Monday, September 09, 2002

Sexism in blogging?

Meryl Yourish seems to think that there is sexism in blogging. Well, let's quote her:
Take a look at the blogrolls on Scripting News or Doc's place, or even Diane E. and Megan McArdle, and you'll find few women-written weblogs. Again, I'm not saying this is deliberate. But it is a striking fact. It's not just the men. Even women have a low female-to-male blogroll ratio.

So what's to be done about it? That, too, is a tough one. I believe that bloggers would be better off checking a few of the female pundits on a more regular basis
Why should anything be done about it at all? Why is this a problem?

Before I start, let's see if we can agree on a few fundamental things. 1) More males than females read blogs 2) More males than females write blogs 3) Each sex tends to write about things of interest to their own sex. 4) Each sex tends to read about things of interest to their own sex. Anything controversial so far?

From the above it's easy to conclude that it's 100% natural that men would have most of the traffic, and might possibly be tempted to link to men more often because of their *content*. There's nothing sinister about that.

Women as a group, in my experience, tend to write more "diary-style" blogs. You need continuity to appreciate them. That makes them comparatively high-maintenance, like a soap opera - you either tune in everyday or have to be brought up-to-date each time.

Certainly all women aren't like that - among many others, Susanna Cornett and Jane Galt are two major exceptions. Not coincidentally, they are two of my most regular stops.

Meryl's isn't like that either. But I'm there less often because her politics are to the left of mine, and I usually don't go looking for trouble. Meryl has been permalinked here for a while, as has Dawn Olsen who has also written on the topic, and many others.

I could be wrong here, but Dawn seems irritated because she's not linked by Glenn Reynolds or some others. About that, well, Glenn really can't win on this one. I don't remember the particulars, but I know he's been criticized for linking to some women for reasons which supposedly were other than merit. He's interested in certain things, and he reads and links to those, that's all, and doesn't owe anybody any apologies for that.

And Dawn surely wouldn't have forgotten a bunch of crap Steven Den Beste caught for the unspeakable crime of noting a few good looking young women and posting pictures on his blog. Her hubby Eric pounced all over SDB, as did others. There's a huge double standard here, and God help us if he posted a picture of his ass on his blog, jean-clad or otherwise. There are some blogs which I assume are by men that might get by with something like that (maybe wKenshow), but they're exceptional.

With Dawn's blog being like it is with graphics and content, men who read it regularly are put in the position of men who say they read Playboy for the articles - it may be true, but it's a tough sell. Especially at work where Glenn Reynolds believes most of his hits come from.

Traffic is cool to the extent that there is a certain amount of validation, but really - having any traffic at all on something as vast as the web is exceptional. For a site that is sociable like Dawn's, more traffic would be likely to be what I have heard called "pissing in the soup" - you're more likely to pick up creeps like the one she writes of here. (Incidentally, is anyone making any assumptions about the sex of the creep?).

Meryl doesn't have any commenting facility that I can tell, so I'll ask her a few questions here: why is the sex of a blogger important? Are you saying a man can't write like a woman, or vice versa? You don't seem to like Ann Coulter - don't you like the idea that a woman can be as obnoxious as any man? Are you contending that there are no meaningful differences in the sexes that might be relevant to the choice of topics, the tone, the volume, and the overall success (whatever that is) of a blog?

UPDATE: Godless Capitalist of Gene Expression weighs in.

UPDATE 2: Meryl has responded to a number of posters. Somehow I'm portrayed as "really mad". I'll admit to asking fairly pointed questions and to having a certain lack of patience with -ism claims nowadays, but "really mad?"

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