Eve Garrard points out that Catherine Bennett is rather more sexist than the “blogger blokes” she criticises.
In her piece on bloggers in the Guardian yesterday, Catherine Bennett is struck all of a heap by the fact that men will be boys, in the blogosphere as elsewhere. She finds them coarse, even gross, and trivial and lumpen, especially in their attitudes to women, which are sexist and patronizing and dismissive and leering. We all have to admit that there’s some truth in what she says, though it applies less to the political bloggers in whom she’s interested than to some of the commenters who infest their comments boxes (and also, incidentally, the comments boxes, immoderate and unmoderated, of her own employer’s blog). But as many many people have already pointed out, a propensity to draw on crude and dismissive stereotypes is not a peculiarly male characteristic, it’s a peculiarly human one — women do it too, and Ms Bennett’s own piece includes some fine examples of this unlovely trait.
She also claims to find support for her view of bloggers in the proceedings of the Euston Manifesto launch, where, she complains, women were very little in evidence, and such women as were involved were present because the men allowed them to be. That is, having failed to find anything dismissive or neglectful of women in the manifesto itself (because it isn’t there to be found), she decides that the women involved in the launch don’t actually count, they’re not genuine political participants. This view of the formidable women who, for example, chair the Euston Manifesto Group, design its material and jointly manage its website can be attributed in part, perhaps, to Ms Bennett’s ignorance; but she does seem to assume that women are either targets or tokens, either the victims of coarse masculine stereotyping or allowed to take part in important activities because the big boys sometimes give them permission to do so. If this picture of women in politics as passive little girls had been presented by someone other than Ms Bennett — had it been voiced, for example, by a MAN — it might very well have produced some exceptionally coarse and dismissive and deeply stereotyping responses from the women in question.
Eve Garrard is a moral philosopher with a visiting position at the University of Manchester