Women, Wikipedia and Flat Tires

A recent New York Times article reports that only 15% of contributors to Wikipedia are women.  As a result, entries on “The Sopranos” or “The Simpsons” are in-depth analyses, while those on “friendship bracelets” and “Sex and the City” are a meagre few paragraphs.

Where’s Camille Paglia when you need her? She writes several possibly ground-breaking essays on Madonna in the 1980s and she is still vilified for her dilettantism (among other flaws, I know).  And now there is the call for more women writers beafing up those important entries on Jimmy Choo shoes and the  Tantric sex episode. The goal is to have 25% of Wikipedia entries written by women by 2015. 

Despite my wee sarcasm, I recognize the need for at least some alarm that women are not participating in one of the most widely read publications on the Internet. Why aren’t we? Do we prefer to give away our writing talents in other forums, such as blogs?  Is the gender gap the same for those other encyclopedias that actually pay a nominal, quite nominal, stipend, and praise us with an actual byline? 

I’m almost motivated to develop/originate a few of those Wikipedia entries myself.  I checked out Louisa May Alcott’s entry, and while it is filled with good links, references, footnotes, etc., it’s rather brief for a woman who has had three  biographies written about her in the last few years. (Her contemporary, Mark Twain, has an entry that is more than double the length.)  If, as the New York Times article suggests, this is true of many of the entries on women, topics of interest to most women, women’s issues generally, then it’s a notable, if also somewhat amusing, problem.

Not unlike the problem a young colleague had last night. She’s a brilliant psychology professor, in her early 30s, athletic, outgoing, and independent. But when she got a flat tire last night, who did she call?  Another colleague/friend, who threw a coat on over her pjs and tried to figure out how to change a tire (undoubtedly Googling instructions), but then gave up in frustration (and, admittedly, lack of a flashlight).

And who did she call? My husband, who, infused with male pride that came upon him despite himself, immediately got off the couch at 8pm, wine glass still half filled, whipped on his shoes, grabbed a flashlight, with extra batteries, and rushed to the young damsels’ aid.  Thirty minutes later, he was back on the couch, and the young psychologist texted on Facebook the following confession: “Nothing like a flat tire to take away all that sense of female independence.”

This is a woman who teaches both the Violence and Aggression class and the course on Positive Psychology, so she has a wonderful sense of irony.

FYI: I stayed home, finished my wine, and read blogs on the Internet while hubby was changing my colleague’s tire. You see, I would have called AAA, a service I can now easily afford, which also affords me that sense of female independence.

I rejoined hubby on the sofa when he returned and we both noted the odd connection between the Wikipedia stats and the Feminist Psychologist’s Flat Tire Plight. A woman needs to revise the How to Change a Flat Tire entry, stat!

Added 2/7/11: WikiProject Women’s History is one response to the gender imbalance at Wikipedia! Read all about it at Cliotropic’s place.

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Pretty in Pink

Women beware: Madison Avenue is targeting YOU this month of May: you like pink, you count calories, yet you obviously need to pleasure yourself with more than just chocolate.

First, we hear about the new pastel laptop called Della, which is somehow specially designed for the woman who wants to count calories or find recipes–unlike “regular” laptops, I presume.  Like some of those responding to Jill at Feministe, I actually like the idea of a pink or purple laptop (my current steel-gray Dell is serviceable, but hey, it doesn’t really make me smile in the morning), but it’s the marketing to women as ditzy-broads who don’t worry their silly little heads about actual working on a computer that is the horror of the whole campaign.

Then there’s the new Fling candy bar, marketed to women: it’s wrapped in hot pink and shaped, get this, like a finger,  so, well, you know, women can USE it.  The tag lines in the ad include  “Pleasure yourself”  and “Naughty, but not that naughty.”

Again, I adore most chocolate, hot pink wrappers don’t bug me, and I suppose MOST candy bars have a long shape (Reeses Peanut Butter cups excluded–though I suppose we can sexualize those yummy, creamy cups, too), and I’m looking forward to actually tasting this new candy since I, like the Bow Wow Wows, want candy  (and what fun to test if it lives up to its promise).  Actually, as a woman I prefer the blatant appeal to my desire for hot sex than an appeal to my somewhat less passionate desire to collect recipes. 

But really, what’s going on here?

Update: Bitch Magazine has more info on Fling, including a link to the ad.

Top 100 Women in History: Annie’s List

okeefe-cannaFeministe has a post asking for readers’ Top 100 Women in History.  I started to comment, then gave up realizing I’d take over the blog if I kept going—plus it’s too much trouble doing hyperlinks in comment fields. But here, I can go on and on and on……(and yes, it’s very literary-centered, but that’s my thing, and it’s not in any logical order):

 

 

·         Mary McCarthy (of the flying diaphragm scene in The Group, and one of the New York intellectuals)

 

·         Tillie Olsen (writer—“I Stand Here Ironing” and Silences— and activist)

 

·         Rebecca Harding Davis (working class writer of haunting “Life in the Iron Mills”)

 

·         Lucille Clifton (who loves her hips)

 

·         Margaret Fuller (author of Woman in the 19th Century)

 

·         Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (of course)

 

·         Judy Syfers (author of “Why I Want a Wife”)

 

·         Sojourner Truth (“Ain’t I A Woman?”)

 

·         Louisa May Alcott (not just of Little Women fame, she supported her entire family for decades)

 

·         Emma Goldman (I still think of Maureen Stapleton playing her in the film Reds)

 

·         Zitkala-Sa (author of The School Days of an Indian Girl)

 

·         Sui Sin Far (author of Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian)

 

·         Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Women)

 

·         Leslie Marmon Silko (author of Ceremony)

 

·         Georgia O’Keefe (awesome artist)

 

·         Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein (literary and social couple of 1920s Paris)

 

·         Kate Chopin (her story “The Storm” was turn of the 20th century soft porn, and beautifully written; her novel The Awakening is a feminist masterpiece)

 

·         Alice Walker (for “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens” especially)

 

·         Charlotte Perkins Gilman (“The Yellow Wallpaper” and “Herland” are both feminist classics)

 

·         Adrienne Rich (“Diving into the Wreck” and her collection of essays “Of Lies, Secrets and Silences”)

 

 

I’ll continue another day….I’ve barely begun with this list!

So Much to Read, So Little Time

There are several recent articles that I’ve read that I so very much wish to write about–but considering the presentation I have to give in less than 12 hours, and the 70+ researched essays needing grading, that will just have to wait.

But I post links and brief descriptions here for those who want to read ahead:

Happy Reading!