Advice Goddess Blog
« Previous | Home | Next »

Amy Alkon, Opinionated Bitch
What's amazing is how those who purport to be against sexism are so often the most sexist of all...which brings us to the question...How can we force more women to be political bloggers?

Wait. Force them?

It seems we have to increase the vagina count in the ranks of political bloggers...because who reads a blog simply because the blogger has something to say? No, according to columnist Ellen Goodman, there's apparently some vast white male conspiracy out there to only read people with balls. (Sorry, but why would anyone want to read anyone without them?)

Okay,, Goodman's beef is that we're all reading a lot of people who not only have balls, but have them attached to their bodies. (For the record, mine are snap-ons, and yes, if you must know, I have them in five colors, including hot pink.)

But, back to our mewling woman of the week, Goodman writes in The Boston Globe about political blogging:

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.

Most male bloggers linked to male bloggers? Who thinks about somebody's genitalia when they're linking? Some days I just wake up and say, "Shit, it's 6am, and I don't have a blog item!" Quite frankly, if you're a hermaphrodite...if you're a houseplant, and you only fuck yourself...if you blogged something worth linking, you're in, baby!

Meanwhile, Goodman continues her whining below:

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.

Now, after what's been a long, low rumble over demography and diversity, a grass-roots rebellion is finally surfacing in the netroots. At Yearly Kos itself, home of what Jennifer Pozner described on Huffington Post as the "blustering A-list boys of the 'netroots,' " there was the panel titled gamely: "Blogging While Female." The question for the panel was this: "The blogosphere was supposed to be a place where gender didn't matter and voice was all. So what happened?"

What did happen? Is it the angry voice -- a netroot norm but a female abnorm? Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos and namesake of the convention, said unabashedly in an ABC News interview last year, "I learned to talk the way I do in the US Army. And we don't mince words. In politics, I don't see it any different. I see it as a battlefield." The American Prospect's Garance Franke-Ruta, who was on the panel notes, wryly, "If you're an angry man you're righteous. If you're an angry woman, you're crazy or a bitch."

Oh, please. Yeah, I'm a bitch. I think it makes me a better read.

Goodman keeps hyperventilating:

Is it harassment? Women have been talking about this since blogger Kathy Sierra was threatened with a picture of her next to a noose. Convention organizer Gina Cooper has two e-mail addresses, just one carrying her female name. Only "Gina" gets the hate e-mail with sexual threats and such comments as: "I'm going to hunt you down." Who knows how many women are scared silent.

I saw something about this on a girlie tech blog I sometimes read, called ShinyShiny. Cate Sevilla asks, "Are Women Really Harrassed More Online?":

I haven't actually heard of any men who have been harassed to the same extent that women are. Why is that? Is it that women get more harassed online because the internet is like a misogynists' playground, giving men, and female hating women, a place to spread their venom? Is it that people are really still that adverse to women being mouthy, opinionated, and angry...

Is that men are just as harassed online as women, and that women are just harassed in a different way?

What do you think?

Here's the comment I posted there:

As a syndicated advice columnist who regularly pisses people off, I'm sometimes threatened (usually via e-mail) with rape, violence and death. I call the duty officer at the FBI and report it. They also have an Internet crime center at the FBI.

But, other than threats of violence, the rest of them I post on my blog -- let the air and my commenters get to them.

Quite frankly, ladies, if you can't stand the heat...well, you know.

As for the question I didn't get around to answering in my comment, ("Are men just as harassed...?): Men harass other men in whatever way they can. It's "Where's The Weak Spot?" instead of "Where's Waldo?" But, don't just take my word for it. Here's a Psychology Today excerpt from my friend Satoshi Kanazawa's book, referencing the work of Kingsley Browne:

Sexual harassment cases of the hostile-environment variety result from sex differences in what men and women perceive as "overly sexual" or "hostile" behavior. Many women legitimately complain that they have been subjected to abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment by their male coworkers. Browne points out that long before women entered the labor force, men subjected each other to such abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment.

Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men's repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men—the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls—but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women.

But, back to Goodman (Waaaaah!):

It's not that women are invisible. There are "women's pages" on the Internet. Technorati counts more than 11,000 "mommy blogs." There are "women's issues" blogs like the funny and bracing Feministing.

But this is not just about counting, not just about diversity-by-the-numbers. It's about the political dialogue -- who gets heard and who sets the agenda. Cooper asks herself: "Are we going to do the same thing we've done all along, but with computers? Or will we create a new institution that allows for marginalized voices?"

Excuse me while I projectile vomit.

I don't want people reading my blog because I'm a girl, but because they think I have something to say.

Also, unlike too many women I encounter, I'm interested in politics and in what's going on in the world. I love newspapers and the news, and I've been reading the newspaper since I was about 8. Back then, I read the Detroit News and Free Press. These days, I read a mix of news and opinion in about 20 different newspapers a week -- in addition to all the blogs and other sites I read. And while I click into The Fug Sisters and a few other fun zones, mostly, I'm not reading about celebrity cellulite or shoes.

As for who sets the political agenda, no it isn't the mommy bloggers. While there are women out there who are as fierce or fiercer than the boys, if the rest of the ladies want to blog about diaper rash, that's just the way it is.

Then again, maybe what Ms. Goodman should be railing against is the tendency of too many women to forgo answering questions like "Who am I, what do I think, and what's happening in the world?" in favor of "Who am I with?"

via Baldilocks

Posted by aalkon at August 13, 2007 1:58 PM


So, half of all blog are written by females, and those females dont spend as much time writing about politics as men.

Doesnt that technically mean that women are discriminting themselves?

That if women are indeed being marginalized it is becuase they are doing it themselves?

Heres a question for you, if women marginalize themselves, discriminate against themselves, and collectively remove themselves from the discussion by simply not participating HOW IN THE HELL IS IT MENS FAULT??

Its like sulking cause the canidate you wanted in office wasnt elected, and ignoring the fact that you didnt vote.

Wasnt the point of the feminist movment to give women the same opportunities as men and let them decicde for themselves?? How is the Matriarchy forcing women to behave in a certain manner any different from when the so called Patriarchy is supposed to have dictating women lives?

Posted by: lujlp at August 13, 2007 1:31 AM

"I don't want people reading my blog because I'm a girl, but because they think I have something to say."

Oh, you have something to say - and what you say has a bite, and more heat to it because you're a girl. Sometimes you even get credibility from being an obvious, flaming, redheaded, fortysomething, health-nut, local-activist, {add label here} named Amy, who once advised people on a streetcorner and apparently takes her own advice. It's just the way things are.

Posted by: Radwaste at August 13, 2007 2:38 AM

Just like in meatspace, in cyberspace women (on balance) just don't give much of a fuck about politics. But since Goodman is what all women ought to be, then those women are clearly being intimidated into not liking politics. And we all know that only penis-owners do that kind of thing.

Women tend to have different interests than men. It's an established fact. Women are also more sensitive to criticism. Add in the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory and you get a nice explanation for the shit that was done to Kathy Sierra (who wasn't writing about anything more controversial than what techniques to use in PHP coding). It's easy to see why someone might not want to expose their political underbelly to the world for precisely no compensation.

Lujlp - what the "second American feminist movement" seeks for women is all the spoils of equality with none of the responsibility. Which is why they call women like Amy "traitors to the sisterhood".

Posted by: brian at August 13, 2007 5:44 AM

I don't know where Ms. Goodman's been hanging out in cyberspace, but every time this "why are there no woman political bloggers" question comes up, the scores of women political bloggers I read weekly get pretty miffed. With good reason. Goodman's about four years behind the curve on this one. But then it's my impression that most "paper" journalists/opiners don't have a clue about what's going on in the blogosphere. Amy's one of the exceptions.

Posted by: deja pseu at August 13, 2007 5:53 AM

There's a growing list up at the Baldilocks link, and thanks, Deja and Rad.

It's easy to see why someone might not want to expose their political underbelly to the world for precisely no compensation.

Again, if you can't stand the heat...

And stuff does happen. And not just death threats, but major annoyances. I just got back the site it seems likely Cathy Seipp nemesis Eliot Stein started in my name, along with the Gmail address, after somebody suggested in Moxie's comments that I'd created a site against (as if I'd waste one minute of my life on that guy...and besides, I write seven days a week; if I have free time, I'm spending it with Gregg).

Here's the link to the site, now with a huge photo of me I put up (accidentally -- but it seems very "Great And Powerful Oz," so I left it up):

The silly thing is, I even wrote to the pathetic asshat and told him that I was totally fine with somebody posting critical stuff about me, providing they weren't advertising it on my own site, even (and others), as "The Official Amy Alkon Weblog" and using my name as the title. would be just dandy with me, as would

I spent far too much time researching this, writing legal letters to Google, and in general being stressed out over this.

If it was Eliot Stein, and again, I have very, very, very good reason to believe it was that pathetic bastard, he'd just better hope I never find out where he lives, because I'll take him to Small Claims and sue him for my time in a red hot second.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 13, 2007 6:28 AM

P.S. An e-mail I just sent to Ellen Goodman (

You're really a nitwit, and you don't do your homework -- perhaps because you're so past your prime that you didn't really learn to use the Internet properly. Details at the link below. I'm hoping you know how to click on the link without explanation from me:

P.S. I get between 12,000 and 20,000 visitors a day, and my blog was featured (though, weirdly, not by name), in a piece in the Wall Street Journal about my entry "Eva Burgess Is Getting New Glasses," and on Nightline. I was among the first bloggers invited to join Pajamas Media, and I recently hosted a panel with little-known female blogger Arianna Huffington.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 13, 2007 7:00 AM


Women do have balls(ovaries), they're just well insulated.

Regarding the asshat you mention above, isn't a good friend of yours a PI?

Posted by: Janet C at August 13, 2007 9:48 AM

Yes, but I'm not willing to invest the money to have her pursue him right now, and I would never expect anyone to work for free.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 13, 2007 9:52 AM

"Is that men are just as harassed online as women, and that women are just harassed in a different way?

What do you think?"

This really handsome dude from my neighborhood once told me he used to post on Craigs List (I was curious how he brought home a diffrent girl every night) (he had various ways, but mostly it was bar scene and internet). Anyways he posted it on Men 4 Women and guess what kinda emails he MOSTLY got? Gay guys sending him pics of their cocks with things like "So you want my big cock in your mouth?". I found this hilarious. So...I decided to do the same thing and post my pic on Craigs List. Women 4 Men. I had a much diffrent (positive) experience than him. But guess what one thing we had in common? "So can you suck my cock" emails. I found that shit hilarious and pretty harmless. By the way 90% of MY emails were from normal guys looking to date. 10% were cock emails. On the other hand, HE got 90% cock emails, and 10% emails from normal girls. Also another interesting comparison we made. I got ALOT more emails than he's ever gotten (I took my ad down after one day). That just goes to show you that dudes will ask you out but women wont do the asking. Even on the internet. And this is a guy who has no problem getting women.

Posted by: PurplePen at August 13, 2007 11:18 AM

TO: Amy Alkon, et al.
RE: Welcome....

"What's amazing is how those who purport to be against sexism are so often the most sexist of all..." -- Amy Alkon the 'World of the Real'.

We refer to it as 'projection'.

It is a popular tool of the 'politically correct' to apply 'leverage' in the public venue.

It CAN be turned against them, in an educated-viewer environment. But such an environment is getting more difficult to find as the vaunted American public education system erodes the learning skills of the children that pass through its 'gates'.

Keep up the good work....

....we're all excited.


P.S. 'Excited', in one way or another....

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 13, 2007 11:36 AM

Guys always go for what they percive as a weak spot. First rule of combat, strike hard, hit em where it will do the most damage in the least amount of time.

Our ancestors honed this skill in order to maximize their gains and reduce their losses. In todays world we dont hunt, but the instict is still the same in competion. In todays represed society sex is seen as a universal weak spot. Guys will instinctively question another man virility and masculinity in any setting in orer to gain an advantage and they do the same to women.

True there is the occasional ass who takes things too far, but women being harassed is a good thing, it means guys see women as equals who dont need to be sheilded or protected.

And then there is the way sexul harassment laws are written - its only harrasment if it is unwanted. Anyone remember the SNL(I think it was SNL) skit - really attractive man kept grabing co workers rubbibg their butts and kissing them, but the guy accused of sexuall harrassment was the nerdy guy with glasses who did little more than say hello.

Posted by: lujlp at August 13, 2007 11:46 AM

Yes, the joke goes, "It's only sexual harassment if he's ugly."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 13, 2007 12:06 PM

Maybe if they gave women free dishes or made a Tupperware party out of it they would politic more. Kinda like a sewing blog.

That whiner named Goodman is sure dumb as dirt.

Posted by: Arvin at August 13, 2007 12:39 PM

I agree - if you can't take the heat then don't step into the fire.

But I do wonder why it's not "okay" with some people when a woman is politically inclined. It doesn't even have to be "politics" just something to say that is important to you or causes some sort of reaction deep in your gut that you just can't wait to talk about. So why is it that the only thing female bloggers find important is... breast feeding techniques?

Women aren't victims b/c it IS possible to develop a political voice. A strong, intelligent voice with meaningful things to say. It is certainly within the ability of any person.

I'm just not sure WHY the majority of blogging women would rather talk about motherhood over anything else. Motherhood, I'm sure, is life changing and wonderful to those who choose that path...but why does motherhood have to be the defining and ultimate goal in a woman's life? Yes - women's bodies carry and give birth, but don't men get the same joy and experience the same emotional highs/lows as the mother?

So why don't more men blog about that? Cause it's wimpy? Lame. Why don't more women define themselves as strong individuals with a brain before they define themselves as a wife and mother? Men don't - can't find the survey but I've read about it (women will list "mother" or "wife" first, men will list their career or something along those lings). Women have a lot to offer - I'm sure motherhood is great but does it *have* to be the greatest? Is that the ultimate thing in life to look forward to?

Posted by: Gretchen at August 13, 2007 1:49 PM

why does motherhood have to be the defining and ultimate goal in a woman's life?

Personally, I think it's a big mistake. No, I don't have kids, but I find women whose entire lives revolve around their kids quite dull. Also, while I'm not exactly an expert, if I look at the kids of women who aren't that type -- who love their kids, but have lives of their own -- I think it's better for their kids. A friend in New York works a lot, but truly loves her kids, and I think her kids not only love her but respect her as a person.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 13, 2007 2:25 PM

"So why don't more men blog about that? Cause it's wimpy? Lame."

Nah, it's just blogging men aren't typically the fulltime at-home parent.

Journalist James Lileks ( atypical in this regard and entertains vast numbers of readers with stuff about his kid when it suits him.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 13, 2007 2:33 PM

Been looking at a Leslie Bennetts book on this topic -- looks really good:


Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 13, 2007 2:33 PM

I'll check out that book after I get to The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker (know if it's any good?).

Posted by: Gretchen at August 13, 2007 6:44 PM

Great. Have that one, too, and heard Pinker speak a few years back at an evolution conference in Austin. If ever you hear he's talking near you, definitely go.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 13, 2007 8:10 PM

Leave a comment