We’re told, in The Times, that there’s a certain gender segregation online:
Online, men and women are often segregated, leading to regressive cultural views and threatening hard-won equality
It’s also obvious that this is thought to be a bad idea. Which is ever such a little problematic.
We’re back to that old economic point about expressed preferences and revealed. That point being that when we wish to know how people value something - anything - we should not be looking at what they say, rather what they do. It is only the second that reveals that true valuation.
So, here. When able to freely associate by interest and style of conversation men and women tend to - always tend, this is never about an individual but averages - sort into different groups:
YouTube and Reddit are mainly male environments — almost 70 per cent of the user base of both sites is reportedly made up of men. Instagram is skewed towards women, as is the image-sharing site Pinterest (a reported 80 per cent of its users are female). Even on those sites men and women are segregated; YouTube is host to a massive, overwhelmingly male gamer community but also to the female-dominated world of lifestyle and beauty vloggers.
It’s possible to decry this, clearly, for it is being decried. But the obvious question becomes well, what should we do about it?
The useful answer would be nothing. For the task is not to make us all conform to some ideology but to find the arrangements which enable us all to be human. This is the argument in favour of the market economy of course, that innate propensity to truck and barter meaning that this is just what homo sapiens does.
Gender equality, of course and we’ll not have a word said against it. But that insistence upon an equality of outcome doesn’t work. The entire point of a liberal polity is that consenting adults get to do as they wish. If that doesn’t meet with the stricture of some plan then it’s the liberty and the consenting which should, and does, win.