As a corollary to Wednesday's discussion of role models, I thought this was a fine time to advance my theory that there are precious few opportunities to make your digital bones as a female blogger. If you aren't willing to open an emotional vein or cannibalize your life for blog material, and if you can't leverage an offline profile a la Ariana Huffington or Michelle Malkin, good luck building a reputation as an expert and/or a readership outside of the niche. You can mine your personal life for story gold, you can focus your attention on issues traditionally associated (for better or worse) with women (feminism, fashion, celebrity news) or you can be famous offline first. Those seem to be the sum total of your choices. Or you can pretend to be a man, I suppose.
The idea that the female confessional reigns supreme was recently reinforced by two articles I read in Salon, which follow the salacious anecdote + dose of sober/shameful/regretful hindsight + testament to having changed/grown formula so rampant among female first-person writing online. There's also the anecdote + life lesson learned + explicit refusal to express regret or shame, but that formula is like declaring open season for the haters to question everything from your judgment to your morality to your fitness as a woman/professional/mother/wife/human being. But hey, if that's what brings in the page views, what are you going to do?
And while I came to this exasperated anecdotal conclusion as a function of beginning my own blogging career lo those many months ago (and realizing that most of the advice about successful blogging and web empire building was provided by male experts), the evidence bears it out. Check out the female names on TIME's Best Blogs of 2009 list. Nothing against the likes of Heather Armstrong or Ree Drummond, but whither the female equivalent of Seth Godin? Or how about the not-so-surprising news that men have 15% more Twitter followers than women and are almost twice as likely to follow another man than a woman?
And all this isn't to say that A) women can't and don't blog about technology, politics, sports and finance, but that they are rarely singled out as opinion leaders in these areas and sometimes, openly discouraged from pursuing them with absolutely laughable biologically-based arguments or B) that women can't be influential bloggers, but that that usually comes at the unfair price of getting personal and the license your audience seems to think that gives them to get equally personal with you.
Why should we have to go to the well of our emotional histories in order to gain readership or pretend to have a penis for the sake of professional credibility? Is there a middle ground? And if so, how do we find and claim it?