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October 29, 2009

The Boys' Club

boysclub.png Every so often the question of gender parity in the blatherosphere pops up like a whack-a-mole. This time, somewhat unusually, the question was raised by a man:

If you spend any time looking at social media demographics, there’s one stat you see over and over: women dominate the space. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter — all are more popular with women than men.

So it was a bit jarring this week to see that 67% of bloggers are male, according to the newest installment of the Technorati State of the Blogosphere report.

... compared to the other mainstream social media activities, it seems bizarrely guy-heavy.

What’s the deal? Why is blogging a boys club at a time when women are such a powerful force in creating social media content

In contrast to the explanations doled by male bloggers in the past (women lack confidence/interest in politics, women aren't competitive/assertive), many female bloggers who responded this time emphasized safety:

The Internet still feels like the Wild West. There are some safe homesteads–social media, for example. Consider: On Facebook, a woman can decide who she wants to connect with and who she wants to keep out. On Twitter, a woman who feels wrongly attacked can block the attacker. (Meghan McCain, the mad blocker, comes to mind. She takes even mild criticism as a block-worthy offense.)

When it comes the arena of ideas, the women who blog are not typical women. Over and over, the women who blog are tougher. Like the shotgun wielding Western expansionists of yore, women bloggers take shots and can shoot back.

Women bloggers are often sexualized and insulted. One famous incident with Kathy Sierra involved photoshop and personal information. Kathy quit, something I urged her not to do. She is now, though, on Twitter and I believe she blogs anonymously to spare herself the insulting misery. Michelle Malkin, Amanda Carpenter, and just about every conservative woman blogger, including me, has endured horrible personal, violent and sexual insults–very often from “enlightened” male liberal commenters and bloggers.

Most women simply do not want to put up with this garbage. They feel threatened and they worry about their safety and the safety of their children. Michelle Malkin had to actually move after her personal information was plastered on the web. She is a mother. She has children. There are nutjobs out there and in this business, there is a very real risk to personal safety. It’s something guys just don’t have to deal with as much.

This concern was echoed by several successful women:

Women tend to start blogging and then realize that it is a tough, tough world out here. You say something someone doesn’t like, and they don’t dispute your point calmly and politely with rational, well thought-out replies. They attack you, personally. They call you fat, ugly, stupid. They’ll call you a whore or a bitch or a slut. And these are the mild insults. A lot of women have no clue what they’re getting into when they start blogging. And when they see how rough it is, they quickly get out, because to them it’s not worth it.

Every conservative female blogger I know gets this kind of abuse, and it’s often sexualized. We all get it. It’s a fact of life when it comes to blogging.

While I definitely see (and have experienced to a minor degree) this kind of verbal abuse, I'm not entirely sure simply being female explains it. As Cassy Fiano notes, there are definite advantages to being an attractive female on the web:

I don’t want there to be more female bloggers. I like the fact that I’m a minority in the blogosphere. It’s a huge selling point for me. I’m not afraid at all to say it. With so few women bloggers, it automatically makes me stand out, and that’s a good thing. Throw in the fact that I’m… ahem… well-endowed, shall we say?, and not bad-looking and it’s even more of a plus. Men don’t get those benefits. A great looking male blogger is not going to attract much traffic, because readership online is mostly male, at least when it comes to politics. A great looking woman, however, who can write well and is not afraid to take shots and shoot back is going to be very attractive to their male readers. It makes you stand out, and if the blogosphere suddenly becomes crowded with female bloggers, then I’ve just lost my edge.

This is an interesting point. Over the years I've noted several behavioral differences between male and female bloggers. Women are far more likely to display one or more pictures of themselves prominently. Cassy is, I think, more honest than most about why they do it: sexual attractiveness is a definite advantage in a visual medium dominated by men who like looking at pretty women, especially in a state of undress.

I've always been somewhat conflicted on the practice, myself. If, like Cassy, a woman can take the flack that comes with putting her personal appearance front and center, the move makes sense. On the other hand, just as voicing an opinion invites criticism of your arguments, putting yourself out there for people to look at tends to invite criticism of your looks. It has always struck me as problematic when women complain about sexually insulting commentary given the fact that so many of us openly advertise both our appearance and our sexual attractiveness.

In the hurly-burly, free for all atmosphere of the 'Net, critics and trolls throw out whatever will stick. These folks are fairly good at sussing out a blogger's Achilles heel. They attack to get a reaction, and here women often reinforce abusive behavior. "Don't feed the troll" has always been sound advice: if you let an attacker know he or she has found a soft spot, don't be surprised if they repeatedly aim for it.

I'm not sure what to make of the argument that women don't enjoy the intellectual back and forth. This is arguably what keeps me writing, despite the aggravations associated with running a blog. I do know it took years to build a proportionate level of female participation in my own comments section. Women do seem slightly more hesitant to wade into the conversational fray, whether we're talking blogging or simply asserting a strong opinion in the comments.

Part of this may be due to the different conversational styles of men and women. To us, men can seem needlessly curt, dismissive, or confrontational. Over the years I've occasionally been taken aback by comments from men I know and like and I've had to fight not to take something that wasn't meant personally to heart. Women often attribute male abruptness to sexism, but I think it's more likely just a reflection of the way men talk to each other.

In school, I was the only woman in a class largely composed of male Marines. There weren't too many shrinking violets in that group, and yet I easily held my own. I wasn't really aware of the differences in the social dynamic until I found myself in a class with another woman - an unusually sharp and self confident one. She cornered me after a few weeks and asked, "Doesn't it bother you, the way they just talk over women as though we weren't there?"

I thought about it, and replied, "I'm not sure being female has as much to do with that as being willing to back down. They talk over each other all the time". Men are at once more direct and less personal in their interactions with others. They don't tend to be as careful with, much less aware of, other people's feelings. That's probably an advantage if the world you live in centers around competition. The man who tiptoes through the minefield of subjective offense is likely to find himself left in the dust by less delicate souls.

I'm not sure how typical I am, because unlike most women I have zero interest in MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter. Social networking, to me, features all the downsides of blogging with none of the advantages. I'm not interested in keeping in touch with large numbers of people. I was on Facebook for a while, but found the whole "friends" thing exhausting and distracting.

Female bloggers, it seems to me, are sometimes victims of our own success. I've quit blogging at least three times now, but verbal abuse or dislike of the 'food fight atmosphere' had nothing to do with my decision. Looking back, the same conditions were present each time I walked away:

1. Daily visits over 2000. When VC begins to draw too much traffic, all the joy goes out of blogging. I begin to feel like the psychic vampires have been at me, though much of my discomfort is self imposed.

Here, again, I see differences in male and female behavior. Women tend to participate more in their comments sections. To me, this is part of the joy of blogging but it also takes its toll. I've never been able to stop seeing the person behind each moniker. This amuses and exasperates my husband. He says, "Why do you CARE about these people? You don't know them!"

2. Lack of balance. Attila echoes this concern:

Me? I dunno why I didn’t make it to Western CPAC: My excuses are what they are. For one thing, I’m working way more than full-time, and I’m trying to cut back on travel. I don’t go out of town more than every couple of months, and my petro-fieldtrips count, as I see it. Many of those take place in California, within driving distance, but a night away from home is a night away from home. It’s a necessary evil, but an evil.

So, no: I wasn’t at Western CPAC; I go to the real CPAC every year. If I have time, I’ll go to the YAF cconference this fall and see if I can get Stacy McCain to buy me that martini he still owes me.

Blogging is incredibly time consuming, and it has to compete with family time, work and other pursuits. Over the years I find myself less willing to expend the time needed to run VC the way I would like it to be run. I also find myself less willing to share my thoughts - to put my whole heart and soul into my writing.

That feeling is very much a response to the way I see women treated on the 'Net. Even though I have experienced little of the vicious invective and disrespectful treatment I see every day, as it has increased in volume and intensity I've sometimes been momentarily stunned into a sort of disgusted silence. Though anyone who knows me knows I'm far from being a prude, I find the overly sexualized, locker room atmosphere of the web to be a real turnoff. I've written about it a few times, mostly because I think it has a lot to do with the hesitancy women feel about participating in online conversations but also because I truly believe it degrades civility and encourages behavior few (if any) of us would countenance in real life. I don't want to know that some guy thinks some supermodel's rear end is just begging to be ramrodded, or how often he fantasizes about having sex with women he's not married to. I'm not stupid: I realize men have thoughts like that all the time. Hell, women have thoughts like that.

I just think sentiments like that are better left unvoiced in mixed company. Grim had a real point when he observed that people do and say things online that, in real life, would merit a punch in the mouth.

I can't recall - even once in the 6 years I've been writing online - feeling threatened, unsafe, or scared by anything I've experienced, read, or seen. By the same token, the climate online has definitely affected my enjoyment of blogging and made me question whether it is an endeavor that's worth time and energy it requires?

That's not a decision that is being forced on me. It's a decision every blogger - male or female - has to weigh for his or herself. I don't feel oppressed by the Patriarchy. But I do wonder - increasingly these days - whether this is the kind of blogosphere we want to inhabit? Do we want an online world where only the toughest, loudest, and most competitive voices are heard?

The Internet is a marketplace of not just ideas but entertainment, emotion and raw sensation. As such, it reflects our values. That is an uncomforting thought at times.

It should not be a politically incorrect one.

Posted by Cassandra at October 29, 2009 04:59 AM

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Many conservative female bloggers....drumroll...are married to men and have children whose privacy they wish to preserve. Or they are opinionated and don't wish to embarrass the home team. One can either attempt to maintain "anonymity" (no such thing, really) or fudge what one writes. I admire the people who feed their families by blogging,but some of us just do it for fun, so have no interest in competing with other bloggers, male or female.

No interest in Facebook, Twitter, etc. myself.

As a married mom,I only care what one man thinks of my attractiveness, so I don't post pictures or advertise whether I'm a babe or a toad.

Posted by: retriever at October 29, 2009 07:33 AM

Many conservative female bloggers....drumroll...are married to men and have children whose privacy they wish to preserve. Or they are opinionated and don't wish to embarrass the home team. One can either attempt to maintain "anonymity" (no such thing, really) or fudge what one writes.

Bingo :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 29, 2009 07:35 AM

Interesting, I would have chalked it up to cultural differences. That is, Facebook and MySpace culture tends to be about fostering personal relationships and sometimes dips into discussions of ideas (where one attempts to divorce the idea from the person) while the Blogoshere does the reverse.

Since women tend to be more interpersonal relationship oriented while men tend to be less personal it makes sense that each gravitate more towards their own preference.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 29, 2009 11:02 AM

It's hard for me to comment on that one way or another since I don't have any interest in social networking. I think the other women did say that, essentially so I didn't see the need to repeat what they'd already said so well :)

I just found the safety argument interesting, as I haven't seen that one as much as the 'women aren't aggressive/interested in politics' arguments.

There is a very different 'feel' on social networking sites. If I had to characterize them, I'd say they're more welcoming even though lots and lots of men are there too.

Since women tend to be more interpersonal relationship oriented while men tend to be less personal it makes sense that each gravitate more towards their own preference.

I agree with that 100%. I'm not sure why we feel the need to enforce artificial gender parity on voluntary activities.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 29, 2009 11:17 AM

The funny thing is Cass, I'm almost the opposite of you (kind of). I'm male, I don't have my own blog (LiveJournal does NOT count... I post weekly at most), I inhabit the social networking sites. I dunno, I think it's simplistic to say it's a male/female thing, but heck it might be. Just as you're an atypical female, I very well could be an atypical male.

Frankly, I am in awe of how you do it. I couldn't do it. Maintaining a blog has GOT to be hard work. I am pretty good at jumping into a conversation, but starting them (which is what you do with EVERY post)... I'm just not good at it. You are amazing, and while I know it can be hard, and would NOT want you to be unhappy, I REALLY hope you keep it up. It makes my day brighter to see what is cookin over at the Company. :)

Posted by: MikeD at October 29, 2009 11:48 AM

"If I had to characterize them, I'd say they're more welcoming even though lots and lots of men are there too."

You know, I have the opposite feeling about them. You go to one of these things, like my sister's page on whichever one of these sites she uses, and it says, "This is for friends only!"

She'd be happy to "friend" me if I made a page, but I'm required to buy-in to be let to play. And you can be shut out again at any time.

The blogs are open to anyone with an internet connection; you just show up and there is everything, laid out for you to explore as you wish.

The opposite side of the "safety" issue is the control. Some of us like the Wild West. It just needs the gunfighting marshal as well as the bandits in order to work. :)

Of course, that's another thing about the modern world and male/female differences: the more controlled the world is, the less men are needed. If your world consists of controlled, safe environments, I'm of no use to you at all; and I won't be happy there, partly for that reason, and partly because it's not the world for which I was made.

That applies to real spaces just as much as virtual ones.

Posted by: Grim at October 29, 2009 11:56 AM

Most of the time, I get more than I give :)

I need to learn not to be overly dismayed at certain things, I guess. My biggest problem with the web has been the fact that people don't behave the same way they do in real life (or at least not in *my* life, where my experiences with the opposite sex have been almost uniformly positive).

What bothers me, when I see certain things, is the juxtaposition of complaints about restraints on male behavior with behavior I don't see in real life. It makes me wonder: are they behaving like this b/c they can? Or because that's the way they wish they could behave in the real world?

That's an uncomfortable thought to live with if you're female.

The reason we don't see that kind of behavior in real life is that it is socially unacceptable. And I don't think that's a bad thing.

One of my problems with modern life is that both women and men seem to have abandoned any higher standard for their actions than, "What I feel like doing at the moment."

To me, the whole "You have to take me as I am" thing is kind of silly. I know who I would be without pressure from the culture I was raised in, and it ain't acceptable :p Rousseau and that noble savage thing have much to answer for.

re: the blog/social networks thing. I think gender differences explain part of it, but then (as I pointed out) I'm a woman and I don't really conform to the stereotype in some ways (but do in others).

I liked Cassy Fiano's candor - she seems very level headed and sensible. Where I have trouble with women sometimes is when they want the benefits of an act but don't want to take the consequences. In a perfect world, people would behave well regardless of the circumstances but we're not living in a perfect world so we have to adapt.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 29, 2009 12:03 PM

The blogs are open to anyone with an internet connection; you just show up and there is everything, laid out for you to explore as you wish.

I don't really think you understand how some parts of the Internet seem to women. That's not always a positive thing - I've been visually assaulted on many occasions by things I had no desire to see or know about and there wasn't any warning.

I think the attraction of social networking sites is that that sort of thing is tamped down somewhat. It is somewhat ironic that the nail in my Facebook coffin was that I started getting these weird emails from men wanting to hook up and I can't think of a single thing I did or signed up for that would explain why these nut jobs thought I'd be receptive. When you're my age, that is just too bizarre for words :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 29, 2009 12:07 PM

I'm with you on the personal impact of blogging. I deliberately ratcheted back from the style that had me at 10K daily visits, I'm comfortable with half that.

And I don't write as much as I used to, for much the same reason, though I am going to try to turn the MoH posts into a book, if only for me.

Heh, 6 years and over 7 million visits later, it's amazing how much has changed, and how all of us who've been around have changed.

I do envy you your commentariat, though.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at October 29, 2009 12:19 PM

Great post. I am new to VC by way of Project Valour-IT this year, but have enjoyed reading your non-Angels writing.

Out of curiosity, several of the writers you cite mention "conservative female bloggers" getting the abuse... is this meant to imply that conservative male commenters always treat liberal female bloggers with respect? :)

I am always amazed by amateur bloggers (that is, those who don't make a living off their blogs). My "blog" is really more of an online diary where I'm lucky to post something "serious" more than every month or two. Kudos to you for having a life AND producing a great blog AND helping out our troops.

Posted by: MikeH at October 29, 2009 12:36 PM

is this meant to imply that conservative male commenters always treat liberal female bloggers with respect?

No, but then again, we're supposed to be sexist troglodites bitterly clinging to our guns, bibles, and racism. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 29, 2009 12:51 PM

"I don't really think you understand how some parts of the Internet seem to women."

I've tried to understand, and I certainly hope I understand more now than I did when we started our conversation several years ago.

All I mean to say, though, is that I was struck by your choice of words: "welcoming." I read the same thing as a sign: the kind of sign that reads Members Only, No Trespassing, Keep Out.

The sign actually says, 'this page is for friends only,' but even though I know that I'm assured of acceptance, the fact of the sign puts me off. I want nothing to do with a place like that, no more than I'd want to belong to a members only club. It's just the kind of thing that bothers me.

A long time ago you said that the internet was "public space," and that we should think of it as being so -- that we should have standards for the internet that we would approve of for the public square, so that everyone would feel comfortable. I've been thinking about that a lot these last few years.

One kind of public space is wilderness: the US government owns a lot of it. And this kind of public space has two flavors: National Parks, and National Forest.

If you go to the National Parks, you find facilities set up to make you as comfortable as possible during your visit. There are rules, lots of them, about where you can walk and how you can behave. There are ropes or chains to keep you away from the dangerous parts of the trails, which are well-maintained and often specially designed for ease-of-access to the disabled or elderly.

The National Forests often just have a dirt parking area, and a signpost with some basic information. You can go out there; within some basic regulations, you can hunt, hike, ride your horses, climb the trees or the rocks. If you die, it's your fault; there's nobody to help you.

Going out there is a free choice, and it's nice that it's there. It's a public space, but one with very little by way of control.

And it's dangerous. Accidents, wild animals, and unhinged people can be encountered out there. There is very little by way of law enforcement -- you may never meet one of their few rangers -- so the few laws that exist in theory are of limited use in practice.

I can understand why some people like the parks better. I can understand that the dangers of the uncontrolled space are frightening, and may keep many people from ever venturing there to start with. Any beautiful thing there is effectively denied to them because it's in a place they feel they cannot go -- though in fact, there's nothing to stop them from going, they feel that they can't or should not. Yet it preserves a kind of freedom, the freedom that comes from being far beyond the bounds of civilization, that is lost when you put up a fence.

It's good that we are able to have both kinds of spaces, I think. There's a tension between wanting to fence off more of the beautiful spots, to make them safer and more 'welcoming' to the many; but in so doing they are fenced off from people like me, who wanted them just as they were. There aren't as many of us, so maybe our interests aren't as important in a greater sense. Certainly, the very most beautiful places deserve to be available to everyone.

Still, I'm glad there are still places that are empty and lonely.

Posted by: Grim at October 29, 2009 12:51 PM

...is this meant to imply that conservative male commenters always treat liberal female bloggers with respect?

No, they don't. In fact I've objected to the name calling on the few occasions I've been aware of it, just as I objected a while back to some very extreme language directed at the First Lady.

Right now there seems to be a big disagreement within the right-o-sphere about what I can only call 'overheated rhetoric'. I don't think it's just a male thing b/c I see women on both sides.

I believe we shouldn't have to kowtow to threats of being called racist/sexist/whatever. The answer is simple: if you're accused, don't react and don't apologize if you didn't do anything wrong. The race/gender card gets thrown b/c it usually provokes stubborn refusal to apologize followed by an abject apology :p Dumb, dumb, dumb.

At the same time, intelligent people don't needlessly antagonize those they're trying to persuade to support them. There is usually a tactful way to express conservative principles and one doesn't have to water them down one bit. But if you begin every appeal with "Lefties and RINOs suck", you're not going to win many converts.

To me it all boils down to manners. I try to treat people well and I expect them to treat me well. If they don't, I have no trouble standing up for myself. Some conservatives confuse this with political correctness when in fact it was the standard back when I was a child regardless of party affiliation.

It's not that no one was ever a jerk. It's just that most folks recognized that one can defend a principle without calling your opponent a talentless, corrupt hack with promiscuous sexual habits :p

With one or two very minor exceptions, I've been treated very well and very respectfully even when I've disagreed with male bloggers (which I do all the time). I think part of it has to do with the way we comport ourselves (i.e., not giving someone the excuse to be a jerk in the first place) and part has to do with the character of the person you're dealing with and their perception of whether you can be bullied into submission.

Time after time I've expected to be attacked for something I've said (based on what I've observed of others) and time after time I've been pleasantly surprised.

I don't think this is a party thing. Conservative bloggers step over the line too. Both sides have their foibles :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 29, 2009 12:58 PM

Time after time I've expected to be attacked for something I've said...

Gee, me, too.

'Cept I've always been *correct* in





Posted by: BillT at October 29, 2009 01:53 PM

"It makes my day brighter to see what is cookin over at the Company."

Now, Mike, we all know that it's because at VC you can tell everyone of your dryer lint screen *habit* and no one thinks you *odd*.

"Gee, me, too...."

I'm sure that has nothing to do with the confidence you exude in the Blog Princess' (lack of) ability to *hit what she aimed at*, eh?

Posted by: DL Sly at October 29, 2009 02:36 PM

Now, Mike, we all know that it's because at VC you can tell everyone of your dryer lint screen *habit* and no one thinks you *odd*.

It's not a habit... I can quit whenever I want! But I certainly don't come because I don't feel odd here. I feel odd everywhere. I get stranger things than this place free in my breakfast cereal. :)

Posted by: MikeD at October 29, 2009 03:00 PM

Nah, you're still missing it. The average woman, IMHO, judging from my sister, my Mom, female friends, co-workers, etc., communicates far more differently than men in my experience. if you don't factor in gender differences in communication styles, then you won't have a complete explanation. Before all the ladies go nuts, remember I am saying this is A factor but not the only factor.

Women talk far more than men, on average, as studies have shown time and again. With this basic fact, it is no surprise they dominate Facebook, Twitter, etc. But look at what KIND of communications occur on those sites -- light, social chatter. This conforms with what I see when women talk together. Very rarely do I hear women discussing deep political or social issues. Usually, its the latest gossip, fashion, who's dating whom, etc.

Guys don't like to talk all that much, on average, but they are not as hesitant to enter the deep end of the pool. On Twitter or Facebook, a woman can post about "Isn't my new puppy cute!", and chat all day with her female friends about the cuteness of puppies. This doesn't really translate very well to blogging, where people expect a little more meatier fare.

Now the exceptional women will have no problem wrasslin' with the heavier issues of the day, and so we have a good many excellent female-run blogs. Nevertheless, this is the exception rather than the rule, as noted in this topic.

Posted by: a former european at October 29, 2009 03:42 PM

The average woman, IMHO, judging from my sister, my Mom, female friends, co-workers, etc., communicates far more differently than men in my experience.

That may be why I'm not usually comfortable around large groups of women. Believe it or not, I tend to get very quiet in a large group of women. I feel far more comfortable in a group of men than women. Not sure why.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 29, 2009 03:48 PM

The thing is, it's not because women don't have those thoughts or opinions on "meatier" topics. I think it's because most women take it personally when someone disagrees with them, whereas men do not -- something alluded to in the original post. So, women just avoid those subjects that generate debate.

True story: my sister got into a discussion with my wife about something on the phone once, when my sister cut her off with, "I can't discuss this with you, you argue like Mike now."

It's funny because, thinking about it right now, I realize that my wife and I still argue about things as much as we ever did earlier in our marriage, but any heat generated dissipates much faster than it used to and I think it's because she has adapted to arguing with me (and by extension, men) and doesn't take it as personally when we disagree about something. Conversely, over time she finds it harder and harder to discuss things with other women, although she's always been more comfortable around groups of men than women, like Cassie.

Posted by: MikeH at October 29, 2009 05:25 PM

Off topic: is there a way to edit comments? I just realized nobody calls you Cassie, I think I confused that with your co-blogger, Carrie.

Posted by: MikeH at October 29, 2009 06:02 PM

There's no way to edit them directly, but if there is ever anything you want to change I can do it.

Cassie is OK - the crew from the Castle call me that all the time :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 29, 2009 06:05 PM

Cass, can hang with the big dogs, MikeH. I've called her far worse, in a sexist way, in my old Jacque Chirac alter-ego, and in a misogynist way, as my jihadi Mullah alter-ego. If she can ignore her stomach roasting in the hell Allah reserves for infidel defilers, I think "Cassie" won't cause her to lose sleep at night.:)

Posted by: a former european at October 29, 2009 06:27 PM

Heh. This place would not be the same without you, afe.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 29, 2009 06:34 PM

I couldn't check out any of the blogs today. Being at school can put a crimp in that...

I blog - very erratically - and I also have myspace/facebook. I tend to post different things at each. Myspace/facebook I use to keep in touch with people. I've been able to reconnect with old HS friends from my DoDDS HS in Germany. Missed attending a reunion in Myrtle Beach this past weekend. Couldn't afford to go (transportation/lodging), couldn't afford to not be here (not here, no paycheck, since I don't qualify to vacation time with any of my jobs). Maybe it's a little different for me, being the Army brat, and wanting to maintain that connection to people with whom I shared such unique experiences. I tend to shy away from the politics comments there, as I KNOW many of my old classmates are rabidly liberal. It's not important to have those types of discussions with them: we will neither change the other's mind, but they are still good people and worthy of maintaining even a low-level friendship.

What I put on the blogs are things that - generally - I don't share with my fb/myspace friends. One reason I blog anonymously is because I don't want to risk people holding my personal views against me, professionally. As regulars here know, I am a certified teacher, but have yet to get a "real" teaching job. As many of us also know, education is a profession dominated by those of a more liberal persuasion. I also tend to not post controversial things on my own blog (no desire to get into a pissing contest with people about whose opinion is better), but I will - if I feel I have something worthwhile to day - contribute to those more controversial discussions other places, such as VC. Due to time constraints, I am unable to read as many blogs as I used to, but I've got other responsibilities away from the computer. I don't have a problem with the fact that blogging is dominated by men.

As as aside, I don't think I'm really a typical female, either. I don't read the gossipy magazines, I don't really follow the fashion or celebrity dating news, I don't have a gaggle of girlfriends (and never have, really) with whom I sit around and talk about other people. I have a nice phone conversation with my best friend late this afternoon (she's coming for my sister's wedding in a week - we haven't seen each other since I moved back to Texas nearly 5 years ago). We ended up talking politics (and she talked a little about all our old friends she saw at the reunion in SC, and how our experience with DoDDS is very different than most others). I like discussing politics, but my sisters don't. Blogs are my outlet for that kind of thing.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 29, 2009 09:36 PM

"My biggest problem with the web has been the fact that people don't behave the same way they do in real life..."
Posted by: Cassandra at October 29, 2009 12:03 PM

*Ahem* While that is undoubtedly true of some people, it "ain't necessarily so" with regard to others. Like myself, for instance. Some folks seem to feel empowered by their relative anonymity on "Da 'Net", and say things they'd never dare to in person. So says I...

Posted by: camojack at October 30, 2009 12:33 AM

I might not behave EXACTLY the same way online that I do in real life, but I wouldn't stoop to the kinds of things Cass refers to. I think I'm a little braver in saying/sharing things I'd be too shy/embarrassed to admit/say in person, except to a very select few people. But, the fact I wouldn't do/say those things has more to do with the fact that I am a very quiet/shy person, and not that they are necessarily inappropriate/vulgar/whatever. I am still "me" as "Miss Ladybug", and not some alter ego.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 30, 2009 01:11 AM

Yes, as Allah has instructed us: "Let he who first witnesses the harlot's unveiled face throw the first stone, and then call all the rest of the men in the village to finish her grisly death!"

-- Mullah Omar Abdulah bin Sadr

Posted by: a former european at October 30, 2009 02:17 PM