Those Sexist Wikipedians!

Reality is sexist - so it must be changed!

Scragged has never had pretensions of being a bastion of investigative journalism - not being friends with George Soros or Carlos Slim, we simply haven't got the resources for that - but every now and again, we wish we were.

No, we don't dream of finding the next Deep Throat.  What would be nice would be to discover absolutely new and startling information guaranteed to make all right-thinking people's hair stand on end, as the New York Times has been privileged to do in revealing the giant global sexist conspiracy behind Wikipedia.

Quoth the Times:

In 10 short years, Wikipedia has accomplished some remarkable goals. More than 3.5 million articles in English? Done. More than 250 languages? Sure. But another number has proved to be an intractable obstacle for the online encyclopedia: surveys suggest that less than 15 percent of its hundreds of thousands of contributors are women...

Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation, has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015, but she is running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men and, some say, uncomfortable for women.  [emphasis added]

Not being professional ferreters-out of previously obscured truths, we had made the general assumption that the Internet is free and open to all regardless of gender, race, creed, color, or any of that sort of thing.  Wikipedia, as its very name implies, was designed for the express purpose of being open to anyone with knowledge to share, a hankering to share it, and the willingness to smite a keystroke or two.

What's more, although feminists have oft complained of inherent sexism and racism by the dominant white patriarchy, we thought that the Internet by its nature made such bias impossible.  After all, the only thing identifying Wikipedia contributors is their screen name, which can be anything at all, and nobody knows but you.

We thought the safety of online anonymity and obscurity extended even to ugly women - after all, on the Internet nobody knows you're a dog.  But, the Times has discovered, we were wrong!  It's not so!  Sexism reigns despite the lack of any possibility of intentional bias!

With so many subjects represented — most everything has an article on Wikipedia — the gender disparity often shows up in terms of emphasis. A topic generally restricted to teenage girls, like friendship bracelets, can seem short at four paragraphs when compared with lengthy articles on something boys might favor, like, toy soldiers or baseball cards, whose voluminous entry includes a detailed chronological history of the subject.

Even the most famous fashion designers — Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo — get but a handful of paragraphs. And consider the disparity between two popular series on HBO: The entry on “Sex and the City” includes only a brief summary of every episode, sometimes two or three sentences; the one on “The Sopranos” includes lengthy, detailed articles on each episode.

Here again, the Times is breaking new ground.  As regards "Sex and the City," we were under the impression that men were quite interested in at least the first half of that equation, whether it be in the city, country, barn, back seat, or back alley - most of which environs have featured in one episode or another.  When considering the subjects of getting whacked or getting laid, we'd lean towards the latter; is the Times saying that the mostly-male Wikipedians are more interested in murder than in making out?

Wikipedia shares many characteristics with the hard-driving hacker crowd, says Joseph Reagle, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. This includes an ideology that resists any efforts to impose rules or even goals like diversity, as well as a culture that may discourage women.

“It is ironic,” he said, “because I like these things — freedom, openness, egalitarian ideas — but I think to some extent they are compounding and hiding problems you might find in the real world.”

Ms. Gardner, citing an example that resonates with her personally, pointed to the Wikipedia entry for one of her favorite authors, Pat Barker, which was a mere three paragraphs when she came across it. Ms. Barker is an acclaimed writer of psychologically nuanced novels, many set during World War I. She is 67 and lives in England.

Suddenly, light dawns! There is indeed something very profound in what the Times reveals.

Put down that Superman comic and
read The Feminine Mystique!

They believe that "egalitarian ideas compound problems in the real world."  They are convinced of this because, as the Internet demonstrates, when left to themselves people don't do or like what liberals want them to!

Read some feminist "psychologically nuanced" tripe set during WW I?  No thanks, most of us would rather veg out with Tony Soprano.  Expound on the transcendent stylings of Manolo Blahnik?  Bah, gimme Homer Simpson.

Would the world be a better place if more people read Proust and fewer watched World Wrestling Ultimate Smackdown?  Perhaps so, but that's not the way the world is - despite the best efforts of our know-it-all elites.

The big problem is that the current Wikipedia community is what came about by letting things develop naturally — trying to influence it in another direction is no longer the easiest path, and requires conscious effort to change.  [emphasis added]

There's the rub.  Note the Times' emphasis - "The big problem ... is what came about by letting things develop naturally..."

The Times - and, indeed, all liberals, statists, feminists, socialists, and the whole leftist panoply of control freaks - want to change human nature into something it never has been and never was designed to be.  Let things develop naturally?  Perish the thought - people might turn out some way we, the Enlightened and Exalted Ones, don't like!

Is it possible that women don't want to spend all day staring into a glowing screen and pecking away at a keyboard the way lonely male Sopranos-watching nerds do?  Is it possible that the authoresses so beloved by professors of Womyn's Studies inspire a dash for the exit in everyone else?

The very definition of freedom is for each individual person to choose what they want - not to be forced into "what's best for them," even if it would make the world a better place, not that controlling people ever actually does.

Would the world be a better place if more people paid for, and read, the New York Times and fewer watched Fox News?  We know the Times' opinion on that subject - freedom is fine as long as everyone does what the Times wants them to do.  Would the world be a better place if pregnant women were permitted to use parking places reserved for the handicapped?  Not according to the National Organization of Women - to them, having a baby at all is the wrong choice.

Insofar as we're still a truly free country - less so every year, but still better than others - individuals can still make at least some of their own choices, and the Left can gnash its teeth in impotent rage.  Long may it remain so!

Read other articles by Hobbes or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

Great command of the english language, a wordsmith of the first order! I
thoroughly enjoyed every word. Knowledgeable of the subject matter notable. And, I understood the intent of the entire article.

Congratulation on a job well done!

February 8, 2011 6:22 PM

NYT finally reports that sexual bias is greatly overstated:

Similarly, Larry Summers, then president of Harvard, was ostracized in 2005 for wondering publicly whether the preponderance of male professors in some top math and science departments might be due partly to the larger variance in I.Q. scores among men (meaning there are more men at the very high and very low ends). “This was not a permissible hypothesis,” Dr. Haidt said. “It blamed the victims rather than the powerful. The outrage ultimately led to his resignation. We psychologists should have been outraged by the outrage. We should have defended his right to think freely.”

Instead, the taboo against discussing sex differences was reinforced, so universities and theNational Science Foundation went on spending tens of millions of dollars on research and programs based on the assumption that female scientists faced discrimination and various forms of unconscious bias. But that assumption has been repeatedly contradicted, most recently in a study published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by two Cornell psychologists, Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams. After reviewing two decades of research, they report that a woman in academic science typically fares as well as, if not better than, a comparable man when it comes to being interviewed, hired, promoted, financed and published.

“Thus,” they conclude, “the ongoing focus on sex discrimination in reviewing, interviewing and hiring represents costly, misplaced effort. Society is engaged in the present in solving problems of the past.” Instead of presuming discrimination in science or expecting the sexes to show equal interest in every discipline, the Cornell researchers say, universities should make it easier for women in any field to combine scholarship with family responsibilities.

February 8, 2011 7:13 PM

HILARIOUS. I was rolling on the floor at the end of every paragraph. Got to bookmark you guys.

February 8, 2011 7:16 PM

Has anyone verified that the Wikipedians who claim to be men are in fact men? As you point out, nobody can verify what you say on the web without a lot of work. What if a bunch of women decided to play games? How credible are the estimates of men and women participation?

February 10, 2011 7:33 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...