Friday, June 09, 2006

Patroclus, Like, Totally Betrays The Sisterhood

The other day I was having some top comment- and email-based chat with Scroobious Scrivener about whether female bloggers are held in lower regard - both inside and outwith the blogosphere - than our male counterparts.

Scroob was convinced that this is the case; I, being the eternal optimist, was trying to argue that all is actually fair and equitable in the fluffy world of blogging. I even went so far as to suggest that female bloggers may have the upper hand over men, seeing as there seem to be more of us, and 'communication' is a skill traditionally associated with the female of the species.

Even this nasty Guardian piece that Tim found didn't sway my judgment. Catherine Bennett is just ill-informed and misguided, I thought. Women aren't victims of patriarchal oppression in blogworld; they participate on an equal footing, they have interesting things to say, and they say them well.

I am clearly a champion of gender equality. Go me!

Then yesterday at work we got a request from our industry rag asking us to nominate blogs that we like. I dutifully dashed off a list of media-friendly favourites, complete with witty and pithy commentary on just what makes each one so great.

No sooner had I pressed 'send' than I thought 'hang on a minute...' and reviewed the list again. All of them, without exception, written by men. I thought about sending an addendum with some of my favourite female-authored blogs in it, but I worried that the (male) journo might have considered them 'frivolous', because they tend to eschew a single theme or gimmick in favour of a mixture of 'serious' topics and personal stuff.

To my absolute horror, I realised this means that even *I* subconsciously think that stuff written by men is more 'important' and 'worthy of attention' than stuff written by women. How on earth did this happen?

*stands back and awaits torches, burning pitchforks, bitter polemic, ad hominem (poor choice of words there) attacks, recriminations, tears before bedtime, etc.*


longcat said...

my blogworld is entirely dominated by women, so i just assume that this is true for everyone, but of course that's nonsense,

strange though that my experience of this world should be so different from the mainstream...


The Blind Flaneur said...

The girls from Alpha, Kappa, Blogga will not be pleased. May you be hung by your knickers from the flagpole of the sorority house

Dave again said...

In the interests of those who are interested, one trusts that this list of worthy blogs will be published here shortly.

And just because I call myself Dave on my blog, and write about cricket from time to time, that doesn't mean I'm really a man.

Albert said...

Yeah, let's see this list.

If someone just writes political commentary, or opinions about cars, or new ideas for great knitting projects, are they actually blogging, or just creating an archive of information?

If it ain't personal, it ain't a blog, IMHO.

Also, I have just realised that the only blogs I read regularly are all written by women.

First Nations said...

non-issue. you simply subconsciously picked what you thought they wanted to see. and that they might want to see all men speaks more for the predjudices of the few than the reality of the blog world.
thats how easily opinion is created.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

I would speculate (as Dave already hinted at) that a great many of the "male" bloggers out there actually ARE women, publishing under false male identities to reap the benefits of the perception bias. After all, female writers have been doing it for centuries. (See exhibit A: George Sand)

belladona said...

Almost all the blogs I read are women's, and the men's ones I read are very similar in style. I do read other men's blogs from time to time but tend to be easily bored by them because of all the reasons you stated.

I have the horrible feeling that all my apostrophies are wrong and that I've spelt apostrophies wrong. Gah. In my defence my eyes are quite swollen due to hayfever so I can't see that well.

patroclus said...

You could be right, CB. Who's to know? I mean, Steven Johnson *looks* like a bloke, and I'm pretty sure that James Blue Cat is a bloke, and I've been in the same room as Cory Doctorow and he seemed like a bloke to me (although it was a fairly big room), but who's to say whether Latigo Flint or the people at Said The Gramophone or the people at BLDG BLOG are blokes, or girls in disguise?

Maybe *I'm* a bloke pretending to be a woman posting under a male identity. It's all so complicated.

God, I'm rubbish at deconstructing gender issues. I think I'll stop worrying about this now and go and bake some pink fairy cakes with kittens on them.

Dave again said...

Oh, pink fairy cakes. Lovely. You've got my address, so food parcels always welcome.

Seriously, for a moment, I have four blogs - only one of which you know about (I hope). Two are (apparently) written by a man, and two by a woman.

And even my main public blog (the one you know and love) has a profile which contains many innacurate statements (no, make that 'things I would like to be true') about me.

This gives me the chance to write about things from a different perspective that I could do just as myself - particularly as some people who know me (some from work, eeek) read my 'main' blog.

Anyway, back to the fairy cakes...

Spinsterella said...

I am very much a non-girly girl and have loads of male friends.

But I find that most of the blogs I read regularly are written by (very clever and funny and interesting) women.

I like what FN says on the issue though.

Oh, and I was so annoyed by that Catherine Bennet thing that I shot her an email last week. She hasn't gotten back to me.

patroclus said...

I'm not very girly either. But I do read men's and women's blogs in equal measure, and don't honestly notice any difference in terms of quality and interestingness.

The list I sent to PR Week was mainly on the 'geeky/quirky' axis, and I guess there are more male bloggers than female in that particular sphere. So *perhaps* I'm not as guilty as I thought I was. Still unsettled me, though. Brrr.

Dave: How on earth do you find time to write four blogs *and* tend to your flock? I can barely manage with the one.

Spin: What did you say to La Bennett?

Billy said...

I'm not a girl pretending to be a boy. Which should be obvious really.

It seems that most bloggers I read are female but in the blogosphere (unless you are specifically writing about something of only of interest your gender) gender isn't as important as in "real life".

Ooh and that Catherine Bennett thing was just stoopid - I'm glad plenty of others agree with me.

Dave again said...

'How on earth do you find time to write four blogs *and* tend to your flock?'

a. My 'main' blog is the only one where I attempt to write something every day. The others are (in the main) there for when I want to rant about something which it wouldn't be appropriate to do there, although one is also a piece of creative writing.

b. 'Tend'. Hmmm. Not a word I've come across before. Must look it up...

cello said...

I think there is an element of 'if women do it, it can't be as good as I thought it was'. Witness the lower status of doctors and teachers now that the majority are female.

But in this case I think it's more to do with your personal interests, P, and nothing to do with gender bias. There is nothing intrinsically less worthy about handbags or raising children than playing dungeons and dragons or indie bands (arguably more important - particularly the handbags), but I suspect your tastes incline to the latter.

rockmother said...

Hm. I'm not particularly a girly-girl and do have lots of male friends. At some point this year I considered starting another blog as a bloke. I'm not really sure what made me think of it although there was a lurking thought in the recesses of my mind that it might be more successful. Then I thought - how successful do you want to be in hyperspace or whatever it is? People comment, people read your blog so what's the problem? Sometimes I do genuinely feel like I'm being made to feel stupid when I comment on male blogs - that's happened once or twice this year.

It's an interesting issue because I guess you can be who you like whenever you like when your blogging. For instance, I was convinced for a long time that Belle De Jour was written by a bloke. mum used to work at The Guardian and said Catherine Bennett wasn't very nice! Oops did I say that? Yours Alan ;-)

Betty said...

As you say, you're more interested in geeky/quirky stuff, so the blogs in that area are predominantly written by men. I read a lot of music related blogs and once again they're nearly all written by men. Just the way it is I suppose.

I don't really discriminate (or at least I hope not) but I'm just not interested in blogs about crafts, knitting or My Marvellous, Beautiful And Gifted Middle Class Children. A good job that there are plenty of non-girly women bloggers who counteract that.

Sorry. I've just realised that there's absolutely no point to my comment.

Tim Footman said...

Ooh, please Miss, Roland Barthes said, Miss... you're attributing some sort of essence of maleness to these blogs because of the fact they are 'authored' by men. In fact, as an audience, you are as much (if not more) responsible for constructing the reality of those texts and since you are a woman they are thus female texts for the purposes of this argument so don't worry about it everything's OK.

Or was it Derrida? Sorry, it's 4 in the morning here.

But Catherine Bennett is still a silly moo, whoever's reading her.

patroclus said...

*patroclus makes triumphant return to internet after desperate router-hacking escapade of which she is extremely proud and which moreover made her feel just like Angelina Jolie in that film 'Hackers' which has the most comedy ending of any film ever*

cello: These are very wise words and you are of course right. For the record, I've never played Dungeons and Dragons, nor would I necessarily even be able to recognise a game of D&D if I happened to be co-opted into one. But I did used to like those choose-your-own-adventure books (it was hypertext before hypertext!). Does that count?

Rockmother (or is it...Alan Rusbridger?): More very good points. I notice that many of these so-called 'important' blogs have very few comments, which should suggest that they aren't nearly as popular (or important) as people seem to think they are. I never read Belle de Jour's blog, but I don't believe that men can write convincingly as women (or vice versa) over a sustained period of time. Too many things give it away, I think.

Betty: There's every point to your comment. Women are not just interested in shoes and bags and orgasms and husbands and what have you. Cosmo and Glamour and Freya North and their ilk should take note.

Tim: Shamefully I have no idea if that was Barthes or Derrida, but it's the whole 'is the meaning located in the text itself, or in what the recipient of the text chooses to make of it?' debate. Which reminds me, I have 5,000 words of faux-academic nonsense to write... back later...

ScroobiousScrivener said...

See? SEEE?!!! what I wanted to write after reading this post. (Thanks for that.) Along with some more of the subtleties about why and how and that. But then I see that of course the comments have moved things on a bit (good job too, that's what they're for) and anyway... I can't be bothered.

It's probably just as well I wasn't in town when you posted this. Or there would have been more sexist ravings from me. So never mind that, but do put me on the fairy cake food parcel list, please.

patroclus said...

I felt truly abject, Scroob. Still do, despite all my efforts to justify myself. You were right all along, sigh. I too would examine this some more, but it's about 800 degrees in my living room and I can barely concentrate on staying awake.

ScroobiousScrivener said...

But the important thing is: we're all right about women's blogs being at least as good *actually*. Just maybe not as likely to attract respect among the Serious Bloggerati. The Silly Bloggerati are much more fun, anyway.