Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Sexism in blogging II

Just for the record I'll address some things posted on Meryl Yourish's blog about my post immediately below.

You'll notice 4 things I asked if she could agree with. I didn't offer any evidence - I figured that they weren't particularly controversial, so I didn't lay everything out as if I were deriving a mathematical proof. But Ms. Yourish took issue with all 4.

I'll plead guilty to sloppiness on 1 and 2, where I should have said political blogs instead of blogs in general. With that qualification I'll stand behind 1 and 2.

An act of faith? Not really. References like this one show the results of investigations showing that men simply show more knowledge of politics than women. This I attribute to interests rather than innate abilities, and it fits most of the women I know.

As originally written 1) is questionable, but based on the reference above I'll stand by it as amended to refer to "political" blogs.

Ms. Yourish says that more women than men are online now as if this addresses 1). But that does not mean that women are reading more blogs than men are. My "sexist" guess is that if her assertion is true, those women are spending most of their time shopping, chatting or swapping email rather than reading or writing blogs. That too is consistent with the behavior of most of the women I know, who don't even suspect the existence of weblogs.

2) also needs the amendment limiting it to political blogs. Check the blogroll to the left - if Ms. Yourish will point out neglected predominantly political female bloggers to whom I'm not already linked and who are politically similar to the ones there now, I'll be happy to check them out. I'm already linked to most of the blogs she has mentioned, and in most cases I have been for months (including, more recently, Ms.Yourish herself). If I'm neglecting any group, it's men - there's just so many good ones I won't even claim to have heard of them all.

3) and 4)? Gimme a break. If statements as mild as "Each sex tends to write about things of interest to their own sex." and "Each sex tends to read about things of interest to their own sex." are found controversial, we have little if any common ground.

What was Ann Coulter doing in there? Ms. Yourish was going off on her a while back, so the devil in me couldn't be denied. I thought Ms. Yourish might admire Ms. Coulter's success in a field dominated by men.

How many of various bloggers' audiences are female? Beats me. If Ms. Yourish know of a way to sex readers via their IP addresses I know some marketers she can sell it to. My best tool for evaluating this distribution is my commenting facility, where I'd say it's at least 3 to 1 in favor of women by distinct names (assuming I know which are which). In total post count it's far more lopsidedly male. That's grossly inadequate as a measure of the sex distribution of traffic, but Ms. Yourish doesn't support even that, so I'd be interested in knowing how she knows the true composition of her audience if in fact she does.

Now, the Diane E. example, comparing her knowledge to that of Steven Den Beste on Middle Eastern issues. OK, suppose Ms. Yourish is right. Diane E. isn't as prolific as SDB. She doesn't cover as many topics. The non-Middle East topics she covers are less interesting to men than are those that SDB covers. And she hasn't been around as long to get the exposure he's had. So why would a reasonable person declare them as somehow equivalent with respect to worthiness for traffic in general?

Then there's this: "Are you trying to say that women don't care about politics? Technology? Sports? That only men are interested in reading warblogs?" No, of course not, and spare me the straw men. I wonder if Ms. Yourish really believes that all of those topics are of equal interest to both men and women - if so, the reference above might help. Again, my experience is consistent with its findings.

Lest my shortcomings as a writer should obscure it, the only emotion that ought to be showing in any of the above is disappointment.

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