Girls, Got Spine?
UPDATE II: A Dissenting Opinion
It’s a generalization, of course, to say that the Web or the blogosphere is dominated by men and their voices, and there are certainly examples of women weighing in on the most contentious issues of the day, on both the left and the right. But in light of the remarks aimed at Howell which caused the Washingtonpost.com to close down its comments section, we can at least ask these questions. Is there a gender gap on the Web? Are women subjected to different kinds of personal attacks and criticism than men? Would the Post’s Web site have felt the need to close its comments if a male were under attack? Or is this entire premise just a false attempt at describing some kind of non-existent glass ceiling on the Web? Just asking. A Web Without Women?
Deborah Howell is giving the rest of us a bad name. It's so infuriating that she went into hiding. Those meanies "personally attacked" her, so she hid behind the mighty masthead.
Ms. Howell vented quite a bit about how she'd been in the business for a long time and was tough, but that the comments on her blog were just too much to take. This is emblematic of what's happened to journalism. It's what happens when a big institution decides to back their people even when they are wrong.
Oprah got into real trouble when the masses reared up. Even the major media went after her. But at least Oprah finally came clean. Her personal epiphany came about because she actually read the irate emails, read the comment section on her site, seeing that her loyal readers were furious at what she'd done. Then she reevaluated her position and did the right thing.
Even when Jane participated in the WashPost live chat, Deborah Howell was nowhere to be seen and we still don't know why.
Women on the web need to be thick skinned.
I've been attacked for years, with hate mail that would set your hair on fire, some of which I can't post. Yes, some things aren't for public consumption. But the answer isn't to shut down comments and slink away. Message to Ms. Howell, girl, get a spine.
Now it's your turn. Open thread, you know what to do...