Thursday, October 15, 2009

Driving Off the Womenfolk

I subscribe to and regularly read literally dozens of blogs. They're all over the place in terms of content and thematic emphasis, representing my rather eclectic mess of interests. There are blogs on gaming. Blogs on tech, robotics and AI. Blogs on politics. Lots and lots of blogs on faith and religion. I subscribe to progressives and conservatives, atheists and fundamentalists, to folks on both left and right.

Some of the blogs I read most frequently are ones written by Christian women, both da lay laydies and some progressive pastoras. They're smart, funny, and insightful souls, and I am enriched by the opportunity for blog-a-logue with them.

What has struck me over the past few months is that in my own recent bloggery, there's pretty much no female representation in the comments. I've got to go back a month and a half before I find even one. While I'm not nearly as demography-obsessed as most of my progressive comrades, I do still muse about this. What about this blog is making it not conducive to conversation between genders?

In part, I wonder if it may be my enjoyment of verbal sparring. I tend to take pleasure in debate that's got a bit of fire to it. If the back and forth gets intense, that's not something I take personally. The womenfolk whose blogs I frequent tend not to have nearly as much point and counterpoint. Conversations there are often more along the lines of mutual support and affirmation. There are occasional disagreements, sure. But the tenor of the communication is gentler, more civil, and more nurturing.

So..does testosterone blog differently from estrogen?


  1. No.

    The most likely case is that your blog simply doesn't get a great deal of readership. Combine this with the beautiful law of statistics, and we find that your chances of having a female commentator are very, very low.

    Sixty percent of the Internet is made of men (roughly). This means that every time a commentator shows up, there is a 3/5 chance of it being a man, while only a 2/5 chance of it being a woman.

    Simple statistics.

    In addition, I don't think testosterone or estrogen are any different. I think people enjoy making them different, but I don't think they are any different when you get down to it. Women can hate, and rage, and debate. Men can be sad, gentle, and nurturing.

    It's all culture.

  2. @ Jacob: Yeah, like you had to remind me about total readership. Google Analytics does enough damage to my ego as it is. Snif. ;)

    Even with the low N here, I think something is at play if instead of 40% (which ain't "very, very low"), I'm seeing 0%.

    Gender differences are all enculturated? I dinna think so, laddie. I've loved the same wonderful, strong, passionate, smart and bodacious woman for 20 years. Lemme tell ya, there are differences between our personas that have nothing do with culture.

  3. NOT true. I frequently read your blogs. Except that when I've put in the word verification formula, my google account, my password...later often turns out to be wrong - and then I just let it be...

  4. If you think women don't like verbal sparring you're probably not very well acquaintance with feminist, fat acceptance, or disability blogs, many of which are very nasty places. Most of those silly Revelife posts also get a fair number of comments from girls, so I doubt that all you need to do to attract more female readers is take a less aggressive tone.

    If you want the most surefire route to attracting female comments, it's to blog on controversial issues that have to do with them (breast feeding in public, methods of raising children, Godly femininity, how badly teenage girls are acting these days, etc). The less "civil" and "nurturing" the better. (I doubt that Dr. Laura or the Gender Blog are ever in want of enthusiastic readers.)

  5. @ Abigail:'re right on that. Women don't lack for ferocity. I've had some pretty intense exchanges with XX chromosomed neoatheists and fundamentalists that were the farthest thing from ponies and butterflies.

    You can certainly draw more comments from women by talking about women. This post seems to be evidence of that. ;)

    I guess I'd been wondering whether there was anything in the content of my recent posting that would have contributed to a shift in gender interest. It could, as @ Jacob suggests, just have been random.

  6. Well I'm a woman, and am always lurking around reading your stuff. I guess for me it's more a matter of self-esteem and not feeling like I have a "smart" enough comment compared to the rest of your bright readers.

  7. I'm sorry, Mr. Spear, I'm so sorry! :)

    Also, judging from the comments, it seems like the most surefire way to get women on your blog is, as you mentioned, to talk about women on your blog.

    And I agree with Abigail. Catherine McKinnon does nothing *but* verbal sparring. Audre Lorde was the only feminist writer I've ever read who seemed to have a distaste for battle.

    Which is good. Only by fighting can anyone achieve what they want in life.

  8. Maybe we're all so busy being SuperWoman / SuperMom that we don't have time to give your posts the intense thought they deserve in order to make a meaningful reply.

    I have your feed in my reader but it's fairly far down the page and I had neglected it lately until John made a reference to one of your recent posts.

    Like your stuff, just don't have the time/energy to reply unless it's something I've already thought about or have an opinion about. Usually I just go away quietly thinking, "hmmmm."

  9. If you blog was more like Farmville the ladies would come in droves.