On 5/16/2011 2:46 AM, Sarah Stierch wrote:

This gap does exist, in fact an entire mailing list (which I have cc'd here and I encourage anyone interested in the topic to join) was created to work towards bridging this gap. This was triggered by an article titled "Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikipedia's Contributor List" by Noam Cohen, published Jan 30 2011 in The New York Times:

    First I agree the image wasn't appropriate,  and my reason would be that the WMF has a very broad audience.  WMF sites are frequently used in K-12 education,  and although they aren't perfectly family friendly,  people don't complain a lot because pictures of strange genital piercings don't get shoved in your face when you're looking for something else.

    In the last ten years there's been a lot of literature from Japan about how people react to this sort of image -- Saito Tamaki's book "Beautiful Fighting Girl" makes the case that the kind of desire people have for these images is a  little bit queer,  largely because of the visceral reaction that other people have to this desire.  Hiroki Azuma's book "Otaku: Japan's Database Animals" is also important.

    As for the "Why don't women do X?" narrative,  this is selfish meme,  much like the memes that are embedded in that image.  It's a psuedoconversation that circulates endlessly but never goes anywhere and never comes to a conclusion.  It gives people the feeling that feminism is present (if not women),  and displaces other narratives that are actually dangerous.  One of the reasons I quit my membership of the ACM was that I couldn't stand the endless hand-wringing pseudo-dialogue about perceived problems in the academic computer science community that circled around an elephant in the room that nobody could talk about.

    It's generally a mistake to study an absence because there isn't anything to study.  There are two good questions you could ask (1) "What motivates a small fraction of men to do X?" and (2) "What do women do all day?"  Both of these are dangerous.  (1) suggests that "men who do X" are defective,  strange,  queer,  not quite right.  The other one (2) is the black hole of feminism,  a question that,  if it could be talked about,  means we'd have a women's movement,  not an anti-anti-abortion movement and a collection of selfish memes,.

    These discourses of lack ~are~ dangerous because they've handed political control of the West to the right wing.  The system can tolerate an "academic left" that curates a carefully selected collection of selfish memes that call attention to certain absences and make other absences invisible.

    One major issue in our culture is that the vast majority of people belong to a voiceless social class.  You'll find that a very specific strata of people,  in terms of class and ethnicity,  write editorials for papers like the New York Times.  Certain kinds of people are in academia,  always asking "Why don't women do X?"

    Other people don't get their stories told,  and rather have their stories made up of them to them by people of other classes and ethnicities.  They're a shadow that the articulate class only sense every November when they pull the Republican lever.