[From the archives, originally a guest post for Anne Bogel, aka Modern Mrs. Darcy, who invited me to write about my tendency to read and comment at blogs written by women. As tempted as I was to reply “Hey someone’s got to bring a Y chromosome to the party!”, I instead wrote the following.]
Years ago in law school, before I met my wife, I sat down with some classmates in one of the study lounges. They looked at me and said, “Tim, you know that this is a meeting of the Women’s Law Student Society, don’t you?”
It appeared I was the only male present. “Women Law Students?” I asked. “Well, I do have an interest in the subject matter.”
They laughed and let me stay.
Nowadays people sometimes mention that I seem to show up a lot at blogs written by and for women. Those are not always the same thing, of course. And I don’t frequent such blogs exclusively. But I do frequent such blogs, it’s true.
Anne asked if I could talk about why. Here goes.
One of the first websites I latched on to is that Jane Austen haven known as The Republic of Pemberley. It is run by a committee of women who initially gathered to discuss all things Austen and that’s how I found it, by googling “Jane Austen”. Austen is still the main thrust of the site, but they also host discussion boards on television and movies (the Virtual Views board), books modern and ancient (the Library), and mere rambling topics (appropriately called Ramble). I’m not the only man there by a long shot, but we are clearly a minority.
RoP, as it sometimes called, was my introduction to an estrogen-heavy web environment and I found the experience – in turn and in combination – invigorating, challenging, edifying and (dare I say it) nurturing. For years, RoP was almost my only site for web interaction. It’s not that I didn’t know other sites, blogs, etc., existed. I just never bothered much looking elsewhere. I’d venture out occasionally, but never for long.
Then I discovered women’s theology blogs. Not blogs about women’s theology, but theology blogs written by women. You know that part about invigorating, challenging, edifying and nurturing that I mentioned in relation to the Jane Austen website? These places do that and crank it up to eleven*. Not all of the women’s blogs I’ve come to visit regularly are always heavy on theology, but they all have a faith component, whether subtle or blatant, that keeps me coming back
You see, I have been around long enough** to know that women can have a perspective on God and life different from what a group of men might come up with. Men also have perspectives that perhaps most women would not see among a group of women. But I’ve had endless opportunities to be around groups of men. These blogs give me an opportunity denied to men in other eras. I get to be around groups of women who are talking about things in ways men have not always been privy to.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of the discussion going on at these women’s blogs doesn’t sound all that different at times from what is talked about when it’s men who are gathered together. That doesn’t surprise me, though. All my life some of the best insights I’ve received have been from women’s writing and, of course, some of the best has also been from men’s writing.
Still, there are some differences. And it is those that keep me coming back specifically to women’s blogs. Men can write all they want about the Proverbs 31 woman, for example, but it took a woman to explain that perhaps that biblical ideal is not about women at all but about wisdom personified. I learn things at places like these that I will not learn elsewhere.
Plus, frankly I just enjoy the discussion. I enjoy the opportunity to learn and, I hope, contribute***. I enjoy encouraging the writers and other commenters, and I enjoy the encouragement I receive from them. I guess what I’ve learned is this –
Women’s blogs: they’re not just for women. And I’m glad.
*Bonus points for everyone who can name that film reference.
**Turned 54 last January. I see myself in the mirror and despite the fact that I am somewhat goofy looking I also consider myself remarkableywell-preserved. For a goofy looking guy.
***I’ve written a number of guest articles for women’s blogs, sometimes on a particularly woman-focused issue and sometimes on theology or family or work or exercise or food or whatever generally.