Gender and Media and Blogging

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Read two posts by Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake: here and here. She acknowledges not making an effort to link to women bloggers more, much to her credit. Garance Franke Ruta noted in the comments to the first post:

Glad to see you taking up the banner. I’ve grown tired of feeling like the only one who does so. Only one, in part because, once Amy Sullivan leaves the Washington Monthly toward the end of the month, I will have the peculiar honor of being the only female more than half-time political writer left at any of the liberal magazines in Washington. (Michelle Cottle at TNR being the other one, and part-time.) Sigh.

No women staff writers but me and Michelle in Washington at: TNR, TAP, WaMo, MoJo, The Nation, or Salon.

Plenty of women in middle-management, though.

The problem of women being shut out of opinion media, even progressive opinion media, is related to the one you describe of women not voting. Anna Greenberg has done research into this and discovered that a major reason these women don’t vote is they feel like they’re not well-informed and therefore aren’t qualified to vote. One reason they probably don’t feel well-informed is that they don’t keep up with political media as much as men, and I’d wager that one reason they don’t do that is when they turn to it they don’t see anyone who looks like they do or is talking about their concerns in a way they can relate to.

To her critcs I’d just say that Jane is not addressing a problem of identity politics; she’s addressing a problem of politics, period. Joe Trippi said after the last election that if Kerry had been able to get 3 million more single moms to vote he would have won. But good luck trying to get an 85 percent male progressive punditocracy to recognize the importance of such voters to their favored candidate’s electoral success or failure. Men prefer what they prefer and overlook what does not interest them.

I too am glad Hamsher is paying attention to this issue; hopefully she will not get flamed for it as aggressively as Lakshmi Chaudhry did. Maybe she will notice how many funny women bloggers there are, too.

One quibble, though. She credits Tbogg with helping her gain visibility, and if he did that, he certainly deserves credit, but she needs to consider the possibility that he may simultaneously be part of the problem. I know via private e-mails that many female bloggers object to Tbogg’s rampant sexism, but he holds a lot of power in the blogosphere, and they are afraid to challenge or criticize him publicly. If I worried about links and page views and advertising revenues, I might be too. Lefists who use the “power of incivility” as a screen for misogyny won’t attract many women to the fold, that is for sure.

–Ann Bartow

Update: Read Echidne of the Snakes, for a different take on all this.

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0 Responses to Gender and Media and Blogging

  1. bitchlab says:

    Wow, this is great to see.

    For some reason, Ann, I think I’ve read your work as a grad student or maybe you were spoken of by a professor or two. I know you were at Cornell. Did you happen to know Judy Long by any chance?

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    The longer I teach, the less facility with names and faces I seem to have… E-mail me if you like, I’d love to hear more about you and your work, and we can figure out who we know in common.

  3. bitchlab says:

    Will do!