Look, I have a blog that's called Works Cited, so I'm going to have to just point out something that's been driving me nuts.
Rei Terada recently posted an insightful reflection on the aims and meaning of WikiLeaks, drawing on some easily available but little-read essays by Julian Assange. There are still zero comments on that blog post. My colleague Aaron Bady (or "Adrian," as Clay Shirky recently accidentally dubbed him in a Twitter shout-out) then wrote a post on WikiLeaks that I feel confident in saying would have been impossible without Terada's post. (Aaron explicitly links her post.)
Aaron's post has received 326 comments and counting and links from the likes of Jon Dresner and Clay Shirky. Granted, a large percentage of those comments come from internet armchair-policy-wonk blowhards, but that comes with the territory. While it makes sense that Aaron's post would initially attract more comments than Terada's--he has a wider readership and posts more regularly than she does--the stark disparity between the attention the two posts are getting strikes me as almost unbelievable. Three hundred and twenty-six versus zero. Without diminishing Aaron's post--it is smart, and bonus points for gratuitous Teddy Roosevelt--Terada's already contains the core insight that makes Aaron's post so interesting, i.e. that Wikileaks is less about revealing secrets for the sake of the specific information involved than about disrupting what Assange calls, with a capaciousness that powerfully reorients the way we understand legitimacy, "conspiracy."
Given these facts, it's hard not to see this as another episode of When A Woman Says It, Crickets; When A Man Says It (Later), Genius!!! There are certainly circumstantial reasons that Aaron's post would get more attention than Terada's, but there's no legitimate reason that her post would be ignored. Every professional woman has had this happen to her, and every time it happens, the ghost of Simone de Beauvoir weeps. Now, I'm sure Terada herself isn't even remotely fussed about this. What would she want with three hundred blowhards commenting on her blog? But whether or not any individual commenter or linker is thinking, "whose substantive post should I read and link, that of a dude or that of a lady? Oh who are we kidding definitely a dude!", the effect is the same: dude gets a signal boost and is credited with genius, lady disappears from the political conversation. Citation is partly about credit, and there's some credit due here.
I'm not holding my breath, though.
UPDATE. I've seen the following objections raised to the above post, and while I probably oughtn't address this gender studies 101 stuff, well, I will -- briefly.
1. There are factors besides gender that explain the popularity of Aaron's blog post.
Response: Yes, of course there are. My point (as I explicitly state above) is not that people who read or link to Aaron are making an active choice to ignore one of his sources on the grounds of gender, but rather that this pattern (as Meg brilliantly abbreviates it, WAWSIC;WAMSILG) is pervasive, and that this is objectively speaking an instance thereof. Voilà les crickets. Voilà the attention. This post first of all an attempt to draw more attention to the earlier and very worth-while post by Rei Terada. It is, second, a remark on the attention disparity, and on the broader pattern of failure to attend to what women say that is necessarily its context. This is a gender issue irrespective of whether any individual person is consciously or unconsciously deciding that women aren't worth listening to.
2. One quite often doesn't know the gender of a blogger, and 3. one of the first and most influential bloggers to link Aaron was Digby, a woman (2, 3).
Response: Since my argument was never "people are ignoring Rei Terada purely because she is a woman," these objections aren't quite on point. But it's worth observing that, since femininity is marked and masculinity is unmarked in present culture, the blogger of unknown gender, in the absence of stereotypical feminine markers, is usually (consciously or unconsciously) presumed masculine. Digby is actually the classic example of this. Digby rose to prominence as a left blogger under her pseudonym, and was for years almost universally presumed male, until she "came out" as female by accepting an award in person in 2007. She's understood as female now, but her reputation was made when she was "ungendered," which was received by default as male. Naturally you are enlightened and truly without gender bias in all that you do. But generally speaking the world isn't.