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February 22, 2005

Women bloggers

Here we go again...

"Where are the A-list female bloggers?"

Inside this inane question are some sensible questions trying to get out. Unfortunately, this question is rarely asked by anyone who is genuinely curious. For the most part, "the women blogger thing" is a convenient pretext to expound upon the Differences between males and females. Some bloggers broach the topic as an oblique way to denigrate women in general: Why aren't there more female bloggers? Because, women are generally less political, less intelligent, and less motivated--so we shouldn't expect much from that group.

A: Where are so few of the A-list political blogs written by women? Aren't women interested in politics?

B: Many popular female bloggers write about politics, but their contributions are often overlooked or miscategorized as apolitical if they work in a more personal or narrative format.

A: Okay. I'm just wondering why there aren't more women in the high traffic, news-oriented, heavily hyperlinked blogs. You know, like Atrios, Kos, or Instapundit? Is Wonkette the only XX A-lister? If these narrative bloggers are so great why aren't they showing up more in the TTLB ecosystem, or on other measures of blog influence? (I bet it's ev psych!)

B: We could argue about whether our society irrationally discounts stereotypically feminine modes of expression, how to define the A-list, what percentage of female bloggers aspire to be on somebody's A-list, or whatever. We could speculate about how much of the variance in site traffic can be explained by sexism vs. social conditioning vs. sun spots vs. having a nice picture. The fact remains nobody ever offers any data to substantiate these hypotheses.

Instead, let me recommend some female bloggers doing top-notch work in the mainstream poliblog format. Far from being marginalized or underrated, these blogs are key players in the blogosphere. Most have already been cited and/or blogrolled by A-listers and some are on the "speed dial." Several of these women have earned mainstream media appearances on the strength of their blogs. Many are award winners. One was a credentialed DNC blogger.

Elizabeth Anderson of Left2Right
Jessica Wilson of For the Record
Julie Saltman
Respectful of Otters
Body and Soul
Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft
Hilzoy of Obsidian Wings
Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged
Jane Galt of Asymmetrical Information
Laura Rozen of War and Piece
DC Media Girl
Maia Cowen of Failure is Impossible.

Here are some influential female bloggers who provide excellent political commentary in slightly less "traditional" formats:

Belle Waring
Rox Populi
HE Baber
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Bitch PhD

(This is an abbreviated and eclectic sampling. I hope readers will add their favorites to the comments.)


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» Majikthise on Women Political Bloggers from Opiniatrety
Lindsay Beyerstein at Majikthise has an excellent post on the recurring alleged lack of women political bloggers. She offers a list of female bloggers doing top-notch work (I dissent from one of those, but never mind), and points out that... [Read More]

» Hear me roar with the rest from Julie Saltman
I don't understand why so many women in the blogosphere are complaining that Kevin Drum's post...brings up a tired subject that everyone's sick of. This particular gender gap continues to be a significant problem...What's likely not a reason for the ... [Read More]

» Yay! I have a fan club! from Pharyngula
Should I be flattered or creeped out? My comments on the recent flareup of the blogger gender wars spurred the gang at Gene Expression to analyze my blogroll for gender bias. I'd thought about doing this myself a while back but geez, you know, I&a... [Read More]

» Cashing In the Fem Bonus Points from Happy Furry Puppy Story Time with Norbizness
Thanks to Chris for his attempt to cheer me up in the midst of my fake depression and very real dalliance with Tito's Vodka and Knudsen's Cranberry Juice. However, as I was myself an undersized, left-handed pitcher who tossed mainly... [Read More]

» Friday Random Ten: subversive lazy linking edition from Geekery Today
Like the Holy Roman Empire, this Friday Random Ten is neither Friday, nor Random, nor Ten. But it is (I think) a good idea; thanks... [Read More]

» More on women bloggers from Political Forecast
You all might remember several days back an interesting little discussion emerged over at Iowa Ennui after Drews comment during our live-blogging of the Jefferson Jackson dinner that all the folks at the bloggers table were white men. I... [Read More]


World O' Crap!

Who -- besides the bloggers themselves, I suppose -- gives a tinker's cuss about the gender of bloggers? The blogs I frequent the most -- Eschaton, Americablog, Majikthise, Instapundit, others -- all have gender-neutral handles, and as it happens they represent a spectrum of voices. Maybe all bloggers who care about this sort of thing should go for the gender-neutral nomenclature, then their popularity can be gauged on the merits and we can get beyond the whole he-says she-says thing.

I think it can be easily argued that knowing the gender, race, age, etc. of a writer can inform when evaluating coverage of particular topics.

Philboid: "Lindsay" might be a little tough to unambiguously parse for gender, but the picture of the hot babe in a Johnny Cash t-shirt makes it seem easier, at least to me. Americablog's "John" and Instapundit's "Glenn" readily decode as male. The only really gender-ambiguous identity in the bunch is Eschaton's "Atrios" (these days you have to scroll way down to the bottom of the page to find the name "Duncan").

Don't tell me, let me guess: you think David Velleman's argument should apply to gender as well as gender preference?

I seem to be posting the same sentiment here again and again: when we close our eyes to difference and diversity, we marginalize the different and the diverse. It's generally the case that "Let's try to look beyond the diffences between A and B" is usually said by an example of A who doesn't want to give attention to the ways his A-ness gives him advantages over the Bs.

Thanks Alan, but ...

I didn't mean to suggest that I still do not know the genders of the bloggers I named. Over time, their respective, uh, packages became apparent. It's too bad that I know what their genders are now, though, because my own prejudices are now part of my readings of them.

And didja have to make me read that soporific post by Velleman? (zzzzzzz) Some of his points are, as Majikthise says, convincing, but I certainly would not want gender-identity to be erased from the public square (as if it could be!). But bloggers could be gender-neutral if they wanted to be, and we'd all be embiggened by it.

Roxanne (love your stuff too), you're right: it can be easily argued. I also think an argument can made for the opposite -- that not knowing a writer's gender is useful.

I think it would be neat, too, if some female bloggers went all George Eliot on us. It would do us all some good to have our presuppostions challenged.

Sorry, that should be just "Thoughts of an Average Woman." Forgive my inept copying and pasting.

I am consistently overwhelmed by the number of good weblogs by women, almost snow-blind from it all. (Maybe that's the problem. Good blogs by men stand out because of the lower signal-to-noise ratio?)

A newish weblog that is my current favorite is The Mahablog. It's a lot like the way I used to do things before the blogosphere exploded. Back in the day, there wasn't much on the left side of the sphere so it was easier to keep track of the blogroll, and also I didn't feel like I was repeating everyone else. With no one else saying these things, presenting my own insights was pretty fresh. These days I hardly know where my insights begin and others' end.

I have a fairly comprehensive list of female political bloggers at my website.

Jude's List

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