Women and blogging – your views please

image You need to have an ultra thick skin and may sometimes wish you could crawl under k_sierra2 a very large stone, but other than that, blogging is great fun and I have loved every day of it – well, most of them.

The good days certainly outweigh the tiny minority of bad ones when I have goofed and been ridiculed by others as a result. Fortunately, it has only happened a couple of times since I started writing my blog 17 months ago. But oh, so publicly.

Maybe this is one reason there are so few women bloggers, especially those writing on political issues. And then there are the nutters and ranters who post abusive comments to make life even more challenging, and the cyber bullies.

I have certainly got off lightly, compared to Rachel from North London’s horrendous stalking experience, and Kathy Sierra, who has gave up blogging after receiving death threats.

I’ve been asked to write an article for Iain’s new 2007 Guide to Political Blogging about women and blogging and wondered what were your views were about this, why there appear to be fewer, and the way you regard them. It seems to me that while blogging is not for the faint hearted, the positives far outweigh the negatives.


  1. Philipa, I’m very disappointed to hear you are planning to vanish from our lives. I hope if it does happen, that it will be shortlived, that you will miss all your blogging friends and restore your internet collection very soon.

    In the meantime, take care. And I still hope to see you in Cambridge one day.

  2. Philipa

    I loved blogging Ellee – the fabulous Raincoaster used to say it was half therapy for me and I’m sure she’s right. After a head injury, after which healing came in the form of writing (to whom, about what??), then blogging was just the ticket. I’m sorry I was put in the position where I felt obliged to close it down. It was safer. I’m ending my internet connection too. As a single mum who doesn’t get out much, the net – emailing friends, reading tons of stuff I couldn’t afford to buy (or carry) – is going to be sorely missed. Oh well.

  3. I’m okay Ellee. His threats of information are all wrong.

  4. Wow Ellee – so many opinions, great to catch up on this post. I am not sure why there should even be a gender topic here to discuss.

  5. Weggis,
    Yes, there is a perception that fewer women write blogs about political issues:

  6. “so few women bloggers”

    Are you looking in the right place? Or do you mean lack of women blogging on what you are interested in – politics?

  7. Oh goodness, I give up. Will email.

  8. Double Ooops ! Try this one 🙂

  9. Ooops. Try now, Ellee.

  10. Womens’ suffrage must be stopped immediately.

    No more suffering.

    Click on my name for new Blog, Ellee.

  11. Thank you everyone, it’s an incredibly varied response, and much appreciated.

    Penelope, I’ve neve had that problem with my blog how infuriating for you. I wonder if Arianna Huffington has the same problem. I would suggest you add a code of conduct on your blog telling your readers that those comments are not acceptable, give them a warning and filter them out if it continues.

    Ms Smack, you must feel vulnerable if your troll knows so much about your private life, take care.

    Natalie, thanks for the link, the Carnival link is always worth a visit.

  12. I am from Malaysia and have not yet found any woman blogger who talks about politics and religion. Neither do I. That’s because I’m not interested in both.

    Anyway, women here have less say about religion especially on Islam.


  13. Point of reference: When I write on Yahoo Finance there are comments every week about my sex life. Of course, the men on Yahoo Finance never receive comments like this. So this topic hits close to home for me.

    The majority of teen bloggers are girls. This is becuase teens use blogs as a diaries.

    It seems to me, though, that most of the popular adult bloggers use their blog to write their opinions. In the print world there has always been a dearth of women writing op-eds. The New York Times has even written about the gender imbalance. So it’s no surprise that the same disparity exists online.


  14. fascinating comments people.

    I’ve been targeted by a troll for almost two years. I simply don’t publish their comments. Steph from my blogroll has had some asshole create a mockup of her site – nasty and no need.

    I would suspect my troll is an angry man with a real hatred for women. Why he targeted me, I don’t know. He’s got quite personal though, mentioning my daughter, her school and more.

  15. Blogging positives outweigh the negatives, yes. But I have had some negatives – a guy told me I was deceptive and insane and thus typical of all women once when I wrote about a time I had some problems with a guy. That’s why I introduced my comment policy actually.
    You should have a look in the Feministe archives – Jill wrote a post and in it was a few examples of the comments she got (really awful stuff about howshe deserved to be raped). Quasar9 may well be right, absuive comments will happen irrespective of gender. But in my case (and I guess in Jill’s case), being female was used against us.
    It’s odd, I heard a while back more men blogged than women and I was really surpised. Most of the academic bloggers seem to be women. Most of the sex bloggers I read are women too. Political blogs seem to be male dominated, but I wouldn’t like to say that for definite.

  16. Hi Ellee

    I should have also mentioned that when I gave up the old, some weirdo pirate nicked the name. Why would someone do this? I’m mystified.

  17. Hi Elle

    I love the way the guys cannot resist chipping in! Especially when they postulate that it is no worse for women bloggers than it is for men-or that we don’t like blogging because we’d rather be having cappuchinos and don’t like course language etc.

    What I would say to these guys is that it is difficult for you to “see” what is going on when you haven’t been at the sharp end of it.

    I started blogging with my Keano photo and kept my gender and sexuality schtum for almost a year. I never had any problem and wondered what the fuss was about. I got some shitty comments, but I always gave as good as I got.

    Because of this, I thought I could “come out” firstly as a woman and then as a gay person.

    Holy Hannah! I had an utter mental case glom onto me, posting revolting comments and referring to me as “UK Rosie” at blogs I visited. (as in Rosie O’Donnell).

    He wrote absolutely repellant posts to me several times a day (about what he’d do to my late father) and vowed to bring my blog “down”. I switched from Blogger to WordPress just to have more control over who could post and what could be posted (he had several key phrases he repeated). Indeed, I wrote to you and others to warn that this idgeet had form for posting as his target to each person on their blogroll- a campaign to discredit his targets and truly “shut them down”.

    While I know from Rachel North that the woman who cyber-stalked her also stalked a few men, I does appear that women are much more likely than men to be targets of the deranged.

    How many Kathy Sierras or Rachel Norths are there? I’m betting most at the sharp end of the blogosphere are women.

  18. There are plenty of great women political bloggers out there – you’ll find many through the Carnival of Feminists, but they tend to define “political” more broadly than do some males when producing list of political bloggers. (The old personal is political.)

    And they also tend to spend a lot less time on self-promotion than do male bloggers – I spend a lot of time trying to get women to promote themselves more (and I probably should do it more myself).

    You do also need a certain level of thick skin – particular when I write on Comment is Free on gender issues some of the comments get very personal and offensive. On my personal blog I’ve had less of a problem with that; my tactic is to treat the trolls as though their comments were serious arguments, and that seems to deflate them.

  19. Miss Smack certainly has a dedicated following….I digress. There are plenty of superlative women bloggers out there. But I suspect Jeremy Jacobs may be right on the innate sociability of women point. Blogging may seem a poor substitute for “real” communication. Colin Campbell also makes a valid point.
    A lot of the more “political” blogs are pretty harsh environments which seem to thrive on masculine bad habits- cussing, etc. Offputting?

  20. Hi Ellee,

    Great topic! Thanks for mentioning me Colin 🙂

    I really enjoy writing in general and blogging has been a wonderful outlet for me since 2003. I began by simply using the site as a release for daily observations without regard to my audience. It wasnt until I started opening up intimately that I got a bit of a following for my sexual posts.

    I’m pretty honest I guess and my stuff is realistic. And, as one comment said recently, I dont just write for men, but for women too.

    I love blogging and wish I had more time to do it, but my real life is my priority. It’s really easy to be swallowed into an online world and have those around you suffer.

    I’ve been interviewed a couple of times which is kind of good for my ego, but apart from that, my blog is an extension of years of journal writing, a release and practice in case I ever do become motivated enough to write a book.


  21. Unfortunately there are nutters of all forms in every way of life…they have little else to do with their time, it appears. They should realise just how precious time is and put theirs to good use rather than prey on others to cause harm and discomfort.

  22. Hello Ellee

    I think that it is not too important the sex of the writer when it comes to politics and other mundane tasks. Where womens blogs are definitely a league ahead is in the discussion of sexuality, feelings and other somewhat taboo male subjects. I mean there are not too many Ms Smack’s in the male blogosphere.

    There are many excellent blogs and without an identified name, there should be no other reason other than the blog saying something interesting that drives readership.

  23. Interesting post and interesting replies.

    I have to say (and I am not in any shape a political blogger, although I do have the occasional rant)that when I started my blog, I mainly had comments from men, then I discovered more women bloggers. I have a group I visit daily and would say there are probably slightly more women than men on it.

    For some reason, even in cyberspace, it seems people attract and congregate with those of simialr interests and opinions.

  24. I think one reason there would be less political bloggers of either sex is the time involved. It is work putting out a blog of any subject that is well written six to seven days a week. And if I may say it, women take on more work if there is a family than the men (usually, not always, for you exceptions out there). If a political blog there is an (or one hopes there is) enormous amount of reading to be done before the writing can even begin.

    As for comments I really don’t agree with the comments that women are more sensitive and so they resign the field over a bruised ego. Safety however, more so if you have children, is an issue that would certainly drive women away.

    Again the time that it takes to read and respond to comments is enormous if you have a large readership. Negative comments take longer as you want to be neutral and have your facts straight.

    My blog has some political opinion here and there just by virtue of my own personality and where I am in the world. Those post always generate more comments.

    I think you do a great job, it certainly interest me as I am over here almost every day. The fact that you find this a subject of interest and worthy of investigation speaks volumes to me. As with your other ‘investigations’, I shall be interested to see the results.

  25. Ian Lidster

    I don’t know about the UK, but it seems here in North America that female bloggers vastly outnumber males. They (females) also seem to offer some insights not to be found on male blogs, and I find that interesting and informative.

  26. I don’t see that many less than the men. The proportions within the female blogging sorority seem to be pretty well like the men too – right, left, active but there is a type of blogger you usually don’t see with the men – the Welshcakes/Liz/Tea and Margaritas type.

  27. Ellee, I really don’t think there ARE fewer female bloggers. I have heard several people say this in BP, but it’s not true.
    I wouldn’t say my blog is particularly feminine, but more than half the commentors there seem to be female.
    There are loads out there!

  28. Some bloggers may well feel hurt from any abuse or criticism they get. Perhaps women are a little more sensitive? I find women can be a lot more detailed usually in what they say.

  29. Hey Ellee. I’m on a break from blogging at the moment (while I run around trying to save cash for my going to london in the next few months) but I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve been treated any differently to male political bloggers. I can recall no instances of sexism, threatening behaviour or otherwise, based on my sex. There have been heated words and disagreements but nothing to do with the fact that I’m female.

    So I don’t think it’s a universal problem. We hear about the bad incidents, and I think perhaps they seem magnified because there are fewer female bloggers, but on the whole if a woman doesn’t constantly write as though being female gives some great insight into the world, or singles themselves out intentionally, then they get treated as any other blogger. That’s just my observation though.

  30. I think JJ may have a point above but I’m sure there is a fear factor regarding putting yourself out there among women. Even I have had one or two scares. But blogging has, in general, been great for me. Like Man in a Shed, I’ll read any blog that is well written and has something interesting to say.

  31. Hi Elle, the risk for any blogger is annoying or abusive comments – regardless of sex, politics or content.
    I guess one can either take the time to edit/delete comments, or restrict comments to those who are regular – and debarr those who cross the line.

    As for any other more serious concerns or physical threats, the risk for any public figure, politician, pop star, movie star, tv star – or in the Internet age blogger with a public profile – is that one is out there, and one cannot be sure what unwanted attention one attracts. Mind you the same is true when we are out crossing the street.

    I guess it matters what one blogs about.
    Anyone opposing the war or critical of the government in the US is bound to attract unwanted attention.
    Anyone dealing in controversial issues, is courting controversy and invariably bound to attract unwanted comments or hate mail.

    And sometimes there are people who seem to have nothing better to do than spoil the fun!
    Whether it be someone who has one too many at a party, or picks a fight, holds a grudge – or

    And I note the number of Spam comments that have been eaten or deleted on this blog.

    That’s why a politician, say – who wants to really reach out there with his blog, needs to have a lot of time or a secretary simply to edit a busy comments box – and e-mail address

  32. Man in a Shed, fter a process of elimination, I discovered that the problem was caused by the text from Embracedspace and the lines in it. I went into Admin and deleted the lines and that corrected the problem for the other comments too. Phew! And thanks for trying on my behalf.

  33. Nope that didn’t work.

  34. Hi Elle firstly there’s some strange strike through HTML effect going on over the comments – have tried to fix it here.

    Don’t have much to add on the subject though – except to say from my point of view I don’t really consider the sex of the blogger I’m reading – just if I want to spend time reading what they say !

  35. Hi Embracedspace, so glad to hear you are blogging, I’m most impressed that you have two.

    Linda, it would be helpful to have a word with Ellie Levenson, perhaps you can drop me a line with her phone number. I shall have a look at dollymix too.
    And thank you for your kind words.

  36. Hi Ellee,

    I’ve been delighted by the friends and contacts I have made online through blogging and I enjoyed a spell interviewing women bloggers for – I no longer write for them but it may be worth you contacting the editor, Cate Sevilla, as she writes some strong opinions about women’s rights etc.
    I vert much admire Rachel North and her unashamed ‘the personal is the political’ approach.

    I do think though that for some at least, women make easier targets for bullies – look at the comments about appearance on CiF. Yes men get them but women get them more.

    Perhaps you may also want to speak to Ellie Levenson who is a regular contributor there and a friend of mine.

    On a personal note, I think that it’s encouraging that women don’t have to get bogged down in political dogma on their blogs – for example I enjoy reading your blog as despite differences along party political lines (not that I’m a member of any party these days) I can see what a wonderful lady you must be to know.

    Blushes and gets coat.

  37. The blogs I have seen that generate the most controversy (understandably) are those that deal with politics or religion. I notice that ‘comment moderation’ is getting more common these days.

  38. Ellee, One of the reasons why there are less women bloggers is possibly because you are more social animals. You’d rather spend time chatting amongst friends and associates than stuck on a keyboard.

  39. My blog is not political so my comments will not be of any use to you but for all it’s worth, I enjoy blogging and try to make my blog interesting. I am into dogs and everything to do with them fascinates me. I learn a lot as I blog along and appreciate my visitors’s comments. I am allergic to what I call the whinging parade who do nothing but complain about their lot and write about nothing else. Although one of them got me into blogging, I must admit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *