Zoe from Green Pass commented far too politely and thoughtfully. I think her response to my post deserves not to get lost in comments. (Matt also responded.)
"The comments that Matt made were actually in conversation with him directly (we became friends at the DNC), and not in his roundup of how the Left is doing. I stand by my opinion that it was a valuable piece of blogging that should help everyone who has an interest in building a response to the Right-wing media juggernaut. I apologize for not making that clear."
"However, I also stand by what I said about women being afraid of looking stupid. I think both men and women are equally afraid of this, obviously, but I think it's more acceptable (however wrongly) for women to articulate this and to shy away from political discussions. For example, I have heard many of my female friends say things like "I don't want to talk about politics because it makes people mad" or "I don't want to discuss politics because people say mean things." I've never heard any of my male friends express anything like this."
What you just described seems far more complex than a simple fear of appearing stupid. Some underpinnings I suspect: fear of being ridiculed (not just looking stupid), conviction that a woman's contribution has little worth (even to herself), belief that no one values her opinion, fear of appearing to side with the wrong team. And more that I haven't puzzled out yet.
"I think that the lack of time of working women is also a cultural problem. Male bloggers also have families and jobs, and yet they somehow manage to find the time to blog - and women my age usually don't have jobs or families to take up their time. If the problem is with working women, then at the college level there should be gender parity. There isn't."
"Cultural problem" is a catch-all phrase that works very well in hiding a society-wide issue that cuts across ethnic cultures. The issue I see is that most men don't do their share in family matters, and that too many women put up with it. I'm assuming that sharing of family duties is a good thing, and that there are multiple reasons for each situation.
"I never really thought seriously about avoiding discussions that include the words "pussies" and "so-and-so's bitch". I guess either I am so inured to these terms from the music that I listen to and the language that's spoken on college campuses that I find it hard to be outraged every time that someone says something like that. I did go nuclear on a commenter on Kos once for calling Maureen Dowd "Midol", though. I think that name-calling is something that someone should be called on, and hopefully isn't taken as a reason for intelligent female commenters to withdraw from political discourse. It's tough, and it is hurtful when it's obviously targeted at or against women, but it has to be fought with intelligence and wit rather than more name-calling right back - otherwise people will keep using these names that are offensive."
In college I ignored it, too. I shouldn't have. I didn't think anything about it because I was part of the group and of course they couldn't be insulting me.
Intelligence and wit won't make much difference. A bludgeon might. I'm not talking about Joe Thoughtless next door using these words, but people who routinely analyze what they read and write. I think arrogance is the key word, not cluelessness. They don't have to change, so they won't.
"A woman's blog will always be heard if she is writing interesting content. I firmly believe that. Like anyone, she has to do some legwork in getting her blog more visibility if she wants to have a wide readership, but so do men. There is nothing stopping women - both working and not, childless and not, busy or not - from taking over the web, and I would love to start a discussion on how to encourage more women to join in, and what is preventing them from doing so. You've articulated name-calling and time pressures. Women should be no more susceptible to those pressures than men, but the fact that they are is a problem, cultural or otherwise. I'd love to hear your thoughts."
Frankly, that you didn't get more feedback to your post surprised me, and I wonder if it's because of the m/f split. The people who read your blog will have heard about it from primarily male sources, right? Just a guess, and maybe Green Pass is on a female loop, too.
A lot of women seem to be online already, but it appears they've been balkinized into feminist issues--some by choice, perhaps, others by reflex. For example, take the Swift Boat story. The same (male) people keep writing about it and referring to each other's posts. (Other views welcome--I don't claim to be unbiased.)
Whether a woman's blog is read by men depends more on whether her blog will reinforce what a certain circle wants promoted, I suspect. Think Phyllis Schlafly. Maybe I'm wrong.
I would call women's name-calling and time pressures a discrimination problem--which should be a people problem, but since the visible adverse effects fall on women, it becomes a women's problem and men don't have to do anything to fix it.
(All those quote marks look stupid when the quoted material is already set off, don't they? My feed reader squashes all the paragraphs together; better goofy-looking than confusing.)