"The proximate reason is that men are more comfortable with the food-fight nature of opinion writing," writes lefty blogger Kevin Drum, attempting without tools to account for the fact that male bloggers dominate New Zealand Bear's Ecosystem.
If you know what's good for you, you don't mess with Babe (left) or Condi (blogged here). Kevin Drum misread catblogging -- looking to himself rather than the animals -- by restricting it to Fridays and then abandoning it altogether because he couldn't take the pressure. Similarly, he misreads women's interest in the "food-fight nature of opinion writing."
Surely the poor fellow means well. Liberals always do. But as with why some keep on catblogging and others, like himself, give it up, Drum totally misses the dynamics of why some bloggers get noticed more than others. The timid fellow admits as much in this please-don't-hit-me disclaimer (no doubt an attempt at humor, but we are not amused): "Since I don't wish to suffer the fate of Larry Summers, I'll refrain from speculating on deep causes":
So far no one has attempted any kind of real answer to [Susan] Estrich's question: why are op-ed pages so completely dominated by men?
The political blogosphere provides another clue. Although its geeky Usenet roots were (and are) testosterone laden affairs, there are still no formal barriers to entry here, no old boys club in the usual meaning of the word. Yet if you take a look at the Blogosphere Ecosystem, which for all its faults is probably the closest thing we have to a consensus measure of popularity for political blogs, you will find exactly two women in the top 30: Michelle Malkin and La Shawn Barber.
So what's up? There aren't any institutional barriers in the traditional sense of the word, which means either (a) there are fewer female political bloggers and thus fewer in the top 30, or (b) there are plenty of women who blog about politics but they don't get a lot of traffic or links from high-traffic male bloggers.
My guess is that it's a bit of both . . . but I imagine that the fundamental viciousness and self aggrandizement inherent in opinion writing turns off a lot of women.
We can say right up front that the shallowness of Kevin Drum's argument turns off this woman. Maybe we're in a Pauline Kael bubble of our own, but most of the women we know -- fellow bloggers, readers, friends and relatives -- adore fiery political discourse and keep coming back for more.
The Ecosystem tells us who's getting the best linkage, and the men are definitely on top. There well may be some testosterone-related dynamic in the numbers -- just as there may be in men's dominance of the heights of mathematical and scientific achievement -- but there are other dynamics at work as well, and Drum's evasive explanation is boring at best.
Being interesting and provocative and posting often are huge, but if you can be a hot honey who's #24 in the Ecosystem and Kevin Drum still doesn't notice, there's an important dynamic at work right there. We're speaking of the force-of-nature distaff blogger Michele -- "I'm not a guy" -- Catalano of A Small Victory, who's been in the top 30 forever yet was overlooked by Drum when he wrote that there are "exactly two" women in the top 30. As LaShawn asked yesterday:
So what is ironic about Kevin Drum? That he guesses visitor traffic (or the lack of it) could be a factor in why women bloggers don’t get a lot of attention when it comes to political blogging, yet he, running a high-traffic blog, doesn’t link to mine, the blog of a relatively low-traffic political woman blogger! [La Shawn updates that "good sport that he is," Drum later updated and linked to her post].
Our point here is that the more you're noticed, the more you're noticed. Being there early or with a splashing debut with assist like lefty cutie Wonkette helps. She's the only girl blogger we've ever seen on TV (Malkin is a TV regular but as a columnist, not as a blogger), together with a handful of outstanding boy bloggers.
When the NYT decided to do an article on cat blogging last October, they rounded up the usual suspects, featuring Kevin Drum himself -- the companion animal of two magnificent felines -- who had by that time long since given up catblogging. As we wrote back then [Jealous, huh? --ed], throwing a plateful of food for thought across the blogosphere in Drum's direction:
It's "just nice" and "brings people together" [can you say United Nations pipedreams?], and Drum hasn't catblogged since last March, but that doesn't stop the Times from using the well-meaning but totally out-of-touch [like the MSM itself?] former catblogger -- including a picture of him and one of his precious pussycats, Inkblot -- as the centerpiece of their Behind-the-Times report. We beg to differ, of course. For fickle catbloggers like Drum, catblogging, like everything else, is all about them. True catblogging, on the contrary, is about the eternal feline. And it isn't about making nice but about looking to the animals for revelations about our common nature.
Wanna step outside, Kevin?