Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Going : Soft to Good

Given that it is Cheltenham week, the entire country seems to be fixated with the firmness or otherwise of the ground. I am pleased to report that Blog O’Sphere is no less concerned. The excellent Fiona de Londras over at Mental Meanderings kick started a debate entitled “Women Bloggers”. At first sight this seemed to be a ‘simple’ calling of the sisterhood to unite and face our minority status together. Fiona’s post generated some excellent comments. Some of them, I found more revealing that perhaps the author had intended. The debate which ensued broke down, not surprisingly, into several lines (a) Male v Female (b) Bloggers v Non-bloggers (c) Hard v Soft subject matters…etc.

Update : Arguments have now extended to Legalising Prostitution, Demeaning of women in chocolate ads, naked George Clooney, exploitation of migant labour, judging on merit.... ogh. look, why don't you just go and visit Fiona's site! It would be much easier!

Before posting, I thought I’d go back and re-read Fiona’s original post. Her blog was predicated on the belief that more men than women blog. This set me thinking. I’ve never consciously stopped to think about the gender of the bloggers that I read. I looked at the 30 or so blogs that I regularly check out (*). Four of the bloggers give no indication of their gender. The remaining 26 are split male – 12, female – 14. If my stats lecturer is to be believed I don’t have a sufficiently large ‘n’ number to reject the null hypothesis that more men than women blog. But I’m willing to accept that on the face of it, there isn’t a huge disparity. Of course, the self-selection of like minded bloggers could be a factor.

I’m particularly interested in the “soft” versus “hard” analysis. As I understand it, “soft” blogging addresses largely non-political stuff. Disparagingly referred to as “kids, clothes and husbands”. Firm (only a man would call it hard) blogs address political issues social justice, republicanism, economic policy, civil rights, war on terror. I always recoil at any attempt to pigeon-hole, but I have to accept that I am on the soft side of good when it comes to blogging subject matter. If I had either a child, a wardrobe that I’m proud of, or a husband that I could wear, I’d probably be in a soft to mushy classification. That said, if Blog O’Sphere were only earnest young men and women blogging about the war in Iraq, I doubt that I’d hang around too long. I love reading these ‘firm’ blogs but I never feel well enough informed to offer a definitive position. I’ve only followed current affairs for the past 18 years, unlike the opinionated transition year crew, I’m not sufficiently qualified to comment.
I love the outrageously funny blogs. I cry at the poignant self-effacing one. I indulge myself in the lyrical prose of some writers and am awestruck by the economical style of others. I admire the principled position of sincere scribblers who provoke me to think about a subject. I am enveloped by the positive encouragement of so many of the community. I don’t dismiss the importance of women’s rights. I just happen to think that as a woman I have the same rights as everyone else. I am judged on my blog output not on the presence or absence of a Y-chromosome. (Of course I recognise that this freedom to think as I do, is as a result of my emancipated mother and her generation. I also recognise that some women feel the need to support and nurture each other. We can’t help it - we are women!)

Well done to Fiona for a brilliant piece and thank you Blog O’Sphere for being soft in places, firm to hard in others. Now if you could pass me a few dead certs for the Gold cup, I’d be very, very impressed!

(*) Apologies to those that I have not yet added to my blogroll. Being only a girlie, I haven’t managed to master this technical feat.


Blogger Fence said...

I’ve never consciously stopped to think about the gender of the bloggers that I read.

Me neither.

Yet many people who arrive at my blog use he when referring to me. Is this simply because I have pic of a fella with a gun on the blog?
I'm not bothered by it, I just wonder why the default seems to be male?

9:52 a.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger Steven said...

To my mind blogger has always been gender neutral. It's the first word that I've come across when referring to a 'profession' that is not indicative of gender nor, to my mind at least, associated with any gender.

My blog roll: 29 male; 15 female

Again with the caveat regarding my hits I would seem to have more male bloggers.

The people who I have met through blogging so to speak have been mroe female than male. My 'Blogger Friends' Section is mostly female for instance.

The major difference is the Irish Blogs which I only updated recently following the Blog Awards. Before that I would have had more even dispersion.

11:33 a.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger KnackeredKaz said...

Funny that, I don't tend to think about the gender of the blogs I read either..though I have to admit I'm more inclined to read the so-called 'soft' blogs, mainly because I write one myself. I'm under no illusions that my tales of single life are going to change the world, but I enjoy writing them and that's all that matters to me. This is an interesting debate and Fiona's piece was very good, as were the comments.

I just don't know whether pointing to the Blog Awards as an example of gender difficulties is correct...you see in order to get on the long list, either you or your mates or readers had to nominate you..there was nothing scientific about it, no mysterious panel of judges who could have discriminated at that stage. And then to get from the long list to the short list...you or your friends and mates or readers had to vote for you...again, no mysterious panel of potentially discriminatory judges at that stage either. You simply had to be a good blogger, male or female.

Do you see where I'm coming from?

I know much has been said that there were more male winners than female...but I don't think that has anything to do with gender discrimination...I think it's simply because some bloggers (male or female) got the finger out and got the votes in to be there in the first place! (Oh God, don't write in, I'm not suggesting a fix!). I'll use myself as an example. I didn't nominate myself, (I have no idea why), neither did I ask any friends to nominate me. None of my readers nominated me, perhaps they will next year...so I didn't get nominated. I could have done so myself, but I didn't. Perhaps I will next year. So who discriminated against me? Who said I couldn't be on any list for the awards? No one, it was partly my choice. So perhaps I discriminated against myself and perhaps that's what we should be looking at, encouraging more women to big themselves up.

I think maybe I'm not making myself clear...but for once I think I'm actually going to stick up for the men here and say I don't think there was any gender bias at the awards or that just because more males won that this points to women being left behind in the Blog O'Sphere...I think it simply means that on this occassion and in their categories, the winners were the best bloggers there, regardless of their gender.

One other thing which I haven't blogged on but I think it might be the time now..at the awards when The Community At Large picked up their award, someone shouted "are there any women in The Community" which got a laugh. But to be honest, I think it was a bit cheeky. If it had been a crowd of women collecting an award, would anyone have shouted out 'are there any men allowed'? And if they had, would it have earned a laugh, or a round of hisses and boos? Just because a group of men get together and work on a project such as a blog, doesn't mean they exclude women..I wonder if the person who shouted out that comment at the Awards had tried to become part of The Community and been denied because of their gender? If so, then perhaps they were justified, but if not, then personally I thought they should have kept quiet.

Oh Jesus, everyone's gonna hate me now, right?

11:36 a.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger KnackeredKaz said...

Hey Paige,

I've just realised I should probably leave part of this rant over on Fiona's site..not yours! So sorry! I'll cut and paste to over there in a mo.

12:24 p.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger KnackeredKaz said...

Jesus, I'm having a hell of a day. Those last two comments were mine. I signed in accidentally under an old blog of mine which I never actually started. I'm an eejit.

12:49 p.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

I have to confess, I've just asumed - probably from the picture - that you were male. (Or non-female, as we feminists like to call them!) I'll go back and reread some of my old blogs to see if I should have discerned your gender from your comments. (Mind you, in my defence, I counted you as gender unknown in by gender count).

Rinceoir, as I wrote the line that I never stop to consider a bloggers gender, I did recall I once raised the posibility that you could be other than you appeared! But only in a passing reference.

You said exactly what I wanted to say but was too inarticulate to do so. I've been planning a whole "Males & Females are different not equal" post and you've helped crystalise some ideas. I wonder is "winning" more important than taking part for males than females? Hence more inclind to "get the vote out". I'm with you. Let's stop beating up men because women are like them.

1:17 p.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Should have read "Stop beating up men just because women are not like them!

If I could type, I'd be dangerous!

1:22 p.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger Laughman said...


Great post. So much for your 'bloggers block'! Didn't last long, did it? I never thought it would.

3:25 p.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger Fence said...

Maybe my blog is a cross-dresser, and that confuses people ;)

The pic is a character from the film Serenity, of the TV show Firefly (which you all have never heard of, but it was great), his name is Jayne (or, Adam Baldwin in real life), and he is, officially, sex on legs.

3:31 p.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Is it 'Fence' is in "sitting on a .."?

8:47 p.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Laughman - who is probably in real life a very miserable woman - I always find that a good argument shakes me out of bloggers block! Thanks for your comments.

8:48 p.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger Laughman said...

Hmmm. You obviously haven't read this post.

Then again, maybe you have. :)

9:44 p.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger Steven said...


Yes I remember that. 'Militant Lesbian in denial' is the phrase as I recall it.

It could be true. You've never met me like. ;-) That might change. I start my work placement in the Pale on the 10th of April so I'd be interested in organising a meet up with fellow bloggers. Kind of a once a month thing would be nice I think.

Hang on there. I'll just check. Yeah still male. :-)

11:01 p.m., March 14, 2006  
Blogger fdelondras said...

fence - I remember I used "he" to refer to you and it was because of the picture!!

kaz - I was just asking whether the Blog Awards perhaps gave us food for thought; it wasn't any kind of accusation just maybe something I thought could be used as a preliminary thinking point, especially since the topic came to mind again when I had been there as I was surprised (pleasantly) at how many women had been there. It was great!

9:16 a.m., March 15, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Rinceoir, Ooops!

9:54 a.m., March 15, 2006  
Anonymous Sinéad said...

Paige, I agree with the viewpoint you expressed over on Fiona's thread and I quoted you in my post on the whole thing

11:02 a.m., March 15, 2006  
Blogger Fence said...

I'll have to stick a caveat somewhere on the blog sp, this picture is not me :)

So, does this mean that blogging is gender neutral, or that the default blogger is male?

3:15 p.m., March 15, 2006  

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