from Dale Spender’s Nattering on the Net  — quotes and notes

According to 19th C feminist scholar Matilda Joslyn Gage, 9 million women were executed or burned for having knowledge—i.e., for being witches (p163)

Wow.  Did not know it was that many.

“Had women ever  contributed to the design of roads and vehicles, there is no doubt that the entire system would look very different.  The priority would not necessarily have been to transport one man from the suburbs to the central business district; equal consideration might have been given to picking up the shopping and delivering children within the local community. … And think about the buses.  No woman would have come up with a bus design that makes it virtually impossible for a person with child, plus shopping, to get on or off.” (p169)

Right.  So.  ‘Which one did you want me to leave behind,’ she asks her husband, ‘the groceries or the kid?’

Re women’s reluctance to play with computers—”women fear that they might break something crucial … many men … have little or no regard for the mess they may leave behind …” (p174)

Yes. Yes! 

“Had I anything to do with the design, the hardware would come in a range of … colours …” (p176)

Yes!  And it’s so obvious!  (And it goes well beyond the limited palette for computers—consider … everything!)  What is it with men and colours?  Are they afraid that enjoyment of colour makes them feminine?  Do they truly have relatively poor color vision compared to women?

“So widespread has this male habit of taking over become, that I know of no co-ed high school … that has not had to come up with a policy which aims at ensuring some access [to computers] for girls.”  (p177)

“In more than one school that I have visited, there were sufficient computers in the room for everyone to be working at their own terminal.  But the girls could be found huddled ina group away from the computers, while the boys sometimes kept two terminals going!” (p178)

“Some boys physically pushed them away from the computers and insisted that they needed two terminals for the purposes of their project.  They verbally abused the girls (“slut” and “slag” being among the most printable) and generally engaged in loud and bullying behavior.  Far from being embarrassed by this appalling display, the teacher felt vindicated.  ‘I told you girls were trouble,’ he said.  ‘They stop everyone from working.'” (p178-9)

Unfuckingbelieveable.  The book was published in 1995.  Have things changed?

Because they weren’t always this way: back in the early-mid 70s, when my girlfriend and I entered the new weight room in our high school, which was clearly intended for boys only, there was only silence.  No one insulted us.  No one pushed us out of the way.  And no one said we couldn’t be there. 

And in the mid-late 70s, when I approached the coach of the university’s men’s track team, asking if I could join, because there wasn’t a women’s track team, he did not dismiss me.  He asked me to come out to the team work-out that evening, so he could see me run.  He decided on the basis of merit, not sex.

And it’s not like sexism wasn’t rampant at the time; women weren’t allowed to compete at the longer distances.

Though … come to think of it, when Kathryn Switzer ran in the Boston Marathon in 1967, some angry man did try to shove her off the course. 

Still, other men intervened for her right to run. 

True, they were her partner and her coach, but still.  Why didn’t the teacher intervene for the girls’ right to use the computers?  (And where are the men intervening against the porn, and the rape and the wife beating—and the online threats?)

So the hatred men feel for women has either escalated and/or just surfaced.

“[Boys] have been reared with the notion that boys were better at maths.  Why should they not believe it—and act confidently?  And if they didn’t do well, it was because they were unlucky, that their teacher was no good or because they had been a bit slack during the week—but it certainly wasn’t because the task was beyond them.” (p180)

Yeah.  And that observation is applicable to … everything.

Re video games—”The main aim seems to be to kill as many people as possible, with a preference for volence against women.” (p186)

So succinctly said.

“This goes quite a way towards explaining why women might not be attracted to such leisure pursuits.” 


“… the very little that has been produced for girls has often been a 25-year-old male’s idea of what a little girl would like to play” (p187)

Again, applicable to … everything.  All products, all services, all infrastructure …  

It occurs to me now why widescreens dominate to the exclusion of square screens: they’re better for action movies and sports.  End of story.  Square screens (4:3, so not quite square) are better for focusing on people, their faces, the evidence, often, of thoughts and feelings … so they’re better for so dramas, comedies, pretty much everything other than action movies and sports. 

And in the case of laptops in particular, square screens are better for writing (because there’s way less wasted space on the left and the right). 

I thought, too, widescreens are preferred by capitalists because it gives more room for advertisements, and that might be true, but since ads are not appearing not only on the sides, but often front and center, that argument has less force.)

Re the harassment women are subjected to online … “[women] had difficulty getting their male partners to appreciate the horrific nature of much of the abuse.  At least, that was the case until they persuaded the men to log on as women.  When the men used female pseudonyms, without exception they were appalled.  ‘I genuinely had no idea it was as bad as this,’ said one, who couldn’t believe the number and the nature of the postings that he got.” (p204)

No surprised.  Once again, they don’t believe us, they don’t take what we say seriously, they have to experience it themselves in order to believe it.  (That’s why I love those menstrual pain and childbirth pain simulation things … )

“[I]t is often the same men who insist on their right to free speech, on the principle that anything goes, who are the first to fume, and to flame the women who dare to dispute the male monopoly” (p224)

Right.  As soon as women speak 30% of the time, they are accused by men of taking over the conversation …

“… free speech often amounts to free speech for the white man: women and people of color  have always had to watch what they say” (p225)


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