Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 24, 2005
By: Amy Sullivan

AND NOW THE MOMENT YOU'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR--GIRLS AND BLOGS....I'm still laughing from Katha's post on male-centric blogs: "What a fine point Boygenius made over on nogirlsallowed.com! Thanks for the plug, NumberOneSon!" So perhaps now is a good time to add my thoughts on women and blogs to the mix.

In theory, blogs should be an ideal testing ground. Anyone can start a blog, you don't have to send in submissions, you don't have an editor, so men and women should have an equal shot of making it, right? The problem is that while starting a blog couldn't be easier, acquiring a readership is much much more difficult. And that's where the old rules of gatekeeping apply. It really helps if one of the big guns mentions you, links to you, or--even better--puts you on his blogroll. When Eric Alterman put my two-month-old blog on his list of recommended sites, my readership tripled within days.

It's remarkable that, as far as I know (and please correct me if I'm wrong), there hasn't been a single female version of Mickey Kaus, Joe Conason, Andrew Sullivan, Josh Marshall, Eric Alterman, and other professional writers who are now known primarily for their blogging. This could be because there are fewer women in that pool to start. But I wonder if some female writers decided that blogs were too trivial/juvenile/whatever and chose to focus on more traditional outlets.

I'm perhaps not the best person to comment on why women still haven't been able to break into the top level unless they rely on a truckload of drinking and sodomy jokes, because I've pretty much burned out on blogs and don't read many of them anymore. To me, blogs are like op-eds--I don't read them to get news, I read because I want to enjoy a particular writer's voice or hear their take on the issues of the day.

I could read Anne Lamott all day, but Barbara Ehrenreich--while I love her books--was just too lecture-y for me when she subbed for Tom Friedman. Friedman himself usually makes my eyes glaze over, but I'll put up with Maureen Dowd's dry spells just for the chance to read sentences like this one describing W: "The Boy Emperor picked up the morning paper and, stunned, dropped his Juicy Juice box with the little straw attached." I first developed a crush on my then-not-yet-boyfriend when his blog posts made me laugh out loud. And, because I'm not big on fulminating, I tend to avoid people who are always writing screeds about this or that thing, or agitating to exile someone from the ideological fold, and I miss sensible voices like the short-lived Tough Democrat blog.

And that brings me to one final point about the blogosphere. Again, in theory, it's a democratic world--everyone has an equal opportunity to speak, if not to be heard. But there is an ideological bias at play just as much as any gender bias. I don't know if it prevents women from being heard or drives them out of the game, but I know that my hate mail spikes whenever I write something that strays from the Kos-approved liberal line. That's a shame. Because no one ever solved complicated questions by bullying people they disagreed with into stepping out of the discussion. We need more female voices; but we also need more tolerance for people willing to question the liberal conventional wisdom.

Amy Sullivan 11:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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