From 'Slutty McWhore' in the Comments of this week's Roundup:
Perhaps I won’t go so far as to say that the Scottish Roundup guys are sexist but they, and countless men like them, are guilty of ignoring the female point of view and the way in which women express themselves. Like it or not, women do express themselves differently to men, and we dowrite about/care about different topics. Whether that’s nature or nurture, I don’t know, but it is a fact.
I can't speak for Duncan, who will speak for himself if he thinks it's worth it, but here's my take, as one of the 'Scottish Roundup guys'.
What does the Roundup focus on? Primarily, Scottish political blogs.
Is it true that more men are featured than women on the Roundup? Undeniably, yes.
Is this a problem? No, it is a symptom of a wider problem.
The fact is, it can't just be a case of us being male chauvinist pigs: IndyGal was doing the Roundup, she was preparing it all day, and she couldn't find enough posts by women bloggers to justify a full roundup using only posts by women, as she admits. So there's more going on than us snubbing women. The problem is wider: either there are fewer women blogging than men on the subject, or there are more women blogging but they haven't yet come to our attention. Both of these problems can be fixed, but not by us.
If the problem is that few women are blogging, then I would say this to every woman who reads Scottish political blogs and wants to see more women taking to their keyboards: don't wait for someone else, do it yourself. Bloggery is not like politics, which is undeniably a male field - look at the House of Commons and you can sense the testosterone bouncing off the walls. This undoubtedly puts women off - primarily because men and women do, indedd, communicate differently. I am already aware of this: as I recall, it was Janet Holmes who said that men were 'public speakers' and women were 'private speakers'. In other words, men are good as grandstanding and confrontation; women are better at empathy and conversation. Anne's findings on Sunday bear this out to a degree. Where the blogosphere differs is that as long as you have a computer and internet connection, you can take part if you wish. Politics depends on being selected by a party or being nominated by enough people, then getting voted in. Bloggery depends on signing up with Blogger or Wordpress. I did this two years ago, out of boredom, to pass a few minutes.
If the problem is that we haven't encountered the blogs yet, then I would say this: we can't be everywhere, we can't find everything if we don't necessarily know where to look - the Scottish blogosphere isn't as small as Slutty McWhore thinks and the Internet is a big place - and we tell people how to nominate blogs and posts. Take advantage of that, get the free publicity!
And we do have plenty of women bloggers who have something to say about politics, so I won't be told that women just don't do politics: this blog links to women Prospective Westminster Candidates, it links to women Councillors, it links to women activists. Women do politics. That is a fact, and it is reflected in the fact that these blogs exist. The problem is that fewer women seem to do politics than men. We can hardly be blamed for that.
So, when I'm doing the Roundup, what do I do? Do I go for gender balance, or do I try to reflect the demographics of bloggers? In fact, the answer is neither. I pick the posts that get my attention - gender doesn't come into it. I do get insecure if I only find arguments and opinions from one side of a debate, but apart from that, I pick the posts that I notice. I go through my blogroll on a Saturday night, link by link, picking out the best things that people have said. Duncan e-mails me his suggestions - I return the favour when he does it, and in any case, we've usually picked a similar group of posts - and if I remember, I check the GMail account (firstname.lastname@example.org) and posts that are sent to that are not ignored, that is a key policy of the Roundup, as if we vetoed links from that, there'd be no point in having it. Nothing else matters. And seeing as there appear to be more male political bloggers than female, logic dictates that, yes, there will be more men in my Roundup. It's not a snub to women, it's a reflection of the fact that there are more posts by men to draw from.
I'm gay, and left-handed: the latter is actually more responsible for discrimination and difficulty in my life than the former. But both those things do mean that I have strong support for equal opportunities. However, the conclusion I have come to is that it serves no one to have a quota system for everything, ensuring that n% of any group is from Group X, even if that means we have to turn away people from Group Y whose presence would be valuable but simply belong to a group that is already well-represented. No, I take 'equal opportunities' in its most literal sense: that everyone, regardless of gender, orientation, race or religion, has an equal opportunity of progression and is considered on their merits. When I do the Roundup, that kicks in: if a man posts something worth reading, it goes in, even if the last 10 posts I linked to are by men; if a woman posts something worth reading, it goes in.
Do we ignore the female point of view? The fact that we link to women when they post something that gets our attention - which is a lot of the time - and that we have women bloggers who could be considered stalwarts of the Roundup would show that to be false. Is there a 'female point of view', anyway? The fact that I can link to women of all of the Big 4 political parties and women of no party should call that into question. Basically, when women have something to say, I listen, and to be blunt, Slutty McWhore is wrong. Of course there's scope for me to link to more women, but for that to happen, there need to be more women to link to.
PS Why does she rail against sexism, then lump Duncan and me in with 'countless men'? Isn't gender-based stereotyping sexism?
22 October 2007
From 'Slutty McWhore' in the Comments of this week's Roundup: