Well, hell.

I really wasn’t going to bother responding the Kevin Drum’s truly stupid missive about the dearth of women in the political blogosphere, but I’ve read a bunch of other responses to it, and none of them have ultimately satisfied me. So off I go. To recap:
There aren't any institutional barriers in the traditional sense of the word, which means either (a) there are fewer female political bloggers and thus fewer in the top 30, or (b) there are plenty of women who blog about politics but they don't get a lot of traffic or links from high-traffic male bloggers.

My guess is that it's a bit of both, and the proximate reason is that men are more comfortable with the food fight nature of opinion writing — both writing it and reading it. Since I don't wish to suffer the fate of Larry Summers I'll refrain from speculating on deep causes — it might be social, cultural, genetic, or Martian mind rays for all I know — but I imagine that the fundamental viciousness and self aggrandizement inherent in opinion writing turns off a lot of women.
So let me get this straight. In the same breath that he says he won’t speculate on “deep causes,” he surmises that the reason we don’t find as many women in the top 30 blogs is because women are turned off by viciousness and self-aggrandizement. I’m not sure exactly what it would take for something to qualify as a “deep cause” by Drum’s definition, if not a presumed aversion to something, anything, on the basis of one’s gender. If women are somehow innately indisposed toward those traits, that sounds like a pretty “deep”—or insurmountable—issue to me. (And let’s take note, shall we, that Drum was trying to refrain from such speculation to avoid suffering the fate of Larry Summers, by which I assume he meant being called out as a sexist, as opposed to the fate of actually being a sexist, with which Drum seems rather comfortable.)

Clearly, without properly recognizing it, he has also identified viciousness and self-aggrandizement as male traits, proving, if nothing else, he’s never met me. Such gender-specific associations for aggressive characteristics is still so resoundingly unchallenged that even brilliant Lefty men tend to fall victim to the mentality. I am reminded of the usually always-on-target James Wolcott’s assertion that
[t]orture is also the invention and production of men. Women may take part (though I imagine it rare, and under duress) but only men could devise the intricate and cruel tortures and torture devices that have been inflicted over the centuries. Only they would draw up the blueprints for machines and procedures to exact the maximum amount of pain and humiliation just shy of death.
(For a great rebuttal to this, see Looking at the Stars’ Angels of the torture chamber.)

Woman can be just as horrible as men, as they can be just as brilliant...and just as vicious and self-aggrandizing. Suggesting, as Drum also does, that
the blogosphere, which ought to be an ideal training ground for finding new voices in nontraditional places, is far more vitriolic than any op-ed page in the country, even the Wall Street Journal's, and therefore probably turns off women far more than it attracts them...
is suggestive of an idealization of women that perpetuates inequality. There are many women who are not so delicate as to be intimdated by a good fight. That said, there is still a question to be asked as to why the disparity exists. Ezra notes:
the question isn't whether or not there are hundreds, even thousands, of excellent female political bloggers -- there are! -- it's why there seem to be quite a few fewer female political bloggers than men. It's a proportionality thing. Often, the answer is that we're only looking at the top ranks, which is a pretty closed club (true, though it's not out of some desire by Drum and Josh to keep out the estrogen-producing riff-raff). So last time this happened, I checked that. I clicked all around the TTLB ecosystem and went to 10 blogs in a row here, 10 there, at all levels of popularity. The numbers stayed heavily male. So my sense is that despite the scores of excellent female political bloggers, there are more male bloggers. Meryl Yourish points to a recent Pew Study that found 57% of bloggers are men. That alone is a large difference and, while I haven't seen data on this, I think the difference is larger when the sample is restricted to political blogs. But even if you're unwilling to grant that, we've still got a 14% difference there. The real question, I think, is what accounts for the differential.
I think that’s a pretty fair assessment, and it manages to raise the question in a way that makes no assumptions about the “intrinsic nature of woman” to answer it. A rigorous methodology for discerning the realities of the situation is likely elusive, however, as blogrolling (for example) is completely subjective; it would be impossible to accurately account for exclusions if they were based on gender, when the excuse of poor content is just as likely, and empirically impossible to measure. It is, after all, a matter of opinion.

In any case, the discussions of any predispositions toward political blogging that are allegedly unique to women aren’t useful. You just piss us off, and in the process, usually make yourself look like an ass.

Now go put me on your blogroll, bitch.

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