Women in the blogosphere

I heard Josh Levin of Slate on NPR today comparing bloggers to rappers. It sounded pretty much like another blogger put down piece that has been in fashion of late. I wasn't going to worry my head about it but the dude made the claim that, like women rappers, women bloggers can't get any recognition without getting raunchy. He gave the examples of Lil' Kim and Wonkette. Come on now. This guy works for Slate so he's no stranger to the internet and really should know better. (And political bloggers do not just rip a few chunks out of stories and type out a few comments. Who's blogs has he been reading?)

The idea that women can only achieve notoriety in the blogosphere by being raunchy is just wrong. There are plenty of us blazing our way up the ecosystem not by raunch and over sexualization but by intelligence, shrewd insight, gentle (and not so gentle) wisdom, and just by being the women were we made to be. If the only women who can get your attention are the raunchy ones then that's your problem. Given the somewhat anonymous nature of the blogosphere how do you check who's a woman and who isn't anyway?

A week or two ago there was a big hubbub because there seem to be fewer women blogging than men. (Actually it started with op-ed pages and spread to the blogosphere, see here, here, here, and here.) So what? Why is it always a big deal if women aren't doing the same things that men do and in the same numbers? Let us do what ever we want already! If a lot of women aren't interested in blogging fine. It leaves more territory for those of us who are to conquer. No one needs to go around wringing their hands because we're aren't playing the way the boys do. We play the way we do.

There is a strain of feminism that says that in order to be equal women have to be just like men. If a woman wants to stay home and raise her children herself she has set back "the cause." If she isn't interested in climbing the cooperate ladder she has set back "the cause." If women aren't out there doing all of the same things that men are doing why then it must be because of discrimination. The old boys just won't let the girls play. Fewer women than men in any given arena can never be because a lot of women aren't interested or have priorities that preclude advancement in that arena. This idea that women have to do all of the same things that men do in order to be considered equal and free devalues those things that are uniquely feminine.

A Harvard professor recently got himself into hot water for speculating that gender differences may be the reason that there are fewer women than men in higher positions in the sciences. (See here, here, here, and here.) As a mother of three I have to say, well duh! It's a lot harder for women to achieve greatness in any field. Not because women's brains aren't up to the challenge or because of some female defect or some such nonsense. It's because a lot of women have things that they consider to be more important to do, namely taking care of their families. Some women can manage to do this and excel in another career. For some gaining accolades in some other career just isn't worth the cost. Don't go tripping because women aren't making the choices to do the same things that men do.

Newsweek recently did a spread on motherhood. I haven't read all of the bits and pieces but what I have read seems to take the woe-is-me approach to motherhood. James Lileks comments on the spread. This is what you get when you sell women on the idea that successful liberated women have a career just like a man's and have to be super moms too. Parenting is hard work and you shouldn't expect anyone else to do it for you. When you set unrealistic ideals of what parenting, and motherhood, are supposed to look like you end with the women described in the Newsweek article.

It's interesting that an article about a mother who doesn't suscribe to the unrealistic ideals about motherhood is called a "slacker mom".

So on one hand we have people bemoaning the fact that women aren't doing all of the same things that men are doing and on the other we have some dude saying that women can't get any attention in the blogosphere without being raunchy. Stop trying to make women into exploited victims of sexism. We blog how we want to, when we want to, and no we don't need to be the Lil' Kims of the blogosphere to get a hearing.


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