A Rant About Women by Clay Shirky

A Pensive Clay Shirky

If you’ve not been following the heat/blowback from Clay Shirky’s rant about woman then its worth reading and following some of the strongly formatted comments which follow.

Personally I see what Clay is trying to say, but I don’t think its written as elegantly as he was thinking. That or he’d felt like causing a bit of a storm on the internet for a while. I wanted to pick up on two comments which sum up my thoughts…

Simon St.Laurent says:

There are two basic problems with this piece.

First, telling other people that the way to fix their problems is by being more like you is rarely a good strategy. It might work one-on-one occasionally, but the larger the cultural boundary this approach tries to cross, the less likely it is to produce much besides sparks.

Second, the behavior prescribed is behavior that a lot of us – men included – would like to see reduced rather than increased, punished rather than rewarded. That the first two examples both involved telling lies, however white they might seem from this perspective, doesn’t help make the case.

Stepping back and asking about how people listen seems to me a lot more likely to work than telling people they need to change how they talk.

There is a certainly amount of arrogance is asking someone to be more like yourself… I certainly don’t like it.

Marcus Brody says:

You’ve got the problem backwards. It isn’t that more women (and men) should act like hierarchical assholes, it’s that those assessing performance shouldn’t be so lazy that they only notice assholes. Your argument boils down to: people who assess performance are lazy and don’t bother to think critically so they are easily swayed by false aggrandizement. If you want to change the assessors opinions you should lie because the assessors don’t put in the effort to tell the difference between falsehoods and reality.

And you know what, most assessors are lazy, so lying does pay off. The call to action, though, shouldn’t be for more lying, but rather, less indolence on the part of those who are in a position to judge others.

Unfortunately for Clay, your starting to see this type of headline come up – Shirky: Women Need to Strap On Some Balls . Geez, wonder how long it took to create that headline…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.