Oh no–first we had Susan Estrich’s campaign for gender quotas on newspaper op-ed pages–a campaign to which every Big Media editor in the country capitulated faster than you could say, “Run Susan Estrich’s Mediocre Syndicated Column–Please!.”
Now the move for “gender diversity” has spread to blogs. Blogs–like the one you’re reading right now–are, of course, the ultimate open market of the media, where the start-up costs are next to nil and there’s no entrenched patriarchal establishment to set up any barriers whatsoever against enterprising gals who want to carve out names for themselves on the Internet.
But facts like these don’t get in the way of Newsweek’s Steven Levy, who’s concluded that since most of the top bloggers these days are white males (I guess he’s thinking of such stalwarts as Mickey Kaus, Andrew Sullivan, and Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds), something must be wrong. So, according to Levy, in a report on a recent blogging conference at Harvard, we need an affirmative-action program to ensure that just as many people click onto blogs run by members of ethnic minorities and women as click onto Drudge. Levy writes:
“So why, when millions of blogs are written by all sorts of people, does the top rung look so homogeneous? It appears that some clubbiness is involved. [Female blogger and conference-goer Halley] Suitt puts it more bluntly:'”It’s white people linking to other white people!'”
Well, we can’t have that. So here’s what Levy and his buddies at the Harvard conference recommend:
“[I]s there a way to promote diversity online, given the built-in decentralization of the blog world? [African-American blogger Keith] Jenkins, whose comment started the discussion, says that any approach is fine–except inaction. ‘You can’t wait for it to just happen,’ he says. Appropriately enough, the best ideas rely on individual choices. [Female blogger Rebecca] MacKinnon is involved in a project called Global Voices, to highlight bloggers from around the world. And at the Harvard conference, Suitt challenged people to each find 10 bloggers who weren’t male, white or English-speaking–and link to them. ‘Don’t you think,” she says, ‘that out of 8 million blogs, there could be 50 new voices worth hearing?’ Definitely. Now let’s see if the blogosphere can self-organize itself to find them.”
I love the idea of linking to non-English-speaking blogs–that’ll really pull in the InkWell readers!
The veiled threat behind all this, of course, is that if the blogosphere doesn’t “self-organize,” to set up racial and gender quotas, President Hillary will organize those quotas for it.
Fortunately Heather Mac Donald, a female voice that somehow manages to make itself heard in the patrriarchy of the media, takes on Levy in this column for National Review:
“After fleetingly rehearsing his own previous analysis of the web as a pure meritocracy, he dismisses the argument without explanation and trots out the hoariest trope in the ‘diversity’ lexicon: ‘the old boy’s club.’ Why is the top rung of the blogosphere so homogeneous? Levy asks. He answers: ‘It appears that some clubbiness is involved’ — that is, that white male bloggers only link to other white male bloggers….
“Appears to whom? Where does this alleged club meet? In fact, the web is the antithesis of a closed, exclusive society. Levy offers no evidence for a white male bloggers club beyond the phenomenon he is trying to explain: the popularity of certain blogs. If the top blogs link to other top blogs, Levy assumes that they are doing so out of race and gender solidarity. Levy is suggesting that if an Alpha blogger comes across a dazzling blog, he will link to it once he confirms that a white male writes it but pass it up if he discovers, for instance, that a Latino woman is behind its sharp and clever observations on current events. The charge is preposterous. Moreover, as Buzz Machine notes, bloggers don’t know the race and gender of many of their colleagues.
“Here’s a different explanation for why the blogosphere is dominated by white males: because they’re the ones producing the best product. Sorry, ladies, but there aren’t as many of us engaged in aggressive, competitive opinionizing and nonstop consumption of politics as our male tormentors.”
Oops–Heather, Heather, that last paragraphy sounds a bit too much like what Larry Summers said about sex differences among scientists–and we all know what happened to him.
But just to show that I love diversity too, I’m going to follow Levy’s directive and link herewith to 10 female bloggers whom I regularly read and relish. Furthermore, some of these gals are “two-fers” with certified ethnic-minority credentials. Halley Suitt and Rebecca MacKinnon are not on the list (I’ve never linked to either, and after reading Levy’s column, I don’t wanna), and I guarantee that all the bloggers below speak English:
(The IWF’s own!) Cathy Seipp
There are plenty more of ’em, but I’ve done my bit. So, blog diversity police, don’t shoot Inkwell!