Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Felix Salmon Is Very Sorry He Said Nice Things About Women, Sort Of

Backhanded apology alert! Women, you can't read. But Reuters blogger Felix Salmon should've known that. He's really sorry.

Apparently Salmon pissed off a vocal chunk of the feminist Twitterverse with a recent blog post about Maria Popova and the medium-large pile of money she makes for being nice to everybody on the Internet.

If you, like the staff of Women Do, were under a rock somewhere when this went down, here's the offending excerpt:

The consistently positive and upbeat tone to Popova’s blog might generate healthy Amazon income as a side-effect, but it’s also genuine: she’s one of those bloggers — Gina Trapani is another very successful example — who have no time for snark and who naturally look for things to celebrate rather than things to tear down. (Just listen to that O’Reilly talk: she dishes out huge amounts of praise to virtually everybody she cites.) 
To a certain extent, this is a female thing: positive happy bloggers tend to be female, as do their readers.* And when someone like Anne-Marie Slaughter supports Maria Popova to the tune of $300 per year, there’s definitely an element there of supporting the sisterhood. Which is a good thing! 
But to many male observers, there’s something a bit off there. 

Salmon then turns to fellow manblogger Andrew Sullivan, for a disquisition on why paywalls are so much more manly professional than these panhandling tip jars popular amongst the girlyblog set.

Today, Salmon has something to explain. It's not that he thinks women are nice. Not even women bloggers. Au contraire.

Actually he thinks nice bloggers are women. Take that, haterati!

My first reaction was indignation: I hadn’t generalized about women, or women bloggers. If I say that “brain surgeons tend to be men”, you really haven’t learned anything about men, or about male surgeons. Men don’t tend to be brain surgeons, and neither do male surgeons.
 But on reflection, including that passage was pretty obviously stupid. For one thing, my language (“female thing”, “male observers”) naturally and unnecessarily raised a lot of hackles: there’s a line between being plainspoken and being needlessly provocative, and I crossed it. In doing so, I made it far too easy for my readers to miss the precise meaning of “most positive happy bloggers are female”, and to read it instead as “most female bloggers are positive and happy”, or even “most females are positive and happy”.

Being a man data junkie, Salmon, unlike a distressing number of reporter types, is well able to tell the difference between A--->B and B--->A.* But he knows you can't, and he really should've taken your dumbness into account. He's really, really sorry he forgot you can't do logic. It won't happen again.

Carly Carioli over at the Phoenix, who brought this to our attention, points out -- and quite rightly, too -- "If there was a Women Do bat signal, it would be shining over this guy's head." Felix Salmon, we detect an air of smug condescension about you, and we hereby shake our tiny fists in your general direction.

It must be added: If it's true that the key to financial success in the ladybloggoverse is 1.) be nice, and 2.) put out a tip jar, Women Do is clearly doin' it wrong.

*N.B.: Women Do is officially a pro-logic blog. Any invalid syllogisms that are brought to the attention of management will be taken out back and shot.