Title IX for Female Bloggers?
Ellen Goodman’s column today addresses how the blogosphere has become to the left what talk radio is to the right: Specifically, a platform for shaved apes to name-call opponents, to the delight of cackling dittoheads who need that cheap thrill of righteousness to offset the pain of never feeling quite long enough between the legs (look, ma, I’m blogging!). Goodman’s chief concern, however, isn’t the state of political dialogue in the U.S. (someone says something stupid, someone else overreacts), but the blinding male whiteness of the liberal blogosphere. This is a bad thing, Goodman argues, because the liberal blogosphere is a bona fide democratic mass movement, and women—who register to vote and vote in significantly greater numbers than men do, and have since 1980—should be properly represented.
I began tracking the maleness of this media last spring while I was a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. An intrepid graduate student created a spreadsheet of the top 90 political blogs. A full 42 percent were edited and written by men only, while 7 percent were by women only. Another 45 percent were edited or authored by both men and women, though the “coed” mix was overwhelmingly male. And, not surprisingly, most male bloggers linked to male bloggers.
Of course, it would be easier to strike a healthier balance if women weren’t such total chickenshit Francophile nuance jockeys (my words, still blogging, ma). Goodman speculates that the reasons for the imbalance are:
1. Society’s crude double standard regarding assertiveness (when men are assertive, they’re awesome; when women are, they’re PMSing)
2. The generally abusive, swarming tenor of exchanges within the flogosphere being off-putting to women.
3. Men taking to technology more readily than women.
4. Men are unregulated, passive-aggro anger cases that are hilarious to watch, and therefore attract more attention (the average political blog reader is a 40-something male).
All of this is a reasonable enough diagnosis, but when the time comes for Goodman to propose a solution to the problem (this is, after all, an op-ed column), she pulls up lame.
Next year, [political blogger convention] Yearly Kos will undergo a name change. The assembly of progressive bloggers will call themselves Netroots Nation. But when will the members of these netroots look more like the nation?
The implication here seems to be that the blogger powers-that-be need to be more accommodating and take measures to ensure that women are adequately represented. Sort of a Title IX/affirmative action for female bloggers. But this undercuts the supposed democratic spirit of blogging. The fact is, the netroots will look more like the nation when more women start writing more political blogs, and do it in such a way that engages more female blog readers. Plain and simple. In other words, if you want to get in on this dialogue and help setting the agenda, you have to speak up.
The knee-jerk reaction in liberal circles is to assume deliberate persecution whenever a certain group is underrepresented in anything, but in this case, it’s less about the patriarchal machine gagging compelling women voices than it is the result of simply not showing up.
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