Feminist, forty, somewhat foucauldian.  

While we’re bringing in theorists to discuss gender, I’ll toss Foucault into the mix.  He says, basically, that physical oppression is easy to resist, but disciplinary power — which for simplicity’s sake I will define here as “how we do business around here” — offers a difficult tension.  To be a successful poster in an online forum, we must learn the rules of that particular game.  We become more docile in the shadow of such rules, even as they provide us more legitimacy.  

Very few rules in a forum like DKos or Booman Tribune are explicit; most are tacit.  The “better” you are at following the mosaic of disciplinary rules, the more power in the forum you will have.  This brings into question whether those who get the most recommends or are chosen to be front pagers are indeed the “best” writers, by any literary measure.  They seem to be rather articulate, but they also handle the right topics in the right ways.

The right topics are gendered.  

The right ways to handle such topics are gendered.

Several examples of tacit rules for addressing topics come to mind:

  1. when you are discussing women’s issues, be careful not to whine.
  2. there can never be enough posts about men’s emasculation at Abu Ghraib, but there simply isn’t enough interest in women’s degradation around the world on a daily basis to warrant more than a few posts every now and then.  When there is a “run” on posts about the right to make private medical decisions, it is an extraordinary event.
  3. using humor will get you lots of recommends, but it has to be a certain kind of humor. (Masculine) humor with a tinge of sarcasm, even a small threat of violence, works quite well. The “sharper” your wit, the better.  One exception that proves the rule is “Cheers & Jeers” which typically is more positively oriented, and thus might not be carried off by a woman.  As it is, it is dismissed by many as a “mojo rave.”

Booman Tribune can have an entirely different set of rules, although since it is situated in the world in which it was born, I doubt it will be so different unless we exhaust ourselves de- and reconstructing. I think, though, that at least according others respect for their existence is a good start.

Anyway, good to be here!

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