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March 26, 2010

Why I Blog Like a Woman

Via Glenn Reynolds, some fascinating observations by Susannah Breslin who asks, "Are Men Better Bloggers Than Women?":

For the most part, I’ve found, women bloggers fall into three categories: “mommybloggers,” “ladybloggers,” and “women who blog like men.” The first category includes those who have made careers out of writing about the perils of raising a family, being married, and getting stuff off the kitchen floor. The second category includes the group of blogs that self-describe as “feminist” and which seem to have decided that blogging about purportedly widespread sexism and instances of misogyny in our pop culture a neo-feminist movement makes (NB: it doesn’t). The third category includes those few women who blog about politics, technology, and other more “male” topics with a scathing wit and piercing gaze that put their male blogger rivals to shame.

What the blogosphere needs is fewer Martha Stewarts and more Danica Patricks, more real debate and less positing women as the victims of a patriarchal society gone bloggy-wild, more men that blog like women and more women who blog like men.

All of which has me in a lather. Do I blog more like a man? Or a woman? Am I a Wendy or a Peter Pan? A Scarlett O'Hara or a Melanie Wilkes? Spiderman or the Incredible Hulk? I like Breslin's writing. That's all I've ever cared about when deciding whether or not a blogger is worth my limited time. And I get very annoyed when men tell me I "think like a man".

I don't think like a man. I think like a woman. I *am* a woman. And yes, I understand what they're trying to say. I even understand that telling me I write like a man is supposed to be some sort of compliment. The thing is, though, that it's not really. I'm a woman. I cry when I see cute babies on TV. I cry when my readers hurt my feelings without meaning to. I cried all the way through The Sound of Music the other night.

That doesn't mean that my brain doesn't work or that I'm not interested in plate tectonics, public choice theory or biological determinism.

And unlike Ms. Breslin I don't regret the sex and relationship posts. I do - often - feel like an outsider when writing about relationships between men and women. I don't understand why it's so hard to see both sides. The anger and the defensiveness my posts so often provoke are physically, viscerally painful to me. They've often caused me to rant and rave to my husband or poor Carrie.

I will never understand why it's OK for men to say certain things but if a woman says exactly the same thing, she's either insecure or controlling. Why the presumption of bad faith? I wish more people would attempt to take a giant step back from their feelings and look at arguments on the merits. That's not an easy thing to do. On more than one occasion it has caused me to write things I'm not entirely comfortable with from a personal perspective. But when I examined the same issue from a variety of angles, dispassion won out.

What does "blogging like a man" mean, anyway? I see a lot of differences between male and female bloggers. For one thing, men seem more competitive. I think they invest a lot more of their ego in their blogs. Since they're more competitive, they tend to be more prolific. Currency is the currency of the blogosphere but it's often inimical to thoughtful writing. Not always though, thank God. There are many bloggers who churn out reams of material and still manage to make sense.

I can remember when I was prolific, but it had nothing to do with being competitive. I wrote a lot because I was passionate about certain subjects and because I enjoyed it. When I quit blogging and created a tiny site no one knew about, I wrote just as much as I did when I had thousands of visits per day. Either way writing, to me, has always been the reward. But I'd be lying if I said the contentiousness of the blogosphere doesn't get to me. It has caused me to quit several times. The thing is, it's not enough to make me back down if a topic is truly important to me.

I don't think I blog like a man at all. I write about whatever I'm interested in at the moment, whether or not it's topical. Whether or not it makes me popular. That's why I'll always be a 3rd tier blogger: I know what I should do if I want lots of traffic but for me, doing those things takes all the fun out of blogging.

Lastly, I think I blog like a woman because in all these years I've never been able to screen people out; to be indifferent to them. My husband has often said to me, "Why do you care so much what so-and-so says? You've never even met these people."

That doesn't matter to me. Behind each comment there will always be a living, breathing person whose life and perspective I can only guess about. In this respect, being online is no different from real life. We may fool ourselves from time to time when technology's insulating effects shield us from sympathy, antipathy, anger, delight.

Fear. Revulsion. Wonder. But to me the most wonderful and the most frightening thing about the Internet is that there are literally millions of real people out there reading blogs like mine. Perhaps even mine.

Does anything we write make a difference? I have no idea. I only know that every now and then I stumble onto things that make me think, make me wonder, make me love, hate, scream, laugh, cry. And so, not knowing if any of this matters or if it's only so much hot air - the vain ramblings of a pretentious and self absorbed soul - I write.

Posted by Cassandra at March 26, 2010 02:22 PM

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Comments

Am I a Wendy or a Peter Pan? A Scarlett O'Hara or a Melanie Wilkes? Spiderman or the Incredible Hulk?

Mmm ... how about Ellen Ripley?

Posted by: I Call BS at March 26, 2010 03:23 PM

Don't feel bad, Cass. If you were to draw a Venn Diagram of "male bloggers," "women bloggers," and "bloggers with book clubs," I think I would probably be the only one in the overlap of circles MB and BwBC.

So it's possible to do things your own way, and who cares what anyone else thinks?

Posted by: Grim at March 26, 2010 03:23 PM

I don't think you blog "like a man." *Or* "like a woman," whatever those designations mean. I think you blog like Cassandra. :) And it's *because* you blog like Cassandra that I've made your blog a daily stop on my reading list.

Frankly, I think the blogosphere could use more intelligent, thoughtful, polite bloggers like you and fewer bloggers--of *either* gender--who seem to thrive on tossing red meat to the slavering hordes. There are so many blogs I see where the blogger might have something interesting to say once in a while, but it's interspliced with so much nastiness that it just turns me off. It's really depressing and it fills me with all sorts of thoughts about the futility of ever trying to engage in thoughtful analysis of anything. It seems like VC is one of the few bright spots in an ocean of incivility. *sigh*

Posted by: colagirl at March 26, 2010 03:47 PM

That's why I no longer panic when you quit; I know you'll always be back!

Posted by: Little Miss Attila at March 26, 2010 03:54 PM

Yes, you do make a difference. You write, I read and then I think. Sometimes, not always :).
You say much that is worth pondering. Don't stop, you are read!

Posted by: Barry at March 26, 2010 04:09 PM

The "red meat" thing is discouraging to me, too. Yesterday I tortured Carrie about it for eons. Lord how that woman suffers...

That's why I no longer panic when you quit; I know you'll always be back!

Women :p If you don't like what we're thinking today, come back tomorrow. Changing our minds is our prerogative!

I do see lots of differences (in general) between male and female bloggers but most of the bloggers I like best don't really fit either mould. Maybe that's why they hold my interest.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 26, 2010 04:46 PM

If you don't like what we're thinking today, come back tomorrow.

Either that, or in fifteen minutes.

Oh, my, look at the time. Toodles...

Posted by: Bari-Bill at March 26, 2010 07:26 PM

I was going to comment, and then I saw this:

I don't think you blog "like a man." *Or* "like a woman," whatever those designations mean. I think you blog like Cassandra. :) And it's *because* you blog like Cassandra that I've made your blog a daily stop on my reading list.

Ditto.

Oh, and I'd love to hear which type of woman blogger I am... Hah!

Posted by: FbL at March 26, 2010 07:40 PM

Ms. Cassandra,

What "colagirl" said in her first paragraph covers it quite nicely.

You are you. You have a certain...j'ne c'est quoi,in your writings (or musings, or whatever you want to call them), but you never fail to cause me to think. Even if it hurts a bit.

I feel special that you write for yourself, but share with us. We should all feel special about that.

Norway is way cool, but I don't think I could live here, even on USD $100K/yr. Prices are outrageous. For everything!!

Spent some time in the Norwegian Resistance Museum today. Wow. What people to stand up to the National Socialists of Germany and never surrender. And of course, they had Jewish people here as well - some were rounded up and provided "the final solution", but many more were helped to freedom in Sweeden and other places by Norwegians with conscience.

KP

Posted by: kbob in Oslo Norway today! at March 26, 2010 08:04 PM

Sweet Jesus, woman. Stop gazing at your navel and get back to the "scathing wit" and "piercing gaze" you do so well!

I'm kidding. Kind of. I don't think you blog like a man. Or a woman. Like colagirl said, you blog like Cassandra. No more, no less. And I ask that you please don't stop (at least not for long). You write, I read and then I think. Sometimes, not always . That pretty much covers it. I like blogs that make me think. Ditto for television, which is why I really don't watch it much anymore.

Poor, poor Carrie. I think I shall buy her a drink or 6 next month ;-) Et tu?

Posted by: HomefrontSix at March 26, 2010 08:06 PM

The blogs I read (which are few) tend to be neither stereotypical "alpha male" or "mommy diaries" but blogs with balance, intellect and wit. I am not dismayed by the occasional totty pic nor by a cute baby pic. I like thoughtfulness, substance and passion about a variety of subjects, without vindictive pandering or ridicule aimed at the sound bite moment. There you go. Keep it up.

Posted by: Bomber Girl at March 26, 2010 08:21 PM

I never really thought about you, John or Michelle as being 'male' or 'female' when it came to writing. Now, maybe in the subject area the lines might be less blurred, but seriously good writing doesn't depend on gender, but insight.

Either you have it or you don't. Fuzzy writes that way, as does Beth. Insight and analysis.
Nothing gender specific about it.

'Cept when it comes to 27" zippers and whatnot...

Posted by: Cricket at March 26, 2010 08:54 PM

I "think" I get what he meant by men blogging versus women blogging. What you said about disassociating from uncomfortable topics, that is something that most women can't, or even won't, do. At least, that's what I've found unfortunately. Most people don't consider trying to view a topic from any other viewpoint that their own. It's like it just doesn't dawn on them that someone else may have not just a different resulting opinion, but that that opinion comes from a different thought process.

It does make me wonder...do these perceptions of the differences between bloggers (men vs women in particular) stem from true generalities or do the differences stem from the perceptions? I believe in all stereotypes (which is basically what we're talking about here) there is a basic truth that created the stereotype. And of course, there are always exceptions. I believe that you are an exception. You don't fit any stereotype really.

Which why I find your writings so refreshing and thought-provoking. Thank you.

Posted by: tankerswife at March 26, 2010 09:00 PM

The best blogs, in my thinking, don't fall into a "male" or "female" category, but rather they have content, ideas that make them interesting. Several years ago, I read a blog called the Vanishing American for over a year, just assuming that the blogger was a man, only to find out to my complete surprise, that VA is in fact an older woman. Simply blew me away, but it was the freshness of her ideas, the clarity of her thinking, and her writing ability that made the blog worth visiting every day. That is what makes a great blog, in my estimation.

Your topics are more wide ranging than the Vanishing American's were, but you have the same essential features. Don't worry about it; just keep on going.

Posted by: Dr.D at March 26, 2010 09:31 PM

Hooo-Boy, I can't help but comment on this one. First of all, another ditto on what colagirl said. If you HAVE to have a broader category for your writing, I'd say that you blog like an intelligent, self confident woman.

I've never read a post of yours on a serious subject that wasn't reasonable and well thought. Better still, if a commenter post a reasonable disagreement with part or all of a post, I've always observed that you give it the serious consideration it deserves and whether you agree or disagree, provide polite, intelligent response. You are also way more polite and patient with the occasional troll that shows up than I could ever be.

To top off all of that, your self depreciating humor, sometimes snarky comments, and general tongue-in-cheek attitude never fails to make me smile, that is, if I don't laugh out loud.

And the Villainous Company logo lady is "DA BOMB!"

Posted by: Charodey at March 26, 2010 09:40 PM

One of the things I love about your blog, Cassandra, is the variety of topics. I come by here even on the days when I just can't stomach politics. :)

Posted by: DdR at March 26, 2010 11:34 PM

I think that you are very much a woman.

You blog like an intelligent human being; the perceptions of certain other human beings shouldn't be a primary concern...or even, in some cases, any concern whatsoever.

IMO, FWIW... ;-)

Posted by: camojack at March 27, 2010 03:47 AM

"Are Men Better Bloggers Than Women?" The simple answer is, no, but it gets more complicated after that. One needs all kinds to make a blogosphere, and one person's thoughts/emotions vary widely, day-to-day, moment-to-moment. Some days I need red meat, and potatoes. Other days, dessert is on the menu. I'd have to say Villainous Company provides a good balance of hard topics, and light fair, all interestingly articulated. Job well done, from my point of view.

Posted by: Live Free Or Die at March 27, 2010 07:59 AM

It does make me wonder...do these perceptions of the differences between bloggers (men vs women in particular) stem from true generalities or do the differences stem from the perceptions? I believe in all stereotypes (which is basically what we're talking about here) there is a basic truth that created the stereotype.

I think both things are going on. Like you, I think that there are some basic differences between men and women as classes of people as in, "Women do X more often than men do", or "More men do this than women do".

But I also think there are a lot of cases where men and women do the same things, but they do them differently, for different reasons, and in response to different stimuli.

Since the same behavior "looks" different when men do it vs. when women do it, I think we often miss the connection. I also think men and women view both their own behavior and the behavior of the other sex through a lens that distorts what they see, and that this causes a lot of misunderstandings.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 27, 2010 08:43 AM

Poor, poor Carrie. I think I shall buy her a drink or 6 next month ;-) Et tu?

Blue Hawaiians, coming up! :)

She deserves a drink or 6 for listening to me.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 27, 2010 08:46 AM

It occurs to me that even participating in such an inane discussion about whether you blog like a man or a woman or a... surrenders your purpose and your voice to the definition of others.

You blog like Cassandra. Period. There's no need to define yourself in terms of others or of others' terms.

My recommendation: to those who attempt to define you or your blogging, or even merely to decry or compliment you on your blogging style, just reply, "Don't worry your pretty little head about it." And move on about your business.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at March 27, 2010 09:54 AM

Is there a quality matrix for blogging? It would be interesting to see where gender fits in as opposed to integrity and passion. One of the things I respect Cassandra for is that when challenged she is willing to take a step back and research the opponents’ point of view before returning to the fray. The quality of the commenters (self not included) also reflect the quality of the blogger.

Posted by: crazy mike at March 27, 2010 10:23 AM

As does the willingness of the blogger to tolerate a decided lack of quality in certain commenters.

Although I *do* get something right, once in a while...

Posted by: BillT at March 27, 2010 10:34 AM

What Camojack said. That is exactly, precisely correct!

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at March 27, 2010 11:40 AM

Cassandra,

Dear Little Miss Attila linked the piece and I glanced over it and just thought, "Are we still having this discussion? My generation of feminists fought hard to get people to quit forcing everyone into gender stereotypes so we all would be free to fulfill our full potential." Now I look at the gender stereotypes and see them as constructs of totalitarianism, and not helpful to the individual or to liberty at all.

Posted by: Cynthia Yockey, A Conservative Lesbian at March 27, 2010 03:36 PM

P.S.

I also think the gender sterotyping post was written with one eye on Google Analytics and the other eye on the site meter.

Posted by: Cynthia Yockey, A Conservative Lesbian at March 27, 2010 03:39 PM

If she deserves 6 for listening to you, then I need to buy her a keg for listening to me blubber on last June and ever since.

Poor, poor Carrie!

Posted by: HomefrontSix at March 27, 2010 08:26 PM

Cass, Thanks for not quitting. You have been on my blog list of daily reads for more than six years.

It has (for me) been a wonderful ride. Thought provoking and entertaining. I have to agree with what somebody else opined, in that you also have one of the best group of commenter's on the web.

Posted by: unkawill at March 27, 2010 11:47 PM

What Camojack said. That is exactly, precisely correct!
Posted by: Don Brouhaha at March 27, 2010 11:40 AM

Thank you, sir. I try... ;-)

Posted by: camojack at March 28, 2010 12:40 AM

"Why the presumption of bad faith?"
***
"I think both things are going on. Like you, I think that there are some basic differences between men and women as classes of people as in, "Women do X more often than men do", or "More men do this than women do". "

I think you actually answered the question on your own. Personally I do not feel any such presumption or that, if I did, it would from bad faith. If I did have such it would come from experiences with both genders.

You write well, I enjoy your writings and discussions. Not enough from the past, but I will make effort to rectify such. I'm new around her so I will shut up.

Posted by: TC at March 28, 2010 01:34 AM

I know I'm a little late to the party here, but I must - as many others have - agree with colagirl. You write like Cassandra, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at March 28, 2010 01:48 AM

You blog like yourself alone, as others have said.

And at the very worst, you're a 2nd tier blogger, not 3rd tier. You're not Michelle Malkin or National Review, but you are Cassandra. You write well. You are thoughtful, insightful and kind. The world could use a few million of your clones.

I know lots of intelligent people who are, for the most part, not worth the dynamite to blow them to hell. Intelligence counts for little in the Big Scheme of Things. What does count is 'heart'....the center of will and emotion. And you, dear Cassandra, have a heart as big as All Outdoors.

You do a good job of revealing yours. That is why we read.

Stay salty, girl. And God Bless

Posted by: Geekasaurus at March 29, 2010 06:07 PM

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