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Mar. 26 2010 - 11:16 am | 4,054 views | 2 recommendations | 18 comments

Are men better bloggers than women?

Why are bloggers male?” Margaret Wente wonders in the Globe and Mail.

“People often ask me why I don’t start a blog,” she confesses. “The answer is pretty much the same as why I don’t get a souped-up snowmobile and drive it straight up a mountain at 120 kilometres an hour into a well-known avalanche zone. It’s more of a guy thing.”

Well, what the hell am I doing blogging then?

According to Wente, blogging is the intellectual version of competing mano-a-mano or chasing an adrenaline rush, which, she says, are the province of men. Writing a post that prompts a slew of outraged comments, starting a storm of political debate in the blogosphere teapot, the public assertion of one’s personal opinions — these are that at which men who sit in front of computers excel.

But what of lady bloggers? Blogging goes against their nature, Wente asserts. “Not many women are interested enough in spitting out an opinion on current events every 20 minutes.” Blogging is little more than a glorified pissing contest, she says, and women don’t do well at competitive pissing. In fact, the fairer sex is better at listening than shouting, more invested in “relationships” than fighting. Ergo, women suck at blogging.

I wish someone had told me this eight years ago, when I started blogging, because then I never would have started.

The thing is that Wente, who likely sent the bulk of the women’s blogosphere into a series of seizures with her politically incorrect proclamation, is to some degree right. By and large, successful male bloggers are masters of their niche or churn out op-ed content like there’s no tomorrow (see: Andrew Sullivan), whereas most successful female bloggers are masters of their niche (see: Dooce) or blog like men.

I should know. I’m a woman who, more often than not, blogs like a man. Sure, I’ve sometimes been known to tread into the dreaded territory of “feelings” and “relationships,” posts I often regret having posted. I’m far more comfortable weighing in on topics and in ways I venture Wente would deem more “male”: current events, heated debates, racy subjects. I blog like a man.

For the most part, I’ve found, women bloggers fall into three categories: “mommybloggers,” “ladybloggers,” and “women who blog like men.” The first category includes those who have made careers out of writing about the perils of raising a family, being married, and getting stuff off the kitchen floor. The second category includes the group of blogs that self-describe as “feminist” and which seem to have decided that blogging about purportedly widespread sexism and instances of misogyny in our pop culture a neo-feminist movement makes (NB: it doesn’t). The third category includes those few women who blog about politics, technology, and other more “male” topics with a scathing wit and piercing gaze that put their male blogger rivals to shame.

What the blogosphere needs is fewer Martha Stewarts and more Danica Patricks, more real debate and less positing women as the victims of a patriarchal society gone bloggy-wild, more men that blog like women and more women who blog like men.


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  1. collapse expand

    I blogged this here a while back and it provoked some heated debate.

    Women who stick to safe(r) womens’y stuff like parenting, makeup, fashion — especially in the enormous numbers of women focusing on these “domestic” topics — tend to (not consciously) skew the perception of what other women want to talk — rant! — about. I fall into category three: no kids (zzz), find organizational feminism a tedious subject and am fascinated by all the ways the world works, or doesn’t, and how women fit into that.

    Look the “most popular” and “most active” list of T/S bloggers; it’s often mostly male.

    Which proves…?

    • collapse expand

      I agree, Caitlin’s blog post really did provoke quite the discussion, check it out here.

      A friend of mine awhile back also completed a study on the subject of how some major blogging sites tend to mute women’s voices that is worth having a look at.

      Ultimately, I think that the points both of you have made about how women are steered toward certain kind of content, or tend to ‘blog like men’ are very true. I disagree with a lot of what Michelle Malkin writes, but she’s really a skilled blogger in terms of the craft of blogging (incremental storytelling, engaging an audience, etc.). Her audience, according to Quantcast, is 75% male.

      Striking a balance where you can produce content in a way that satisfies both men and women equally is a real challenge, so much so sometimes that you understand why websites are satisfied with planting their flag in the territory of one side or the other.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    “The third category includes those few women who blog about politics, technology, and other more ‘male’ topics with a scathing wit and piercing gaze that put their male blogger rivals to shame.”

    I guess that I don’t see how that means women blog like men. They address topics in industries dominated by men, but if (as you state) the treatment of those topics is given with “scathing wit and piercing gaze” that men fail to achieve, women bloggers must be blogging like women.

    My understanding was that blogging successfully involved creating a voice that people want to read, by means of a different or better informed angle than the typical person. From my experience, in fields dominated by men, women who become anything resembling authorities are achieving more than most men in those fields. It seems logical, and no less feminine, for them to write articles, books, or blogs about those topics and do so in a manner that the average person, male or female, cannot.

    • collapse expand

      I agree with you. I don’t think great writing is necessarily gender-based or even gender-constrained, and blogging is really just another type of writing.

      Great blogging is gender-neutral, except when gender is the actual topic under discussion (hair, makeup, professional sports from which women are barred, how six-pack abs pull chicks, etc).

      As I said in the comments on Caitlin’s post, I’ve got a fair bit of experience with these issues, having blogged under a gender-neutral handle for many years. Just today in another thread on TrueSlant, I was the recipient of a pointed remark which would NOT have been pointed at me, had the commenter assumed I was male instead. Not that it was specifically gendered, but rather that it simply smells like the “listen, hon, you don’t know what you’re talking about” comments which are demonstrably more common when a blogger or commenter is identified as female.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    Interesting analysis. Based on your categories, I must be some sort of transgender: a mommy blogger who blogs like a man.

    I talk politics, but I only got interested once I had kids. The whole, what the heck kinda world am I raising them in? thing. And also what am I teaching them, and what is the school teaching them about their world?

  4. collapse expand

    “Striking a balance where you can produce content in a way that satisfies both men and women equally is a real challenge, so much so sometimes that you understand why websites are satisfied with planting their flag in the territory of one side or the other”

    Half my T/S blog followers are men, half women.
    If we can’t talk to one another — and listen with interest — what good is all this sexy new access to millions of eyeballs?

    I suspect, like Susannah and Lorraine (and maybe many others?) it’s because I think men and women have a lot in common and I find gender wars and divisions, per se, boring. Women vote, pay taxes, go to war, kick ass in (male-dominated) fields like science and medicine and law and some sports — not just marry, divorce, birth/ breastfeed and flame one another over girly stuff. This seems really obvious to me, but when I read “women’s” blogs like Broadsheet or Double X I want to scream and change gender.

  5. collapse expand

    Sigh. It’s not the alleged political incorrectness that I find irritating about her post, but the general sloppiness of her reasoning, and the confusion in which she wallows. I’m trying to discern if it’s because she’s sub-intelligent and had a shoddy education or whether she does it on purpose. If the latter, we should tell her that that is a man’s game, in the sense that some men got there first: mindless, lazy contrarianism for its own sake was pioneered by some third-rate intellects at Slate (I’m looking at you, Kaus!). Even around here, at T/S, I’ve come across a few dimwits who practice the same moronic waste of everyone’s time. Note to Wente: if that’s your game, here’s a couple of free ideas for your next op-eds: “Why 20% unemployment may be good for your student loans”; “How atomic warfare could help reduce our carbon footprint”; “Everything everyone thinks about anorexia is false”; “Making a killing: why this crisis is the best time for a third mortgage”; and “How invading Iran might be a great way to cut down on carbs.” You’re welcome, Megs.

    Let’s take a sober look at some of her assertions, and see if they’re worth anything.

    It’s more of a guy thing. This is a fallacy — the so-called pars pro toto She takes one part — the highly-charged subsection of blogging about contemporary American politics — and quietly assumes that it stands for the whole (blogging in general). This would be like me saying, ‘Empiricism is boring and expensive,’ when I’m really thinking only of large-scale experiments in solid-state physics.

    Blogs are a neutral medium, and blogging is a general activity. To establish her point that it’s a ‘guy thing,’ she would need to argue successfully that, somehow, “inherently,” men are more predisposed towards writing and arguing, whereas women are not. (I wonder if she also believes that women are innate listeners, nurturers, carers, etc., as some used to claim). Clearly, that sort of thesis is extremely hard to prove. Seat-of-your-pants surveys of a couple of blogging sites is not evidence for it; rather, it calls for an explanation.

    A plausible alternative could be that blogging simply reflects gender imbalances that, sadly, continue to persist in Western societies. Blogging — especially on a regular basis — takes time. It’s no secret that women, even in America, still do more work than men. When families break down (a not infrequent sight these days), women are usually left to care for the offspring. Second, politics and technology are still fields skewed towards men. (Maybe sports too? I don’t follow sports.) No wonder that, in the audience they attract, men are more numerous.

    Blogging goes against their nature. To prove this sort of claim, first one must show that the effects to be explained are not really caused by nurture, or socialization. This is very tricky stuff. “I know a lot of women, and a lot of them are like that” is NOT acceptable evidence. You’d have to produce long-term, systematic, well-designed empirical studies in evolutionary psychology (a science still in its iffy infancy), neurobiology, cognitive science — things like that. Does Wente have anything remotely resembling this?

    Finally, women who blog like men. Please tell me this means ‘women who have become successful in a field so far dominated — for various reasons, not all of them having to do with justice and fairness — dominated by men.’ I really hope you didn’t mean to say ‘women who have had to adopt a foreign, ‘manly’ nature to be good at this.’

    The charitable suggestion here is for Wente to go back to her school and ask for a full refund, since they clearly didn’t teach her any reasoning skills.

  6. collapse expand

    Interesting. I don’t know where I fall here because I blog mostly about politics, but there’s a lot of “feelings” thrown in. Then I blog about my little guy and family but not a ton so I don’t consider myself a “mommy” blogger. Nor am I a feminist. I never seem to quite fit in anywhere. :)

  7. collapse expand

    Five of Six years ago I started a blog. Didn’t have a clue what one was but I merrily typed about my experence with stomach stapling. The next day I went back to continue with my brilliant thoughts. When microsoft said “we know there is a problem with this blogs site. We are working on it”. I continued for two weeks to get back on but recieved the same message.

    Then it hit me either it crashed because God said enough already or people were reading it and it would scare me into immobility. Shrugging it off I went on with life. Until six months later when I really really want to tell the world what I thought. So I signned on again, only to be greeted by the same message. (I tweet now BTW)

    Neither being opionated and no willing to share stopped me from blogging. (I embrace my pissing contests) It was Microsoft who stopped a potential narcists from exposing the world about her travels in life. Or maybe someone who had something to say.

    I am glad know one told me only men thought this was a good idea. I would have insisted Microsoft fix it. Men indeed.

  8. collapse expand

    To make a last point, about politics blogging only: she writes so disparagingly about a phenomenon that, looked at the right way, is a great advance for democracy. Online anonymity makes it rowdy and boisterous, it’s true — yet that’s not the main cause of it. In politics, passions run high, but they always have. What she completely misses is that heated, adversarial blogging is a symptom of political health, not of male dysfunction. It’s a great way to give more people more power over a process that used to be largely out of their hands except during elections. The Networks used to give us The News, which we were expected to swallow dutifully, unchewed; and The Establishment used to decide behind open doors what the Best Course for the country was, a secret to which we needed not be privy, they thought. All of that is largely gone, thanks to the rise of blogging. Good riddance, I say. If the price for more democratic debate and involvement is vehement rhetoric, I’m willing to pay it any given day. Wente mistakes for pissing contests what is really just the inevitable outcome of free societies in which the means of communication have been democratized — we don’t need newspapers and TV channels any more to let out compatriots know what we think of our government. It’s true that politics blogging is still skewed towards males. But it’s largely because high-level politics in America is still an old boys’ game to an unacceptable extent.

    To remember what politics without blogs was like, take a look at Russia. Or, to bring the example closer to home: remember the days in which we couldn’t expose Tom Friedman as the hack that he is; Chucky Krauthammer as the frothing psychopath he’s become; and MoDo as the mindless chatterbox she sounds like? Is Wente nostalgic for those days?

    Again, the schools have failed Wente; they sold her some half-baked, sub-par gender theory, but what she needed was a course in political philosophy.

  9. collapse expand

    “I should know. I’m a woman who, more often than not, blogs like a man.”

    No, sweetheart, you’re confusing “takes cheap shots and blames stupid stuff on feminism’s grand scheme of ruining the world for real cool chicks like me who want to be noticed by men” with “blogs like a man.”

    I hope that helps.

    But I see what you did there. The attempted “I’m not like other women, I run with teh mens, they accept me as one of them!!” Uh, sure. Whatever you need to say to validate your existence to yourself.

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    I'm a freelance journalist, blogger, photographer, and creator of TheWarProject.com. I've written for Newsweek, Details, Harper's Bazaar, The Daily Beast, Radar Online, Variety, Salon, Slate, Wired News, The New York Post, The LA Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Vancouver Sun, The San Francisco Examiner Magazine, Playboy.com, and many other publications. I've appeared on CNN, Fox News, "Politically Incorrect," and NPR. Currently, I'm working on a novel. My email is susannahbreslin at earthlink dot net.

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