August 10, 2007

Why Is Ellen Goodman Whining?

Some may see this post title as unnecessarily provocative, but it fits the Ellen Goodman column that the Boston Globe approved for print today. Goodman decries what she sees as an overabundance of Y chromosomes in the blogosphere, and pale Ys at that. She joins the voices of criticism that have arisen after the Yearly Kos convention about the lack of diversity among the attendees, and levels the same charges against the blogosphere as a whole:

Last week, these progressive political bloggers not only attracted 1,200 to Chicago for the Yearly Kos convention, but made it a designated stop for seven out of the eight Democratic candidates.

Nevertheless, there is another, less flattering way in which broadband has followed broadcast and the liberal political bloggers mimic the conservative talk-show hosts. The chief messengers are overwhelmingly men -- white men, even angry white men.

I began tracking the maleness of this media last spring while I was a visiting fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. An intrepid graduate student created a spreadsheet of the top 90 political blogs. A full 42 percent were edited and written by men only, while 7 percent were by women only. Another 45 percent were edited or authored by both men and women, though the "coed" mix was overwhelmingly male. And, not surprisingly, most male bloggers linked to male bloggers.

Yes, this is the kettle of the MSM -- mainstream media -- calling the pot of the netroots male. In fairness, half of all 96 million blogs are written by women. But in the smaller political sphere, what is touted as a fresh force for change looks an awful lot like a new boy network.

Perhaps this escaped Goodman's notice, but blogging is almost entirely an avocation. Only a tiny number of political bloggers get paid for their efforts as a salaried position (this includes me). The composition of the blogosphere reflects those who find it interesting as a hobby, much the same as the universe of Dungeons & Dragons roleplayers or ham-radio enthusiasts. Those populations skew decidedly male, and yet no one talks about the "new boy network".

Of course, the political blogosphere has more influence than D&D players, for which we can all show gratitude, and that's what has Goodman cheesed off. She sees the imbalance in numbers as reflecting an imbalance in influence that directly relates to gender-based issues -- or at least that seems to be her point, if she has one. If women get passionate about gender-based issues, their voices will likely carry more influence on those topics. They will also likely attend conferences for which they have an interest, which should come as no surprise to anyone. Should YKos have allocated tickets based on gender? Race?

As she notes herself, half of the overall blogs in Technorati are owned by women -- but apparently they have less interest in political blogging than men do, at least at the moment. Political blog audiences are comprised mainly of men, and the composition of political bloggers reflects the audience. If more women get interested in political blogs as readers, their numbers will increase as writers as well. And numbers do not always equal influence, as a number of excellent female bloggers on the Right and Left have demonstrated. Influence comes from building an audience, networking, and above all compelling writing and argument, and women do not have any disadvantages for any of these qualities.

As for the imbalance, what exactly can Goodman complain about? Anyone can blog for almost no investment at all. There are no barriers to entry on the basis of gender, and few on the basis of economics. No one has to be hired to blog, so there is no institutional discrimination occurring either.

Instead of actually acknowledging the blogosphere as an open market, Goodman tries to imply that the "new boy" network keeps women out through intimidation. "Who knows how many women are scared silent," she writes after describing two cases of harassment, only one of which actually chased the blogger out of political commentary. Does Goodman ever ask the obvious question of whether harassment happens to men as well? No. Nor does she reveal any evidence that either of these two cases have any link to a conspiracy by The Man to keep women in their place.

Bloggers get harassed all of the time, with threats and insults and name-calling. Michelle Malkin gets a particularly vicious strain of it, although Goodman somehow missed that in her superficial investigation into blogospheric discrimination. It comes in proportion to the willingness to engage in the debate. Bloggers either develop thick skin or they quit, and that applies to men and women equally.

In short, Goodman wants to have something to fear, and also to emphasize that "diversity" is an end in itself, even in senseless applications of the word. Women have all the access necessary to this market to join and excel, if they want to do so. That should be the limit of the concern over diversity in the blogosphere.

UPDATE: See Ann Althouse's excellent response to Goodman.


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Comments (38)

Posted by John Steele | August 10, 2007 11:42 AM

Like most liberal, oops progressive, "Do Gooders", Ms Goodman claims to be gender/race neutral but manages to see everytthing through those same glasses. Go about your business, nothing to see here just your standard issue left wing hypocrite

Posted by Socratease | August 10, 2007 11:44 AM

I never have figured out why those who do are held responsible for those that don't.

Posted by Immolate | August 10, 2007 11:52 AM

Ellen Goodman is whining because Ellen Goodman is a sexist. She overlays the blogosphere with a gender filter because she doesn't like male bloggers. For all she (or we) knows, half of the "male" bloggers are actually female bloggers who are posing as males because they don't want readers hitting on them. The point is, there is nothing as democratic as a business that has no barrier to entry and rewards people strictly based on merit. Trying to inject sexism into it just makes Ellen look like she's experiencing sour grapes over not having more success herself.

Posted by Sue | August 10, 2007 11:53 AM

Ellen Goodman is the typical female I worked with most of my life. The female type that took over the Women's Movement and turned it into an "entitlement without effort", much like the majority of entitlements created for almost every single individual citizen since the advent of the l960's. Unless, of course, you are white or a white male. That she should make the assertions she does should tell decent,intelligent reasonable and decent woman that this is the lament of someone who may have had her job and career because she was female, rather than because she has the talent...OR, she is deathly afraid to put her words out there on a blog for free because she could not handle the response!!

Posted by FedUp | August 10, 2007 11:58 AM

Geez, Ellen... GET A GRIP! It's not like this is a paid environment... So butt out!! Next, she'll be whining that people don't eat the same amount of chocolate as vanilla... Guess some people need to find something to grouse about! Course, if she's picking on bloggers, she's leaving everyone else alone.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | August 10, 2007 12:06 PM

EG: "In fairness, half of all 96 million blogs are written by women."

Um, then what's your point, Goodman? No one is making anyone blog about a particular thing. No one is stopping anyone from punching through the layers and layers and layers of editorial control we know all bloggers must endure. IOW, where's the beef? Why not just write an honest article that invites more women to get involved in your preferred domains than to subtly suggest the patriarchy is keeping womyn down?

Posted by J. Mark English | August 10, 2007 12:10 PM

Because she's a liberal rich sugar girl...

Posted by Peter | August 10, 2007 12:29 PM

So, what is Goodman's solution? I'm a very small blogger, if I were a better writer, writing about things of more interest to more people I'd be a bigger blogger. This is completely irrelevant to my gender or race, no one can see that through my keyboard.
If I were of the Goodman-approved race or sex should there be a Goodman-approved percentage of the good Captain Ed's traffic secretly switched to my blog?
Gee, I hope you all enjoy the pictures of my dogs.

Posted by filistro | August 10, 2007 12:36 PM

I wrote a really great comment to this. It was amazingly clever and insightful, but it got eaten up somewhere in the CQ posting software.

I'm pretty sure this happened because I'm a woman.

Posted by Captain Ed | August 10, 2007 12:49 PM

Just another example of The Man keepin' ya down ...

Posted by pilsener | August 10, 2007 1:13 PM

I predict with 90% confidence that sometime within the next year Goodman's column will be referred to during Congressional hearings on the need to regulate (tax) the internet.

Most likely to bring it up - Barbara Boxer.

Posted by docjim505 | August 10, 2007 1:26 PM

Like a good lefty, Goodman sees everything through the prism of race / sex / sexual orientation. She looks as the blogosphere and, instead of seeing a dynamic and open market of free ideas where everybody can have a voice (though nobody else may listen!), she sees... WHITE MALE DOMINATION! If the majority of political blogs are written by WHITE MALES (TM), then the ONLY explanation is that, somehow, those nasty WHITE MALES (TM) are conspiring to keep out the poor widdle defensewess women. It has nothing to do with the fact that, PERHAPS, women aren't quite as interested in politics as are WHITE MALES (TM). That idea must really get Goodman's panties in a knot!

Michelle Malkin? Ann Coulter (though not exactly a blogger)? Mary Katherine Ham? Tammy Bruce? Anyone? Anyone?

I wonder if this doesn't tie in with an earlier post about a proposed blogger's "union". Perhaps said union could have rules to ensure "diversity" of opinion, a sort of Fairness Doctrine for the blogosphere. Oh, you want to blog about politics? Gee, I'm sorry: we already have a full quota of WHITE MALES (TM). Now, if you're a woman, a person of color, or a homosexual, we've got lots of openings...

Perhaps Goodman can write her next column about how relatively lilly-white and male the democrat congressional caucus is.


Posted by GarandFan | August 10, 2007 1:41 PM

Guess we have to have quotas on the internet now.

Posted by KindaRino | August 10, 2007 1:48 PM


Your comments are perceptive as usual but the ceaseless "bloggers on blogging" posts are getting tiring.. I read your site for news and political discussion not media naval-gazing. While critical reflections on new media are a necessary ancillary to understanding modern politics, this stuff is becoming just, well, self-indulgent. Perhaps the hard-core blogger types could set up their own shop elsewhere and free up some space to discuss, you know, Bush, the economy, foreign relations, that sort of thing...

Posted by Bruce | August 10, 2007 2:00 PM

It must be discrimination after all .


obviously its organizational patriarchy discriminating against people it is impossible to identify unless they tell you who they are.

Posted by Philbert | August 10, 2007 2:01 PM

Another far lefty imposing perceived equality of outcome rather recognizing the equality of opportunity.

Posted by KendraWilder | August 10, 2007 2:13 PM

I'm a Conservative White Female. For my daily blogosphere consumption, I prefer blogs hosted by Conservatives, preferably edited/written by people who are capable of shutting of their knee-jerk emotional reactions to politics and government, and who can deliver high quality, mature, intelligent commentary.

My considerable experience (four plus years of a minimum of two hours daily blog reading) is that Conservative Males are largely more capable of providing Blog commentary based on those parameters. Until race became a factor in this discussion I wasn't even aware who among my favorite Conservative Bloggers were Caucasian.

Plus, a daunting number of talented females tend to over-use sexual tones in order to attract readership. Since I detest the flagrant use of sexuality as a vehicle for non-sexual intellectual discussions, I avoid any blogs which utilize that "come-on" format. Thankfully there are several talented female political bloggers who let their intellectual work speak for itself.

As a former member of NOW who jumped ship when the focus of the organization turned to wacko radical feminism, I've experienced first hand the Ellen Goodmans whose distorted focus on American politics by and large utilizes convoluted intellectual gymnastics driven by emotions.

And I avoid them, and their blogs, for my own sanity!

I suppose that makes me a sexist, huh? ;-}

Posted by NavyspyII | August 10, 2007 2:25 PM

I think Ellen rolled a 1 on her to-hit here. Critical failure.

she may have rolled a 3 for charisma also....

Posted by mikeyslaw | August 10, 2007 2:45 PM

Goodman's column is a total waste of space and words. Senseless blathering by yet another liberal with absolutely nothing to say worth reading. Period.

Posted by David Goodner | August 10, 2007 3:02 PM

Angry white males or not, bloggers are privileged to have 'net access

Posted by Larry J | August 10, 2007 3:33 PM

In this matter as in so many others, women have the freedom to choose what they want to do. There is no test to qualify to become a blogger. There is no admissions program. If most women bloggers choose to write about something other than politics, they're exercising their freedom to do so. No one is stopping them.

Posted by Count to 10 | August 10, 2007 4:05 PM

Funny, the political sites I have bookmarked tally as:
2 mixed
1 male
4 female

...I never would have guessed there was a bias toward male...

Posted by Count to 10 | August 10, 2007 4:09 PM

"than D&D players, for which we can all show gratitude"

I was momentarily offended by this, but then considered the politics of the people I game with. *shudder*

Posted by Wayne | August 10, 2007 4:25 PM

Man, somebody should introduce Ms. Goodman to Julliette Ocheung "Baldilocks" or La Shawn Barber?

We try to intimidate ladies like these?

You've got to be kidding!!! More like most guys try to be very polite around them so as not to get handed their heads!!

Posted by vet66 | August 10, 2007 5:42 PM

Is it me or does this sound like Harvard's Larry Summers is being pilloried in absentia for giving some female faculty members the vapors which has now gone viral to Goodman (Unfortunate name for a leftist woman)?

Are we beginning to see a pattern Here? Linda Greenhouse just complained about C-Span coverage of a SCOTUS panel she was on and had them removed. Seems she couldn't talk freely in front of a national audience because it would have sounded impartial except to her co-panelists who were academic. I presume that means annointed as opposed to us unwashed masses of knuckle draggers.

Posted by vet66 | August 10, 2007 5:45 PM

Make that "NOTsound impartial"/

Forgive me! It's getting late!

Posted by hadsil | August 10, 2007 5:59 PM

"Of course, the political blogosphere has more influence than D&D players, for which we can all show gratitude, ..."

That does it! Now my 12th level Paladin will have to Smite you.

Posted by GeorgeH | August 10, 2007 6:16 PM

Ellen Goodman has had some kind of hormonal problem for 25 years.

Posted by Bennett | August 10, 2007 6:28 PM

I find it fascinating that so many of the more prominent bloggers are white men. Who knew that these inarticulate, insensitive, knuckle-dragging goons had so much to say about so many different things? And in complete sentences most times, too.

Posted by Only_One_Cannoli | August 10, 2007 8:43 PM

So how many of Ellen Goodman's fellow msm columnists are female?

Well, according to this tally from a progressive site progressive newspaper columnists are almost 75% male.

Bloggers: 83% male
Male: 5
Female: 1

Radio talk show hosts: 76% male
Male: 19
Female: 6

Newspaper Columnists: 72% male
Male: 16
Female: 6

Editorial cartoonists: 86% male
Male: 13
Female: 2

Magazine writers and editors: 80% male
Male: 48
Female: 11

Book authors: 81% male
Male: at least 18
Female: 4

The site's author notes that there are only 6 Af. Americans out of the whole bunch.

It's a veritable epidemic of progressive white maleness.

Posted by J | August 10, 2007 8:44 PM

Enjoyed the comments. As a PT female blogger, I have to say, Ellen Goodman is a typical, 60's radical feminist - those who got lost in search of their supposed ideals of what life should be like, especially if they could control everything. Remember, feminists want control and Goodman is no exception. They think if they ran everything the world would be fine. Hate to burst that bubble, Ellen, but there's two items in the way of your dream: human nature and really bad people.

Just as the socialists/communists/academicians seem to think THEY have the correct solution to all the world's problems, Goodman (don't you just LOVE her last name) seems to think if she had her way, she could correct all those horrible inequities that women experience. Having BTDT via the feminist movement and having moved beyond its myopic, self-centered view of life, all I can say, is "Ellen, take a hike." Malkin has you beat hands down! Not to mention Barber, Lady Logician, Ham, etc. Ellen's problem is, she's paid by a syndicate to whine, moan and complain. No wonder circulation for MSM papers is declining. The only op-ed person at the Boston Globe worth reading is Jeff Jacoby. Now there's a guy with brains, class, chutzpah, and smarts. Ellen could learn a few things from Jeff. Oh, I forgot, he's a white guy. Well, I guess that's Ellen's loss.

Posted by Adjoran | August 10, 2007 10:23 PM

I admit to being amused.

I read a few of Ellen Goodman's columns back when she was first syndicated in the '80s. It didn't take many to conclude reading her was a complete and utter waste of my time.

Since then, I have saved countless hours by NOT reading Goodman columns, time I have applied to more edifying pursuits - like playing video games, keeping my bellybutton clear of lint, and watching Seinfeld and Andy Griffith reruns.

It's sweet when the good choices you make earlier in life keep paying dividends like that . . .

Posted by Captain Ed | August 10, 2007 10:41 PM

I'm warming up for Maureen Dowd's parole from Times Select prison.

Posted by Artie Curtis | August 11, 2007 7:48 AM

I think Ellen should testify before Congress and have the Federal government force web hosts to engage more women than men bloggers.
Dont laugh - if I've thought of it you can bet somebody else has too.

Posted by Ray | August 11, 2007 10:30 AM

If Ellen Goodman were truly worried about equality, she would give up half of her column space to a man. How about it Ellen, are YOU willing to share?

Posted by Al in St. Lou | August 11, 2007 11:52 AM

As a few others have already pointed out, Goodman wants equality of outcome. Just as Title IX has imposed "equality" on college athletics, Goodman would like to count the number of women political bloggers and use that as a limit for the number of men allowed to blog politics, enforced by the federal government. I don't understand how those on the left miss how Orwellian they've become.

To do this, one would need a federal license to blog, left-wing women could get one just by asking, but men would have to compete for the limited number of licenses available to them, which would make it easy to keep most conservative men from blogging. I'm sure the bureaucracy would create barriers for conservative women, too. All that just to enforce "equality." At least this nightmare would be impossible to create today, but a few years into a Democrat administration? I don't even want to think about it!

Posted by DMS | August 12, 2007 10:52 AM

".... Michelle Malkin gets a particularly vicious strain of it,"

That's unfortunate but not surprising.
She brings it on herself by her own vicious posts.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | August 12, 2007 5:32 PM

RE: DMS (August 12, 2007 10:52 AM)

...She [Malkin] brings it on herself by her own vicious posts.

Please define "vicious" because, clearly, I'm reading a different dictionary than you. A strong position, even if contrarian, is not synonymous with vicious. Consider, for example, Amanda Marcotte. "Vicious"... or just plain nasty? Hard to tell, but in a whole different league compared to Malkin. I wonder what Marcotte, the dainty flower, would have to say about Goodman and the patriarchy.

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