You know sometimes you think that something is so obvious that even Ellen Goodman might figure it out. But then you'd be wrong. In one of the more absurd columns it has been my misfortune to read in a long time, Goodman tells us that the political blogosphere just isn't diverse enough for her:
Last week, these progressive political bloggers not only attracted 1,200 to Chicago for the Yearly Kos convention, but made it a designated stop for seven out of the eight Democratic candidates.
Nevertheless, there is another, less flattering way in which broadband has followed broadcast and the liberal political bloggers mimic the conservative talk-show hosts. The chief messengers are overwhelmingly men — white men, even angry white men.
Huh. I mean, how do you answer someone as seemingly clueless as this?
Let's see, YearlyKos is a voluntary event. So people who want to go pay their way there. As it turns out, those who chose to spend their hard earned money to attend were mostly white males. Hell, who knows, maybe that means minorities and women are smarter, huh?
Secondly, blogging is a voluntary enterprise, with almost no barrier to entry and, unless you just decide to tell everyone what your ethnicity and gender happen to be, no one has to even know them if you decide that's the way you want it.
OK, now the special part where Goodman gets to the "scientific" basis of her whine:
I began tracking the maleness of this media last spring while I was a visiting fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. An intrepid graduate student created a spreadsheet of the top 90 political blogs. A full 42 percent were edited and written by men only, while 7 percent were by women only. Another 45 percent were edited or authored by both men and women, though the "coed" mix was overwhelmingly male. And, not surprisingly, most male bloggers linked to male bloggers.
Lets see, no barrier to entry, gender and ethnicity completely optional, there has to be something else which is driving this train. Oh, I know, writing, expressing ideas, entertaining, updates, diversity of stories, heck, even commenters. Could those be the reason the top 90 blogs are the top 90 blogs and not, oh, I don't know, how pale and bald the writer is?
As for linking, I simply don't even consider the gender of anyone I link when I link. It never even enters my mind. Why in the world would I care? What has what they're sitting on to do with what they have to say?
So the real question then is why don't more women write about politics, Ms Goodman? Because it has nothing to do with white boys being white boys.
Well one reason Goodman attempts to pass off as a possibility for fewer girls than boys is the tried and true "victimTM" mantle:
Is it harassment? Women have been talking about this since blogger Kathy Sierra was threatened with a picture of her next to a noose. Convention organizer Gina Cooper has two e-mail addresses, just one carrying her female name. Only "Gina" gets the hate e-mail with sexual threats and such comments as: "I'm going to hunt you down." Who knows how many women are scared silent.
Um, not many, I'd guess. I see woman bloggers all over the place. In fact, a significant portion of the milbloggers are women - spouses and mothers of service members. Have they been harrassed? You bet. Has it silenced them? Not at all. Instead they've learned how to network and fight back. What, women political bloggers aren't capable of that? Of course they are. So for the most part, this is just an excuse, not a reason, that there are fewer female political bloggers than male.
OK that's no good. So what else has she got?
Is it because men raise their hands first in class? Cooper thinks one reason for the demographics is that educated, economically comfortable men were the early adapters to the technology and took the lead. Blogger Adele Stan suggests white male bloggers have a network of "funding, linking, quoting, or bookings on political talk shows." Or maybe we need only count viewers. The typical political blog reader is a 43-year-old man with an $80,000 family income. Is it any surprise that Hillary Clinton gets only 9 percent in most online-activist polls, while garnering more than 40 percent in traditional polls?
This actually has some credibility, or at least did at one time. But with what, 12,000,000 blogs (it may be more I just haven't kept up), could it be that something else is keeping those 90 top blogs where they are? Any guesses?
No, it can't be that. The mantra says that everyone is equally as capable and that should be automatically reflected in diverse demographics in any 'fair' and open system. So where are all the women?!
The first inkling begins to dawn:
It's not that women are invisible. There are "women's pages" on the Internet. Technorati counts more than 11,000 "mommy blogs." There are "women's issues" blogs like the funny and bracing Feministing.
Gasp. You mean they may have different priorities than those Ms. Goodman would put on them? How rude. How dare they?
And that brings you to the real reason for the whine. The god of diversity is being cut out again! Obviously unless you're the right gender and the right color, your issues are simply not represented properly.
But this is not just about counting, not just about diversity-by-the-numbers. It's about the political dialogue — who gets heard and who sets the agenda. Cooper asks herself: "Are we going to do the same thing we've done all along, but with computers? Or will we create a new institution that allows for marginalized voices?"
It is exactly about "the numbers" and "diversity-by-the-numbers" and nothing more. And to pretend it isn't is a disingenuous load of hooey.
But here's the problem for those who would cry about their desired diversity not being evident in the blogosphere - you can't make people write blogs. And you can't make them write about subjects which don't interest them. That's the absolute beauty of the place.
You also can't make people read blogs and you certainly can't make them read blogs that don't interest or appeal to them (I mean, I've yet to read a "mommy blog"). And horror of horrors, many women aren't interested in politics, don't want to write about it and don't care to read about it either.
So who should we sue?
The blogosphere is a meritocracy of the highest order. It is as level a playing field as you're likely to find in terms of few barriers to entry and participants being judged and rewarded solely on what they produce and contribute. And that just scares the bejesus out of the old-line forced diversity crowd like Goodman. Can't have a bunch of white boys doing well ... if they are, they've got to be holding somebody down.
Pull back a bit, and get a wider shot, here. The big picture take-away from all of this is the lesson of how ’diversity’ gets used by liberals. Goodman deems that blogdom is "not diverse enough" because it isn’t populated, much less dominated, by those of her gender and leftist-driven politics. Which, for all that has been attributed to the word the last decade or three, is all the intention of such liberals ever was.