An Echo Chamber is a metaphor describing a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an “enclosed” system, where different or competing views are censored or disallowed.
It could be argued that coverage of #QuestionsForMen was contained almost exclusively within an echo chamber for a certain type and class of educated women who prefer to view the world in limited shades of grey, where responsibility for societal problems can be pushed exclusively onto the shoulders of men.
It would be dismissive of the intelligence of the (mostly) women who read these articles to do so, obviously. It would also be dismissive to think that such an audience aren’t generally interested in accurate and ethical journalism even if the truth of the matter might sometimes be slightly more complex and challenging.
The thing about echo chambers, particularly in these social media savy modern times, is that by the time a collective understanding of ‘the story’ has crept into the public consciousness, it has often been exaggerated and distorted to reflect the interests of those who have most invested in telling the tale.
My own personal understanding of the concept of ‘everydaysexism’ as defined by the widely publicised EverydaySexismProject is a good example of this. Until taking the time to personally visit their site recently, my perception of the project was almost exclusively informed by the trust I placed on the merit of mainstream media reports.
That particular ‘story’ is for my next post, so the main point I’ll make for now is that while there clearly are similarities between EDSP and #questionsformen, there is also one fundamental difference between the two.
A quick perusal of the #EverydaySexism hashtag is a reminder of the ways, big and small, in which women are marginalized in their everyday lives. Now, a new hashtag serving a similar purpose is cropping up: #QuestionsForMen. Laura Vitto – Mashable
My perspective on the #questionsformen ‘story’ is that (when they weren’t being portrayed as patriarchal perpetrators) ‘men’ were largely written out of it when it came to mainstream media perspectives. I’d ask you not to take my word for it, have a look yourself and make your own mind up.
Sexism is when a woman’s voice at work is continually ignored until a man says the same thing, only to find acceptance. Or when a man is given more airtime on Q&A to talk, and any woman who tries to get a word in is accused of “shouting [him] down” despite evidence to the contrary. Amy Grey – Guardian
Ford’s own observations about the ‘pudding brain men‘ who appear when women gather to publicly to discuss gender equality is revealing. Her personal views about men generally appear to be (I think) excruciatingly obvious, but what is especially revealing is the message she promotes to the men seeking opportunities to talk openly about gender equality. It is, quite simply, that you are not welcome and you need to crawl back into your (bat) cave. Unless you are communicating your pledge of allegiance to the dominant party line, you risk being portrayed as a misogynist troll and dismissed with the type of intolerant tone that most women in the 21st century, quite rightly, find abhorrent.
Troll: Someone who purposely and deliberately posts a provocative message to a newsgroup or message board (that purpose usually being self-amusement) starts an argument in a manner which attacks others without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his or her peers.
Fascism: (in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practices.
It would be pointless to dwell on how inherently sexist and infantile it is to ignore someone solely on the basis that they have different body parts. If you haven’t worked that out for yourself, I sincerely doubt anything that I can say will convince you otherwise. The reason I took the time to write this particular post is to posit some questions of my own and they’re not rhetorical so please, anyone with an answer feel free to enlighten me. They are as follow:
- If men’s contributions to discussion threads like #questionsformen are so unwelcome then where should they go to talk openly about gender equality (assuming you believe they have a right to speak about it at all)?
- Does dismissing, demonizing or, most commonly, simply ignoring the perspective of 50% of humanity help to promote equality of opportunity for women?
- If you turn a blind eye to overtly sexist behaviour, do you then become complicit by silently signifying support?
For the benefit of any Guardian readers, I’ve included a spot of ancient ‘mansplaining’ below to give you a steer on question 3.
Of course people don’t like the word mansplaining. They don’t want to accept women’s voices are still not as accepted as men’s. Perhaps someone in the comments can mansplain to me why that happens. Amy Grey – Guardian