What I ... failed to understand was how much McEwan and I would stick out. I was aware that I didn't exactly fit the image people have of bloggers who join campaigns -- the stereotype being 30-something nerdy young white men who wear khakis and obsess over crafting their Act Blue lists. I wasn't aware that not fitting the image would attract so much negative attention. In fact, I mostly saw this all as a baby step in the direction of diversity, since McEwan and I differed from the stereotype mostly by being female and by being outspoken feminists....I think Marcotte goes way too far blaming sexism for her troubles, but there is still some truth to it. I've seen plenty of attacks on me that have the odor of sexism. I think there is a sense out there that the blogosphere belongs to the guys and the women are interlopers. Rationally, most guys will say that's not true, but I think they still have that prejudice, that instinctive reaction: Who does she think she is? Who let her in here? And I readily admit that some of what I think is my own imagination, but I've read enough things about me to believe it.
When you've got a mark that you're aiming to humiliate publicly, it helps if she's young and female and doesn't know her place....
One question that's hard to avoid is how much of the venom had to do with the fact that McEwan and I were young women entering into a field (Internet communications) that's viewed as almost monolithically masculine. From my vantage point, it appeared that sexism was one of the primary motivating energies behind the campaign....
Regardless of its motive, the result of the smear campaign was to send a loud, clear signal to young feminist women. It tells them that campaigning for Democratic candidates, and particularly doing so in positions that would help the candidate connect with young feminist communities like the one that thrives in the blogosphere, is a scary, risky prospect.
But the blogosphere is a rough place, and people use whatever tools they can grab to make their arguments and sex is a particularly useful rhetorical device. Marcotte uses it, I use it, and so do a lot of guys. It's one way to write in the blogosphere, and it's often overdone. Sometimes there really is sexism, and when you see it, it's one more thing you can write about. But if you don't write about it well -- if you overdo it, as Marcotte does here -- you're just setting up another wave of attacks.
ADDED: Dr. Helen doesn't really agree with me, but she makes points that I concede are excellent:
Sexism is what got Marcotte hired in the first place -- she and her co-blogger were hired because they were women, and Edwards as well as the bloggers mistakenly believed that because they were women, they could get away with anything. No self-respecting politician would have hired a man who talked and acted like a deranged teen who spouted off at the mouth as if he were a sexually abused borderline using the internet as a weapon against all that angered him....My experience is of blogs written by men who seem to have a regular practice of selecting posts of mine to react to -- usually with almost no substance, but just rank name calling, as if they thought they could chase me out of the blogosphere by making it an intolerably rough place. I do get negative things from women, but much of this is sexist too -- in that special sexist way where women who like to call themselves feminist feel complete outrage toward women who don't tow the line and support the Democratic Party across the board. These women become most vicious when you point out feminist values that run counter to Democratic Party interests.
As for the notion that the blogosphere is full of sexism and men just don't realize it, I think the Professor should take a real look at who some of these sexist comments are made by. I, for one, have noticed that as many sexist and nasty comments on my blog are written by females as by males....
Anyway, Dr. Helen seems to think I'm condemning a lot more people than I am. I'm not saying everyone is sexist or all men are sexist, just that I think there's a lot of sexism on the web and I've experienced a lot of it personally. I guess, once again, I'm taking the middle position on this. Marcotte sees too much sexism, Dr. Helen too little, and I'm seeing the right amount.
CORRECTION: That's toe the line, not tow the line. It's about standing in the right spot, not pulling anything.