April 22, 2004

Stop Oppressing Me

If you really don't want to read the history of this particular blogwar, skip down to What I Think for my current "wisdom" on relations between the sexes.

The Background

Apparently two minor blogfeuds have erupted into a general free-for-all. Everyone wants to talk about whether the Blogosphere is sexist, or isn't, or whether female bloggers have an advantage, or don't, or whether sexual banter is okay, or isn't.

As I understand it, one of the skirmishes that spawned this began with Michele musing about why Wonkette is so successful. A lot of us have wondered that too, since for a number of us the sizzle-to-steak ratio at Wonkette seems rather high. But of course I had those feelings about Tina Brown as well. I think Wonkette's success can be explained by three things:
1) an awful lot of people like gossip;
2) Glenn Reynolds made it a point to link her a lot, and
3) She's got Conde Nast money behind her, which leads to a lot of the non-sphere attention she gets (such as TV interviews and articles in the NYT).

The fact is, it's hard for anyone who's slogging away in the vineyards day after day to watch others compete in what they consider an unfair way. And being broke doesn't bring out the best in any of us--especially bloggers, most of whom are still doing their thang "for fun and for free." Won't it be great when we all figure out how to make it pay? Until then, we'll be tense every now and again. Breathe.

John Hawkins wrote a post about which bloggers he'd like to be marooned with on a desert island. In what I regarded as a bit of affirmative action, he broke it down into half women, and half men. With a comment or two about the females being attractive, he earned Meryl Yourish's wrath, and she produced a counter-list of her own, couched specifically in terms of whether or not she'd sleep with the men in question.

Now all hell has broken loose, with Hawkins responding to Michelle's original post about the Mystery of Wonkette, and Ilyka writing a thoughtful piece that tries to explain why some women are a little sensitive about the prospect of being regarded as a walking pair of tits (as well as linking yours truly--thank you so much!). Then James penned an equally insightful article on why men might truly have an edge in writing about politics--and giving credit to the superstars in that arena, such as Kathy Kinsley, Megan McArdle, and Virginia Postrel. Baldilocks suggested that men and women are different, and that this is okay. Hawkins weighed in one more time. Spoons chimed in as well, leading Xrlq to comment:

Spoons gets a lot more traffic than I do, even though I outrank him in the Ecosystem. It's not fair! Either the Blogosphere is biased in favor of bloggers named after kitchen utensils, or it's biased against bloggers with unpronounceable names. Or maybe it's biased in favor of people willing to live in ... shudder ... Illinois. I don't know. All I know is that I'm being cheated somehow.

Which pretty well sums it up.

Now Meryl feels a "feminist rant" coming on, which should be interesting. I'll read it.

What I Think

Look, boys and girls. I don't feel that I have either an edge or a disadvantage here by virtue of my two X Chromosomes. And I don't like any set of exchanges that purports to tell me what my blog is about based on whether I've ever posted a picture of myself (yes--twice) or mentioned my boobs (yes--several times over the past 13 months).

If you want to know the truth, I don't think the major divisions in the Blogosphere have to do with whether we're male or female, right or left so much as they pertain to whether we're smart, and decent writers. The fact is, most people aren't that bright. When a straight guy reads something by a woman that gets him to really think, he's likely to feel a glimmering of attraction, because it's probably a rare experience ("this person is an exceptional thinker--and it's a chick! So what if she isn't a slender brunette! Hello, hormones"). For a lot of men out there--at least when they are reading blogs--the impulse goes from his brain to his crotch. Not the other way around. (Do not try to get them to admit this.)

Besides, in some cases (I think I'm one) the reality of the picture doesn't quite match the fantasy of however the male reader imagined the woman to be. I think I got more sexy mail from males before I posted the pix than I did afterward. And this is fine, too. I'm here to write. If you think I'm cute, good for you--you have rare and discerning taste.

Most good blogs are magazines. Most of the best political blogs have at least some personal content, whether it's James talking about his cats (or his commute), Laurence discussing the baking of bread, or Stephen Green writing about which car he finally bought. It's all good.

I used to use the word "feminist," back in the days before the movement became a duck blind for shamelessly exploitive philanderers. Now I'm a Whatever Works.

Let's all do our breathing. Stretch a little. Have a martini, if you're that kind of blogger. Or some good herbal tea if you're not. Do your yoga. Have a muffin.

And let's get back into the arena of ideas.

Posted by Attila at April 22, 2004 06:45 PM

"shamelessly explotive philanderers" as opposed to shamelessly exploitive liars?

Posted by: Little Mr Mahatma at April 23, 2004 08:05 AM

Someone reads the bread posts?
Egad. I thought I was just going to have to retire to cats and my incompetent gardening.

Posted by: Laurence Simon at April 23, 2004 09:16 AM

"Most of the best political blogs have at least some personal content."

Hmmm... consider this excerpt from Saddam Hussein's very own blog:


April 23, 2004
I Am Still President of Iraq
The interrogators came for a visit again. I showed them my plants. The man from the U.S.State Department was really impressed by how my geranium was growing. I demanded special lamps to help the cactus-plant thrive.

We chatted about this and that, and I couldn't remember anything important about WMDs, mass graves or Cayman Islands bank-accounts...

I'm thinking about a new hair color. And I should have gassed all the Kurds while I had the chance.

That explosion in North Korea was obviously an assassination attempt. I should know, with my experience! Ha ha. I'm still president. So why can't I have my own greenhouse, I ask you? My plants are going to die if I don't move the mout of this cell.
-Hang in there, pal.
(Posted by Kim Jong-Il)

Posted by: A.R. Yngve at April 23, 2004 11:27 AM

You know, I&rsdquo;ve always found it interesting that outsiders often assume that Blowfish is “female owned and operated” because we offer up a positive few of sex. Hmm.

Posted by: Christophe at April 23, 2004 12:50 PM

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

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