Men bloggers: the followup post

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Where are all the men bloggers? thread, and a big “Welcome” to those who are new here.

I’ve just shut down comments on that thread because a) the humour was getting a bit tired, and b) we were starting to see an influx of people who didn’t realise it was satire.

Here’s what’s going on.

Over the years, there has been a regular refrain of Where are all the women bloggers? coming from men bloggers, especially in the political sphere but also in tech blogging, business blogging, science blogging, and so on.

Women make up slightly more than half of all bloggers. And we blog in all those areas. Yet somehow, men quite often don’t notice.

The most recent iteration of this occurred a day or so back on Pollytics, an Australian political blog run by a guy who goes by the name “Possum Comitatus”.

Something that has surprised me for a while on the gender balance of the Australian political net is the lack of big female political bloggers. We have Kim and Anna over at LP as a group blog, while Tigtog and Lauredhel at Hoyden touch on politics occasionally and do it well — but where are the dedicated Australian political bloggers of the likes of Wonkette or Pandagon that we see in the US?

Let’s do our bit to find them. Know any female political bloggers in Australia? If so, drop a link in comments and we’ll list them here — big or small, old or new – and hopefully give them some exposure. If you’re an Australian female political blogger, don’t be shy – tell us about your blog. I for one would like to see far more female political voices in Australia’s new media.

It was quickly taken up by the Australia political blog Hoyden About Town, and a lengthy discussion ensued on both blogs, in which many of the same points were hit on as in every. single. iteration. of this topic before.

  • That there are no (or few) women bloggers [in that field].
  • That the ones who exist are not “really” bloggers [in that field].
  • That if men don’t read women’s blogs, nobody does.
  • That the subject matter covered by women bloggers is not important, or “frivolous”
  • That the subjects that women blog about (eg. disability) are “niche” topics not of general interest.
  • That mixing subject matter on a blog makes it “not count” towards being a blog on that subject.
  • That only blogging that is similar in content and style to the mainstream media is valid.
  • That women must crave and appreciate the attention they get when men notice their blogs.
  • That essential differences between genders are the cause of women (supposedly) not blogging.
  • That women don’t have time to blog because they are busy with housework and childcare.
  • That women who blog on certain platforms (eg. Livejournal) that are not “really” blogging or that other modes of communication (eg. Facebook) are less valid than blogs.
  • That women [political] bloggers are angry, bitchy, or whining and it’s hard to read their words because of it.
  • Patronising responses to women who stand up to say that they blog: “Ain’t you a treat. More power to you.”
  • Theorising — in the face of actual research — that studies would show a preponderance of male bloggers.
  • That there are more important things to be discussing, in any case.

All the above arguments can be found in the posts (and their comment threads) linked above. They are not new. They’ve been heard before, countless times, by women bloggers, and you’ll notice that for the most part we were intentionally making the same comments — often exaggerated to the point of ludicracy — in our comments about men bloggers.

From my original post:

I wonder why there seem to be so few men blogging in these subject areas. Is it just that they aren’t interested? Do they not have time what with all the sports and drinking and porn? Maybe they don’t feel up to handling tough subjects, or perhaps the conversational style is offputting to them?

Liz chips in:

I try to keep an open mind, though. From reading a few masculist bloggers I’ve found that something called the “second shift†means that guys at home have to bear the burden of doing extra home maintenance work, chef-ing, and just plain being daddies. So most guys don’t have time to really go in depth to understand, well, important cultural references, and contribute anything substantial. If you look past the shrill, scolding tone of those masculist bloggers, you can really learn something. Just watch out you don’t get your head bitten off.

Azz says:

I know what you mean! I’ve been encouraging my best friend to start blogging for years, or at least get an account on one service or another and at least start reading, but he keeps saying it’s not his thing and finally he said he just wouldn’t be comfortable with that level of exposure so I’ve given it a rest.

Maybe it’s just not a “man thing�

And gchick added:

It’s their own fault, really. If only they’d engage with the *real* blogosphere on dreamwidth or livejournal, instead of holding on to their blogger and wordpress instances the way they do, maybe people would take their posts a little more seriously.

Some of our other comments were satirical riffs on more common myths and misconceptions, or rhetorical practices that we see so often on the Internet when women are being discussed. I think some of us were aiming for a full bingo card, actually.

At the same time, some of our male friends like whump, Tim, zornhau, Scott, and Danny joined in, playing along with their mirror-world roles.

But quite rapidly, as the link to the article started being tweeted and dented and linked to all over the place, we started to get people coming in who… didn’t realise it was satire. We got some helpful folks linking us to tech blogs by men, letting us know (for instance) that a majority of the bloggers at O’Reilly Radar happened to be of that gender. Then finally we got a comment from someone named Jon saying:

Frankly, every tech or politics blog *I* read is authored by a male, and I often wonder why women don’t blog as much… maybe you’re just in the wrong micro-cosm of tech/politics.

You women can have your fun gossiping about how much better it is to be a woman and how all studies show you communicate better, but while you have these conversations you completely miss the actual realities: studies might show that women are *innately* better at communicating *certain* subject matter.. most specifically, emotions. Neither politics nor tech (and frankly not even journalism in general) should be a discussion that emotion takes part in, so it’s sort of a moot point.

That was the point where we reached the ne plus ultra of why-don’t-i-notice-bloggers-who-aren’t-like me discussions: a full circle, or perhaps a Moebius strip, of invisibility and gender essentialism, satirical criticism of same, and back again to where we started. It seemed like the right time to put the thread to rest.

Please, now everyone’s up to speed on the background and context, feel free to drop out of character and discuss. If this is your first discussion on the subject, I would recommend reading Where are the women bloggers? on the Geek Feminism Wiki as background before you dive in.

50 thoughts on “Men bloggers: the followup post

  1. Daniel costalis

    No comments yet? Wow! Lucky me.

    I must note… I didn’t catch the satire until I was almost done reading the post. I almost shrugged off as “one more idiot on the internet, pretending they know what they’re talking about.”

    On a real note though, I read many a blog/post/article every day. The only trends i’ve noticed are that articles written by idiots are more likely by male authors, and articles relating to cooking are more likely by women. (though I cook and post about it now and then)

    The internet is pretty vast though. Anyone pretending to know the demoraphics of topics must be a little ignorant at least. Unless of course they speak several dozen languages.

    Painfully typed on my lackberry. Apologies for poor spellinghh and grammarz

  2. Azz

    I didn’t have to stretch the truth very far for this. I do have an introverted male best friend who doesn’t blog. Gift-wrap that with condescension and attempting to link an individual personality trait to all males, as well as a reluctance to quit bothering someone about something they don’t care for (because if you like it, clearly it must be for everyone who matters), and ta-da! Instant chauvinist ping. (That was a typo but it amused me so I’m going to leave it.)

    (He does spell-check when he’s writing something for public consumption.)

  3. Bene

    While I was aware of the latest rather delightful incident in the ongoing ‘whoa, where are the womenz’ saga, I couldn’t help but address a couple of things–not only the perceived differences in fandom discussions (women only care about shagging, men only care about the details) but also how those are commodified in fandom culture…and at the greater societal view of fandom as a whole.

    (pls forgive me if this is awkward…trying to ease my way back into the geeky feminist blogosphere after time away.)

    1. Liz Henry

      The Battlestar Galactica wiki crystallized some things for me about fandom and gender. The people arguing for it to stay pure and canonical were mostly men and the people wanting fic and fanworks and to document fanon as well as canon were mostly women.

      Anyway, those BSG wiki arguments made me think back to the great debates on Everything2 around 2000 between people who wanted it to be Everything as in an encyclopedia for facts and the people who wanted Everything to include their using it as a daily journal and for fiction. There were epic arguments about using the net to compile and document fact vs. fiction and fact vs. experience.

      Oh, and on the satire, I got some helpful advice today from male friends who not only didn’t get it but who thought maybe we feminist geeks over here in the vagina-sphere were so insular that we actually didn’t know about any men’s blogs. I love my friends, but, I’m still giggling.

      1. Bene

        It really truly is nothing new, you’re right–I mean, the contrasting struggle really goes back to Star Trek TOS. Personally, I think the Trek fandom has it right in that they document series stuff on Memory Alpha and published licensed work on Memory Beta, though there’s still not a good collected fandom history for Trek online. (So much data, so little time…I’ve got the Jane Land books DLed from OTW to read yet.)

        I wonder about the substantial gender gap in fanworks, to be perfectly honest. There’s a large male presence in licensed work (maybe because that fits the franchises’ acceptable norms), and in LJ discussion comms and message boards (e.g. Outpost Gallifrey), but then you hit non-profit transformative fandom and the numbers skew. Same thing for fandom RPs online–I’m in one of the bigger pan-fandom ones and I think we maybe have five male players out of a good fifty active.

        I don’t understand where this comes from, if it has to do with a sense of caring more about what is approved and prescribed by TPTB, or what.

      2. Skud Post author

        Bene, I think one of the “standard” answers to the gender gap in fanworks, inasmuch as there is anything “standard” in this area, is that the source materials are more likely to pander to male viewers, so the guys don’t have as great a need to make their own stories.

      3. Doctor Science

        I’ve thought a lot about the “gender gap” in fanworks, and I don’t think the “TPTB are writing for males, so males feel less need to fill in the gaps” explanation is sufficient.

        Telling stories based on the culture’s stories is a fundamental human activity, which IMHO doesn’t need to be explained, particularly: we are human, and tell stories is what we do; we are in a culture, so we embed our stories in our culture, we play with culture. It seems to me that there is some sort of mental block or barrier between most boys (and men) in our culture and the natural human tendency to re-work or re-tell our culture’s stories, and I have no idea where the block comes from. For what it’s worth, I asked my husband and he said “I blame ESPN.”

  4. Erika

    I was sad when I saw that you had closed comments on that post. But it was just starting to get hilarious! I understand why you did it, though.

    At first I was genuinely surprised to learn that this topic (where are the womens) comes up a lot. Then I realized that must be because – all satire aside – all of my Bloglines subscriptions are for blogs written by women. Nothing I’ve done deliberately, it just… kinda happened that way.

  5. Rick

    I was really leery about posting a comment even remotely resembling “ZOMG the menz are being oppressed” even if the intent was to set someone up for “OMG you men can’t take a joke” or “ZOMG if the menz can’t take the heat they should stay outta the kitchen.”

    IMHO there were a lot of clues that this was at least some kind of satirical send-up. Why didn’t everyone see it that way? (Serious question — I found some of the answers instructive, though this is probably old hat for most everybody else here.)

    1. Jonquil

      I think that some of it is People Are Stupid (my native bias) but an important one is that Context Matters. If you are bright enough to notice the *fricking blog title* it might occur to you that there’s something going on here other than OMG Oppression.

      Realistically, though, I think perhaps you have to have been irritated by these arguments in their normal form in order to recognize the funny when they are reversed. If you took these arguments for granted… well, shock, outrage! You are irritated for the first time, and you don’t like that at all.

      1. Skud Post author

        I dunno. If you came in to GF having never read another feminist blog before, you might actually think, “wow, I guess these feminists have a kind of echo chamber thing going on”. Maybe they think we’re all separatists or something?

        (Trying to imagine being a separatist geek feminist. Wondering what it would be like.)

        1. Rick

          I for one welcome our new feminist overlords!

          (Actually, swap in a non-distorted definition of “feminism”, and all the satire goes outta that line real fast.)

        2. Rick

          (D’oh! That was supposed to be a reply to Mackenzie’s line about how feminists are all about beating men down and having women take over the world. Threading FAIL)

      2. Rick

        Y’all are too much. =)

        The other thing is that folks who are feeling threatened are probably more apt to blow right past all things subtle. It doesn’t seem to take much of a kick in the privilege to make it happen with some guys, eh?

    2. Anna

      Since I don’t know you, I did wonder if you were taking things seriously, but responses from others set me back on the path of Right. :)

    3. Erigami

      On the first read through, I thought it was just an asinine post. When I saw the links at the bottom I realized it was a satirical asinine post. =)

    1. Skud Post author

      Hee, thanks for playing :) I also just wanted to say, wow, your auto-generated avatar is quite distinct and unusual! I haven’t seen one that’s anything like that before.

      1. koipond

        It is quite distinct. I was quite happy with it and hope that future randomness is as equally awesome. Perhaps there should be a shrine to it or something. If this was the internet of the early 90s we could have an angelfire or geocities site up. With sounds!

  6. Cesy

    Is there an easy way to get comments emailed on here, rather than having to subscribe to a separate comment feed for every entry I want to follow?

    1. Skud Post author

      Yeah, I need to tweak settings and install some plugins and stuff. Email comments are on my list.

  7. Jonquil

    I was having so much fun; you were right to close it down once the clueless showed up, but damn, that was relaxing.

    It was also amazing the number of guys whose feelings were badly hurt by satire. Yes, one article on the Internet saying things that everybody knows not to be accurate represents the oppression of men by sexism.

    That said… I was really glad somebody got to the “nice guys” argument before the thread had to be closed down! I was gearing up for that one. I was also hoping for the “guys don’t enjoy our presentations at conferences because of all the hot guy/guy slash vids.”

    1. Daedala

      “guys don’t enjoy our presentations at conferences because of all the hot guy/guy slash vids”

      That would be incredibly awesome.

      I found the femsplanations hilarious.

  8. Hazel

    I think fun was had by (almost) all, but you were probably right to close it when you did. Anyway, it’s impossible to quantify how many blogs and bloggers there are on the internet, so the whole (original) argument is totally subjective. It was funny, though.

  9. Anna

    Okay, truth be told, I really did think for a long time that Doctor Who had a primarily-female fandom because I don’t read many guys talking about it. This is because of my reading habits, though.

    Talking seriously about the topic of women bloggers and Where Are They, I’m angry because I don’t exist. I’m angry because despite the fact that I blog regularly about political issues, I’m not a Real Blogger because I do it on LJ and DW, and everyone knows that’s just Teenaged Girls Talking About Their Feelings. I’m angry because the type of discourse that I often have at LJ & DW are felt to be lesser because of the different community style there.

    I think people making these comments or thinking these thoughts aren’t meaning to be personal, they’re just “telling it how it is”. Except they’re “telling it how it is” by not engaging with me and mine, not talking about issues that are important to me and mine, and dismissing my anger as somehow being “too emotional”. As though, for a recent and much on my mind example, having a broken wheelchair while airport staff tells you that you, personally, are responsible for other passengers being delayed because you needed them to take the wheelchair off the airplane isn’t a good reason to be angry.

    These things are political. To be told it’s not “real politics” by someone who doesn’t even consider disability legislation to be worth talking about because it doesn’t affect him? Dude really? Cuz I talk about all sorts of things that don’t affect me. Because they affect other people, and I think those people matter just as much as I do.

    1. Asad

      Forgive me, but I could never like LJ because, well, for the same reason that I’m a Facebookophobe. It’s really very designed to be a “closed circuit” as it were.

      1. Skud Post author

        Interesting that you should think so; I’m a Facebookophobe (largely because of their walled garden) but love Dreamwidth (and used to love LJ before they lost my trust). Unlike FB, LJ/DW provide RSS feeds, allow OpenID logins, and have an API so people can build clients (which many people have). Most posts on LJ/DW are public and accessible to everyone, like any other blog.

        Or did you mean something else by “closed circuit”?

      2. Asad

        I meant something else by “closed circuit”. I’m a Facebookophobe not just because of the annoyingness of the walled garden, but because I’m somewhat social-networking/Web2.0-phobic. I’ve warmed up a bit to Twitter because its use can be limited to a kind of note-to-self-and-others recording device. But something about the whole Being-Found-Via-The-Network or a system designed to encourage finding gives me the heebie-jeebies. I have a facebook page because there is one organization I keep track of that annoyingly only sends updates via facebook, and otherwise I steadfastedly ignore all friend requests even from actual friends.

        I prefer to reveal my existence in all its glorious majesty at my own will. You’ll notice my web site currently asks people to email me for the link to my *actual* page…

        My other problem with LJ is the possibility of alternation between “friends-only” and public entries. It creates a “what are they saying about me” paranoia. It’s totally irrational of course.

        If she’s reading this, Terri is probably laughing her head off because she is probably remembering the whole cat silhouette episode from back in the day and noticing how I actually turned out like that… :) Actually, I now visit LJ/DW exclusively to comment on her blog. (Also I dislike the LJ UI and think that it was clearly meant for people from the abstract world of ideal forms.)

        That said, I’m a bit of a hypocrite because I used to have an LJ under a pseudonym a long long time ago, and do some of those other things I dislike also pseudonymously.

      3. Asad

        I guess one thing I really hate is clique construction even though it’s natural and human and I do it too, and LJ seems to have been originally designed for clique construction via bloggery. I really prefer the who-is-whose-friend thing to be kept in RL rather than on the interwebs.

        Does that make any sense? The ethics of online friend-making, as it were.

  10. Erigami

    I’m surprised that any self-aware blogger would ask a question like “where are all the {adjective} bloggers.” People tend to gravitate to things that confirm their own views and beliefs, so I wouldn’t expect to see posts from people who are that different from me.

    The only time I break out of my self-constructed shell is when I see the bloggers who use my open source projects. When I follow the back links to see who is using the plugins, I’m amazed how many religions and politically conservative bloggers there are out there. The blogs I read seldom link to anyone in those spheres, so I just don’t see them.

    I’m just surprised this question gets asked. I would expect most net crawlers to realize that there’s a world outside of their interests.

  11. Liz Henry

    I forgot, I was going to post this as a comment, though maybe later it should have its own post:

    Joanna Russ’s book “How to Suppress Women’s Writing” bears very directly on a lot of the “where are the women bloggers” discussions. Russ outlines several clear ways that women writers are marginalized: Prohibitions, Bad Faith, Denial of Agency, Pollution of Agency, Double Standard of Content, False Categorizing, Isolation, Anomalousness, and Lack of Models. It’s an extremely useful book, in teaching us how to recognize and combat specific strategies of marginalization and I think also very useful in fighting some of our own possible tendencies to internalized misogyny.

    1. Leigh Honeywell

      I’d love to read more about this. It’s one of those books I’ve always meant to read but have only ever searched through on Google books :v

  12. Elize Morgan

    FANTASTIC topic! Thank you so much for starting this – and generally, yes, without context it was an interest “throw-in” from the tweeting world, but as with Swift’s “Modest Proposal”, it’s easy to forget how easily satire gets lost in translation along the way.

  13. Jha

    Thanks for that thread! After head-desking at the HaT thread, I really needed it. It was made of ultimate win.

    The “women make up slightly more than half of bloggers” – is that based on general stats of the world population in general? I was a bit confuzzled on that.

      1. Jha

        Thanks! Interesting how LJ and DW are ignored. It would be an interesting question to explore, whether they’re being ignored because they’re majority-female!

  14. Alasdair

    Oh dear. I was just linked to the original post from a feminist site (http://www.feministing.com/), and I *still* didn’t catch the satire! I was just about to post something along the lines of ‘that’s funny, I know lots of male bloggers…’ when I saw the update linking here. And then I felt like a fool. :)

    So, nicely done – good point, effectively made.

  15. Jaipur

    Loved the original and the follow-up!! ::chuckle:: I thought the satire was obvious, but the follow-up in the comments was hysterical.

    (I’m a female blogger, but I am one of those who use it as a semi-public diary at LJ, not a continuing flow of political/etc. essays. I’m never quite sure if I count as a blogger, or just a would-be exhibitionist. ;) Under the original idea of blog as “web log”, like “Captain’s Log, Stardate whatever”, though, I count a blogger.)

Comments are closed.