what if the naccle existed prior to 1978, would white bloggers continually have dismissed black frustrations and faithful bewilderments with the kinds of disgusting preaching that sometimes goes on or snarky comments? Would we condone it now? Of course not.

    Much of the time, my sense is that commenters have forgotten the context in which MOrmon women operate in as faithful members of this Church so I will again state the obvious: there is currently a ban on females holding the priesthood — the power dynamics around gender are largely male dominated. I am appalled often at the lack of sensitivity to this dynamic and to the women who are grappling with it (This is where you might start JImBob).

    I don’t pretend to have the wisdom or authority to know what course to take to mitigate all of the problems – real and symbolic –that have arisen from that reality which is another reason I’m not as bold as or see myself as belonging to many of the Mormon feminists but I am all too aware that it effects me. I do value an intellectual conversation and furthering understanding of Mormon issues so I still lurk in the bloggernaccle but the raw emotion related to gender topics is something I can’t seem to separate terribly well from my opinions. It is how it personally hits me. Most people don’t want to hear it so as I said I tend to keep it to myself.

  198. OK, last try, I promise, poor tired fellow commenters. After this the Ray/Katya issue is abandoned as far as I’m concerned. I really am trying to aim at understanding.

    1. Yep. You made the assumption you found relevant. You faulted Katya for not emphasizing she knew Mike was gay to make a point she wasn’t trying to make. You gave a non-apology apology by blaming her for not emphasizing something she was not trying to say. You blamed it on being “cold” (argue the difference between cool-headed and cold all you want, but if the problem is you were too cold, what would that make us women folk?) You magnanimously “forgave” Katya for a mistake she didn’t make and with forgiveness she didn’t ask for. There’s gender dynamics all over here, but more tellingly, it’s all reeking of privilege. You felt the authority to tell her why she was wrong for confusing you. You felt the authority to make an assumption both about what she was saying and what she knew. You felt the authority to pass out blame that she didn’t earn.

    I hope I don’t sound mad about any of this. I’m not trying to go for your jugular here, I’m trying to be as specific as possible to really dissect this conversation as a case study. Again, nobody needs to beg forgiveness or anything, you just need to recognize the behavior and knock it off.

    2. If you didn’t mean to imply that a gay man can’t be patriarchal, then what exactly was the point of your comment in the first place? You swore you didn’t mean it to CWC, she asked what else it could possibly mean, you ignored her. You tell me you didn’t mean to imply that, but we honestly cannot come up with what else your initial comment could possibly mean if not, “This is funny because Katya doesn’t realize that Mike is gay and thus by definition cannot be patriarchal.”

    You keep emphasizing that the comment and following discussion would be different if you realized Katya knew Mike was gay, and we keep asking, How, exactly? The only answer I can come up with is that you wouldn’t have felt the need to say it in the first place.

  199. The part I’m not clear on, Ray, is who made you Mike’s PR guy? Are you going to go around telling people whether I’m gay or straight, and what implications that might have in how my comments should be read?

  200. thebookofarmaments says:

    I just want to say “amen” to what Reese, kim (#24), Ardis, Melissa DM, and others have said. And as a stay-at-home mom of 3 small kids, I often don’t comment because I have to turn my brain to a completely different level to engage in some of the discussion on here (and other blogs), and frankly, I don’t have the time or energy to switch levels between “MOOOOOMMMMMM I WANT MORE GOLDFISH AND ALSO I PEED ON THE WALL” to “the cultural underpinnings of patriarchy as framed by Paul” more than once or twice per day. And like the others have said, I feel like if I’m going to jump into the fray, I’d need to be checking back in and engaging in the dialogue (which is a wonderful piece of commenting on sites like BCC), but unless somebody is going to come manage my three terrorists for me (applications welcome, the pay sucks but I make great cookies), the mental gymnastics just sound too exhausting. So it’s easier to just read, chew on it, maybe discuss it with a friend, and go about my day.

  201. 1) I can’t honestly and openly admit my mistake in mischaracterizing a woman’s comment but also point out the mistake of the woman who mischaracterized me and my comment? My sincere attempt to try to address the entire conversation as honestly as I could is something I need to “knock it off”? The take away is that I am the only one in this who is wrong in any way and that I just need to shut up?

    2) I **thought** Katya was telling Mike he didn’t know what it felt like to be a minority voice, since he was male, even if he did live in a non-gender-essentialist culture, and that he needed to spend some time with those who are a minority voice to begin to understand what minority voices and discrimination are all about; hence, the perceived irony that actually didn’t exist. I obviously was wrong; that has been established and admitted.

    Sorry, everyone. I mean that. I still think this has been relevant to the thread, but I do apologize for it, nonetheless. I, too, will abandon it now.

  202. Pat, Mike’s sexual orientation isn’t a secret here or anywhere else, so I saw no reason to ignore it or not mention it. Again, my mistake.

    Mike, sorry if that was inappropriate.

  203. Holy hell, Why are we still talking about the “Ray/Katya” thing?

    I agree that the Mormon Feminist community is not a monolith. Some of us cannot stand fMh. Too many of the threads devolve into messes like this. fMh is also not very friendly towards academic approaches to feminsim. This may be because many came to feminism after college or went to BYU where there is little real feminism. Does this make me a patriarchal elitist prick. Yep.

    Is BCC an exclusive place? Sure, I have my feelings hurt all the time (meds are helping). However, I come to the bloggernacle to find an outlet that I do not get at my secular institution, in my right-wing state, or within my ward. FPR is my home because it is where my nerdiness is welcome. BCC is one of the few place that interests me when it comes to visiting other blogs. Part of that is because BCC is a very well managed blog. While I am not Steve’s favorite person, I have to give him credit for creating the best blog on the bloggernacle. Hands down.

  204. MikeInWeHo says:

    I’ve been outed!

  205. #204 – BCotW

  206. Um. Regardless of whose side you’re on, comment #183 for BCotW.

    Steve, thank you. :) (That was JUST for you.)

  207. Steve Says: I think BCC certainly tries to appeal to lots of different audiences and tries to hit lots of different topics

    I don’t dispute that, but Steve the deeper problem with that assertion (in this context) is the assumption that continues from there that fMh does NOT try to appeal to lots of different audiences and does NOT try to hit lots of different topics. It just runs so deep for the man world to be the default and the woman to be the other, that you really do not see how that assumption, the assumption that our readers are narrow and our topics are narrow (I assume because they are by for and about women) . . . I don’t know how make it more clear, but it very much is a HUGE part of the problem.

  208. Steve Evans,

    Instead of BCC, a Mormon Blog….how about BCC, a Hub of Patriarchy?

    Sorta has a ring to it.

  209. Steve Evans says:

    Lisa, I guess we don’t understand each other very well. I’m not really disagreeing with your assumption, at least not the way you’re describing it.

  210. Firstly, to be clear, I don’t think having lots of men and fewer women on the big blogs is the problem, it is much more the way we interact in comments that are the problem. I think if more women were bloggers on the big blogs if may help fix the interaction-in-the-comments problem, but I’m not sure. I regret I wasn’t clear about this from the outset.

    Suppose I write about my mission, What It’s Like to Be a Missionary. It is inherently from the perspective of a Mormon woman, as is everything I ever write. However the content of what it’s like to be a missionary is not necessarily female centric, unless my entire piece is What It’s Like to Be a Female Missionary, as opposed to what it’s like to be a missionary generally. I think the latter piece would be an FMH post, either piece would fit BCC.

    “ BCC isn’t gender neutral utopia, it’s a blog primarily by, for, and about men”
    I could not disagree more. Yes, it is not a gender neutral utopia. But the second part? BCC is not a “man-blog”, really, it just isn’t. Also, what Steve said.
    (I also would not call FMH a woman-blog, but a feminist one.)

    “In a perfect world since I am very typical LDS stereotypical woman (40 year old temple married SAHM with four kids) that what interests me in discussing Mormonism online should somewhat interest the community as a whole.”

    Why? I’m 38 SAHM with 4 kids and I’m not interested in discussing things lots of women online (or face to face) would be. It isn’t that I see women as the other, or that my life experience as a Mormon woman is atypical. It is very, very typical. Because I’m interested in certain aspects of Mormon history should everyone be? Of course the experience of a typical LDS woman should interest us on some level, but for some it will be anthropological, or sociological, or psychological. But it doesn’t have to be all of the above (or any of those particular reasons).

    Hooray for Keepa’s egalitarian blog!

    John Mansfield #177,
    I hope you’re joking. I’m gonna go with it’s a joke.
    Sorry to hear both books were gender-labeled.

    “I’ll admit to being confused as to what I’m supposed to do to make the Mormon feminist community happy, in spite of my gender-neutral moniker.”
    Oh, Jimbob.

    As far as the Ray and Katya thing is concerned, as much as I like comments, please—for the love—move on.

  211. Lisa, it seems to me that just by the way you named your blog, you are limiting its focus somewhat. That’s not a bad thing at all, of course, but you can’t say that you’re a general interest Mormon blog when the name of your blog is Feminist Mormon Housewives. By naming your blog that, you are claiming a more narrow focus than general interest Mormon blogs do. There’s good that comes from that, because it drives traffic and publicity your way that would not come to you if you were a general interest Mormon blog. You can reap that benefit, but you can’t reap that benefit and simultaneously claim that your focus is not on those subjects and readers that supply that benefit.

  212. +1 MCQ

  213. #210: Sure, but for 12-year-old kids in suburban Utah 1988, the exercise was downright radical. And I don’t remember him labeling the books as belonging to or being written for a certain gender (those were scare quotes). He did present them as books that were read much more by one sex than by the other.

  214. Capozaino says:

    A protestant minister asked the late church leader, Gordo B. Hinks, “If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?”

    He replied that the manner in which we make our blog comments must become the most meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship.

    When commenters take themselves too seriously, it’s bad both for the person making the original comment and those who reply. When the original commenter takes himself or herself too seriously, he or she takes a defensive and uncharitable stance to double down on the original assertions and shouts down repliers. When the repliers take themselves too seriously, someone who was probably just making a casual remark in an original comment gets shouted down. I think part of the problem may be that there are a lot of men (not all) in the ‘nacle who take themselves too seriously, and are defensive and shout down other voices, while many (not all) women take themselves just seriously enough not to bother with such antics (see Ardis’ #191).

  215. Look, in all of this talk about gender, sexuality and intellect I think we’re losing sight of one essential truth: we’re ALL Mormon.

    dp: /
    (that’s a double decker offset cap over wry/wacky smile)

  216. Steve Evans says:


  217. Rechabite says:

    Based on the current FMH situation–You might get more female respondents by inviting them (us) to converse on the BCC facebook wall.

  218. There isn’t much conversation at all on the BCC Facebook wall. FMH is where the party is.

  219. I think Lisa’s concern about that is well founded. If everyone’s partying on the facebook wall and not posting/commenting on the blog, it’s not a good thing.

  220. Hence Lisa’s recent FMH post.

  221. “BCC, a Hub of Patriarchy?”

    How about BCC: Smell the Glove.

  222. fmh specifically does not try to appeal to different audiences. they don’t. they are liberal…and want you to play by that. That is fine..I can understand that. It’s not like you get a highfive at church for being a feminist-or being liberal for that matter. But please accept that. The liberal is more important than any other aspect of the blog…fmh. It’s not a matter of you having to be mormon, or having to be a housewife…but you must be liberal.

    many of the blogs in the bloggernacle are more liberal leaning than would randomly occur in the church. I think many of the blogs are there to develop a sense of community they feel lacking at church. BCC is fairly liberal leaning. The thing is BCC has some conservative permas…and a conservative can comment freely.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with gender at all.

  223. WHEW! I feel like I’ve been watching a championship double-dutch match! “Just jump in!” they say. Umm-hum. I have notes here scribbed down as I read, and at this point, I don’t remember what I intended to say about which.

    Well, a little, maybe. #143, Rosalynde–spot on. I am deeply intrigued by certain theoretical concepts, but if the ratio of the discussion isn’t something like 4-1 in favor of personal experience, the eyes glaze over.
    By the way, Rosalynde, LOVED your “Live from the Met in HD” opera earlier this past year!

    And Lisa, #156–Hear ! Hear! Exactly.
    I love BCC, and enjoy watching the (mostly male) sports playing Competitive Comments;
    but I NEED to listen to the (mostly female)
    women of fMh courageously baring their very souls to each other. I would sorely miss and be ‘way lonesome for either blog, were it gone. A blessing on both your houses.

  224. “The thing is BCC has some conservative permas…and a conservative can comment freely.”

    Really??? Then something has gone completely haywire and Evans is really slipping.

  225. So if it’s sexist to misunderstand a comment that happened to be written by a woman, why is it not also sexist to crucify the poor fellow who made the (completely understandable, reasonable) mistake?
    Someone (in the Pew post) mentioned that Mormons feel very marginalized as a people, and I used to, as well, until I realized that very few people even care. I’m not actually treated differently because I’m LDS. I’m just treated like a regular person who is sometimes a bit shy. I think there is a similar trend in feminists. You see it if you’re looking for it.

    Ray could very well be in management at his job and be used to having “privilege” over everyone, male or female.

    Sure, there’s injustice, but you don’t have to go looking for it.
    I am so glad I don’t see attacks on my gender or choices everywhere I go. It looks like a very tiring way to live.

    This isn’t proof that I don’t understand the issues facing women, or that I think sexism doesn’t happen. I just think that was a misunderstanding that a feminist got WAY too upset about because she was looking to find offense.

    Chill out. The world is a much friendlier place when you expect it to be.

  226. You have us mistaken with the coven down the road, Bethany. Sure, those ladies hound righteous men into the ground like their foremothers, the maenads, tearing them limb from limb in their hysterical madness. Us? We don’t even indulge in light crucifixions, although I admit it was an apt metaphor for what we were doing: responding to our friend, Ray and clarifying as he asked us to do, what we we found objectionable about his premise. It’s kind of like crucifying…but different.
    Chill out, Bethany. Feminists are much friendlier people when you expect us to be.

    Pd >;- \ > (double offset ballcap, furrowed brow, wink, wry smile, goatee FTW!)

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