Monday, February 05, 2007

Chercher Les Femmes

Once I pulled out the national blogs for their own category, an unpretty truth asserted itself: It’s a bunch of guys. I’ve heard about the dearth of women bloggers, but honestly hadn’t noticed it much until now.

Partly it’s because women are prominent in the Ohio blogosphere, most notably Cindy, Jill and Lisa Renee, but also the likes of Wendy Hoke, Gloria Ferris and others. In terms of sheer numbers, there are more dudes, but in terms of influence the picture is closer to even. (A newby to the blogosphere could be forgiven for thinking that the Blogger template comes standard with a WLST link, kind of like that automatic Friend you get on MySpace.)

Anyway, I went searching for women national policy/politics bloggers and found out that it’s the hot topic of the day. The latest to weigh in is Chris Nolan who links to earlier posts/articles in the conversation and gives her top ten reasons why. I especially like her take on Ana Marie “Wonkette” Cox.

One striking point – what we are talking about here is women on the left side of the political blogosphere. On the right, it’s fairly easy to find women blogging about mainstream political, economic and national security issues and making a success of it. There really isn’t an equivalent on the left that I have found. Not to say we need our own Michelle Malkin -- no one needs that -- but it would be nice to have out own Ann Althouse.

On the left, women bloggers tend to be bloggers about women’s issues. Looking around over the weekend, just about every blog I found covered the appalling story of a rape victim in Florida being arrested on an outstanding warrant and refused emergency birth control. I’m all for diverse points of view and highlighting undercovered stories, but still it’s curious that center-left women bloggers tackling the big stories are so hard to find.

Anyway Jill and others have been talking about all this for a while, but this really brought it home for me. Frankly hearing women talk about the lack of women in a particular sector raises exactly the same reaction as my wife bugging me about something on the honeydo list. “Yeah, I’ll get to it, OK?”

Well, now I’m getting to it. I’m monitoring a number of women’s blogs to find a couple that fit what I like. What I like is people who are smarter than me, know more than me and have sources of information other than the same newspapers I read. I’d like blogs that spend a fair amount of time on the sort of bread-and-butter issues that I do,In other words, just linking to Huff Post or FireDogLake isn’t what I’m looking for. Deep thinking, a center/left perspective and willingness to deviate from liberal orthodoxy are also pre-requisites.

I’m monitoring a few myself to decide which to include as women’s issues blogs – notably Pam’s House Blend, Feminist Law Professors and Bitch, Ph.D. (The latter has a bit of an inside track mainly because, with the demise of Faggoty-Ass Faggot, I’m missing having something gratuitously profane on the sidebar.)

In the meantime, if you’ve run across someone who fits my basic criteria, drop it in comments.


ohdave said...

Well, there's Firedoglake, which I am assuming you know about, and Shakespeare's Sister, My Left Wing, Obsidian Wings.

Here in Ohio we have As Ohio Goes and the Chief Source has a woman in their crew.

There's another bias, or slant in Ohio that I've noticed. Two actually. One is the northern bias. The Ohio blogosphere is dominated as far as I can tell by the north coast, the Toledo-Cleveland-Akron axis. Maybe I'm just not well connected, but I can't seem to find an active Dayton area blog that publishes regularly. I'm it. And I'm not all that interested in Dayton politics or even regional politics outside of education. And I've asked repeatedly on my site and As Ohio Goes for suggestions on southeast Ohio blogs with no response. Isn't there SOMETHING out of Athens?

Finally, the urban bias. Can't find any rural-based blogs in Ohio. I guess they don't have the Internet out there.

Anonymous said...

I know, I are still waiting for my blog! haha. Maybe some day! It's nice that you are looking for something new. If you find anything really good, let me know. Long time, no see!

Jill said...

Thanks for this post, Scott. Your timing is impeccable (and being cooped up with kids because of back to back snow days and a weekend probably helps). I'm passing it on to writer Ellen Goodman who's researching the gender gap in news media and the Internet (she and I started a communication yesterday - I've always loved her stuff).

Jill said...

One other thing - I always thought it was Cherchez as in Vous Cherchez les femmes?

Jill said...

Okay - another Columbo moment:

You say you're monitoring a few to see which to include as women's issues blogs. Hmm - now I think you've already kind of said that you don't think that women should only be writing about stereotypically women's issues - or that's not all you want to see, right? So, do you maybe mean women-authored blogs? Or did you in fact mean women's issues? Because one of the things that's going on is trying to change this perception that there are women's issues or that women are only interested in certain issues and should only be consulted on those. I think you know what I mean - what did you mean? Did I misinterpret?

Also - You have me under Writerly blogs - I think I know you well enough to know that you thought a while before you decided where to put me. Now, I have to say, I've been an interdisciplinary hard to place type for a long time. But perhaps you should list WLST in more than one place? Likewise anyone else who really splits themself? Unless you just don't feel it's political enough - and trust me, I know I resist that label too. So I would understand if I remain where I am.

HOWEVER - I bet that there are excellent blogs out there authored by women who do write about politics and political issues and write politically but aren't categorized in a way that they would be found because it doesn't totally dominate their writing.

That's a problem in a world that functions on being able to tag and keyword and categorize.

Any suggestions/thoughts on that? It also goes with the concept of women as multitaskers.

Scott Piepho said...

OK, first Dave, then Jill.

Dave, yes, the liberal blogosphere tends to be concentrated in the North, just as the rigthy blogs tend to be more numerous in the South. Basically bloggage is about who decides to blog and there are more liberal bloggers in the North, probably because there are more libs in the north.

As for Dayton, a bunch of people have blogged from there but no longer do. Dayton Politics hasn't posted in forever and Jerid, who ran Live from Dayton is now in Law School in Cleveland and is running Buckeye State. There were campaign blogs for Ohio 2 and Ohio first, just south of you and the Ohio 2nd blogger was a Daytonite. Again, alas, he's gone dark.

I will say there is heavy activity in and around Columbus, if you want to bend your axis a little further.

W/r/t rural bloggers, there's the Licking PAC blog, which mostly hits national/international issues. You're right, there isn't anything out of Athens, and you're right, that's messed up. But no one has stepped up to it.

Scott Piepho said...


First on language. "Chercher" is the infinitive form, so the title basically translates to "To look for women." I wouldn't say "cherchez" because it would be presumtuous of me to say "you look for women." I could have said "je chere" or "chercons" but we're getting a bit obscure there. Lots of people have seen "chercher" so I felt safe there. Knowing the gerund form would have been nice, but c'est la vie.

And I've now tapped out my entire knowledge of the French language. Those three semesters were bound be come in handy someday, n'est-ce pas?

So the real meat of the thing. As far as women bloggers go, I don't want to say that women bloggers can't/shouldn't blog heavily on women's issues. If you're gonna do this thing, it has to be for the love, so if that's what someone wants to right about, go to. I worry about the pink ghettoization of women who blog, but it's not for me to say.

I do think women writing on women's issues an important voice to the conversation, so I'm looking for one or two to follow closely and roll. At the same time, I'd like to see someone who is blogging the regular old what's-in-the-headlines issues. I'm looking for the female Kevin Drum or Josh Marshall or Eric Umansky. (For that matter, if Umansky would start posting again I'd be a happy man.) Anyway, I'm rather surprised such a person doesn't appear to exist on the left, especially since she's fairly abundant on the right.

Finally, the mini-roll you find yourself in fits. The title could easily be "People who write really well about a variety of topics and are therefore difficult to categorized but have in common that they happen to write for a living as well as on their blogs," but what I put down is pithier. Trust me, if I put you in the same category as Fred Clark at Slactivist, you should feel just fine about it.

Jill said...

Thank you dear Pho. Now one last thing on the French - Cherchez les femmes actually means GO and look for the women. It's the command form. So, while you could say it, I think you are right that Chercher suits you better. Unless you read your post as giving people some marching order to search and find those women! Be gone!

:) Thanks for giving the topic space at all.