Women and Public Speaking…

by Natalie P.

November 26, 2009 | Filed Under Social idiocy, Work | 5 Comments

At the Web2.0 Expo last week, a poorly-delivered talk by Dana Boyd of Microsoft caused quite a controversy, and the dust still hasn’t settled.  While the talk was disastrous in many respects, it wasn’t her poor delivery that is at the center of the discussion – it’s how people in the audience behaved, and the resulting comments on the live twitter back-channel feed that was playing behind her during that talk, that has drawn the fire and ire of many people.  The Eloquent Woman blog has an excellent article entitled The object in Danah Boyd’s Web 2.0 talk about why so many women feel uncomfortable in public speaking engagements.   Well worth the read, and she’s spot-on when she says,

Despite all the discussion, calls for apologies and outrage over this episode, I’ve yet to see observers pick up on an important point that Boyd herself makes: Some of the comments broadcast on Twitter by some of her audience members were objectifying and sexual in nature.

How many bad male speakers have to put up with that?   Sadly she confirms that,

In 2009, we’re seeing yet again an issue that has plagued women speakers since the days of ancient Greece and Rome:  Attempting to silence women by treating them as sexual objects (or hysterics, or other negatives).

Why does it feel like we still have a long way to go…?

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5 comments so far
  1. Charissa November 28, 2009 10:34 pm

    Yeah. You saw it a lot with Hillary Clinton. Either she shed a few tears for something and was criticized as a “weak woman” or she was strong, direct, forthright, challenging, etc. and was criticized for “trying too hard to be a man.”

    You can’t win.

  2. Charissa November 28, 2009 10:35 pm

    Oh, and I appear to be getting the following error:
    “Fatal error: Call to undefined function spa_default_options() in /var/www/hbi/htdocs/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/ald-spa/ald-spa.php on line 88”

    Not sure if it’s relevant, as it was after the recaptcha, but I thought I’d send it. Firefox 5.0.something, Vista.

  3. looloo December 3, 2009 8:27 am

    Excuse me for interrupting.

    There is a DANGEROUS movement occuring right under our noses, straight ahead blindspot:

    http://whatmenthinkofwomen.blogspot.com/

    And, I posted a comment on this link
    http://mensrightsboard.blogspot.com/2009/01/covina-massacre.html
    —————–

    You want to know about ‘hypocracy’..!?

    The bastards that are posting comments on this ‘very’ blog are continually hosting a string of crimes, post offensive and remedial drivel (EVEN ON GOOGLE BLOGS) non-stop. They have a good run with media, PARTICULARLY on-line media, and they employ the use of ricin and other military tools here that they should NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO POSESS!

    You bastards wanna try and kill me again? Huh!?

    Let me quote, I’m sure this will hit home with at least one of you: “One day, your little run will be over..”

    December 3, 2009 5:07 AM
    ——————–

    THIS IS NOT A JOKE! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE!?

  4. Charlotte December 10, 2009 2:49 pm

    Deny women the right to be wrong, and make occasional boo-boos in style, presentation, or any of the other kinds of imperfection we see males make on an everyday basis and you’ve stifled us more effectively than if you locked the gates to participating at all.

    Because our normal human desire for approval, plus any insecurity, will make every other gal feel that she can’t stand the heat of ridicule, and all in all the whole thing works out finer and dandier than a scold’s bridle.

    We will self-censor, and also censor other women who “let the side down” and/or make US feel bad by daring to fly where we crawl.

    Job done!

  5. SC January 13, 2010 12:01 am

    Well there’s no time to be sentimental or call out inequities in today’s world. What people care about is whether something agrees with their sentiments or not.

    Her speech did not and will not reach people who didn’t like it. Whether or not it is based on the fact she is female is secondary to them. For those who fault it based on the fact she’s female they are truly ignorant.

    And I wonder, why bother talking to these walls? Some have proven they clearly don’t care so why should she worry her pretty little head over what they think if these concrete minds cannot change?

    If feminism was something new, something that just happened, of course we should worry. But the feminist movement didn’t start yesterday. Whether or not people care to be fair is based on their choice.

    As for this being the community she needs to reach, I’ve seen extreme sexism firsthand in the workplace (Japan/Hong Kong) and realized I have two choices: put up with it or move out.

    So while we don’t have to be silent victims about it, there’s no need to have the standard butthurt manifesto that men get heard more than women.

    If people in her community are chauvinists then that means she unfortunately has to prove her mettle like her ancestors did.

    Life isn’t fair and there’s no time to cry about it if we want to dance toe to toe with men.


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