Internet misogyny

by Chris Bertram on November 3, 2011

Anyone who blogs regularly gets annoyed by commenters. We do our best to screen out the worst here at Crooked Timber, but inevitably some get through, and, just as inevitably, they can sometimes upset us. But though I’ve had my intelligence, good judgement and moral character questioned many times, I’ve never had to cope with the kind of abuse female bloggers sometimes get. And the women at CT have had that too, from behind the protective shield of anonymity (though I did work out who on one occasion and warned a fairly prominent academic about what would happen if he came back). Now Helen Lewis Hasteley at the New Statesman has an article on this, complete with reports from some of the women who have been on the receiving end. Read the whole thing.

…but mostly circuses

by niamh on November 3, 2011

The Irish government must be disappointed that the Presidential election, held on 27 October, is now over, with the election of the Labour Party’s candidate Michael D Higgins as the country’s ninth President. We will now start to notice once again that unemployment is over 14%, we are still in the grip of austerity, and a new and even nastier budget is on the way. But for weeks on end, news coverage was dominated by the race for this almost entirely ceremonial office, while the government’s standing in the polls stayed quite high.

Long ago we could depend on having a pretty boring Presidential election contest involving a largely tribal, party-political choice between two elderly men. But the last two Presidents, both women, both lawyers, both academics from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and both strangely enough called Mary, transformed the office. Mary Robinson and Mary MacAleese adopted big, symbolic, non-party-political themes for their campaigns –women’s empowerment (‘Mná na hÉireann’), outreach to the diaspora, overcoming communal divisions, encouraging civil society organizations.

This year, the election attracted an unprecedented seven candidates. This colourful group included a prominent gay rights activist, a former Eurovision song contest winner, an ex-IRA leader, a poet-politician given to wearing floral ties, and a businessman best known for his role in the Irish version of the reality-TV programme Dragons’ Den (or Shark Tank in the USA).

What’s been especially striking is that several of the leading candidates embodied some issue that has been difficult or traumatic in recent Irish public life. And one after the other, what they had hoped to use as their main selling-point turned out to be their downfall. What follows is probably mostly for Irish political junkies, so I will put the rest below the fold…

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Guerrilla Librarians

by Henry Farrell on November 3, 2011

Scott’s new “article”: at _IHE_ provides some interesting follow up information on the role of librarians in _OWS_ (and their historical antecedents).

bq. Steven Syrek, a graduate student in English at Rutgers University, has been working at the OWS library since about the third week of the demonstration. “People talk about this movement like it’s a ragtag bunch of hippies,” he told me when we spoke by phone, “but the work we do is extremely well-organized.” The central commitment, Syrek says, is to create “a genuine clearinghouse for books and information.” Volunteers have adopted a slogan summing up what the library brings to the movement: “Literacy, Legitimacy, and Moral Authority.”

bq. … But the libraries at the anti-Wall Street protests are not quite as novel as they first appear. They have a tradition going back the better part of two centuries. In a recent article, Matthew Battles, the author of Libraries: An Unquiet History (Norton, 2004), noted the similarity to the reading rooms that served the egalitarian Chartist movement in Britain. … points out that libraries emerged as part of the sit-down strikes that unionized the American auto industry in the 1930s. …

bq. So the OWS library and its spin-offs have a venerable ancestry. But what distinguishes them is that the collections are drawing in people with a deep background in library work – who, aside from their feelings about the economic situation itself, are sometimes frustrated by the state of their profession. … The issue here isn’t just the impact on the librarians’ own standard of living. Their professional ethos is defined by a commitment to making information available to the public. They are very serious about that obligation, or at least the good ones are, and they are having a hard time meeting it. If knowledge is power, then expensive databases, fewer books, and shorter library hours add up to growing intellectual disenfranchisement. … joining the occupation movement is a way for librarians “to begin taking power back,” Henk says, “the power to create collections and to define what a library is for.” It is, in effect, a battle for the soul of the library as an institution.