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Hi there. I'm researching for a diary, an outline/draft of which appears below. I'm interested in hearing well-reasoned and well-sourced anecdotes both for and opposed to the thesis (please feel free to add information to this page!). My goal is to craft a constructive diary which is not a "Kos is a pig" hit piece, but instead is a catalyst for greater awareness and improvement.


Sexism at Daily Kos

Part 1: The Words


We can't divine the motivation behind someone's words, and so what we judge as "sexist" is a post-hoc assessment of someone's words and actions. I've tried to assess this fairly.

Incidents supporting the premise:

  • The Pie fight: The dKosopedia article on this incident is well-written, but many of the links have expired; the "less risque" image is saved as part of the article; the "more risque" version of the ad is available at The Internet Archive. The "sanctimonious women's studies set" is pretty darned offensive, although Kos did withdraw that statement later.
    • Why is this sexist? What if the objection had come up in regard to some other sexual taboo? If the advertisement were for a Lord of the Flies remake and featured a half-clothed preteen, for example, would Markos have written about "sanctimonious elementary-ed majors" who objected to the content?
  • Abortion not a "core principle": In a 2005 diary, Kos accused abortion-rights activists of "hijacking" the party, placing their interests alongside spotted owls in a list of "pet causes". He /does/ explain further that he considers "privacy" to be a core issue, from which freedom of choice is a consequence, but the spotted-owl comparison reveals his disdain for these activists.
    • Why is this sexist? The idea that abortion is a consequence of a larger value like privacy isn't inherently sexist -- in fact, I think that's a good way of framing the issue. On the other hand, the word hijack connotes explosive, irrational violence, and accusing women's groups of being irrational exploits a stereotype -- he might as well have suggested that they were "on the rag". He used the word hijack again in another 2005 diary, and this time, it's also in the context of discussion abortion-rights, though this time, from the right. I'm acknowledging the ambiguity here, because we've grown accustomed to the notion of "hijacking threads" or "hijacking diaries", and that's softened the meaning of that word, but I've been unable to find any other examples of Kos accusing someone of hijacking a whole party.
  • Death Threats and blogging: In this 2007 post, Kos made light of death threats received by a fellow blogger. Since he doesn't take the threats he receives himself, seriously, he's categorically decided not to take her threats seriously, either.
    • Why is this sexist? Well, duh. Kos has had military training, and he's wealthy enough to live in a safe and secure neighborhood. I'm happy for his success that he feels safe, but that doesn't give him the right to decide that this other blogger should display the same macho bravado that he does with regard to threats.

  • Hillary Clinton, "Blah Blah Blah": On May 20, and again on June 1, Kos summarized a speech by Hillary Clinton using the dismissive and disrespectful words "blah blah blah". The May 20 incident was the first time he had used "blah blah blah" against a fellow Democrat (or /any/ candidate) in a front-page story; the r preponderance of "blah blah blah" comments in the June 1 diary show the extent to which Kos's disrespect emboldened other posters. Only after it had been pointed out in comments that this practice was rude, did he begin using the phrase against both candidates. (example) In fact, the only prior use of "blah blah blah" I could find by a front-pager was this front-page story, where it's not used against a candidate at all.
    • Why is this sexist? It's /certainly/ disrespectful, and prior to the May 20 diary, Kos had never done this to any other candidate. It feeds on the disproven stereotype of women as talkative harpies (Alice Kramden? Stella Mudd?). In the June 1 diary, he elaborates by saying that the Clinton campaign was "about 'me, me, me'", conflating political ambition with personal vanity. This is another phrase he's used only for Hillary Clinton.
  • Hillary Clinton, "(Not) One Nice Thing": On June 3, following the South Dakota primary, Markos wrote about Hillary Clinton's speech that "she hasn't said one nice thing about Obama." The reporting was clearly false; the transcript of her speech is here. She specifically stated:
    • Senator Obama has run an "extraordinary race".
    • He has "inspired ... Americans to care about politics".
    • "Our democracy is stronger and more vibrant" because of him.
    • "It has been an honor" to compete with him.
    • "It is an honor to call him my friend."
  • EMILY's List Hit Piece: On May 13, Steve Cohen (D-TN) made a sexist comparison between Hillary Clinton and Glenn Close's character in Fatal Attraction, which he later renounced. (source with video link). On May 30, EMILY's List, an organization whose stated purpose is to elect "pro-choice Democratic women" to office, endorsed his opponent in the Democratic primary. In a June 7 diary front-paged by Smintheus, the accusation is made that "Why would EMILY's List work to defeat an incumbent Congressman with a history of working in favor of their chosen issue? The answer has to be sexism; he's a man. No other explanation can possibly make sense." Nowhere in the diary is any mention made of the possible "other explanation" that Cohen had just two weeks earlier made a sexist comment about a sitting Democratic senator. Later in the diary, the accusation is made that "Tinker's campaign has refused to denounce or repudiate" an anti-semitic flyer against Steve Cohen distributed by a third party. In fact, Tinker did denounce the flyer, saying "I would not stand for any attacks on the Jewish faith or any other faith for that matter and I just want to make sure everybody knows that Nikki Tinker doesn't play those types of politics".

Incidents rebutting the premise:

  • Kos Dozen: One of the very first candidates for which DailyKos actively solicited funds was Stephanie Herseth. The first "slate" of candidates---the "Kos Dozen"---included five women among the dozen (Murphy, Barend, Schrader, Schneider, Farmer). In particular, Ginny Schrader became a bit of a 'netroots phenomenon' due to Kos's efforts.

Other relevant incidents:

  • Front pagers: The first two 'classes' of front pagers were all male; the first female front pager was selected in November 2004 (source); Markos specifically acknowledged the lack of a female voice on the front page in announcing this decision but insists that it wasn't a factor in his selection. Since then, he's promoted a woman to "Senior Editor".
  • Tea and crumpets: This recommended diary about Hillary's role in the North Ireland peace process received a rebuke from Echidne Of The Snakes.
    • Why is this sexist? All politicians fluff up their accomplishments; whether it's overstating one's role in "creating" the Internet, or crowing that one "got it right" on Iraq. The mocking tone and the snarky use of "sexism LA LA LA" as a poll option reveals the poster's sneer that any complaints of sexism are really acts of victimization.
    • But on the other hand: This diary never got front-paged, and the responses to the diary were mixed.

  • Other things to research: Coverage of Imus's "nappy headed ho's" remark; coverage of Shuster's "pimped out" remark (tarheel74 has a lot of primary links to follow on this story; this diary was front-paged, and this diary as well as this one was recommended during that period); coverage of Ferraro's remarks on Obama vs. Matthews's remarks on Clinton. Is this sexist or just ironic: Scott Kleeb photos.

Part 2: The People

I'd like to get women (and men) to testify about how they perceive the environment here at Daily KOS. We've had a number of members leave over various incidents, for example, and if they could help pinpoint what led them to no longer feel safe or comfortable here, that'd be revealing in a way that the analysis of specific posts in Part 1 isn't.

MSOC is an obvious candidate to be interviewed; Ann Althouse has had some things to say on the subject in her blog. Who else? Big Tent Democrat? Jerome Armstrong? Jen from Feministing? Cindy Sheehan?

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