The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Sunday, February 20, 2005  

“Liberal” Blogger Goes All Sexist and Stuff

How noble, how thoughtful, and how socially aware of blogger Kevin Drum, a little spare time on his hands, to go looking around for bloggers lacking his “Y” chromosome.

In a few offhand thoughts assembled under the rather predictable -- Or should I say condescending? -- heading “Women’s Opinions,” Drum writes:

Although [the political blogosphere’s] geeky Usenet roots were (and are) testosterone[-]laden affairs, there are still no formal barriers to entry here, no old boys club in the usual meaning of the word. Yet if you take a look at the Blogosphere Ecosystem, which for all its faults is probably the closest thing we have to a consensus measure of popularity for political blogs [Ed.: Uh, no. Try the more accurate Blogstreet rankings instead. There: The Rittenhouse Review: No. 29, Political Animal: No. 31. At the same site, please review the Most Important Blogs: The Rittenhouse Review: No. 4, Political Animal: No. 15.], you will find exactly two women in the top 30: Michelle Malkin and La Shawn Barber. . . .

That’s a grand total of [seven percent] of the most popular political blogs. And to gaze even more deeply into our collective navel [Ed.: Drum’s words, not mine.], that [seven percent] is 100 [percent] conservative. On the liberal side, Wonkette weighs in at [No.] 33 and TalkLeft at [No.] 48 -- and that’s it for the top 100, unless I’ve missed someone.

So what’s up? There aren’t any institutional barriers in the traditional sense of the word, which means either[:] (a) there are fewer female political bloggers and thus fewer in the top 30, [sic] [;] or (b) there are plenty of women who blog about politics but they don’t get a lot of traffic or links.

My guess [sic] is that it’s a bit of both, and the proximate [Ed.: “Proximate”?] reason is that men are more comfortable with the food fight nature of opinion writing -- both writing it and reading it. Since I don’t wish to suffer the fate of Larry Summers I’ll refrain from speculating on deep causes -- it might be social, cultural, genetic, or Martian mind rays for all I know -- but I imagine that the fundamental viciousness and self aggrandizement inherent in opinion writing turns off a lot of women.

Which begs another question: does this mean that women need to change if they want to enter the fray, or does it mean that the fray needs to change in order to attract more women? As usual, probably some of both. Unfortunately, the blogosphere, which ought to be an ideal training ground for finding new voices in nontraditional places, is far more vitriolic than any op-ed page in the country, even [T]he Wall Street Journal’s, and therefore probably turns off women far more than it attracts them.

I wish I had some answers for this, but nothing springs immediately to mind. So even though comment threads make blogs look like models of warmth and acceptance, I guess that’s where the conversation will have to continue. Try to keep it civil, OK?

One . . . two . . . three . . . SCREAM!

“[N]o formal barriers to entry here,” Drum writes.

“[N]o old boys club in the usual meaning of the word,” he adds.

Methinks Drum is operating in an entirely differently blogosphere than the rest of us.

I know he means well, but as I’ve said before, the utterly uninteresting, totally irrelevant, and virtually ignored Washington Monthly made the right choice when the magazine picked my friend Kevin Drum as its daily mouthpiece.

Like anything else, even in the blogosphere, you get what you pay for.

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