September 10, 2002
Sexism in the blogosphere

I thought I had some insightful things to say about sexism in the blogosphere (debate started by Dawn Olsen, with followup here and here, and amplified by Meryl Yourish, with followup here, here, and here), but I don't think I can do better than Diane E. (scroll down and look for "Meryl is right") and Ampersand. I do have a couple of points to add:

Math geek that I am, I decided to see if I could get a rough count of "known" female bloggers. I started at the Myelin Ecosystem and did some counting. Of the 501 most-linked blogs, I identified 47 as being written by women. I did the same exercise with the most-forward-links blogs and came up with 37.

Now, there's quite a few links that are not individual blogs (such as and MetaFilter, plus various group blogs like Samizdata), and a sizeable number of blogs that I don't know and can't tell from the title what the author's gender is. So take that number with a grain of salt, but I'm willing to bet that a more rigorous classification would still put the level of female-written blogs in the 20-25% range. This is, of course, a tiny and not-likely-to-be-representative slice of the full blog world, but since the discussion started with who does and doesn't link to whom, I think it's an interesting data point.

As for how female bloggers are perceived compared to male bloggers, I can't speak for Diane, but I will say that anyone as iconoclastic as she is likely to get less adoration than someone who consistently preaches to the choir like den Beste. For what it's worth, I dropped den Beste from my blogroll a few weeks ago when I realized that he no longer had anything to say that I found interesting. Diane continues to amaze, infuriate, and challenge me. And I simply disagree with Ampersand's assertion that Jeanne D'Arc suffers from a lack of respect or linkage. I see (scroll down to 1:11 PM) people citing (scroll down) Jeanne all the time (and deservedly so, might I add).

Finally, Dawn has this to say about double standards:

I post pictures of myself on my blog, which is my prerogative and is only tangentially related to my blog content. Yes I discuss sex. I have recently written some erotic material as a way of honing my writing skills. BUT, I also discuss LOTS OF OTHER THINGS TOO. Like breastfeeding a toddler, home-schooling, giving birth, abortion, gun control, parenting and basic social commentary.

Dawn had previously complained about being pigeonholed:

Glenn [Reynolds] is a prolific linker and can be quite generous about throwing his weight around, and he certainly links to female bloggers. He has even linked to me, but I have noticed a trend in what he links to: it's never any of my more heady posts, but usually something sexual, which taken out context, comes off as condescending or even vaguely insulting.

I sympathize with Dawn. Like all the actors who've done Star Trek, she's been typecast. She's sufficiently well known for her writing about sex that it's all that people want to read from her. It's just sad that anyone would consider her less "serious" or "credible" because of her sex posts. I don't read Dawn regularly - I can barely keep up with my blogroll - but I wish her the best in expanding her voice and keeping her audience while doing so.

Of course, Dawn had the option of drawing attention to her blog in this fashion. That option was open to her solely because she's a woman (and a beautiful one at that). I submit that no one would care if I or just about any other male blogger started writing about sex. It's just not nearly as interesting when a man does it, not to mention that many men can't talk about sex without sounding boastful or creepy.

(Not that I ever will blog about sex, mind you. My parents, wife, and at least one of my sisters reads this page. I ain't talking about sex without my lawyer, priest, therapist, best friend, and a six-pack of Shiner Bock all present.)

Yes, as Dawn points out, men can and do post nekkid pictures of women to get readers. And yes, hardly anyone questions their morals for doing so. But they also generally don't get Instapundit links for it, either.

UPDATE: Jeanne herself disagrees with Ampersand's statement that she's not linked to enough.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 10, 2002 to Society and cultcha

Trying to make a parallel to experiences in Epinions. Typecast was the word that triggered my finally breaking through my block. Thanks.

Posted by: Laurence Simon on September 10, 2002 1:02 PM

I would like to read your posts on sex. I might even enjoy sexy photos of you. I have an open mind. :)

Posted by: Dawn on September 10, 2002 4:12 PM

I would enjoy reading sex posts from you, or even seeing sexy photos. But you are doing fine without that :)!

Posted by: dawn on September 10, 2002 4:13 PM

Jumpin' Jeebus - sorry about that!

Posted by: dawn on September 10, 2002 4:14 PM