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Found Feminism: Amazon users and feminist tags

2011 March 22

This week it’s a somewhat snarky – but no less amusing for it – Found Feminism picked up by our very own Stephen B.

photo of some square coloured metal tags with string attachments, in hot pink, yellow and blue.

tags: not just for titles and authors!

Clicky here to see the explosive tag cloud on Amazon for a pseudo-science book about “the private activities of millions of men and women around the world”.1

I like that a selection of predominantly internet-based feminist thought (can haz meme plz?) is being used to kick up a righteous fuss over what is by all accounts a pile of terrible tosh not worth the paper it’s printed on. It’s a great example of theory-into-action: the fact that tagging is used on Amazon to  organise and categorise books means that these tags help users identify and avoid anti-feminist writing.

My personal favourites in the tag cloud include mansplaining, gender essentialism, and transphobia.

  • Found Feminism: an ongoing series of images, videos, photos, comics, posters or excerpts – anything really, which shows feminist ideas at work in the everyday world. What’s brightened your day? Share it here – send your finds to [email protected]!
  1. *One of many exciting non-facts on the back cover alone. Rather than data gathered from actual people, they used “a billion Web searches, a million individual search histories, a million erotic stories, a half-million erotic videos, a million Web sites, millions of online personal ads”. By the same “methodology” I would have concluded that planet earth was dominated by cats with funny captions and spambots for viagra. []
4 Responses leave one →
  1. March 22, 2011

    My favourite bit of obvious bullshit is this:

    Men and women have hardwired sexual cues analogous to our hardwired tastes-there are sexual versions of sweet, sour, salty, savory, and bitter. But men and women are wired with different sets of cues.

    mostly because a) savory is not a taste category and b) that’s all they are, arbitrary categories of the spectrum of taste, and not “hard wired” at all. (They’d have been better off using the three colours, at least they are perceived descretely)

  2. Stephen B permalink
    March 22, 2011

    I love the Amazon tags. They’re so democratic. The top 5 for Tony Blair’s memoir are:

    abuse of power(143)
    illegal war(113)
    worst prime minister ever(100)

    And that’s after Amazon took “War Criminal” down from the 1st spot…

    “Best PM ever” has 17 votes, just for balance. It’ll be skewed in favour of the part of the population who have access to the net and Amazon, but in general I think it’s a wonderful tool for showing real public opinion. Of the psuedo-science book, “My cat does better science” was my fave :D

    • Miranda permalink*
      March 22, 2011

      My personal faves are “who needs peer review” (182), “phds written in crayon” (218), and “unforgivable tripe”.

      To see whether feminist books are the subjects of any antifeminist tagging, I took a look at Kat Banyard’s “The Equality Illusion” – she’s clear so far, and only has “feminism” and things like that.

      Then I tried Natasha Walter’s “Living Dolls”. That one has some critical tags in very small numbers, but few are antifeminist. One is “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” (1 user) but also there are tags like “feminist silence over islam” which could be interpreted in a couple of ways, one of which isn’t antifeminist per se (and another of which is possibly anti-islamic).

      Then I tried The Beauty Myth and got, again, mainly factual or uncritical tags. Apart from “chick science” (1 user) and “fantasy” (1 user) which could be a criticism or a descriptor of the issues it’s tackling!

      I think the sad truth is that books like the one the OP is about are more widely read and plugged than feminist writing, though, hence the higher number of tags. I don’t think feminist books get less bad tags because they are better (well, I think the ones above are, but I also don’t think this magically protects them from shit-slinging; if it did, what a lovely world we’d have!); rather feminism’s detractors often don’t want to actually read about what feminism really might be about at all.

      “phds written in crayon” cheers me greatly, though, when all is said and done! :D

  3. Metal-eating arachnid permalink
    March 27, 2011

    Yay. I remember when these guys were doing their shoddy research (their opening gambit being “We’re deeply interested in broad-based behavioral data that involves romantic or erotic cognition and evinces a clear distinction between men and women.”) and am pleased the shoddiness hasn’t been forgotten. Although… they did get their book published.

    Miranda sadly makes a good point in that lack-of-tagging for feminist books presumably is more of an indication that detractors don’t much need to care, than that… books about feminism are generally adored. But I think this is a nice example of a female-dominated section of internet culture organising to invade the mainstream with sensibleness.

    I may write my PhD in crayon.

    further reading:

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