Geekiness Not Just for Men
Oh look, here’s Catherine Bennett confirming much of what Lucy and I said in But What About? the other day – on the ‘why aren’t there more women writing blogs and editing websites and doing Euston-type things?’ question. It’s not, as I pointed out, because they’re not allowed. One reason I offered was that a lot of them think, stupidly, that it’s a childish guyish geeky thing to do, and that they’re better than that. Now here’s Catherine Bennett doing just what I was talking about:
A couple of months ago, an American robin, Turdus migratorius, made it across the Atlantic. News reports showed a long row of birdwatchers, waiting, with the utmost patience, by a garden wall in Peckham, London. Almost all of them were men. I wondered, at the time, if this – minus binoculars – is what a reception party of bloggers would look like. Now, thanks to the drafters of the Euston Manifesto, a pub-born project that has just launched as a real-life political alliance, the question has been answered. It is, indeed, what a reception party of bloggers would look like.
Good for them – the patient watchers. That’s not a bad or a stupid thing to do; it’s not bad or stupid to be interested in birds; what is the sneer for? I bet Bennett wouldn’t sneer that way at women who watch ‘Neighbours’ of an afternoon – she’d think that was elitist, she’d be embarrassed to sneer (I’m betting – I don’t know for a fact), but to sneer at people watching for a bird with binoculars is fair game. Why is that? As it happens, the most passionate birders I know are women; one of them goes on trips to Africa and Brazil to watch birds; and she knows a lot more women birders than I do. But even if that weren’t the case, it might be that women were missing something of value by not themselves watching birds, as opposed to being more grown-up and sensible by ignoring birds. Bennett is claiming (apparently without realizing it) that women are better than men because they have narrower interests. They have better sense than to watch birds or mess around with blogs or politics. Well – I respectfully disagree. And guess what – I’m a woman.