Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 25, 2005
By: Katha Pollitt

BLOGS vs. PRINT....We may not always agree on politics, Amy, but I feel the same way you do about political blogs. You mention a number of prominent political writers who've shifted their focus to blogging and of course there are many others, these days not having a blog is like not having a refrigerator but how many of them are better on screen than on paper? I can't think of a professional writer whose voice has improved by shifting to cyberspace, and voice plus information and perspectives I don't get in the mainstream media is what keeps me coming back.

Having endless space in which to expatiate is not necessary a good thing. The level of shameless self-promotion in some blogs takes my breath away I went on TV! I was on a panel! I had drinks with Christopher Hitchens! I hate the food fights, the chest thumping, the endless bestowing of laurels and lashes. I doubt blogging has ever made a print writer more thoughtful or complex in fact I suspect we can both think of writers it has driven deep into the wilds of egomania. Well, probably they were already there, come to think of it, but the space constraints and editorial conventions of print kept it under wraps.

Having said that, it's also true that when I wander around the blogosphere I am struck by how interesting it is. How many people have literary talent, know a lot, argue skillfully, are funny, have something distinctive to say. The feminist conversation in cyberspace is SO much more vigorous, sharper, unapologetic than the anemic and timid one in the mainstream media.

If I were an editor I would definitely look to the blogs for new and undiscovered writers of both sexes and all genders. For feminist and women political bloggers, interested readers should go to feministing.com and check out their blogroll. (Don't miss Echidne of the Snakes, a personal favorite.) Or check out Kevin's blogroll, which now has quite a number of blogs by women. I just visited Body and Soul, a new one for me, and found a really informative post on the Catholic church on "life" (as in right to) in Argentina, where the hierarchy is all entwined with the military and its terrible history. Torture si, condoms no!

I don't know why more well-known women print writers don't have their own blogs. Maybe they are writing great books or walking in the park, are already stretched to the limit between writing and home. Maybe they don't feel every single thought that flits through their head is automatically of interest to total strangers although if you look at the blogosphere overall, where, correct me if I'm wrong, women are in the majority, you certainly wouldn't get that impression. And then there's $$$. I'm not sure, but I think the writers you mention are mostly paid for blogging by the same news organizations that aren't so interested in women. The same gatekeeping function that promoted the men in print, promotes them in cyberspace. I hope that this discussion will encourage these and other male bloggers to put more women on their blogrolls and link to their posts.

One last point for now. One poster to this discussion says all women blog about is their cats. This is most unfair. First of all, it's sexist women blog about many things. Secondly, Kevin, a man, claims he invented the Friday catblogging tradition, and a fine tradition it is! [Full story here, here, and here. Ed] Thirdly, what is wrong with cats? Cats are great! [You bet they are! Jasmine]

POSTSCRIPT: Kevin here. Since I get this question a lot, yes, I do have a blogroll. It's at the very bottom of the page in a dropdown box. That's also where the search box and the archives reside, in case you've ever been looking for those too.

Katha Pollitt 1:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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