“Too Many Pricks not enough Roses” on Left Wing Blogs


When I first started writing for Whaleoil both Pete and Cam encouraged and mentored me. They both wanted a female voice on the blog and wanted to continue to grow Whaleoil’s audience. I don’t really think that female writers necessarily attract female readers. I read articles that interest me without looking at the sex of the person who wrote them.

On The Daily Blog and The Standard there have been rumblings from within about male dominance of both blogs. Unsurprisingly they take gender balance very seriously over there. Considering that they all seem to share the same view points, I am not sure why gender balance is so important. You couldn’t find a more dedicated feminist that checks his white privilege at the door than Martyn Bradbury. But then again, all is not well on The Daily Blog according to a commenter at The Standard.



We really, really need women writing for the Standard. We need more women commenting. And we men, we left men, here at TS, we need to make women feel safe, supported and welcome.

There’s too many pricks, not enough roses.

My suggestion is that we need to look again at the structures of the Standard, from the ‘owners’, through the moderators and onto the authors. The undemocratic, male dominated and authoritarian ownership structure of the Standard is fundamentally wrong for a left blog. There are moderators who do little or no blog writing, don’t contribute much in the comments, but hang on grimly to their tools of power and control. There are authors who are bigots, authors who hate the left, authors who hate women. One author is all of the above. Why are they here on a left wing blog?

The Standard is broken. But it can be fixed

– Te Reo Putake

Ouch! Bigots, misogynists and right wingers on The Standard? Who would have thought it?



Maybe the real problem is not gender related but moderation related? Maybe Whaleoil has a larger female audience than it used to have because it is a safe and civilised place to debate issues? What do you say female audience? Why do you come here?


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  • Crowgirl

    I don’t get all this stuff about needing to be “safe” – I came here and started commenting when there was no moderation policy and I could’ve been attacked. Believe it or not though, I just took a deep breath, remembered it’s just the Internet and I can switch it off and walk away if it doesn’t go well, and waded in anyway. No one attacked me and everyone has generally been really nice ever since, moderation or no.

    I think it’s everything to do with the people who come here – real, hard-working, salt of the Earth people, as opposed to single issue activists and academics.

    • MaryLou

      I agree – it would be a boring world, if it was so heavily moderated that someone couldn’t be “emphatic” if they felt the need. This level of moderation though, allows strong opinion to come across in creative ways without the true nastiness you see on the “Other side”, or even another right wing blog. I do like the “borderline” comments some people still come out with though, not because they’re “borderline”, but because they’re creative.

      More important to me than moderating language though, is moderating to keep people on topic. I think this is where it becomes a free for all bunfight in other places.

      • Crowgirl

        Yes the off-topic slanging matches that inevitably arise on other blogs really puts a girl off.

        • kiwinev

          Me to

    • Caprice

      As I read this article and before I got to the last paragraph, I was thinking ‘moderation’ has got to be a big factor. Reading your comment ( I always appreciate what you have to contribute), I realize it is not an issue for a lot of people, but in overall figures it has got to make the difference.
      As someone with a Y chromosome, I would not be here if the site was a free for all, I have little time for thoughtless abusive comments, but enjoy reading the punters thoughts on almost any topic, as much as the posts.

      • Crowgirl

        Well it just couldn’t have been an issue for me because earlier commenters didn’t have a choice – it was either accept the way it was and put your crash helmet on, or stay silent on the edges, and a lippy chick can’t be expected to do that for long ?

        I don’t even think I read for very long before deciding I couldn’t hold my tongue any longer lol.

    • Dave

      “I can switch it off and walk away” And, 99% of other commentators would have no idea whatsoever who you, or most of the other commentators were in real life, you could be the one sitting opposite in a cafe next month or year, you might work for the same firm, we just don’t know, and I suggest due to the site policies, most don’t want to know, or desire to know exactly who another commentator is in real life. Safest fun under the sun.

  • Usaywot

    I’ve had comments on here moderated a few times…but not for a long while…and I’ve always thought about those comments later and thought “Yes, the moderation was fair” and have learnt from those experiences. That’s why I like WO. it is fair and just and friendly and most commenters are really great

  • Colin

    Safe? Whaleoil? Oh no, I always feel I’m taking my life in my hands every time I come here…And I’m just far too scared to ever leave a comment, someone might reply and disagree or be rude to me!

    • MaryLou

      Don’t worry, by the time you hit a hundred comments the fear level dissipates :). And don’t worry about people disagreeing, doesn’t make ’em right, and really – who wants to be agreed with all the time?!

  • jaundiced

    I would suggest also that its not about gender, but an atmosphere of respect.
    In the very early days (pre-moderation) I recall some-one telling me to ‘go away’ (using more robust language) when I had a point of view that was going against the tide. If I recall correctly, it was in response to a comment of mine challenging a tide of unsavoury personal comments about a lefty female politician.
    Back then some of my own comments were a bit more pugilistic than they are today.
    Anyway, my point is, with moderation, this place has changed considerably. It will be interesting to see the ratio of male to female commentators, and compare this to the other blogs. I suspect the ratio will be a lot closer.

  • Cadwallader

    I think the gender issue is not the pre-eminent problem with The Standard and its ilk. It is their propensity to ban/block based on opinion rather than being a forum for reasoned debate. I suggest this speaks to the mentality of the administrators more so than to its contributors. It is a shame really and an opportunity lost.

  • cows4me

    Maybe those of the left tend to have a more bitter disposition to life. When your days are filled trying to be social justice warriors making all and sundry “equal” it’s no wonder you’re bitter and twisted. It appears to me many of the commentators at the mentioned blogs want to impose their will upon others. They are also so convinced their views are wisdom on steroids and no dissenting views will be tolerated, which is hardly conducive to welcoming new posters.

  • Huia

    I come here because I enjoy the debates and comments, but mostly because articles written are presented well.
    There is more balanced reporting here which I find refreshing, the moderation is good so any debate does not immediately descend into abuse.
    I love the humor on here, the readers come up with some great views and the site is very well moderated, although I’ve been smacked a couple of times I deserved it I guess and overstepped the line.
    The unethical biased reporting from the MSM drives me insane so I don’t go there as its not good for the blood pressure.
    So for me its not about gender at all, its about good reporting and respect of others in the debating “chamber”.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Jude

    On this blog you can have a sensible debate or discussion without having your head bitten off.
    Other sites, a differing point of view and you immediately are abused or banned.
    The interesting thing, with no moderation some sites have lost their commenters and really, have ended up with just a handful chatting among themselves.
    There clearly is a desire to be able to comment and that is where Whaloil as a blog has captured a market.
    The other blogs are playing catchup.

    • Seriously?

      You’re on the money Jude. While I have the wrong genitalia for SB’s question, I like that commentators on here have a discussion with the sort of civility that they might use if they were sitting at the same dinner table. I often disagree with the consensus view on here, but have (with the exception of gun control issues – and even then I learned new things in the process) never felt attacked for voicing another perspective.

      The internet format often gets in the way of sensible discussion, but the excellent moderation here helps pull it back toward the real world.

  • Greg M

    I couldn’t care less if an author or commenter is man or beast, it’s the calibre of what they write that is the important bit. This is proven everyday by our well respected regular. lady commentators and contributors.

  • Isherman

    It’s no exaggeration to suggest this place wouldn’t be quite what it is without our regular ladies, and if they didn’t feel 100% comfortable they wouldn’t be here. But more than that, they are often some of the more astute commenters, whether that’s from a female perspective specifically or just generally, and I’m glad we have so many of them. Hell, they even show us dangly bit commenters up in the WO group rugby picks! This place has done well to attract, engage and keep them, and I’m sure none of us would have it any other way.

  • Hard1

    Plenty of commentators here have been unidentifiable with regards to gender, which just goes to show that an elevated discourse needs no identifier.
    The left are stuck at ground floor, where they feel most at home. Most of them can’t even get a room. They would be as lifeless as a gutted fish if all the vitriol was removed.

  • AF

    The whole WOBH/TDB saga feels to me like a group of 5 years old playing soccer. Everyone is in a massive huddle playing for their own side, heads down, hacking away at eachothers shins until a player is either forcibly removed from the fray by someone in authority, or a player finally submits to the pain and withdraws in tears.

    • Seriously?

      I’m not sure it is entirely fair, but that is an absolutely brilliant analogy – the mental image is fantastic. I might have to adopt it to describe Question Time in Parliament.

      • AF

        Thanks – it is an image I have had in my mind for a while – not just with WOBH/TDB but also MRAs vs feminists in online debates and yes it is equally applicable to Parliament. I’m not casting aspersions on any individuals or taking sides, I just love the mental imagery.

  • Kopua Cowboy

    Surely, like the rest of us, teh wimmens are here for the cat videos? I mean, all there is here otherwise is right wing hate speech… no?

  • Keanne Lawrence

    Perhaps many are unaware that in a Labour dominated household it is just that. Dominated by the alpha male to the extent of thought, word and deed. Likewise the little woman has very little to contribute and gets her limited political knowledge from the Woman’s Weekly or more likely the regular copy of the Standard when the boss has finished with it. Why do you think that Soap’s are so popular in this demographic group?
    It is no accident that this blog includes Oil in its title since we get the real oil and not the organic, eco friendly, sanitised kind. It stretches across the grades from crude to highly refined but the comments filtration through moderation continues to be best power plus additive needed.
    The gender of the commenter if noticed is secondary to the content and views expressed. The secret is to SAY what you think about the article, subject matter or event and then add a comment to fit with the moderated boundaries. This is a reversal of some sage advice gained early on about customer relations. You can say what you like to the caller, WHEN YOU PUT THE PHONE DOWN!

  • Tracy

    The gender of the contributors is not relevant, it is the quality of the journalism here that I come to read.

  • JEL51

    I was commenting a long time before I let on that I wasn’t a bloke. The very thing that attracted my attention was the raw honesty that came with the colourful language which the blokes were fond of using. I think I came close to being ejected with my objections to the change of rules. Thankfully, the honesty hasn’t been lost and there are many more commenting now because of the changes. I still really enjoy the occasional explosion of passion that comes with the Boss’s contributions as seen in last weeks piece about a newsreader.
    As Crowgirl says below, it is the salt of the Earth people whose company I really enjoy, that keeps me coming back.

    • Nige.

      Yes 1951

  • Sticktotheknitting

    I come here every single day many times because I enjoy reading about truthful information in a well regulated atmosphere. It’s very exciting and i can’t get enough of it.

  • Sally

    Respect works both way and is here in bucket loads. I have been commenting for awhile now. It is one of few places you don’t get abused or outed for your views. I am really disappointed that certain sectors on the left give WO a hard time. I wonder what are they scared of, does the truth hurt?

    • Nige.

      Well they come and end up putting a foot wrong eventually.

      We don’t like having to moderate believe me, but a commitment is a commitment and we hold these stds for a reason.

  • Melissa

    This is a great place to come as I can vent my frustration at all the rubbish that I see and hear from the media and get to have well informed discussions. The commentary is such that it sustains my belief that the majority of NZ’ers aren’t swayed by what the sorry excuse for a media would have us believe. This site is an extremely informative and often hilarious place to hang out in, for all of us.

  • Genevieve

    I enjoy commenting on Whaleoil because of the ‘community’ feeling, the incredibly broad range of topics, the personalities of various commenters shining through in their words and the irreverent humour. Gender doesn’t really enter into it after a while. I like the fact that commenters with left-leaning political persuasions have a fair go at getting their point across, within moderation standards. There’s very rarely a dull day here.

  • kereru

    I agree that WO is essential reading, not only for its excellent moderation but also for its wide range of topics, in depth analysis of current events, and its humour. A unique blend of food for thought, light relief and wit! It makes a refreshing change from many blogs which amount to little more than a slanging match between the posters.

  • Nige.

    Tried it already I think. Couple of times.

  • I don’t needle ya about ya gender Kat..I love ya gender…it’s ya bloody push bike I can’t stand :-)

    • KatB

      Oh now you’ve gone too far, I didn’t say you could needle me about my pushbike. I may need to go to my safe place now.

  • D.Dave

    To be frank, I hardly ever look at the moniker, until after I have read the comment. I certainly never say to myself “nice comment, for a woman”, as I believe gender is irrelevant. And Mrs DD might give me the bash if I even ventured that sort of opinion. All I see is a group of articulate adults on a forum, which offers the opportunity for witty, or informed, or sensible debate, without fear of abuse or derogatory response, thanks to the quality moderation.

    • KiwiLliz

      Thanks D.Dave. First comment I’ve read on this post and you’ve said it all for me too. Saved me having to type too much … hands not the best today. This is the only place I get my NZ news from now.

  • Miss Phit

    But I thought we were all bots…?

    Did I miss the memo about us being humans again?

    As for gender of the writters (and the commenters for that matter) I dont really care. It is the story or the information I am here for. Sure its nice to get another perspective but sometimes I think its better to “Leave your gender at the door” and have a discussion about a subject without clouding the issue. Some people dont fit the usual stereotypes anyway so any ideas based on their gender are missleading or potentially insulting. Im thick skinned so dont care either way.

    And please some of us arent “cat or cute puppy people” so can we have some gun videos?