Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Week In Review: How To Be A Feminist Activist From Mount Olympus

1.  Thought you might like to know that I sent learned letters of complaints to most of the UK and US websites which so lazily used the Netmums study without having a look at it. That's ten letters. I received three automated answers, the type which is sent to all weird people who send complaints in, the type which says how the recipient drowns in these letters so don't accept an answer.

Which I don't expect, naturally. I know my place. But the BBC in fact did react to my letter and made one small adjustment in their report on the non-scientific Netmums survey. Can you spot the adjustment? It's still wrong, of course, for reasons I discuss in the first post about the survey. But at least it's a small step in the right direction.

I take my helmet off for BBC. They tried and now I will try to link to them more often than any other British sources. That's how it goes.

2.  As I mentioned before,  I also wrote to the authors of the study directly, because I naively thought that they would wish to correct the flawed summary of the study.  Instead, they removed the detailed study results from the Internet and then told me that the results I had used were not the most recent ones.  When I asked for the link to the most recent ones I was told that they were not written up yet.  But somehow, despite the results not being written up yet, the summary has been around for over a week.

3.  All this (from the first post to sending the letters) took me at least twenty hours of work (and I'm very fast, divinely fast).  The impact of all that work is minimal.  It certainly does not change the images readers got from all those biased summaries splashed everywhere, and it is those images which now enter the societal subconsciousness when it comes to mothers and so on.

Most people would argue that my work was pretty much wasted.  But note that this is exactly how false information, drop by drop, turns into a large ocean of sexist thought and then sexist action.  The system is geared toward continuing that process and consumers of it all are far too convinced that All Is Well on the other side of this media circus.  

On the whole, though, I'm pleased.  My own conscience is clean now and the data is out there should anyone else care.  But you can see how impossible it is for a part-time goddess to do something like this all on her own.