Does the blogosphere "ghettoize" female writers?

Some people apparently believe that the blogosphere doesn’t allow women the same kind of access and consideration as men do. Once a year or so this topic arises, and this time Glamour‘s political columnist/blogger Megan Carpenter asks the question. Why do boys get all the attention?

For political bloggers who happen to be women, such as myself, my colleagues here at Glamocracy and elsewhere, the blogosphere can seem like a very testosterone-filled place. Sure, you’ve got Arianna Huffington and Patricia Murphy of Citizen Jane Politics. But the list of other must-read blogs is dominated by dudes: Andrew Sullivan, Markos Moulitsas (of the Daily Kos), Mike Krempasky (of and of course Matt Drudge. (Also, why do so many of their names start with “M”? I’ve got that part down!) A museum exhibit dedicated to blogging here in D.C. (I know) has a small display referring to former Wonkette Ana Marie Cox, but the room is dominated by several TV screens featuring male blogger-pundits like Matthew Yglesias and Ezra Klein. So, why do the boys of the political blogosphere command so much attention?

I asked around and heard a lot of different answers. Some say it’s because the men got a head start. Jen Moseley, the politics editor at Feministing says, “I think there are a lot of female political bloggers out there. But since most of the ‘old guard’ big political blogs (funny that something 4-5 years old can be considered old now), were started by men, so they’re still looked at as the only ones that matter.”

Carpenter missed an important name, and one that fits in with her “M” theme: Michelle Malkin. The boss owns Hot Air as well as her own eponymous blog. Her sites command a great deal of attention. If neither blog makes Megan Carpenter’s list of must-read sites, does that mean that Megan is as sexist as the rest of the blogosphere — or is she making a free-market decision to read the blogs she likes?

Cassy Fiano, a successful political blogger, makes the same point:

Whenever I read these kinds of articles, I just want to smack the author in the face. Here’s what they seem to be completely incapable of understanding: if you think you’re a victim, that’s all you’ll ever be.

First of all, is Arianna Huffington really the best example of a female blogger she could come up with? I can think of several right off the top of my head: Michelle Malkin (duh!), Pamela Geller, Em Zanotti, LaShawn Barber, Mary Katharine Ham, Rachel Lucas, Melissa Clouthier… the list goes on and on, and these are just conservative female bloggers. …

Why, then, are there more male bloggers than female? The answer is simple, and it’s feminism’s favorite catch phrase: choice. Men, in general, are more interested in politics than women are. Sure, women are interested, but I don’t think that there are as many women who are diehard political junkies like there are men. Go ahead, feminists, rip my skin off for stating That Which Must Never Be Said: that women do not have the same interests as men do.

This gets to the heart of the matter. The angst and handwringing over what Cassy derides as “bean-counting” misses the point entirely. The issue isn’t the number of women in the blogosphere, it’s that there aren’t any barriers to entry to this market — not for gender or ethnicity. Given the ubiquitous nature of Internet access, there are few economic barriers, either. Women can freely enter this market if they choose to do so.

So why are there more men than women in political blogging? More men choose to enter the market. Cassy says that more men than women have enough of an interest in politics to read or write blogs, which the market seems to indicate. The equalization that the Internet brings is that editors at media outlets no longer choose who gets published, so bean-counting is no longer necessary.

It’s a bit odd that Glamour would make this argument. Many more magazines exist for women on gender-specific writing than they do for men. Men’s magazines tended to be almost non-existent outside of pornography like Playboy and Penthouse twenty years ago. We see more with entries like Men’s Health, but magazines specifically aimed at women far outnumber those aimed at men, including Glamour. Is that a reflection of sexism in the magazine industry, or simply a reflection of the market?

Any woman who wants to blog can easily do so. If she writes well and markets the product well, building networks of readers and linkers, she can succeed. That’s equality. Anything more would be a demand for top-down imposition of rationing that treats writers like commodities rather than individuals, and political speech as yet another area of tiresome equality-of-results schemes.