Thursday, March 22, 2012

Manteresting vs. Pinterest

I discovered the other day—it's a website that launched in February with 5,000 hits the first day and increasingly more every day since. Manteresting is the male response to Pinterest, because the founding men decided Pinterest is too girly. It is pretty girly, although not by design. The homepage and masthead are neutral, and the logo is a red generic font. But 80 to 95 percent of the users are women, so quite a few of the images they post are a little feminine. Not all, but many.

You know what would affect that situation?—interesting to note, I just backspaced over the question "You know what would solve that problem" because I realized the feminine bent of Pinterest isn't a problem but a circumstance. Having more men using the site and posting more "manly" images would balance out the feel of Pinterest.

But instead of leading the way, two guys started Manteresting because you can't make money or a name for yourself if you're just one of millions of users. You have to start something new for that. And the something new is a site just like Pinterest but designed to appeal to men with a "manly" homepage and logo. Women are not excluded from this clubhouse, but because the site is so new, there aren't many women posting pictures of flowers and pretty cupcakes, which are apparently what the founders of Manteresting believe women think about, exclusively.

I don't care if men want to spend time—and webspace—together now and then. There are times when I'm grateful to relax with women friends in a room where there are no men to ruffle the feathers—I mean that both as irritation and as showing off impressive plumage. But I don't understand this business of gender segregation. It seems unnatural to me like having a pile of Oreo cookie pieces in one spot and a bowl of Oreo cream in another. The two parts are better together.

As a kid, I went to a summer church camp where boys and girls camped together, but not really. We stayed in separate cabins and did all of our organized activities with cabin mates, including crafts and Bible study and meals. And swimming. "Mixed swimming" was not allowed under any circumstances, and I never understood that. Did they think a bunch of 12-year-olds were going to get frisky in the murky waters of Crystal Lake while wearing our modest one-piece swim suits? Did they think we might accidentally bump into each other while splash-landing from a trip down the big water slide? We could rent canoes together and sit in chapel together, and there was a dinner on the final evening that was sort of like a conservative Christian home-coming without the dancing, but that was the extent to which we were allowed to interact.

I'd like to think that in 2012 when most of us are not conservative Baptist summer campers that we could figure out a way to work together as complementary parts of one species, not opposing factions. I firmly believe that all of our institutions would be better if they were more inclusive and balanced, and I firmly believe that men and women can maintain great friendships and collaborations without getting frisky in the murky waters.

Well, I'll step off of my blogger soapbox and step up onto my Small Town newspaper column box with today's column.

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