27 December 2007

Patronising the little women - the Gender Balance Blog Awards

Will Howells has meme tagged me to come up with some nominations for the Gender Balance Awards. This, I was shocked to discover, isn't about honouring hermaphrodites that blog (Gender Balance... they've got it as they have both male and female genitals. No? Fine, you try writing something witty after gaining three stone in four days) but rather honouring these wee little ladies that have both the ability to type and are doing so online... Presumably after their men have set up their internet connection and installed the necessary software that their women's tiny brains simply can't comprehend. I'm happy to patronise women, it is, after all, so bloody easy to do.

Best Blog by a Woman Lib Dem nominations

Lynne Featherstone. As far as I'm aware she was one of the first MPs to start blogging (in 2005, continuing the site she started in 2003 whilst a London Assembly member, please correct me if I'm utterly wrong). It shows immense courage on her part to keep this site running when other MPs were not putting themselves out there in quite the same way. I hope she keeps it up for a long time yet.

Apparently, according to the Graham's rules, I must nominate two others - Lib Dem Jo deserves a mention for being so prolific so quickly and Lindylooz Muze is also worth a read every now and then.

Best Blog post by a Woman Lib Dem nominations

Um.... When I read blog post, I generally don't note the gender. Anyone else have this "problem"?

Best Blog by a Woman Non-Lib Dem nominations

Caroline Hunt... Maybe she just has the same geeky tendancies as I do. Maggie Bob, because she's a friend, a bit camp and it's a good way to keep up to date without actually talking to her. I look in on Rebecca Cottrell's blog for the same reason.

Three living women who should blog

Well, first up it has to be Benizar Bhutto Princess Diana JK Rowling. She's got a kind of demi-blog on her website, but it would be good to see a fully fledged diary section. Margaret Thatcher in her declining years would probably be worth a laugh. And finally... Lizzie Cook. Ok, nobody knows who she is, I realise that, but my second year Land Law teacher rocks and deserves her own regular space on the web.

I tag... No-one! The Gender Balance Awards is a bunch of patronising bollocks designed to cure a problem that doesn't exist. There are no historical or actual roadblocks stopping women from blogging and to launch a whole awards for them reveals the deeply offensive and chauvinistic attitude of those running the scheme.


Jo Anglezarke said...

Gavin - it is a pity there has to be a different award for women - but 11% women on the Lib Dem blogosphere is just embarrassing.

It's tiring having to keep banging on about wimmin issues - I'm sure you'll agree - which is why I'm sure you will ask every female Lib Dem you know who doesn't have a blog why they haven't got one!

Then we'll all leave you men alone!!

P.S Many thanks for nominating me :@)

Caroline Hunt said...

The Gender Balance Awards is a bunch of patronising bollocks designed to cure a problem that doesn't exist. There are no historical or actual roadblocks stopping women from blogging and to launch a whole awards for them reveals the deeply offensive and chauvinistic attitude of those running the scheme.

Couldn't agree more. Cheers for nominating me though anyway :)

p.s. geeky tendencies? I just got Endless Ocean for Christmas so it's about to get a whole lot worse.

Jo Anglezarke said...

I notice that you only list male blogs as your main lib dem reads - does that mean you think the women on here aren't worth being read?

Do you also disagree with the orange prize for fiction which works on the same principles?

Would you call the orange prize judges "deeply chauvinistic"?

I think not.

Also are you calling women lazy for not blogging? After all you seem to blame us personally for not blogging?

There are a huge amount of issues surrounding the reasons why women don't blog - including looking at Lib Dem blogs and wondering if their views will fit in amongst the very male dominated atmosphere.

Tristan said...


Perhaps some of the problem is in your distinguishing male and female in the blogs?

I certainly don't think of gender when reading blogs (except where my attention is drawn to it explicitly), why should anyone when entering blogging?

It sounds like a lot of the problem is that rather than the environment being unsuited to female blogging the problem is more many women emphasising gender differences when they look at the blogsphere.
Its a bit like politics - a large part of the problem is that its seen by many women as being a male preserve.

I suppose that's the point of the gender balance taskforce and this award scheme - its to highlight that politics and blogging are open to all, regardless of gender. How much awards like this perpetuate the problem or help it I don't know...

Jo Anglezarke said...

Tristan I didn't think of gender at all when starting to blog - although seeing Charlotte Gore being very brave during the leadership contest helped me I think. I might not have had the confidence to do it otherwise.

Hopefully what these awards will show is that women's views are valued on the blogosphere and that you don't have to have the writing skills of Virginia Woolf to do it!

In fact if that happened I don't think they'd get in the golden dozen...or even read at all!

Gavin Whenman said...

Cheers for the comments everyone, especially Jo, as it's always interesting to read the opposing side of any argument.

I didn't realise that the Orange Prize for Fiction is awarded only to women, and it seems odd that this is the case. So yes, I disagree with that too.

I'm not calling women "lazy" - as if such a diverse group of people could be given such a homogeneous description - and I'm certainly not "blaming" anyone for failing to blog. It's a choice which has no obstacles to its achievement (aside from an internet connection and the desire to write) - if anyone wants to blog they can.

As with Tristan, I really don't think of gender when reading blogs - it was only recently I realised Alix of the Republic of Mortimer was a woman!

As fro the sidebar links - those them blogs I read almost daily. If I start reading others on LibDemBlogs more regularly, I'll probably add them.

GaffaUK said...

In regards to the Orange Prize - does anybody know the percentage of male and female writers currently publishing work? I would have thought it was about the same as women do seem well represented here. So why have a special prize just for women? Is there a prize for fiction which men can only enter?

Jo Christie-Smith said...

You see, I think the thing that you don't grasp here when you profess such shock that there needs to be any thought about the gender of the person blogging is that women and men experience the world differently.
Not because of any innate differences but because the world treats them differently. When you have any environment which is not balanced (as in Lib Dem blogs) you will get an imbalance in the perspective. One of the reasons I started to blog was that I recognized this imbalance and was frankly fed up with hearing what was of priority to Lib Dem men and not Lib Dem women. You may not think of gender when someone blogs because the majority of Lib Dem bloggers share your gender.
Of course, it is dangerous to generalize in terms of just men and women…I’m not suggesting that we all agree with each other on the basis of our gender. I often explain it to people in terms of being left handed. Right handers never really notice what hand a person writes with but left handers always notice immedialtey when someone is writing with their left hand; and they normally both comment on it. They also notice that keys and locks are made for right handed people, as are keyboards, mouses, cake forks, fish knives, flymows, the list is pretty long; it is definitely a right handed world, let me tell you! Which is fair enough, as 90% of the population are right handed…but 55% (new stats I read just today) are women so that’s not OK!!
There doesn’t need to be male awards whether on books on blogs or on anything else because it’s already a man’s world. Do I like it? No. Do I fight every day with both my words and actions to make it different? Yes. Do I put my money where my mouth is? You bet!
Gavin, you’re quite right there are no physical impediments for any woman starting to blog but then there’s no legal basis for the fact that as a female manager / senior executive I will on average earn 25% less than my male colleagues. There is not rationale basis for the fact that even women without children experience a glass ceiling in business; just look at the number of female directors in FTSE 100 companies! Just because a situation lacks logic doesn’t mean to say it doesn’t exist.

Gavin Whenman said...

Hi Jo,

First things first - I'm left handed and aside from scissors, I don't notice any of the things you do. I don't even notice other people that are left-handed (although I have had people comment on it to me).

You're quite right that there isn't any legal basis for a disparity in wages (and we've had legislation designed to tackle this since the 1970s). However, I disagree that there isn't a "rational / logical" basis - it's an historical (and bloody unfair!) disadvantage that is being slowly (too slowly IMHO) rectified. With blogging, this kind of inbuilt female handicap just doesn't exist.