CommunityPam's House Blend

Taking on the big, bad, blogging dogs so we can pee on the political hydrant too

(UPDATE: Cross posted at BigBrassBlog, added response to reader comment at the end.)

This is the one time it’s safe to say, that a dialogue about race is actually less of a minefield than talking about sexism, passive or not-so-passive, in the political blogosphere. I read the Steven Levy Newsweek article, Blogging Beyond the Men’s Club, and instantly saw an acknowledgment of sexism.

Steve Gilliard responded to the Levy article in a way that shows the complete disconnect between men and women on this issue. He spends his entire response fixated on race, due to the quote from an unknown female blogger named Hailey Suitt, who gave the inflammatory bite, “It’s white people linking to other white people!” But this is what Gillard obsesses over in his breathless analysis (my emphasis below):

Yet, there’s a problem with the diversity of bloggers?

I like Steven Levy, but he’s taking the circle jerk at Harvard way too seriously. I’ve never heard of Hailey Suitt. Wouldn’t know her if she fell off a truck with a large screen TV on it. What A list? I’ve never seen this woman quoted once. Never. Not anywhere I read. I’ve never seen her linked to anyone I read. Quoted on the Daou report? Never. Mentioned in the sex blogs? Never. So exactly who’s friend was she?

So exactly when did Kos become white? I mean, if you’re going to have this discussion, you might want to mention our biracial friend with the wildly successful web site. But that’s just me.

See, the problem was that the Harvard Circle Jerk was for the friends of the people who held it. Working bloggers`were NOT invited and we ridiculded the whole fucking thing. Is it my fault they don’t read Rude Pundit and Black Commentator? They stick to their little cult of friends and Dave Weiner, who should get a trademark on the word asshole, it’s used so often in connection with his name.

You want to talk about a circle jerk? Gilliard really doesn’t see the irony. Check out the most trafficked blogs out there, and what do you see? I see a lot of big dogs linking to each other.

He’s condemning the establishment media for the same kind of clubbiness that exists in the upper atmosphere of the blogosphere. The lack of curiosity and glass ceiling just take a different form.

No one is saying the “old boys network” is inherently evil — of course you would link to your peers, I link to mine, and blogs that have something to say about I topic that I want to know more about. What is different is the defense floated out there that isn’t a hierarchy in the major blogosphere. This is ludicrous — there is passive resistance to acknowledge, seek out or promote new political voices, especially those that have something to say about gender politics from a perspective that is not white or male — why wouldn’t you want to bring something fresh to the table. You wouldn’t if you didn’t have a serious interest in those issues.

Our big boy bloggers have tended to gloss over the fact that the blogosphere is still, looking at sheer numbers, the domain of the Technorati testosteroni. Men currently rule the roost in terms of perceived bloggers of influence, and the article points that out. Guys arrived at the party first, and it’s a remained a fairly closed system on the Left for reasons that are complicated, but not excusable.

We already have as evidence the revealing arrogant post by Kevin Drum that there is a dearth of worthy political bloggers out there. Drum’s “investigative work” to find some estrogen consisted of: 1) looking for female bloggers on the TTLB Ecosystem, and 2) looking at his male peers’ blogrolls. He also asserted that men are “more comfortable with the food fight nature of opinion writing.”

OK. At least he’s covering the topic again, but it still appears to be a papering over of the real problem. ShakeSis responds to KDrum’s latest crack at addressing the issue. I’m going to quote her from a earlier piece on the Drum missive that captures were we both are on this; we’ve been discussing this topic at length for some time now, and it’s spurred us on to create Big Brass Blog, so I guess we should thank KDrum, hahaha.

And there’s the tiny challenge we face each and every day of men who like to think of themselves as egalitarian who clearly are not, and instead of ever facing up to their latent sexism, attribute disparities to inherent traits in women, thereby making it our collective fault for lingering inequalities and implying that said traits are immutable, with reasonable rebuttals dismissed as anecdotal. Spirited, but anecdotal.

It is inexplicable that otherwise intelligent men cannot wrap their minds around how such an attitude is insulting, nor grasp that women’s issues are not tangential concerns of the overall progressive movement. The insistence upon marginalizing legitimate concerns of women is sexism at its very worst, and yet because dudes like Drum aren’t lounging around in a beer-stained wife-beater ordering their bitches into the kitchen, they somehow manage to convince themselves that they are infallible supporters of feminism (and feminists). Suppressing women’s voices, who are miraculously loud, plentiful, and in direct contradiction of the small-minded assertions that periodically bring them to the fore en masse, is not a minor thing, and continuing to feign innocence to its detrimental effects is not forgivable when there is so much evidence to the contrary.

There are plenty of boys who manage to be good to the girls in the blogosphere. The only difference between them and the boys who don’t is that their heads aren’t up their own asses. Maybe Drum and his ilk should consider coming out for a peek; they might be surprised by the plethora of interesting and amazing bloggrrls populating the landscape.

And what about Kos? Well, I had an interesting exchange with him on a thread back in Nov. 2004, when he was asking Kossacks about adding new guest bloggers, and the subject came up about hoping for more female voices and diarists of color…

definitely similar picks…and add diversity (none / 0)

pastordan rocks, as does kid oakland.

Also, I’d vote for a few more identified voices of diversity on the main page (women, people of color, GLBT, religious/non-religious). Speaking as someone who inhabits some of those categories, it was great to read those perspectives in the days immediately following the election (ihlin’s “A minority evangelical speaks” comes to mind). It was also equally enlightening to hear “majority” reaction to those voices. The spirited debates resulted in the education of all of us.

OK. My post was quite benign. Here’s his response:

No (none / 1)

I have never chosen anyone based on diversity. In the online world, no one knows your color or sex unless you volunteer it.

And yet, my crew of guest bloggers has been shockingly ethnically and racially diverse.

The exception is women. I chalk that up to overwhelming presence of men on the site (60-70 percent). And while that’s something I would like to see change, I won’t predicate any decisions on it.

The web is as close to egalitarianism as we can get. Where else can a Latino rise as quickly into prominence a
s I have?

I intend to keep that spirit alive.

I was not saying throw any minority up on the front page, or that there shouldn’t be a meritocracy at Daily Kos, but whew, his panties wadded up in a bunch right quick, huh? I responded:

identified voices (none / 0)

The nature of this forum should remain a meritocracy. I wholeheartedly endorse that, Kos. That doesn’t preclude a desire to hear from more identified voices of diversity.

I can always choose to post anonymously and establish an online political persona that has no bearing on my race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. It’s someone’s argument or counterargument that I always find engaging first.

However, I find that an opinion is definitely received differently by readers when someone self-identifies (particularly when they hold an opinion counter to the perceived “conventional wisdom opinion” of the group to which the author belongs). I see it all the time.

I find it’s sort of like calling a business contact on the phone, developing a rapport and they build preconceived notions about what to expect when you meet — the reactions can be priceless when you do. It happens all the time, it’s mostly amusing.

It’s good to shake up the mix, that’s all. I’m always amazed at what I learn about human nature here

The big boys really don’t get it, Houston, we have a problem. I am a hat trick – black, female and lesbian, and I write about all those topics, but not to the exclusion of general politics, or the very mundane. But my background, for what it’s worth, informs those opinions. It’s not all or nothing if you self-identify. In fact, by doing so you actually have an opportunity to show what common ground we all share, that we are more alike than different. We can pee on the political fire hydrant too.

UPDATE: A reader, anonymous coward, stated in the comments:
Are you saying you have something special to say that’s not already being heard? If so, what is it? I’ve looked at your site. It’s great, but I don’t see anything here that would look out of place at Eschaton.

My response: I’ve written about plenty that you would see and wouldn’t see on Eschaton. I write about general progressive politics, so yes there would be similar content, but have you ever seen Atrios talk about:

* the politics of having kinky hair
* being followed in a store while dressed up for the theatre by a store owner that thinks you’re a shoplifter
* Southern politics, the black church and reframing gay rights
* what it’s like to be a black lesbian in the South
* the ‘Acting White’ Myth

You get my drift (you can find those blog entries by scrolling down on this page to the ‘Greatest Hits’ section).

Atrios may have an opinion about those issues, but I certainly haven’t seen them expressed on his blog, or any of the other big bloggers. I’ve seen them on Daily Kos, because I’ve written diaries on those topics.

My complaint isn’t that they are all white males, since some of the big bloggers are of color. It’s the closed nature of the hierarchy/circle jerk that the big boys don’t want to cop to.

I’m saying that the big blogger responses to the Newsweek article conveniently gloss over the “male” aspect of the criticism. The silence in the responses of the big boys is deafening, or, in the case of KDrum, offensively dismissive.

As I’ve said before, major props to the guys out there that do link to women political bloggers; personal hat tips to two most deserving of big bloggerdom (is that a word yet?), John Aravosis and Mike Rogers, for taking the time to read and promote my work.

***

Read Shakespeare’s Sister’s take on Kevin Drum’s latest missive on women and political blogging, here you go.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding