Saturday, November 30, 2002

On Women Bloggers

Lisa Guerney, in the NY Times (requires registration), writes about the male-dominated blog world. One might balk at her characterisation of bloggers as "legions of online narcissists" but the author was more concerned with the lack of female voices. The article gets weird when this turns into a tired discussion around men in the public sphere and women in the private sphere. Then comes this killer statement: "People who track blogs hate to make generalizations, but many acknowledged that female bloggers often have more of an inward focus, keeping personal diaries about their daily lives. If that is the case, the Venus-Mars divide has made its way into Blogville. Women want to talk about their personal lives. Men want to talk about anything but. So far the people who have received the most publicity (often courtesy of male journalists) appear to be the latter."

Elizabeth Lane Lawley responds to the same quote, "I think this is close to the mark, but not exactly right. The "inward focus" rings true, but the "personal diaries" does not. The women whose blogs I read seem to speak with more of a personal and recognizable voice. But what they write goes far beyond a personal diary. They write about research, about law, about information architecture, about copyright, about gender, and about blogs themselves. But they write about them with grace and style, with a voice that is unmistakably theirs, unmistakably personal. I like that." So, for her, it seems to be more a matter of voice than of gender. And Torill Mortensen examines the notion of a "high profile" blogger and the ability to decide for oneself.

My take? Almost every facet of my professional life is male-dominated and 99% of the blog-related email I get is from men. But do I consider myself a Woman Blogger? Not really. I mean, yes, I am a woman and a blogger, but that combined identity doesn't really occur to me. And neither do I read certain blogs because they are written by men or women. I too look for voices and interests that appeal to me - and my favourite blogger is a man. But part of what I like about his writing is that I can feel it - it has a distinct and personal voice. Does that make him a woman blogger? Not bloody likely. These categories are useless to me. At the same time, some email I get is quite obviously written by heterosexual men to a woman they assume is heterosexual - so being a woman online does make a difference... but probably no more than being a woman in flesh-space.

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