The blogosphere is a rough old place. It shouldn’t be. Nor, in fact, does it have to be. It all depends on how you set the tone, how fast you want to grow and how you define growth. If growth is simple hits and quantity of comments, then places like LabourList.org are doing what they need to. If growth is depth of intelligence, degree of courtesy and, ultimately, inclusivity, then perhaps women in particular are at a disadvantage. But then I myself have been called a woman on more than one occasion. My name, I suppose.
The first time was at university where I won a short story competition and the award was publicly announced as having gone to Ms Miljenko Williams. The second time was whilst I was working as a volunteer on a website and was sent threatening emails by a person who should’ve known better, describing my contributions as characteristic of the weaker sex.
It’s happened since. These are not the only two occasions.
I don’t know whether I should feel bemused or flattered.
I still am not clear if there is something female-like about what I say or whether I’ve just been unlucky to come up against the kind of individuals who find women threatening enough to serve them well as the kind of material they use for insults.
I did a brain sex test on the BBC not long ago. It indicated I clearly had a male brain. For what these things are worth.
This is clearly a complex subject which deserves further cogitation.
My own conclusion on the wider issues to hand? A people-o-sphere would benefit us all. It would increase active participation in political debate by the ordinary people politics really needs. Not the hidebound traditionalists who are distanced from paying the sorts of bills most people cannot ever dream of escaping. Or, indeed, by virtue of the virtual screen which divides us all, from the politenesses with which we should all express ourselves.
So I do think we need a more inclusive, better-behaved blogosphere, where name-calling is not the rule and where ideas take priority over name-dropping.
An interesting article on the subject of women and blogging, published in yesterday’s Guardian, can be found here. LabourList.org itself is also currently running a series of posts which make useful reading. This one in particular makes interesting reading. (Not sure I agree that equating participation in the Internet to trollism is particularly helpful, mind.)