[Ed. Note: This post is by Austin journalist Dan Solomon, who originally posted this on his own blog, which is about music and culture and news and gender and stuff. Solomon’s a baller for letting Hay Ladies! repost this piece about dude blogging. Follow Dan on Twitter.]
Tim Donnelly at Thought Catalog ponders the question of why there are blogs ranging from Jezebel to The Frisky to Hairpin that are for women, but all of the blogs for men are just full of pictures of naked women and reviews of watches and shit like that. He points to the now-defunct Asylum, among others, as shallow men’s blogs that didn’t give him what he wanted.
And I hear what he’s talking about, I do. I tried, occasionally, to contribute stories back when Asylum was running that got at the same things he wants to talk about — male identity in reality as opposed to in media and things that talked about gay dudes in a dudely manner and stuff like that. I liked the idea of a sort-of male equivalent to Jezebel — a site that was smart and curious and wanted to talk about what it meant to be a man in the 21st century, with all the tit-shots and what to buy to get laid and seriously, all you care about is beer and TV, right, dudes-type posts left behind. But the more I’ve come to work elsewhere, the more I’ve realized that there’s no real point to that.
The reason that there are so many woman-specific blogs on the Internet is because most “gender-unspecific” sites are deeply woman-unfriendly. I had to restrain myself yesterday from getting into a flame war on the A.V. Club comments section about whether punching women in the face was wrong. And that’s a site with a number of woman writers and editors! We don’t need our own spaces because every space is, by default, ours. We don’t have to worry about being marginalized or threatened or ignored when we post on “gender-unspecific” sites, we don’t have to deal with the casual sexism of tit-shots on articles that have no need for a tit-shot, we don’t have to even think about it. Why would we create these male blogs? If a dude wants to talk about music, he doesn’t need to create a Male Music Blog, he can just go to Pitchfork. And advertisers know this, too. Asylum didn’t get its plug pulled because it was a fabulously lucrative property for AOL. I had a great time writing for the site (one of the few I’ve worked for, incidentally, where my direct editor was a woman — funny, that), but at the end of the day, there wasn’t a lot of dude-specific content that the site required. It was a general interest site that talked about video games and funny videos and music and whatever else we were interested in — all in the same voice that exists throughout the Internet.
I like Donnelly’s points, for the most part — I like the idea of a smart, engaged, audience of dudes talking about what manhood means. But I’ve also found that those conversations are mostly welcome in the feminist corners of the Internet.
At the end of his post, Donnelly tosses up a list of ideas he’d like to see on this smart, man-centric blog. They’re good ideas — some of them very good — but I can also think of any number of “gender-unspecific” sites that would buy most of the stories he lists, and that would not ever tell him, “Hey, we’ve got to tailor this for an audience that includes women.” Being able to define ourselves by our specific interests — movies, or sports, or politics, or fashion — without first having to check that through a gender-identity lens is a luxury that men possess. When sites try to do filter it through that lens first, it just ends up being redundant. We had a fun thing going at Asylum, but almost every idea I’ve had that I would have pitched to them since they went under, it took me no time at all to find another outlet who’d be interested. And that’s why there aren’t more dude blogs. Because if people want to read about why The Big Lebowski is the sum of all human wisdom, they can go to any number of non-dude blog to read it. — Dan Solomon