At Western CPAC there were a row of blogging men with two notable exceptions: Rachel Alexander of Intellectual Conservative and me. Proportionally in political blogging and in blogging generally, there just aren’t as many women bloggers. David Griner of The Social Path asks why:
If you spend any time looking at social media demographics, there’s one stat you see over and over: women dominate the space. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter — all are more popular with women than men.
So it was a bit jarring this week to see that 67% of bloggers are male, according to the newest installment of the Technorati State of the Blogosphere report.
Admittedly, this isn’t a new stat. In least year’s report, Technorati’s survey put the male blogger ratio at 66%. But compared to the other mainstream social media activities, it seems bizarrely guy-heavy.
In the post, he asks women bloggers he knows for their answers. Here’s my answer:
The Internet still feels like the Wild West. There are some safe homesteads–social media, for example. Consider: On Facebook, a woman can decide who she wants to connect with and who she wants to keep out. On Twitter, a woman who feels wrongly attacked can block the attacker. (Meghan McCain, the mad blocker, comes to mind. She takes even mild criticism as a block-worthy offense.)
When it comes the arena of ideas, the women who blog are not typical women. Over and over, the women who blog are tougher. Like the shotgun wielding Western expansionists of yore, women bloggers take shots and can shoot back.
Women bloggers are often sexualized and insulted. One famous incident with Kathy Sierra involved photoshop and personal information. Kathy quit, something I urged her not to do. She is now, though, on Twitter and I believe she blogs anonymously to spare herself the insulting misery. Michelle Malkin, Amanda Carpenter, and just about every conservative woman blogger, including me, has endured horrible personal, violent and sexual insults–very often from “enlightened” male liberal commenters and bloggers.
Most women simply do not want to put up with this garbage. They feel threatened and they worry about their safety and the safety of their children. Michelle Malkin had to actually move after her personal information was plastered on the web. She is a mother. She has children. There are nutjobs out there and in this business, there is a very real risk to personal safety. It’s something guys just don’t have to deal with as much.
In addition, women often don’t like the intellectual jousting. Part of it is gender wiring. Men see verbal sparring as a testosterone-fueled challenge. Women see degraded communication and hostility. When they put an idea out there, it seems aggressive when someone rips the point of view to shreds. And, it is aggressive.
It might not be politically correct to say so, but women and men have gender generalities that make certain behavior more typical–including online behavior. I’m not sure what will change this. And I don’t know if these gender trends would be good to change. For example, if men become more cooperative and women become more dominant, the playing field may be evened in discourse but some of the particularities inherent in gender would be lost. Is that a good thing? That’s a bigger question and not the one being asked here, but I think it’s a worthwhile one to consider.
The women who do blog tend to stick out. Here’s the thing, when I was at Western CPAC with the guys, I didn’t feel out of place or less worthy. They didn’t treat me disrespectfully or condescend. I was a peer in all respects. The thing is, I like the rough and tumble world of political blogging–even if I do get harassed and abused rhetorically from time to time. Goes with the territory. If you can’t take the heat and all that…. Most women have enough heat in the rest of their lives, they figure they don’t need to invite by putting ideas out there via a blog.