Blokes blog, birds don’t: the impoverished political potential of the internet?

Since he flagged up the votes for the Top 20 blogs (as reported by Iain Dale), I’d been figuring on looking at Mick’s point about the lack of nationalist blogs on the list since they are maybe 2 of the 20. I’m going to do that in the next week or two, but first I thought I’d flag up the equally glaring under-representation of the majority community on that list: the 51.25% of society that are female.

Some have argued that blogging as a pursuit is predominantly male, mainly middle class and generally right-wing (and white) and so that would be reflected in any on-line popularity contest (i.e. the results will be a reflection of the values of the voters). So such accolades probably have a hugely devalued currency outside the same blokish circles.

Since the electoral demographic is rather limited, then, this seems to flag up one area where elections won’t be won or lost on the internet. Where the internet is reported to have impacted on the 2008 US election it seems to have been in facilitating access to videos, debates and party literature – acting as an on-line proxy for the print and broadcast media. So political blogging may just be another male vanity, then…

At the same time, most of us have grown up with feminist critiques that decry the masculinity of public debate. Blogging appears to be a relatively open access activity, yet female-authored political blogs are scarce (in Ireland, at any rate – although superficially it appears little different in Britain and the US). If the user names are anything to go by, women only provide a small proportion of the comments on here (and many other blogs). Is this simply because the blogs are mostly male-authored or does it run deeper and point up differing values – women prefering to engage in different ways on the internet (e.g. in a more egalitarian way in forums) or feel more inclined to read and less bothered to write?

Locally, if we are to see a mirror image of electoral political preferences in online opinion and debate (and by extension, ‘internet elections’), is the major missing ingredient female?

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