miss_s_b: (Politics: Post Feminism)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
This post is dedicated to Jo Swinson MP and Count Packula.

According to the office of National Statistics NB, this is a .pdf download, of the internet-accessing population in the UK as a whole (51% female), 6% of men write a blog, and 8% of women. More women are blogging than men. This is a fact. Of those who state their gender on Dreamwidth, the majority are female, and the same goes for Livejournal. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo... All these are female-dominated, to a greater or lesser extent. It's harder to find stats for blogger or wordpress, but I suspect they are out there somewhere.

So why are most of the "top" bloggers men?

Why is the assumption that the blogosphere is male-dominated so entrenched? Why is there a blokosphere?

Part of the reason for this is undoubtedly that although the gender breakdown of people accessing the internet is roughly equal, men spend more time at it. More men READ blogs than women (26% to 16%), more men internet shop than women, more men watch TV and download films than women... Yet with the upload of user-created content there is virtually no difference (25 and 24%). So women are putting their views out there, in blogs and on YouTube and in fora, but the men are not listening.

To take an example closer to home, Lib Dem Voice has a daily feature where they link to two notable news stories and two blog posts they feel are worth recommending. The two blog posts are nearly always both by male posters. The people who write the feature are nearly all male. Men link to men. However, having looked at the last 300 posts on Lib Dem Blogs to see what the pool is like that the LDV editors are choosing from, 216 of them are by male posters, 45 by female, 31 by non-gendered pseudonums or group blogs, 6 by the Honourable Lady Mark who defies categorisation, and 2 by fluffy animals with boys who help them type. That's a heavy male bias right there, so even if the editors of LDV are consciously seeking out good female posts, they are going to find it difficult to find them. Now, I know for a fact that there are at least three female bloggers on my f-list who are Lib Dems, and yet have not submitted themselves to Lib Dem Blogs. So there is a self-selection problem here.

But there is also a definitional problem. I had to have quite a long discussion with That Tory Blogger to get him to count [personal profile] innerbrat as a political blog. She posts about gender disparity and sexuality and things like that all the time, but because she doesn't post about the party politics, she wasn't considered a political blogger. Dan Dan the Wikio Man and I had a similar discussion about The F-Word and various other feminist blogs. Wikio had them listed under General, because feminism isn't politics. The narrow definition of politics to include only geekery about party politics and the Westminster Bubble excludes women.

Yet another part of the problem is that although what might be termed initial content (blogs, tweets, etc.) is majority-female, promotion tools, such as Digg, Technorati, blog aggregators like Lib Dem Blogs, etc. are majority-male. So men recommend posts by men to other men. None of this is necessarily a conscious bias, it's just the way things are.

So how do we change the way things are?

Well, for women, I would suggest starting to use promotion tools much more extensively. Don't worry about whether or not you will fit in, or whether or not the men want to hear you. Barge into the room and make yourself heard. Submit yourself to Lib Dem Blogs, Digg yourself, join Bloggers' Circle, Technorati and Wikio. Don't assume that people who are interested in your blog will find it by themselves. But also read, comment on, and interact with male bloggers. @reply people on twitter with posts you think they might be interested in (like Dazmundo did to me yesterday). Sponsor my blog, FFS! Nearly all of my sponsors have been male. Put yourself out there. Make yourselves noticeable and people will notice you.

For men... Look outside your bubbles. Ryan, instead of waiting for Lib Dem Bloggers to submit themselves to you, go out and look for them. LDV editors, instead of just scanning through Lib Dem blogs to find stuff that might be interesting, compile your own reading lists and look outside what we can all access through the aggregator anyway. Everyone, cross promote your female friends and fellow bloggers. Make a conscious effort to read the fantastic female blogs there are out there, like Feminist Law Professors, [personal profile] innerbrat, Angry Black Woman, [personal profile] nanila, Geeka Chicas, even our own dear Charlotte Gore, as opposed to just reading the blokes recommended to you by other blokes.

Women bloggers are here. We want to be heard. All we need is for people to actually hear us.

This blog is proudly sponsored by

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"Ryan, instead of waiting for Lib Dem Bloggers to submit themselves to you, go out and look for them."
Why? I don't have the time to read most of the blogs that are on there at the moment. It's a simple system to get added, the author just needs to send me an email with their name, blog address and membership number. If you want more female bloggers, why aren't you asking/persuading them to send me an email?


Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
ext_393365: Ryan and Beatrice (Default)
From: [identity profile] blog.artesea.co.uk
Apologies for skim reading your post the first time, was in the final 10 minutes of work when I spotted it.
I have now noticed that you are asking people to email me and hope that you (and everyone else) encourage more people who are party members to take part. I really don't care if all you blog about is football, strictly come dancing or polar bears as it can be more exciting than 20 posts on what Cameron might have just said.
Everyone is welcome, including the mad ones who insist on changing their blog platform as often as they change their underwear.

ps, might have finally got this OpenID thing sorted

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paulatpingu.livejournal.com
That's a really interesting article. Thanks for writing and sharing.

And, though completely unscientific, if you look at my bookmarked blogs and journals, they pretty much are all written by men. That's never really occurred to me before. food for thought methinks...

CGB Awards

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://www.theliberati.net/quaequamblog/author/james/
At the risk of revisiting the shitstorm which greeted the last time I organised it, I have to say that consciousness-awareness exercises such as the CGB Blog Awards last year do help to correct this imbalance.

The problem is, such things get attacked by a large number of men who seem to think they are permanently persecuted for their maleness (this is far from the truth but a whole generation of men have grown up during the period when feminism started to wane thinking this) and women who don't like an issue being made out of their gender.

I would still maintain that organising a blog awards like this is no different from, say, setting up Feministing, but having done it once I think it would have to be lead by a woman next time around.

By the way, your recaptcha is asking me to type in "Andre jaffa" - is it being operated by Katie Price by any chance?

Re: CGB Awards

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
The Kaptchas are all from book scans, it's part of some ongoing crowdsourced OCR project or something, so they're not fully random but are pretty good.

I'm still torn on the CGB awards, it annoys me that female bloggers are both ignored and margininalised, but it also annoys me that female bloggers put themselves into little self imposed ghettos and don't look outside them (especially true of LJ/DW users, who pretty much ignore everywhere else most of the time).

Re: CGB Awards

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
I think that ghettoising is almost ubiquitous among bloggers - people tend to gravitate to a very small circle of blogs and consider those the 'important' ones. I know that happens with comics bloggers too, for example, and music bloggers...

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
Oddly, most of the *male* (UK politics) bloggers I read I discovered through you - through your netcasts and links. The female ones (yourself, Charlotte, Debi, Laurie etc) I tend to have discovered through other sources, with the exception of Alix, who I think I first saw through your links.

And Debi is *FAR* more a political blogger than Dale. I defy anyone to find a single post in, say, the last month where Dale has talked about a single actual *IDEA*. His blog is gossip, and the fact that it's gossip about people who share a particular job doesn't make it any less so. If I started a blog about who in my office is likely to get a promotion and who hates their boss, that wouldn't be a tech blog. Real political blogs, ones that matter, deal with ideas...

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
If there's something you can do to help on this score Jennie, that would be great.

When you say, "LDV editors, instead of just scanning through Lib Dem blogs to find stuff that might be interesting, compile your own reading lists and look outside what we can all access through the aggregator anyway" I think there are two issues.

First, the easy one - yes, many people do like and use the aggregator. But for many other people it has too high a volume of posts and so they like getting a selection of posts picked out.

Second, what about blogs that aren't on the aggregator? That's a tougher one as the easy and defensive response is to say, "Ah, but the aggregator advertises how easy it is to get added to it - just an email; the Golden Dozen each week highlights posts submitted via LibDig which any party member can use; and there's now the Friday 5 which highlights a range of other non-party member blogs again via LibDig; oh and of course you can always a post a comment up highlighting a story that you think should have been in one of those but wasn't".

All of the above is true ... but having this range of opportunities available isn't actually catching that many suggestions from that many people. That's certainly not for want of trying from the Lib Dem Voice team in terms of the number of those routes we make available. So what is it that's missing from the mix?

I don't know the answer to that one for sure, though I suspect part of it is that all those routes work better for people who are willing to thrust their views on others (I think this post is fab! pay attention to it!) and that might therefore not get used by some people.

Perhaps people like yourself Jennie who draw on a wide range of blogs that often don't get mentioned can help by LibDigging etc a bit more? And if you've got other ideas as to what the LDV team could do, please do say...


Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
On the first point, Jennie I disagree. Although you say "There is NO POINT in picking stuff out of Lib Dem Blogs" that's not what other people say - they like, even want, selections because they don't want to look through the volume of posts on it. If some people say that's what they want, I think that makes a pretty good reason for doing it :-)

On the second point - perhaps that's the issue. LibDig has two roles: (a) a way of getting other blog posts picked up and publicised (e.g. through the Friday Five) and (b) a social networking function. The latter really requires a volume of traffic that LibDig doesn't (yet) have, so is that what's putting people off using it also for the former? There is a slight chicken and egg here because if more people used it for (a) then (b) would become true too.

Getting people to suggest links via Twitter could work better given the point you make about now using it a lot to share links isn't exclusive to you by any means, though I suspect it would produce complaints from non-Twitter users about them not wanting to have to use it to recommend links :-)

Date: Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 12:53 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
Agreed. Even something like a LibDig Google reader account, that just picked up people's shared items, would be more useful than LibDig itself...

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Eh up, I'm starting to organise my thoughts for a response, and we are Talking About You on the LDV discussion list :)


Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 06:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
OK, now done (http://www.alexfoster.me.uk/2009/10/19/women-bloggers/).

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
innerbrat: (drama)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
Why were you talking to him about me?

The thing is, that I don't want to get in that room. I spend my working life in a male dominated area, I'm quite happy to splash around in my female-dominated part of the blogosphere.

So straight white cis men don't consider sexuality/race/gender politics to be Real Politics. If they want to complain that their self-defined circle of men doens't include enough women, it's no skin off my nose.

Also, I can use my energy to promote my blog or to wirte my blog. Not both.

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC)
innerbrat: (heart + stomach)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
That's just what They do, though, innit? Girls Don't Blog. Just as Girls Don't Do Science and Girls Don't Read Comics and Girls Made Skiffy Gay.

I used to be annoyed that the boys weren't letting me in their clubhouse, then I realised that it was much more fun playing outside.

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
innerbrat: (sheep)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
In every other aspect of my life - academic and social - the boys treat me like one of them, and complain about the girls. I learned to blog form girls, though, so I blog like a girl.

Also, to play in some of the politicoblogging sandboxes, I need to go to the clubhouse and get my membership badge. I'd rather not do that for a number of reasons.

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scarier.wordpress.com
But we treat you like one of us because you come and talk to us!

(I'm not entirely comfortable with the "us" I'm including myself in there, but somehow I get the impression that whether I choose to put myself in it or not, I'm going to be put in it for the purposes of this discussion.)

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scarier.wordpress.com
Aw, thanks!

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
The problem is that They make it far more difficult for Us (defined as people who are interested in Science, Comics and Skiffy, but who are not Them, and who can cope with the idea of people having differently-shaped genitals) from finding out about You (defined as interesting female writers).

Dale and his ilk somehow manage to define for the mainstream public what a 'political blogger' is, and are going to be the first port of call for those who don't have the ability to search out marginal voices. While I can understand not wanting to be part of a club that has Iain Dale as a member, that doesn't - to my mind - relieve *him* of the obligation to invite you in, and also to point out to people that 'other clubs are available'...

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
innerbrat: (heart + stomach)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
Well, true. But that's Your and Their problem, not Ours. Everyone is allowed to complain that They are obscuring Our voices, but... hang on, going back to lower case...

But I am not obliged to play by the appropriate rules in order to get Dale to notice me. If he ignores me or defines his circle in a way that excludes me, then complains about the lack-of-me, then he's being hypocritical and anyone who hears him is allowed to tell him so.

But I don't have to break down the walls from the outside, nor do I have to remember the password to get in the front door. Not unless I want inside. And I don't, I'm happy outside the circle. Because I know I exist, and you know I exist, and anyone who actually wants to read a blog by a woman about comics and science and identity politics... well, I'm sure they'll work out the best place to look.

I am not letting down the sisterhood if I don't obsess about my Wikio ranking.

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
ABSOLUTELY, and if I gave the impression that I was saying anything different, then I apologise.

I agree with EVERY word you've said here. I just don't think that should relieve Dale (or anyone else in a position of privilege) from the obligation of trying to invite you in.

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
innerbrat: (heart + stomach)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
No, you're right.

Date: Monday, October 19th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
softfruit: (Default)
From: [personal profile] softfruit
Y'know, I've been tempted to sponsor your blog from my blogspot, just so you have a very un-LibDemmy blog being tarted at the masses for a change. Though I think I'd have to plan a series of Good Blog Posts for the month to make the most of it :D

Date: Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC)
innerbrat: (war)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
How much IS blog sponsorship?

Date: Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
I don't think mine is *especially* LibDemmy... certainly on my tagcloud 'Liberal Democrats' and 'liberalism' are smaller than comics, Doctor Who, Grant Morrison, linkblogging and music...

Date: Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
ext_390810: (Default)
From: [identity profile] http://www.nickbarlow.com/blog/
Wikio had them listed under "General", because "feminism isn't politics".
Add that to the list of reasons why I don't care about Wikio.

This isn't a new debate, of course - I can remember having discussions about 'where are the female political bloggers?' back when I started blogging in 2003, and the same conclusions came up then. I think there's always been that idea that to gain entrance to the political bloggers club, you must only blog about politics, and usually in terms of 'geekery about party politics and the Westminster Bubble'. That gets defined as 'political blogging' and people see that and think 'that's not what I'm doing, therefore I'm obviously not a political blogger.'

Of course, the other issue is that people who are quite content writing and talking to a (relatively) small circle of friends/acquaintances/people on the same platform or site aren't going to feel the same need to relentlessly self-promote as the self-styled 'leading political bloggers'.

Date: Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 09:40 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Yep, I'm still reeling from the idea that someone doesn't think feminism is politics - amazing!

Jo Christie-Smith

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