Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Becoming a Teacher, Abusing 9/11, and the sexist K-blogosphere

Three great links to articles which I think you should read:

1. Stupid Ugly Foreigner has a long but thoughtful, and frankly, beautifully written, post on the character changes, and the new talents and skills developing, that comprise the process of becoming a teacher. A must-read, seriously.

2. The Bobster, who doesn't update all that frequently compared to other blogs, but whose posts are always well worth the wait, has written a thoughtful piece on how America has changed since 9/11, and looks at a 9/11 coloring book as a springboard to ask, what are appropriate and inappropriate ways to remember 9/11, and who gets to make that call?

3. Dating in Korea, congratulations on your two year anniversary. Dating in Korea's two year post reflects on the fact that when she started, there were very few blogs by female writers - a topic I've discussed before, especially at The Hub Of Sparkle before it disappeared. Things have improved: there are a lot of female Kblogs now, if you know where to look for them, but some of the longest-running, most popular or well-known sites or blogs can remain female unfriendly: if not because of the writers, often from the comments that are allowed to stand.


Dating In Korea reflects on a few of the old stereotypes (western women are fat and ugly, western women can't find a boyfriend in Korea, because Korean women are X, Y, Z, and Western women are A, B, and C and so forth...) that have long sent female readers fleeing from K-blogs and K-forums in disgust -- tropes that are asinine, sexist, unfair, and deserve to be called out every. single. time. they appear, until the sexists making those comments, and not expat women, are the ones that feel unwelcome in K-pat forums.

No, the K-blogosphere isn't the only place on the Internet that's littered with latent or open sexism or hostility toward women. But those other places need to work on it, too.

Dating in Korea reflects on the unfairness of lumping all the lady-k-bloggers, or all the dating bloggers, into one group.


Any blogosphere can become more a series of loosely connected confirmation bias-spheres than an entire blogosphere of its own - there are too many blogs around now to characterize them all in a few swoops. There are lots of female voices now, once you start looking. But I also see less cross-pollination between the female voices and the male-dominated circles, than I'd like.

For contrast/context: Yes, the K-blogosphere (or at least some parts of it) sometimes smells a bit like a sausage-fest or an old-boys club; however, this article about the rife, latent or simply unchallenged sexism in the male-dominated Magic: The Gathering world, framed as an open letter to the author's future daughter, calls out the community in the way only an insider could.

Some of the themes in this article - male entitlement, unacknowledged sexism, and men's inflated image of their own worth - remind me of some of the uglier aspects of the interactions between western males and western females in Korea quite a bit. I read the article to the end because of it.


Anyway, I'd like to pass this topic on to my female readers, in the comments, and my female co-bloggers, on their own blogs: why do you think the K-blogosphere sometimes feels like a sausage party? Is there anything to be done about it? Does there need to be? I mean, who cares if Dave's is a sausage party, as long as the tumblrettes have their own circle, right? Or not?


X said...

It's been interesting to track the progression of sexism and misogyny on Dave's. I've been reading that forum since before I came to Korea (1999). When there weren't that many women teaching here, we were labelled fat, ugly, smelly, desperate bitches jealous of Korean women who new how to dress, eat and act. Attractive women were the exceptions that proved the rule and were explained away as using their sexuality to make money from stupid, small-d**ked Korean men. Now, that it's an employer's market, it's unfair that these 22 y.o. dumb-blonde bimbos are taking jobs from experienced teachers. You can get banned from having an avatar that's too big on that site, but misogyny and sexism go unnoticed. Actually, it hasn't been interesting; it's been sad, pathetic and eye-rolling.

JIW said...

I feel things have been more balanced lately with both sausage and non.

However I do feel a strong sense amongst female Kbloggers that we are divided when it comes to certain issues. So much so that I avoid writing about issues that could piss others off.

Yet I think this kind of fire is good and shows that we aren't all the same.

~Anyways good food for thought.

Chris in South Korea said...

I'd hate to see a group of dozens (hundreds?) of people get classified as sexist - not without a lot more evidence. Certainly you have more than a single 2 1/2 year old link?

The simple fact is that people blog for a million different reasons. Updating friends and family, sharing information, making money, and so on. The concept of a K-blog community - a loosely-organized community with many different interests - is there in spirit, though not in fact.

The purpose of blogging determines the path of the blog. If one is simply writing to friends and family back home, there's little reason to register with Korean Blog List, network with fellow bloggers, print up business cards, and the like.

It's with this mindset that I approach the question ("why do you think the K-blogosphere sometimes feels like a sausage party?") with something resembling revulsion. The K-blogosphere is a group of self-identified people with websites covering any number of subjects. It is neither male nor female, and I dare say the readers are equally split between the genders.

The issue comes because many of the bloggers known as the 'K-blogosphere' are actively trying to get more readers. We pass out business cards, we attend networking events, and we try our best to network with excellent people.

I don't see many women proactively trying to be a part of that scene, however. At the last networking event (a KBC event in Suwon), I met a handful of women, whom I networked with and made introductions as appropriate. Dating in Korea, being an anonymous sort, is unlikely to show up and hand out business cards. Foreigner Joy has a wonderful voice I'd like to hear mentioned more often. While I'd be ecstatic to see Simon and Martina at a networking conference, they bring such star power that their genders don't factor into the equation. They are that way because they worked their butts off, creating something that resonated with people. I look up to them, partially because they're hard-working, and partially because they are themselves through and through.

TL;DR: I doubt there is indeed a K-blogosphere 'sausagefest'. Foreign female bloggers in Korea may well be experiencing discrimination, but it ain't coming from the K-blogosphere.

Roboseyo said...

Did you know, Chris, that many of the Tumblr dating bloggers actually do get together and hang out?

They write about it on their blogs. Do you read them?

I've met a handful of them... but I won't say which ones... and to a person, the ones I've met so far have been lovely people.

Chris in South Korea said...

Yes, I've read that Dating in Korea hangs out with Hooking Up in Hanguk - no news there. What's the question here?

Creating a *tiny* narrowly-focused network is a far cry from joining the communities that already exist - which is why I've ALSO been reading some wonderful travel blogs by people traversing the world. That's me, networking with the larger community not because I particularly fit in with them (many of them are nomadic or always traveling), but because there's a mutual benefit in play.

Further, you're lumping yourself in with the so-called 'sausage' fest. Why? You're one of the least likely to use the term in the offline world, and it certainly isn't used often in the online world. Why use it here?

Brian said...

The issue isn't about having too many men bloggers. They have just as much right to blog as anyone, and shouldn't have to apologize for who they are or for having readers. You're very correct that it's an issue of sexism that appears on the forums and on some blogs.

The idea of "K-blog community" is pretty overblown. Put together the page views for, say, the ten biggest blogs you might put in that "community" and you're still going to have less than the K-pop blogs that are far more known, more widely-read, and written by more of a gender balance. Look at the Korean-American blogs, too, and you'll find balance. There are a handful of blogs that get lumped together as "THE K-blog community" . . . and so maybe the issue is the unfair label, not a gender imbalance. Matter of fact, the number of visits and hits for the so-called big bloggers in Korea is comparatively small, and I'd venture that women writers aren't that far behind, if they're behind at all.

If the circle seems small and closed, expand the circle. Doing posts like this and like Chris' from a while back are good to get people talking. Just, as I said in the first paragraph, be aware of the real issue.

The biggest imbalance in the "community", as I see it, has always been a regional one. Too few people dare venture outside of Seoul and it shows.

Dating in Korea said...

It's funny that when Rob opens this up to female readers the men are among the first to post. I think this shows a perfect example of the so-called 'sausage fest' going on.

It's easy to say, Chris, that sexism isn't going on. I'm glad that you, as a man, with no direct experience in this area are able to comment on behalf of the women this was directed at. (Unless, of course, you recently started identifying as a woman. Perhaps you're now transgender? I doubt that, though.)

I think a lot of the established, more 'famous' writers are men. And it has been that way for a long time. Women writers are generally more successful, both with male and female readers, when they stick to more personal or light topics. This is true all across the web, not just the K-blogs. I think this can most easily be seen in blogs where the gender of the writer is not mentioned. Most readers will automatically assume a man is writing. That is the assumption, and that is what is expected.

I will say, however, that as the numbers slowly start to even out as far as who is coming here to work and study, the blogs are changing to reflect that. I certainly see more female writers on blogspot and wordpress than ever before. Not many branch out beyond writing for their friends and families, but they are slowly growing.

Tumblr is a unique situation in that there are a majority of female writers dominating the K-sphere there. It is sad, though, that that is where the females feel the biggest desire to build a community. Because we tend to group together there, we are lumped together as a collection of writers. In passing comments, as well as blog posts, it seems the majority of non-Tumblr writers class us as one and the same. And we are, quite simply, not. I know that Rob may not have felt there was anything wrong with calling us Tumblrettes, but until we are viewed as separate voices, as the male writers often are, the rule of the male-dominated voices in the K-blogsphere will continue.

I guess what I am trying to say is this: I do not think we are there yet, but I would hope one day that female writers feel just as welcome joining a community of mostly male writers, as they do joining Tumblr.

Roboseyo said...

I used the phrase "tumblrettes" only in framing a contrast with the "sausage party" in other places -- neither are fair tags, of course...

I've noticed a number of the women writing on Tumblr seem to develop a love-hate relationship with the community there -- from Dating in Korea's dissociation with certain behaviors that some of the dating bloggers write about, to a few who regularly declare they're quitting their tumblr blogs... I suppose in the same way many frequent commenters at Dave's, and many Marmot's Hole commenters, develop love-hate dynamics with other commenters, or with the idea of commenting...

yet they keep coming back.

I'd be interested to know whether the presence of more long-term male K-bloggers (as compared to long-term female K-bloggers) is a reflection of, or a departure from, the average length of stay of the average male vs. the average female expat in Korea.

chiam said...

The only reason the broadblogs aren't out there more, is because those broads don't go around trolling other blogs with comments.

I'm going to assume that most of you above bloggers have found other blogs because you have read some sort of comment you did not agree with, or did agree with, and then followed the link to their blog.

If you actually went out there and searched tags, and looked around tumblr, and other communities, you'd see that there are a gazillion women writing blogs about their time in Korea. It hasn't gotten better. It's always-fucking-been-like-that. I'm sorry your google search skills aren't as polished as people like me! :P

You PC addicted men should put down your brushes and go live your lives. I'm pretty fucking sure the broads can take care of themselves.

Roboseyo said...

@chiam - last time I wrote about the dearth of ladyblogs I was accused, by one of them, of male intervention. The situation's much much better now than it was then. As I wrote in the post: it's too bad there isn't much cross-pollination, though.

isteacher said...

Well I think your last comment nailed in Roboseyo, there's no cross-pollination. I think that there are many great female bloggers out there. look at Foreigner Joy, but I think many are written to a target female audience. I think Dating in Korea has a great site, but as a guy in a two+ year relationship I'm just not that interested in reading about dating Korean guys. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great and very necessary blog and I have nothing but respect for you Dating in Korea, but I just can't see THAT many men wanting to read about that topic. I'm sure many, many male blogs would hold a similar appeal to women.

Getting rid of the "western women are all so fat so they can't get laid and so they become bitchy whores" (those two complaints would seem to contradict each other, but apparently no one has taken the time to point that out) is a great idea and I think most men with an IQ higher than a gorilla would agree, but getting more men to read women's blogs and vice-versa is not a necessary step in getting rid of primate postings.

Sidney said...

Chaim and Rob are, personally, my favorite members of the sausagefest.

I actually have nothing productive to contribute. I don't consider myself a kblogger, I've blogged before and, now, after I've left Korea. When I come back, I'll keep blogging, but the (small amout of ) followers of my non-tumblr blog aren't other kbloggers.

Oh, I guess I do want to say one thing.
Chris -- It is WAY more than just DIK and HUIH being friends. Almost every female kblogger I follow or read about has met and regularly hangs out with at least one other female blogger, most often they hang out with a handful of female kbloggers. But again, that's not really me contributing to anything, I just wanted to let you know that us women on tumblr are a lot more buddy-buddy towards than we may appear.

Chris in South Korea said...

The gender of the blogger doesn't make a lick of difference to me, frankly - so long as the writing is good and the topic interesting, I'll read something written by an alien for all it matters.

DiK: if sexism is truly happening, perhaps you can share an example here? I'm certainly not omnipotent, but I'd like to think I'm aware of what's happening in this country, certainly better than most.

Women do indeed write about different topics - I personally have little interest in dating Korean men, so that whole category of blogs is of little interest. Light and airy pieces written to friends and family are fine for friends and family, but not really interesting to a larger audience.

I'll go on record by saying I love collaboration / cross-pollination - in fact, I've been meaning to find some traveling folks to join up with. Don't care about your gender, just that you like traveling and have the weekends free. If that's you, send me an e-mail - chrisinsouthkorea at gmail. Save Joy and Jo (Qi Ranger's wife), I don't think there's another female travel blogger in my Google Reader.

For better or worse, men often court controversy, or simply don't shy away from expressing their opinions. Men may also be more likely to look at their blog as a business (or run it like a business), which necessitates the other steps towards name recognition.

Somewhat unrelated: women entrepreneurs overtaking men: http://mashable.com/2011/10/25/women-entreprenuers/

Anonymous said...

A friend asked me about my "K-blog" and I shuddered at the thought.

I don't have a K-blog, I have a personal blog involving a guy with a huge sausage who happens to live in Korea.

Honestly, if you think living in Korea makes you an interesting person you're wrong. If you had nothing interesting to say before you came here, chances are you have nothing interesting to say now.

That's the beauty of blogging -- it isn't(or shouldn't be) tied to one place.

Sounds harsh, I know, but can we please dispense with these notions of "K-blogs" and/or the "K-blog community"?

Communities are vital and important things that people mutually enter into. By definition, there is no K-blog community.

Also, sexism is a big problem on the internet in general. You might think the K-blogosphere (oops, didn't mean to use that phrase) is bad (it is) but the internet in general can be even worse:


Also, I'm floored by how much casual racism gets tossed around or promoted more than anything. Yeah, the sexism is terrible but sheesh -- the bigotry is downright worse and, frankly, the reason K-blogs (oops) really aren't taken seriously by anyone other than fellow K-bloggers (double oops). Dave ESL Cafe sucks hard but, there's a reason everyone else on the internet stereotypes K-bloggers as "drunken white dudes calling Koreans racial slurs and trying to pick up Korean chicks and OH HAI I went to Gyeongbokgung on Sunday."

That's definitely _not_ the case, but stereotypes sometimes exist for a reason. And in general I find that K-bloggers value self-promotion over basic things like being a good person.

I hate to bring this up, but -- ATEK. Certain prominent bloggers just _could not imagine_ that ATEK was basically a pack of self-promoting grifters who had nothing but their own self-interest at heart.

And I hate to bring it up, because Roboseyo eventually came around and as far as I can tell is a good egg (he's probably the best person ATEK every had), but really -- that whole ATEK thing just proved that K-bloggers are more about who they know and loyalty to one another and being in the kool-kidz club than anything else.

Also, if you're handing out business cards to promote you're blog you're doing it wrong.

Also, nobody cares who you had sex with last weekend unless you're on LiveJournal.

Also, my blog sucks.

/end rant

Anonymous said...

ciam writes "You PC addicted men should put down your brushes and go live your lives."

Dear god I love it when people say things like this.

On the internet.

Seriously, god decides not to kill a kitten when this happens. It's science.

chiam said...

Cross-pollination doesn't really occur anywhere.

Anonymous said...

I started my blog in part because I felt alone. I had a lot of friends, but very few were in my position (long-term expat females marrying a Korean and planning to live here for a long time). I wondered if there were others like me out there because it didn't seem like there were from the blogs that were available at that time. Since then, and through the contacts I've made through the blog, I've learned that many of those women are out there on the Internet, but in terms of writing they are not necessarily blogging (or they are blogging, but their blogging activities are minor compared to their other online activities). For some people, they might not participate in the K-blog community much because they have had the bad Dave's-esq experiences or just don't enjoy the kind of interactions that happen on male dominated sites. They might have also gotten frustrated with the fact that in the past, fewer female bloggers were referred to, linked, mentioned, or lauded in the same way the same level or lower level male bloggers were. Also, if a woman has lived here for several years she is more likely to be married (especially to a Korean) and have kids which means she is often more interested in discussing these kinds of issues (unfortunately many men think child raising issues are women's issues...I would love if you would provide some insight on being an expat father in Korea as your new baby gets older!). And finally, especially for many wives, we need a more private place to discuss MILs, cross cultural marital issues etc - and many women don't feel comfortable doing that in a more public space. So I think that disparaging of women and sexism that happened (still happens) on some forums and blogs has encouraged some women -especially many of those married with kids - to create their own spaces. These forums/groups tend to be a bit more collaborative or information-sharing, and they tend to be more about relationships and helping each other. I think that speaks a bit more to how some women prefer to interact with others.

I do want to say that from my perspective, the K-blog world feels more balanced these days. Maybe that's because I've gotten a bit of notice from a few male bloggers (thank you Rob – and since you already commented, thank you Foreigner Joy - your site has been sending me people every day!). But I think there are more avenues and spaces for more diverse writers now, and at least if a person doesn't feel welcome in one place, they now have more opportunities to make their own circles or other forums with like minded people. So not perfect…but getting better.

Katherine said...

"Honestly, if you think living in Korea makes you an interesting person you're wrong. If you had nothing interesting to say before you came here, chances are you have nothing interesting to say now."

Yeah, word.

I don't read most "K-blogs" because they're honestly not that interesting, most of the time. (Yes, even as I post a comment on one.) Many of them are incredibly twee and poorly written; it boggles my mind how anyone could take them seriously---especially anyone in a group that far and away earns their living teaching English. People who are that tone deaf to the nuances of the language are out in the world teaching it? What the hell?

I never got to thinking about gender ratios, however, because the gender breakdown in the "K-blogs" I read is an even 50-50. But my female friends Breda and Maddie aren't exactly as "foreigner-in-Korea-internet famous" as you, or James over at the Grand Narrative, or Gusts of Popular Feeling.

Why is that? I don't know. How come I know of you guys but not Foreigner Joy? My theory is that it's still easier for the vast majority of women to relate to men than it is for the vast majority of men to relate to women. Not in the touchy-feely, "let me be open with my feelings" way; I mean in the "your words resonate with me and my experience" way. So the male blogs, almost by default, have the larger pool from which to draw their readership.

I mean, I'm a woman. Theoretically I'm part of Dating in Korea's target audience. (Since theoretically, men would on average not be all that interested in dating men in Korea or Dating In Korea.) But, I'm not the type to casually date to begin with. I also have a very long-term boy of my own. A blog about dating Korean guys is about as appealing to me as watching paint dry for both of those reasons. Likewise for men it's probably equally appealing due simply to the fact that they're straight men. (Would be interesting to see what kind of gay readership Hongdae and Dating have, though.)

Maybe it has to do with this (potentially incredibly sexist reasoning alert): typically, bloggers tend to be female. (At least according to the statistics they choose to disclose on places like LiveJournal etc, but we'll assume instances like Gay Girl in Damascus are fairly rare and not skewing the statistics that much.) To set up a place to communicate and connect with people comes a bit more naturally to them than to men. Anecdotal evidence: only one of my foreign guy friends in Korea even bothered with a blog, and he didn't even keep up with it that much.

So, more of them blog in some way or another, but their intended purpose is fairly low-key: keep in touch with friends and family, share photos, keep a variety of people updated instantaneously in a way that's a bit more engaging and easier to digest (visually, if nothing else) than the standard, massively Cc'd emails. More blogs, but perhaps (on average) a lower ambition. (Note: on average.)

Whereas if a guy sets up a blog, he's more likely to have the intention to *do something* with it, and thus promote it more aggressively, work harder to make engaging content to attract new readers, network with other bloggers, etc.

tl;dr: I don't mind the vast majority of male voices on the "K-blogosphere" because I can pick and choose and most of the time I don't read any of it anyway. Also I will freely admit to not getting along with women a lot of the time. This probably has something to do with it.

Also, not commenting on Dave's since I refuse to browse the forums except when I have a question Google or another expat friend can't answer for me.

Gomushin Girl said...

I'm sorry, but some of these comments are just ridiculous . . .

Is racism a problem in blogs about Korea? Yes. But we're not talking about that now, we're talking about the problems of sexism.

Chris, the fact that your first response to DiK saying that there's a problem with sexism is to say that she has to prove it to you . . . well, it proves that you, at least, have a bit of a problem. Cheifly, that you casually and offhandedly refuse to believe women when they say there's a problem. Dismissing women's voices is pretty much textbook sexism.

I find the "women's blogs are just different, and boys can't relate to it!" argument really problematic on a number of levels. First, it assumes that the blogs written by men have some sort of universal appeal, while blogs written by women do not - something I find pretty insulting to men. I mean, I'm not active on the dating scene, but I still find DiK's blog interesting. I'm not a history buff, nor involved in the English teaching community, but I actively read Popular Gusts. It's not like you must have some direct overlap or connection to the topic to make reading about it occassionally worth your while. Saying that women's blogs aren't interesting to men says that men can't be intellectually curious about experiences beyond their own, and assumes that women's blogs are all similar in some fundamental way.
I do, however, think that blogs that are known to be written by women get treated differently, shuffled off to a ghetto of "women's concerns, aka unimportant stuff" in many people's minds. Some bloggers are actively and concientiously avoid this, which I applaud.

Chris in South Korea said...

Gomushin Girl: As a general rule, I don't believe someone when they say they have a problem - I ask for proof. Call me a skeptic if you like. It doesn't matter whether they're male, female, American, Korean, or alien. It's not sexism when it's applied equally to both genders. Certainly you saw how I asked Rob to provide more evidence than a 2 1/2 year old link?

I'll go back to the argument that says the genders blog for different reasons, and talk about different things. msleetobe makes a great point - a blog is not an appropriate venue for some subjects better talked about privately.

chiam: a quick search of 'korean blogs tumblr' reveals an ample number of blogs about Korea on tumblr. No search-engine wizardry needed, though I dare say that's not the point. People don't necessarily search for blogs; they search for interesting things to read / see. As they find them, they begin reading the rest of what that person has to say. That's exactly how I found the blog http://seoulsome.blogspot.com/ - searching for Halloween stuff led me there, and I enjoyed her style of writing.

As to the reason tumblr is the most common place to find female bloggers? Technologically speaking, it's easy to use. There's no need to fumble around with a million settings - you just type, attach, and publish.

Since that will get interpreted as a sexist 'you mean women can't use Blogger or WordPress because they're too complex?', let's just cut that line of thinking off now. Of COURSE they can - I dare say some (women AND men) would rather focus on what they're saying than SEO, design, RSS feeds, or integrating Facebook friends. That level of geek isn't needed for what they want to create.

X said...

Yeah, I wouldn't say omnipotent; I'd say obtuse. Rob linked to a glaring example in his post, and then you go on to describe the topics covered on women's blogs as "Light and airy pieces written to friends and family are fine for friends and family, but not really interesting to a larger audience."

Roboseyo said...

If it's evidence we're after, then, Chris... nobody's asked you to prove sexism doesn't exist... but I suppose I will. Can you find five threads on Dave's ESL cafe where someone trotted out the stereotypes Lady Hwa Hwa names in the first comment, and they were called out for being sexist asses, and eventually apologized? I mean, it must happen a lot, right?

Omniscient means all-knowing. Omnipotent means all-powerful.

In my experience, writing like this:
or this

still too often leads to comments like this:
which still too often go unchallenged.
(or answered with a "well said, mate")

chiam said...

I'm going to say this again.

"If you actually went out there and searched tags, and looked around tumblr, AND OTHER COMMUNITIES, you'd see that there are a gazillion women writing blogs about their time in Korea. It hasn't gotten better. It's always-fucking-been-like-that."

It has nothing to do with how easy Tumblr is to use. There are a lot of "people" on tumblr because it's trendy, hip, and cool to be on tumblr. It's the new blogging thing. That said, there have ALWAYS been a lot of blogs by females....it hasn't gotten "better" or "worse". It's always been that way!

I just don't get this post and most of the comments above.

How is the problem of men being sexist connected to the number of blogs written by women? Apples and Oranges.

I COMPLETELY agree with Chris In South Korea when he says: "People don't necessarily search for blogs; they search for interesting things to read / see."

(bold, font size="1million")This entire post is making a mountain out of a molehill.(/bold, /font)

Jane said...

As a woman, I do have several issues with female K-bloggers that – for me – take lot of the joy out of reading blogs. These issues however have nothing to do with their gender, but rather with the way those people behave and present themselves. I just plainly dislike them as a person, not as a female.

To me it seems like there’s a large clash between “older” and “younger” bloggers going on. Those that have been online longer, take the freedom to look down, and make public their dislike of bloggers who haven’t been online as long as they have. I’m with Foreigner Joy on the issue that some (female) bloggers successfully scared other (female bloggers) into not writing freely anymore.
I’m also with Chris in South Korea when he says that dozens of people get categorized as sexists. Especially blogs like Dating in Korea and I’m no Picasso make it very clear that anyone who’s not of their opinion is a sexist. They also expect every anonymous commenter to be a male, making every and any problem into an issue of someone disagreeing with them because of their gender and not because – say – they just disagree with their opinions.
While I am not a female blogger, I am a female and I don’t see that much sexism around. Sure, it’s there, but no more and no less than what the male bloggers have to deal with as well. That said, of course I can only comment from what’s in the comment section of their blogs or what they share. Might be, they receive dozens of emails every day that are sexist… Who knows. I guess that’s what Chris in South Korea was talking about when he wanted to see proof.

I think in the female K-blogosphere, a lot is made into sexism that actually isn’t. And while crying wolf all the time, the actual issues don’t get enough spotlight or aren’t even recognized because of that.

Anonymous said...

Why does there have to unity in the blogosphere?

Aren't blogs supposed to be written by individuals (or in some cases a group of individuals with shared motive)? So wouldn't unity or community effect the general health and vigour of the blogoshere?

That's one of the things that's a little annoying about the Korean blogoshere. There seems to be, for want of a better word, a gang of bloggers who seem to share the same (well, similar would be a nicer way to put it) opinions. Sorry guys if this hurts - I do read some of these blogs fairly regularly and I do enjoy the posts, but as I said, would be nice to get someone who disagrees every so often. I never thought about the fact that they were all men. But that's probably because I'm a man.

To be honest, I only know of a couple of women's blogs in Korea and thanks to this post I know a few more. One thing that has struck me is that there seems to be more diversity of opinions and directions.

What makes blogs important and relevant is that there is a diversity of opinion and approach. While I know I have borrowed some of my post ideas from the blogging community in Korea I still think it's important to stay independent and focus on myself - I know very selfish but then again it is MY blog and I'll say what I want to say, even if everyone disagrees.

If I were to put forward a suggestion for a blog that would be worth reading it would be a blog from Korean women and how much fun it is to function in Korea once they leave the relative cushion of university.

P.S. Wet Casements, I raising an imaginary drink in agreement (will utilise real one later this evening as beloved spouse disagrees with booze for breakfast)!

Gomushin Girl said...

@ Jane: Thanks for being our first "Hey, I'm a chick and I'm totally cool with it! Mean ol' feminists ruin it for the rest of us" contestant. Thanks so much for trolling/playing, but before you go, please DO enlighten us about the sexism that male bloggers experience.

@ Joy: You got called out for writing some pretty regressive stuff. I hope you understand why your attack on many of the female bloggers here in Korea didn't go over so well, but I think most of them would certainly welcome dialog with you.

@ Chiam: Thanks for your defence of tumbler as a platform, but did you really have to follow it up by calling the issue unimportant and being unable to connect how having fewer women bloggers (or rather the impression of fewer women bloggers) relates to sexism? I mean, I can connect the dots for you if you like, but it's pretty obvious . . . and in the meantime, if you think an issue is unimportant, fine. Since you're not a female blogger, maybe you should avoid commenting? I mean, since Rob did address his comment to women and all . . .

@ isteacher: Getting male bloggers to read, link to, and comment on blogs women by written is an integral part of making the general blogging community in Korea better. It makes the men better writers too. And frankly, the suggestion that women just write about things that are boring is well . . . insulting. I mean, bikini shots of Selena Gomez don't really have any particular appeal to me, but I still read the Marmot's Hole because I'm a multifaceted human being. Now, I don't *comment* there for precisely the reasons Rob outlines - it's a hostile, nasty place where sexist comments go supported and unchecked. But seriously, it would not kill any male blogger out there to cultivate an interest in things outside the stereotypically male sphere (James of GN is an excellent example of this kind of work), and it would behoove people to take women bloggers seriously in general, instead of assuming they're all out there writing about boys and rainbows and ponies and shoe shopping.

In a way, it's really sad: Except for Rob and James, few of the main, established male bloggers ever even try to confront the idea of sexism, feminism, or related issues *because* most people consider them things that are only important to women, instead of something broadly important across societies.

Anonymous said...

On reflection, I was way too harsh in my initial comment. If moving to Korea prompts someone to take up blogging and/or doing something internet-y, that's great.

Still, I maintain that the k-blogosphere sucks in general because people come here and assume the mantle of "Korea expert" without learning the language thoroughly or trying to make sense of things, rather than pointing a finger and saying "duh! rice-tard!" But obviously, there's a bit of a market for this sort of thing which is sad and pathetic beyond words.

Obviously I read a lot of k-blogs and like many of them (like this one).

But I'll say it again -- the whole ATEK fiasco pretty much put a nail through the heart of "dispassionate objectivity." It's pretty clear that some of the more prominent k-blogs are just fluffing each other, and will continue to do so.

That said, I think we can all agree that Roboseyo brings great shame and dishonor upon his newborn by not switching to WordPress.

Anonymous said...

First off, I wanna thank Rob for the linklove. It’s a very nice compliment, probably the nicest sort. I’ll post more often as time permits.

You know what I find interesting? When I hear complaints about women experiencing sexism at places like Dave’s and blog comment threads, they often say they just stay way from those places, and yet some of the most horrendous arguments I’ve witnessed have been between some female bloggers – shouldn’t the energy be directed where the real situation is?

Example, @Gomunshin Girl: “ I still read the Marmot's Hole because I'm a multifaceted human being. Now, I don't *comment* there for precisely the reasons Rob outlines - it's a hostile, nasty place where sexist comments go supported and unchecked.” Is it just me, or isn’t there a certain circularity about this? You don’t comment there, yet you complain that sexist comments go unchecked - may I suggest that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the …

I didn’t see Joy attacking anyone, GG. She said, “I however I do feel a strong sense amongst female Kbloggers that we are divided when it comes to certain issues.” And the post from DiK that Rob linked to directly illustrates that this is the case. She didn’t specify which issues the certain ones are, but we can guess it’s possibly about the topic of DiK’s blog – and don’t you think it’s a personal choice to talk in public about one’s personal life? Especially when you’ve made the choice not to post as “anonymous”? I’d appreciate it if you’d explain the term “regressive,” as used in this case, just for my own edification.

And, yes, there IS a double standard that equates to sexism toward men, especially on this topic, and several commenters (some female) acknowledged on this GN post from last year that a man choosing to blog about his sex life would be viewed in a much different way, and a much more negative way.

By the way, I agree with Chiam. There already ARE a lot of female bloggers. Many are blogging about a lot of the same things that male bloggers blog about. Traveling. Teaching. Going out to restaurants. Art. Sometimes sporting events or their efforts at teakwando. Cooking (and plenty of guy bloggers talk about that). Also anxiety and frustration at living among Koreans and how much things seem different from back home.

The ones who are blogging about their sex lives are a very small subset of the total. But … it’s interesting to talk about.

chiam said...

"@ Chiam: Thanks for your defence of tumbler as a platform, but did you really have to follow it up by calling the issue unimportant and being unable to connect how having fewer women bloggers (or rather the impression of fewer women bloggers) relates to sexism? I mean, I can connect the dots for you if you like, but it's pretty obvious . . . and in the meantime, if you think an issue is unimportant, fine. Since you're not a female blogger, maybe you should avoid commenting? I mean, since Rob did address his comment to women and all . . ."

Gomushin Girl, you obviously don't understand me. I think the issue is unimportant because I don't think there has ever been a lack or female bloggers; hence, I think this issue is a non-issue simply because the author of this post simply does not recognize that there were/are a lot of female bloggers.

I don't really understand you. I am arguing that no matter how "sexist" the male blogosphere is, women will still blog. I am asking, why are the two ideas connected? They aren't, and shouldn't be.

But then you said "Since you're not a female blogger, maybe you should avoid commenting?" and I felt like you were the stupidest person on earth, and I am hardly sexist.

Be cool, i'm done with this bullshit.

Anonymous said...

The Marmot's Hole is run by a libertarian who works for a government agency.

I find that amusing to no end.

But yeah, it's pretty much the second coming of Dave's.

Lolimahro said...

Well, I just wanted to thank you, roboseyo, for writing that list of female k-bloggers back in April 2008. Through that blog post, I found MamaSeoul, and through her, I found pretty much all my friends in Korea. In that community I have many other moms to share with, our kids play together, we have events, and that community established the Expat Parents Forum, where you can find just about any information you need on pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing in Korea, in English. The community there is wonderful and has a history of civility unparalleled and unmatched by other expat-in-Korea web forums (in my experience; due to visa restrictions I have been unable to check out AFEK, and even though it's open now, I feel happy with the community that I've got).

By the way, most of moms and women in Korea that I know have a blog, but they are so under the radar that I don't think I might have ever found them without your list. Also, it's kind of hard to keep blogging when your kid gets mobile - your life becomes naturally busier, especially if you also work outside the home. I honestly don't know how some of the power-mom bloggers (like mothering, inc. for example) can do it. So whoever accused you of "male intervention" may have their own view of things, but I am grateful that a more widely-read blogger put that list up for people like me to find it and get connected.

Jane said...

@Gomushingirl: Judging by the other posts, mine obviously isn't the only one you're not able to understand.

I said that some female bloggers in Korea use "sexism" as their special masterkey to solving all issues with commenters they don't approve of. Some things don't have anything to do with gender issues, but with personal issues.

And I never said "Big old feminists ruin it for the rest of us". I never made this about myself, because I'm quite capable of being in charge of my own life which no one can ruin for me but me. I'm saying that wannabe feminists take the spotlight off more important issues by making everything about their gender and not about their person.

And as for your question, let me just quote yourself: [...] saying that there's a problem with sexism is to say that she has to prove it to you . . . well, it proves that you, at least, have a bit of a problem.

Oh, and I probably don't have to mention either how much I agree with chiam's last comment, do I?

Dating in Korea said...

@Jane: "Especially blogs like Dating in Korea and I’m no Picasso make it very clear that anyone who’s not of their opinion is a sexist. They also expect every anonymous commenter to be a male, making every and any problem into an issue of someone disagreeing with them because of their gender and not because – say – they just disagree with their opinions.
While I am not a female blogger, I am a female and I don’t see that much sexism around."

Two things, really quickly. If you are not a female blogger, why would you think you'd encounter sexism in the female blogging world? Certainly you'd encounter it online as a female internet user, but why assume that it's not happening in a venue where you have had no opportunity to experience it? As to the second thing, I think you have your bloggers mixed up. The majority of my anonymous comments are female. Most of my anonmyous comments ask for dating advice or would like to give me dating advice. Perhaps it's just an assumption but when I get questions about being a girl dating a Korean (or Asian) guy, I assume the writer is female. The men that read my blog and comment generally leave their names.

@Chris: "Women do indeed write about different topics - I personally have little interest in dating Korean men, so that whole category of blogs is of little interest. Light and airy pieces written to friends and family are fine for friends and family, but not really interesting to a larger audience."

Women do not only write about light and airy pieces. That is your assumption and not a very nice one. I would think this is a perfect, yet minor, example of sexism. We don't even have to look beyond the comments section, in this case.

In general, "Theoretically I'm part of Dating in Korea's target audience. (Since theoretically, men would on average not be all that interested in dating men in Korea or Dating In Korea.)"

This is ridiculous. Why are men not interested in what I write? There are a very large number of men that I have active reader/writer relationships with that read my blog daily. Others comment as they see fit, but read regularly. Why do we assume that because I'm writing about dating, a 'woman's topic,' that only women should be interested in reading it? That is certainly not giving much credit to the male community.

JIW said...

Thanks Chris.

I just want to add that I run the blog, "Expat Abundance." There are lot of links to female expat bloggers on there and I often make write-ups of their posts.

It's my effort in this Kblog community to organize the information and also show just how diverse it all is.

Thank u

JIW said...


I'm no Picasso said...

Chris thinking he's "more aware than most" when the subject at hand is how female bloggers are treated on the internet is pretty funny.

Chiam taking time to repeatedly come back and read and comment on something that's a non issue is also funny.

Jane being Eve is funny.

Bobster deciding he has the right to tell women where they should be investing their energy and how is funny. That one might be the funniest, actually. Bobster, you should be glad that I'm not going to take more time out of my day today to address and "solve the problem" of the sexism of your comment. You're getting off easy.

All I have to say on this issue for today is that there is a Tumblr blogger who made an incredibly thoughtful and complex post last night, who has specifically requested that no one post a link to her post on Wordpress or Blogspot, because she has had a view into the kind of harassment myself and other female bloggers on other venues have, and she's terrified to have it come and find her.

For the same reasons, my Blogspot blog has died down in recent days. Because I just got tired of dealing with the violent harassment. And I even go so far as to try not to even mention my boyfriend there, because of the literally dozens and dozens and dozens of nasty anonymous comments I've been sent about him specifically since I came out and admitted that we were together.

The problem isn't that men aren't interested in women's issues. It's that, just as in this post, they are all too eager to jump in and make it all about their opinion and their defenses and their superior knowledge. They can't allow women to just speak for themselves, and eventually a lot of women get exhausted from trying. Things like Chris showing up to "demand proof" about things he doesn't know anything about, just because he doesn't want to face the fact that a woman speaking about her experience is already proof. It's exhausting to deal with such stupidity. It's easier to just stay hidden away, a lot of the time.

Anonymous said...

I think I have the right to tell people they have a little less credibility to complain about things unless they stand up and confront the people who are doing things that make them feel less than what they know they are.

Here is something I forgot to mention: I ALSO don’t read the comments threads at Marmot. It’s for much the same reason Gomunshin Girl gave. I don’t like the locker room talk and it feels far too much like the same people at ESL Café, which I haven’t looked at for several years because it just makes me so sad. Not just the sexist stuff but the faint whiff of anti-Korean racism as well.

I don’t wade in and try to “reform” those guys because as a white male it would smack of paternalism – and really, it’s not my job. It’s yours, and Gomunshin Girl’s, and any other woman who reads crap they that makes them feel that others see them as less than what they are because of who they are. If you see that and it makes you feel anything you hate feeling, then you are falling down on the job by slinking away and then complaining after the fact.

When we post a comment here, Rob tells us to own what we say. I’m gonna call you on that and challenge you to support your accusations, and damn you if you are too busy – and don’t give us the intellectual/superior attitude because that is so transparently an attempt to show you are strong when really you are weak. Be strong instead.

If you got the goods, open the bag and show them right here and right now. Sexism is truly something I don’t want to make a place for inside my head, just like racism and other kids of bigotry.

I can’t respect someone who tosses a slur and says you should be thankful I don’t have time to support what I say – and, you know what, I really do want to respect you. It has happened from time to time that someone who disagrees with me gave the respect that any human being deserves to show me HOW I was mistaken … and later, well, that person has received my gratitude. I promise you now I will give you the same.

“They can't allow women to just speak for themselves, and eventually a lot of women get exhausted from trying.”

Seriously, now, who IS this “they” that is not allowing women to speak? Rob invited women to comment here, though he didn't ask that men refrain from joining in. You have a blog and anyone who wants one can have it. You can comment at Marmot or at Bobster’s House or here or wherever. You get anonymous comments you don’t like? Delete them and move on. Who cares what people say who do not even want to take the trouble to have a personality on the net? I hear Home Plus has a +1 sale right now on Thick Skin. You could stock up. Just a suggestion

By the way, I’m responding to you with the same force and intent that I would if a man had attacked me in public - and yes, you did attack me. If I had held back, I would consider myself sexist, and if you consider me a bully and expect me to respond with courtesy when none was offered then I will say that you are no feminist.

Oh, wait, I don't have the qualifications to say that, but you can say anything you want about me, with zero backup. Am I wrong? I guess it's because you are so damn busy. My bad luck.

Roboseyo said...

Fantastic conversation so far...
this'll have to be several parts:

and let's all continue focusing on ideas, not people...

Brian and Chiam:

You've made very good points...

I'm seeing now that my initial question was flawed in two ways:

1. It muddles together two questions -- the first "are there enough female voices blogging in Korea" is very different than the second, "are female voices well represented on/among/in the comments of the most well-known and/or representative Korea blogs" (the ones Mr. Wonderful would call the "circle jerk")

2. It assumes some kind of "K-blogosphere" as if there were just one, and as if it were some kind of uniform thing, which it isn't. It's way more complex and diverse than that. It hasn't always been, but it certainly is now.

The more interesting question, as diversity of voices go, is the one I asked: "Why isn't there cross-pollination"... but as I think about it, and as I think about how the Internet works, why would there be? I don't hang out in bars I hate in order to be a well-rounded drinker, I don't hang out with people who suck in order to be a well-rounded socialite, and I don't hang out on websites I hate in order to be a well-rounded netizen.

The point, or at least the M.O. of the internet is for people to occupy the spaces comfortable to them. Unfortunately, Dave's and some other well known blogs' comment boards aren't those comfortable spaces for many women. That's too bad, but... why would people move in spaces that make them uncomfortable, when there are much more amenable communities?

And I'm not sure that a sudden influx of people who are outsiders to that community, coming in and trying to enforce a new code of conduct, would wash: I feel like the people who have made that community their home (for various reasons, in various ways) would lock elbows and defend their space, probably by behaving in a way that would chase away the newcomers, and leave them to their familiar spaces...

I remember reading an article by a woman from a muslim country, responding to a (white, western) feminist who had visited the Middle-East and had to wear a hijab - she'd written that she wanted to tear of her hijab and shout to the muslims around her "don't you see that this hijab is making you a slave!" or somesuch, and the muslim writer answered that if SHE had done that, people would have said "crazy white lady" and it wouldn't have challenged them in any way... it would have to be a muslim woman, FROM that nation, who did that kind of a gesture - an insider, who'd paid their dues and knew how the community worked - to make that kind of a statement and have it carry any weight.

All that to say... I don't think it's the responsibility of these female voices to convert "the sexist masses" ... and if they tried, I don't think they could. It's those communities' own responsibility to become more mindful of who they're excluding.

Outsiders pointing fingers win few converts. (c.f. "If you don't like it, go home")

Roboseyo said...

Wetcasements: I LOVE the link you put in your article, and I strongly encourage everyone to look it up. http://www.themillions.com/2010/10/gratuitous-how-sexism-threatens-undermine-internet.html

Jane: If it's personal issues you have, maybe stay out of this, which I'd rather remain a discussion of ideas, not people.

However, you're way off base when you frame this as something between older and younger bloggers. How long a blog has been around has no bearing on how interesting it is, and while it's human nature to return to familiar spaces, most of the long-term bloggers I know get really excited about coming across a really fresh new voice, BECAUSE they've been around so long, and seen the same stuff recycled so much.

@ifihadaminutetospare "why does there have to be unity"... I'm starting to come around to that view myself, partly as a result of reading these comments. It's good if there are enough diverse voices now that people have their own individual circles of reference on the blogosphere. I'm well aware the echo chamber still exists - I've written about it - but I think you're wrong that there's a "gang" of bloggers - even those who HAVE aligned themselves with various bigger things -- Marmot Hole's guest posters, the Nanoomi crew, or the Three Wise Monkeys' contributors, for examples -- don't all agree with each other or write about the same topics, though it's true that some memes get amplified through repetition... by bloggers, but also by commenters who grind the same axes across various comment boards.

I'm with Gomushin Girl, in that as a male, I intentionally try to expose myself to the female voices in the K-blogosphere (in the "read it" way, not in the "raincoat" way), not because I ever plan on dating a 20-year old Korean actor/model, but because it's a view of Korea I couldn't otherwise have, and there are things I can learn there that I can't get from other sources. The idea that male readers would necessarily only be interested in male experiences is silly, and no, it doesn't give male readers much credit.

@Wetcasements: yeah. I know wordpress is better. Hub of Sparkle was wordpress, and it was a great platform.

P.S. Chris: I use the word "Sausage fest/sausage party" fairly frequently. I even taught it to a (coincidentally all-male) class once. My general policy is to try to know the limitations of what I know, and can talk about with some certainty... and the world of feminist discourses and gender-focused discussions and voices is an area where I'm well aware of how much I don't know, and I try to be mindful of that gap.

Roboseyo said...

Let's see... what else...

Lolimahro: you're welcome. and thank you.

--Bobster wasn't party to the comments Joy made that were taken as "regressive" that was a specific post at a specific time, and one of the cases where the back and forth between different bloggers got pretty energetic, from what I heard.

As for why the discussions and dramas between the female bloggers get so energetic, yet they aren't dramatically also calling out various commenting communities or sexist bloggers... I can't say for sure, but I'm guessing it might be similar to the way a New Reformed Tribulational Southern Baptist and a New Reformed POST Tribulational Southern Baptist can argue for hours about religion, because there's enough shared doctrine to really dig in on the differences, and to feel comfortable going at it with this person who shares 99% of their religious DNA, while a New Reformed Tribulational Southern Baptist and an Orthodox Sunni Muslim might find themselves unable to discuss religion at all other than in clumsy swoops, since their starting points were SO different they barely had any familiar touchstones to make a starting point.

But as I said in the last comment: I don't think its the responsibility of outsiders to make some of these "male spaces" more "female friendly" -- if the change doesn't come from the community itself, it will be resisted, or it won't take.

I'm No Picasso and Bobster, you are two of the smartest and most thoughtful people I read online, and I'd like to say to each of you: hear each other out. INP, I've seen Bobster own up when it has been pointed out to him where he was in the wrong. He's not one of those who tosses darts and then vanishes like a coward if you take the time to point out where he was in the wrong. And INP, one of the things I respect most about you is how you are capable of breaking down an idea or comment and demonstrating its problematic points. I think you'd find Bobster responsive to that kind of discussion. I know you two have crossed paths before, and I think you two use the internet differently, and have different concepts of why and how internet expression works... but I also think that if you gave each other the benefit of the doubt, it could be a very productive conversation.

finally, it remains unknown whether the gender interactions in the Korea corner of the internet are in any way different than the gender interactions on the rest of the internet.. I wouldn't be surprised to find out the level of sexism on the K-netz/forums are well within the normal ranges for the internets at large...
but I hope all the other corners of the internets are also having discussions like this.

I'm no Picasso said...

Rob -- You're right that we have very different ways of engaging internet spaces, apparently. According to the Bobster, the Expat remained nothing but respectful toward me in the very thread you've linked here within. And I think that is evidence enough as to why he has trouble with the concept of addressing sexism in the spaces where he apparently sees it.

You see, he feels that it would be patronizing to step into these situations and correct the men's behavior, but he has no problem correcting and condescending about mine. It's not his place to judge or interfere in what the men have to say, but I've been the lucky recipient of more than one of his charming fatherly lectures, now.


Bobster -- As for accusing you of being a bully, when have I ever? I think I hold my own with you just fine. I don't find you intimidating in the least. If you think backing down from debate and whining is something I have a habit of doing, then I really don't know what blog you've been reading.

But as for taking time out of my day to earn your respect..... why should I? I don't need or want it. What would make you assume that I do? I don't assume that you're seeking mine. I mean, I know you're really worried about being patronizing, so maybe charging someone with the task of earning your respect is something you might want to watch.

As for me taking up the burden to correct sexism.... buddy, you're barking up the wrong tree there, and I think you know it. But the point is, when I make a post defending myself as a female in Korea (which is doing the work you're charging women with), I get to then face a tidal wave of further sexist bullshit as a result. It spirals outward. And it continues to spiral outward. And it never ends. So, at some point, realistically, I have to walk away from the conversation. And when that spiral starts, all you want to do is stand aside and say, "Hey, it's not my problem!"

Also, I'd be really interested to hear how correcting the behavior and "whining about it after the fact" on the internet is different. If I make a post in my blog about a situation I've encountered, am I correcting the behavior or whining about it? It all has to happen after the fact, given the simple nature of space and time.... so that's not really a valid point. But which is it? Am I correcting it or whining about it? What makes those two different? Your opinion?

You seem to be a big fan of putting the burden on the woman. The burden to be respectful. The burden to handle men when they are being disrespectful. The burden to earn your respect.

But since you seem to be such a big fan of respect, let me ask you this: if you are out in public with a group of people, and one of the men from your group starts harassing a woman, is it none of your business? Is it up to the woman to defend herself if she has a problem with it?

Furthermore, if someone in your presence were to start down a path of racist bullshit ranting about Koreans, would you sit and ignore it and not respond? Because you're not Korean and it has nothing to do with you?

We'll start with the answers to these questions, if you are truly interested in having this conversation. But now that you've started it, if you are expecting me to invest in it (and with such dramatically challenging language), I will expect you to follow through.

Anonymous said...

INP, you were very definite about referring to my previous comments as containing sexism in some way. It ought to have been easy for you, and I see you did type a lot of words, but I don’t think you even tried to explain how what I said was in any way indicative of male superiority. Others have said that you casually bandy the “sexist” epithet around to describe anyone you disagree with. I wonder if that might true.

You also speak of “fatherly lectures,” in plural no less, which is puzzling because we’ve only made contact a few times in the past. I have to tell you that I consider that little aside to be not just unfortunate and embarrassing in its display of ageist bigotry, but really quite appalling and repugnant. My age has absolutely nothing to do with the topic under discussion, and for you to refer to it in such an obviously negative way is a clear attempt to demean me as a person rather than engage in rational discourse. Play the ball, INP. (The Bobster is not the ball.)

Rob says:
I don't think its the responsibility of outsiders to make some of these "male spaces" more "female friendly" -- if the change doesn't come from the community itself, it will be resisted, or it won't take.

My earlier comment in response to GG’s decision to boycott the comments section of Marmot or discussion boards like the ESL Café might be interpreted that I think women should get in there and call the bad boys on their shit. That’s just one way to go about things, and you’re right, Rob, it probably wouldn’t work. Another way would be for women to simply participate in those discussions without taking a confrontational stance, contributing with energy and goodwill and intelligence and creativity and a thorough grounding of facts surrounding whatever topic is being discussed – all the while maintaining an attitude of “I’m a woman and I belong here.”

Of course, that would be hard. And people naturally gravitate toward doing what is easy – but, well, isn’t the task worthwhile, and isn’t the goal a worthy one?

Now somebody might get it into the idea that The Bobster is telling women what they should be doing in order to make their lives better – truth is, it’s just speculation, tossing ideas and suggestions out there, and anyone is free to explain why it wouldn’t work. What does not work is simply complaining about it or expecting men to change their communicative and behavioral styles just to make women feel more comfortable and “safe.”

And what also does not work is for women to simply abandon those realms of the public discussion which are in some way challenging or uncomfortable, and go off instead to those areas where only populated by people who already share their views. Nothing new happens that way, nothing interesting and nothing worth talking about.

I'm no Picasso said...

Bobster -- You seem to be assuming that I know a lot more about you than I do. I have no idea how old you are. I referred to your lectures as fatherly because that's how they come across to me -- like a father speaking to a child.

If you're still wondering what I found to be sexist about your commentary, because apparently there were too many words, allow me to simplify: You said that you wouldn't feel comfortable correcting men's sexist behavior because it would be condescending and it's not your place. Yet, in the same breath, you gave a long rant about how you believe women should be behaving and what they should be doing. That's.... odd to me. That you feel comfortable correcting women, but not men.

You said you would give this conversation with me a fair shake, but I really don't feel that you are. I think you pretty much ignored the questions I directly asked you. Which is fine. But, just in case you are trying to engage with me on the level, and you just missed it, let me reiterate: Would you jump in and correct someone if they were making racist comments in front of you about Koreans, or would you feel like doing so would be outside of your realm of respectful behavior, and that a Korean needs to be the one to handle it, because it's their job and not yours?

Anonymous said...

INP response 11.3
I don’t buy it. The fact that you interpret my participation here (and elsewhere, apparently) as “lectures" and “advice” - not to mention fatherly, what a giveaway - clearly indicates your awareness that I am older and the fact that you seem to resent it displays your negative bias. You could have chosen a different adjective or none at all, but you didn’t. And you knew what you were doing.
Perhaps more than many here, you're very aware that such reactions are subjective interpretations that rest on assumptions highly dependent upon prior attitudes and the worldview of the person making it. You’re also aware that the effect is to relegate the target to an outsider status so that those who feel themselves part of the in-group are able to safely discount and disregard whatever is said. Due to the nature of your education I know for a fact that the mechanics of these processes are all very well known to you - you have I think sought to claim academic expert status on the topic of discrimination and its related issue – and so I can’t believe any of this reflects lack of intention on your part. Therefore, the fact that you persist in it shows an obvious and conscious intent to marginalize me and trivialize any contribution to the discussion based on the calendar rather than the content off my ideas.
I’ll voice my objection once again and request that unless you can find a rationale to make it in some way relevant to the topic then please do not speak of me in any way as a person. Once again, whatever feelings you have about people older than yourself have no place here - unless you just want to display your hypocrisy even more than you already have.
I disagree that I’ve given advice, or in any way engaged in “correcting” women. I have asked questions, offered some speculation and shared an idea or two. I spoke of the circularity of absenting oneself from a distasteful environment when the presence of a sane, compassionate, smart – and female – voice might possibly be what is most needful. I don’t see that as sexist, nor do I see anything condescending or patronizing about it. I see it as quite the opposite, in fact.

Anonymous said...

I never said anything about where my “place” is. I said it’s not my job, and I’ll stand by that. Oh, I’ll help, to whatever extent I’m able, but women have to claim their own power and freedom, and for me to impose it on people would be paternalistic of me, as I’ve said before. (And by the way, I would get flack from feminists because of it, for being some Galahad seeking to rescue the fair maidens, and rightly so.)

Fact is, as a white male, I don’t have a dog in this race … except one, tiny, tiny little puppy sitting up and watching and hoping to see a day when his mothers, sisters, grandmothers, female friends and colleagues, all of them, all get to enjoy the same opportunities and, oh sorry here’s that word, respect, that The Bobster has enjoyed every day of his life. Yeah, I’d like to see that, but it’s not something I have the wherewithal to make happen, nor should I.

I’ve avoided your hypotheticals for a couple of reasons. First off, I could say anything and there’d be no way for anyone – you, or I, for that matter – know whether it reflects any reality. Such thought problems often have some didactic purpose, so there’s something disingenuous about it, I feel, at least in this kind of discussion. Primarily, though, somewhat like what Gomunshin Girl said above, that racism and sexism may have some overlap but are not precisely correspondent.

As far as it goes, before I stopped going to the ESL Café I developed a rep as the guy who sees racism where it isn’t. But it is there, it certainly is. One rather conservative fellow refused to admit that lower percentages of African-Americans in law and medicine indicated discrimination in any way. “There are other jobs they can do,” he said, and he was quite serious. Yeah, I replied, they can be basketball players and janitors and R&B singers - jobs where you need a good sense of rhythm, right? But I can tell you, as Rob indicated above, this stuff just doesn’t work. People resist, and won’t own up to their biases … perhaps like you’d rather not own up to yours?

Don’t feel bad. I have to fight it in myself, too. So often, I find myself thinking, “Aw, Bob, remember, you also had a lot of dumb ideas floating around in your head when you were 29.”

I'm no Picasso said...

Bob --

I don't know how old you are. You can believe that I do and that I constructed an elaborate evil plan to kick you out of the conversation based on your age if you'd like, but I've never read your blog before, I don't read other blogs where you comment, and I have no fucking clue how old you are. You sound fatherly not because I know how old you are, but because you say shit like this: Don’t feel bad. I have to fight it in myself, too. So often, I find myself thinking, “Aw, Bob, remember, you also had a lot of dumb ideas floating around in your head when you were 29.”

Okay. So you didn't direct behavior. You made suggestions. You still made suggestions to women and not men. You didn't suggest that men rein in their sexist commentary and control themselves and show respect when in shared discussion spaces with women. You said that doing so wouldn't be right. You suggested that women take care of it themselves. Because you can make suggestions to women, but not men. Is that better?

So... as for your last answer, which really could've just been a 'yes' or a 'no'... I'm not really sure what you're trying to say. I think because you're basically trying not to just answer a simple question, because it would show that you do actually feel comfortable confronting racism even if you are not Korean, although you claim the reason you don't feel comfortable confronting sexism is because you're not a woman. Which is problematic. Surely, you see that?

But my favorite part of your answer is this: But I can tell you, as Rob indicated above, this stuff just doesn’t work. People resist, and won’t own up to their biases.

Well. Yeah. I know that. That would be the exact original point I made about having these conversations about sexism with men and those conversations being exhausting. You know, the ones you said women have to actively handle all by themselves or else they don't have the right to complain?

Haha. Funny. I guess I'm wise beyond my years!

Anonymous said...

“You sound fatherly not because I know how old you are, but because you say shit like […] “

Number one, you just lost the irony contest, and it was very a soft lob. You are pulling quotes out that you are smart enough to know were presented as tongue-in-cheek, and you do know better than that. Don’t play yourself for a fool, and if anyone else is still watching this two-sided discussion, don’t assume they are fools also.

The problem you have right now is that when you made the charge of sexism toward me – go back and look at the chronology of this thread - I had done no more than point out the contradiction of GG’s avoiding the comment discussion at Marmot while complaining that nobody was challenging the atmosphere that made her wish to do so. I merely pointed out that she also was not challenging anything by complaining about it here instead of doing something over there.

You claimed I was telling women how they should spend their energies but I think you are admitting now that I was doing nothing of the kind. I was merely pointing out something that anyone can see.

“You said that doing so wouldn't be right. You suggested that women take care of it themselves. Because you can make suggestions to women, but not men. Is that better? “

Again, this was after you had already called me sexist. I’ve asked you to justify that based on what I said, and you are pulling stuff out of the air.

It’s at least the third time you’ve ignored the word paternalism, and I know it is in your vocabulary. As a man, if I tried to wave my magic wand (please ignore any Freudian images that pop up) composed of White Male Privilege and bestow all the advantages and benefits upon women everywhere that I have enjoyed since I grew up in white bread suburbia of Northern California – if I were to try to do any such thing, every action I tried would be informed by my whiteness and my maleness, and as such, it would be suspect. Rightfully so.

I want the same thing as you, but I’ll say it again: It is your job to take it, not mine to give it.

“I'm not really sure what you're trying to say. I think because you're basically trying not to just answer a simple question, because it would show that you do actually feel comfortable confronting racism even if you are not Korean, although you claim the reason you don't feel comfortable confronting sexism is because you're not a woman. Which is problematic. Surely, you see that? “

I’ve indicated that I don’t think the question is simple, and I suspect that if you really thought it was then I don’t suppose you would have brought it here. I’ve also said that I don’t think racism and sexism are entirely congruent, especially in this context of foreigners living in a different land – because in that case you have to think not only of foreigners with attitudes about Koreans, but also Koreans with similar attitudes about foreigners.

What’s “problematic?” It’s not my job, as I’ve said several times, and if I tried to make it my job I doubt you’d like it much. Let me know how to help out, and barring that, I’ll definitely stay out of the way.

By now it’s just the two of us talking and likely no one else listening. Rob would probably prefer we take to email. I don’t know yours, but you probably know mine because I commented on your blog some weeks ago. There’s probably not much use to you responding here, but we might actually reach some kind of meeting of minds by doing it somewhere else. Maybe. Who knows? It’s an invitation, for whatever that’s worth.

I'm no Picasso said...

Bobster -- It seems to me that something that's pretty simple has been made pretty complicated here. I think the not correcting sexism because it's actually sexist argument is a massive cop out. I wouldn't pause to correct a racist rant because I was worried about exploiting my white privilege and condescending to POC by trying to "save" them -- I wouldn't be trying to save them. I'd be telling an asshole to stop acting like an asshole.

I do think that your sarcastic example of ageism and taking the piss that way does exhibit some privileged thinking. As does the possible misunderstanding you're having with how telling women to take care of it themselves comes across. Because you don't seem to grasp the level of hurtfulness involved in those conversations for someone who is personally classified by what is said.

For example, if a POC came to me and told me about how they had sat through a horribly racist conversation, where everyone was shouting racist commentary back and forth across them, and wanted to talk about how it was hurtful and difficult for them, and they wish it hadn't happened, my first response would not be to look at them and ask them if they had spoken up in that situation. And if their answer was no, I would certainly not look at them and tell them that they shouldn't be complaining if they weren't willing to do the work to correct the situation for themselves.

Maybe you don't know what it's like to be surrounded by a conversation that is personally threatening to you on that level, and that's why you feel comfortable making statements like that. I don't know. But it's not the way that I think about things.

Women are assaulted with this kind of shit from a lot more directions than you think for their entire lives, and when they do take the risk of speaking up and correcting it, they are often slapped down with far more aggression and violence (sometimes literally physical) than was ever there in the first place. Telling someone to just do that or else not complain about it shows a shocking level of naivete about what actually happens as a result of speaking up.

If you want to know what really happens when a woman speaks up against sexism, do please send me your email address and I'll forward you the vicious messages I still get to this day as a result of the post I made nearly a year ago about rape. At the time, someone told me that I was probably so disgusting that I was unrapeable anyway. That's what I got for trying to stand up for women on my own turf in my own blog. And that's only one of hundreds of examples.

If you don't get why that's exhausting, or if you think women should just suck it up and deal with that, because it's not your job to do anything about it, then I don't really know what else there is to say. I would like to think that at some point humanity would kick in and draw a line for you. But you don't want to be condescending by standing up against that, when it costs you nothing personally, and I guess for you that's reason enough not to do it.

I don't think there's anything you can say that will make me understand that. But if you'd like to try, you can reach me here: imnopicasso@gmail.com

Roboseyo said...

To back up INP here:

From time to time, on Tumblr or on her blog, INP posts examples of the trolling or harassing comments she receives anonymously, and if the stuff she puts up is representative of what she doesn't put up, it's pretty vile. If the stuff she puts up is only the kindest, or most coherent, or least poisonous of what she receives (which I think it is), then she's facing a level of harassment for choosing to speak out on those topics that I've never received for any post I've ever written.

I don't know if male writers on feminist topics (for example James at The Grand Narrative) catch the same kind of grief... it'd be an interesting thing to find out. That such harassment often doesn't reach the light of day, because comments get deleted and emails or formspring "contributions" don't make it to blog posts, means it's hard to gauge the actual temperature of the heat women take for writing on topics like this... but not much would surprise me.

Bobster and INP, thanks for giving it a shot. I've found the entire conversation interesting, especially those last few comments. I bow to both of you for sticking in it to this point, particularly because I kind of asked/encouraged you to.

I've counted, and out of 48 comments 20 are from commenters who I know to be female, or who have identified themselves as such; 27 were from commenters who were identified as, or known to be male, (including seven from myself) and one was indeterminate.

That's pretty much equal numbers of male and female comments (excluding mine), in a question I addressed particularly to female readers. Including mine, it's fairly unbalanced.

I don't know exactly what to make of this, though it's interesting. I have no idea whether this reflects the gender balance of my readership, and (most poignantly) I have no idea if we'd have had more different female commenters appear if the ratio had favored female commenters more... but perhaps.

More thoughts on this later.

The Grand Narrative said...

"I don't know if male writers on feminist topics (for example James at The Grand Narrative) catch the same kind of grief... it'd be an interesting thing to find out."

I don't at all: out of roughly 8300 comments on my blog (5000 not by me), at the most I have maybe 100 deliberately offensive, trollish ones. About half of them would have been written by US-based Korean-American women, ranting about my being a White guy (not that most Korean-American women are like that of course).

Fortunately, instantly banning all the trolls has almost always done the trick (except for the one crazed Lee Hyori fan who - yes really - sent me 712 comments in 3 days), and I've certainly never received any negative emails.

Roboseyo said...

That's actually one reason I'd recommend any bloggers facing harassment of the kind INP has, move to wordpress, because blogger's biggest shortcoming is its inability to ban IP addresses. I haven't had much trouble with trolls either, though I think that same lame Hyori fan was on my blog a few years ago, too.

Anonymous said...

INP, I've already offered to talk 1-to-1 via email. However if I don't know your email, I can't send you mine. Rob knows it, though, and if he knows yours I'll give him permission to share it with you. Or just leave a random comment on my blog and wordpress will ask you for your email there, and I'll get it that way.

I hope you are having a nice time back home, and please take my regrets if my opinions here have caused you distress during time you'd want to be sharing with the important people in your life there.

I'm no Picasso said...

Rob -- The funny thing is, you actually came up specifically in one of the more vicious, violent rants that the (I think) one main attacker I have went into last time I decided to actually take the bait and respond to the women/IQ comment. Why? Because you were my "male defender" in the rape post and some others. What this person said was something so unbelievably vile that I don't even feel comfortable repeating it and chose to never mention it, until now when I am only because I think it's interesting that the person never chose to address their rant toward you, or because of anything you'd written, but sent it to me as a result of you agreeing with me. And I'll tell you one other thing -- the target of the violence in the comment was your wife, not you.

I've told James before that I think his blog is kind of a safe place for Western men to play at condemning sexism, because his topics surround sexism and gender in Korean culture. Done by Korean men. Of course, he doesn't hesitate to post links from the Western female bloggers which covers subjects that may hit on Western male nerves, but I think there's enough there that the picky readers can choose to ignore that and focus on what Korean men are doing wrong. I think that might have more to do with the lack of offending comments than him being male, although that certainly does help. There have been more than a few times where the women on Tumblr have got going about something, and other male bloggers scoff about it, until Rob speaks up and says he agrees, and then there is a lot of back-pedaling. Which was the other question I had about "correcting" vs. "whining". Too often, no matter how a woman sets out her logical argument and backs it up, when a male opponent gets to the end of his rope, he just turns around and calls it hysterical whining. And that's that.

Bobster -- You most certainly didn't take away from my time with my family, and if you had, I would be the one responsible for that. Luckily, they tend to hit the sack relatively early, leaving me with a little free time in the evenings to yoink someone's laptop and tap out a quick response. My email address is in the above comment, but here it is again, one more time: imnopicasso@gmail.com

Eugene said...

I've never really even thought that what I write reflects on the K-blogosphere as a whole. Normally when I write it is because I have something to gripe or complain about, and blogging is somewhat therapeutic. Either that or I just watched some awesome TV show or heard some geeky sci-fi theory and wanted to give my take one it.

That said, whenever I am surfing the K-blogosphere (via links from other K-blogs) I always find that I am stuck reading the female blogs more than the male ones. Just yesterday I spent 3 or 4 hours reading Ms. Lee to be (http://msleetobe.wordpress.com/) and I really like Geek in heels a lot. I really rarely read any male k-blogs except Roboseyo, Ask a Korean and blackchild (http://blackboyinkimchiland.blogspot.com/).

Basically, your blog has to present something that I don't really know about (being married to a Korean man, being black in Korea), written by an intelligent person, or just damn funny. I don't need to hear about how Korea is all different and exotic or has this or that special food or new experience around the corner, which most of the guy blogs seem to be about.

Roboseyo said...

INP, I'm utterly fascinated by the fact that a misogynist who didn't like the fact I agreed with you about rape... chose to threaten my wife to you, rather than anything at all to me -- I didn't receive a single hate letter/e-mail from those conversations.

Which strikes me as odd, or at least telling, considering how much abuse you and other female writers I know catch for touching on the same topics... but which strikes me as less odd as I read more about online harassment.