December 18, 2006
On Blogging, Sexism & Natali's Departure
I felt like I just started working with Natali Del Conte at Ziff, when she decided to switch over to the world of blogging, and only three weeks later, I learn that she is moving on again.
My perspective on the banter of why she left TechCrunch (sexist comments and boorish fratboys, as one person put it) is slightly tainted after spending time in Paris recently, where men will be men, but polite men and women are women, but use their feminine energy as a strength in ways American women have forgotten how to.
How we got from Marilyn Monroe to Rosanne in a couple of decades is beyond me, but we're there, swimming (and at times sinking in it) and it all seems normal to us for the most part, because we've grown accustomed to this world of new roles. EXCEPT for quiet coffee and wine get togethers with friends where we reveal to each other that we're not quite sure how we should behave anymore.
I have written about this last European trip so much, not because it was new to me, but because it was "old," meaning that not much has changed from when I lived there, and it was fabulous to return to a being a woman just for awhile.
Sometimes, I feel as if I have to succumb to Web 2.0 t-shirts and jeans to see the community eye-to-eye at times. (And perhaps even do even more masculine things like putting a sticker or two on my laptop, wearing a brightly colored rucksack on my back with logo and carrying a blackberry on my belt).
Putting out too much feminine energy feels uncomfortable at times and foreign. I go to New York or Miami just to get a "feminine fix," where I can dress like a woman and behave like one.....and most importantly -- enjoy it.
Harsh? Maybe, but reality for many of us. Have we gone too far? I was intrigued by the comments on Mike's post about Natali's departure.
Says one: "Is The Tech Crowd Polluted With Boorish Fratboys? And another adds: The user comments in her articles were always pretty sexist and it just shows how immature those of us here in Silicon Valley can be."
My thoughts: NO, not boorish, and not necessarily unkind or uneducated - just inexperienced in communication and social skills, particularly with women.
Says Mike: "It’s hard to explain how brutal user comments can be. And if you are a woman you often have to deal with sexism as well. Natali was dealing with both. She’s never had that kind of direct, anonymous feedback, and it’s clear it got to her to some extent. I’m very sorry for that."
My thoughts: an honest and direct response.
People have a hard time with change in general, so a switch from Matt Marshall to Natali's writing style overnight was probably hard for some to handle. I think giving it longer than three weeks would have been telling. Things die down in time. When I've seen things like this happen before, turnaround happens when you step up to the plate with a more creative and interesting approach, so that the idiots who make inappropriate comments start to look more and more ridiculous.
Another comments: "Civility does not come attached automatically and quite frankly that’s the point. It’s a wild and crazy platform that allows for the democratization of people to voice their opinions. You take the lumps with the sugar you hypocritical bastards."
My Thoughts: True perhaps and why everyone loves blogging so much. Just because we now have an open platform does not mean we should be brutal and uncivilized to each other. Respect the platform. Say what you need to, but if people turn obnoxious and ugly, why deal with that? Life is too short. Move on and politely tell them to do so as well.
Another person points out: "You think Natali had it bad, imagine what female sports writers go through. At least Natali didn’t have to walk into the Facebook locker room and interview Mark Zuckerberg in his underwear. Remember when Joe Namath tried to make out with Suzi Kolber on national TV?"
My Thoughts: Hear hear. I know a couple of women who have covered sports in a more traditional media environment and they have had to deal with sexism on a regular basis. Right or wrong, you either toughen up or get another job. Sad but true. Things will change over time and have already started to. We just have a long long way to go.
And lastly, my favorite: "And then morons united are surprised that there are not more women in this business." I don't even need to add anything to this one.
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Posted by: paul | Dec 19, 2006 8:32:05 AM
Thanks Renee for this nice post. To be honest, the sexist comments were not at all the main reason that I parted with TechCrunch but they were a notable phenomenon. I wish it were different for us gals but if I had let the comments break me, I wouldn't be doing any of us any favors. We persevere, eh?
Posted by: Natali Del Conte | Dec 20, 2006 9:52:01 AM
"How we got from Marilyn Monroe to Rosanne in a couple of decades is beyond me, but we're there..."
Huh? Rosanne? What decade is it? Is Rosanne still relevant? IMDB shows that her latest effort is a guest spot in "My Name is Earl."
Angelina Jolie would be a more apropriate bookend to Marilyn Monroe, as she is a movie icon / sex symbol. Angelina has more class, drive, productivity and determination than even Norma Jean ever had.
Don't worry about the state of the state just because the anonimity of blogs allow people to let their crasser sides loose. The same would happen if there were blogs in the 1960's.
Posted by: GWB | Dec 21, 2006 2:05:56 PM
Posted by: youtube | Feb 22, 2008 6:33:21 AM