Tag Archives: gender essentialism

The Left Hand of Link Roundup (Sep 9th, 2009)

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.