Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Is Testosterone Really A Requirement For Lefty Blogs?

Poor Ezra, at Pandagon, got his ass handed to him today. Twice.
A recent post of mine provoked some discussion about the shocking lack of liberal female bloggers. Sure there's Jeanne D'Arc from Body and Soul (and she's worth at least 7 or 8 male bloggers). There's Jeralynn over at Talk Left. There's the (potentially) lovely Wonkette. But that's about it, as far as I know.
He was immediately supplied with a list of about 100 female bloggers, which doesn't seem to satisfy him because these women aren't linked to by the usual suspects:
Comparatively, I am surprised by the lack of female bloggers. Look at the average blogrolls, not just mine, but Kos's, Atrios, or anyone of your choosing. It's heavily tilted towards the male end of things, a phenomenon I still don't understand.
When last seen, he was bewildered as to why women might've been offended by his post and follow-up comments, each of which seemed to dig him deeper and deeper into a hole.

I've noticed myself that the Big Male Bloggers like Kos and Atrios do tend to have mostly-male blogrolls, but it doesn't make me wonder why women don't blog - it makes me wonder why these guys don't link to more women's blogs. After all, the blogroll at Body and Soul seems close to gender parity, and Christine Cupaiuolo at Ms. magazine's blog links almost exclusively to women. A cursory investigation suggests that most female bloggers link to a lot of other female blogs, so Ezra's "average blogrolls...anyone of your choosing" pretty much doesn't apply to anyone female. His criterion for blogosphere visibility seems to be that prominent men link to your blog - or, contrariwise, his assumption is that the gender ratio of the blogosphere is accurately reflected in the gender ratios seen on prominent male bloggers' blogrolls.

I'll draw a veil over the condescending explanations offered for why more women don't blog. (For example: they don't understand that hard technology stuff, so computers scare them. Tell that to the half-million-plus girls and women with active LiveJournals, or the almost-exclusively-female fanfiction subculture, which has women running its websites, mailing lists, message boards, archives, and other hard technology stuff.)

I should say that I honestly think Ezra means well, and I think he's genuinely bewildered at the number of pissed-off women in his comments section complaining about feeling invisible. I don't think there's some sort of cackling misogynistic conspiracy of male bloggers. I think there probably is a general cultural tendency to take men more seriously than women, at least on matters in the public sphere, and I think that general tendency is amplified by the self-perpetuating nature of blogosphere popularity.

Feminist women and men tend to deliberately work at overcoming the subconscious tendency to give men more attention than women, so they tend to read and link to more blogs by women. In the absence of that kind of deliberate work, you get male bloggers with blogrolls full of men quoting and linking to other male bloggers, and the perception that female bloggers barely exist.

Update: Suburban Guerilla has some brilliant things to say. One point (of many - go read it!) she makes is also something that occurred to me after I went to bed - "Women bloggers still tend to put their politics in the context of the personal." Most women I know talk about politics in their online journals along with everything else in their lives, and don't seem interested in separating out the political stuff for a separate location. That kind of political blogging rarely shows up in links to other blogs or in the TTLB showcase, but it's still a genuine example of women talking politics online.