Odd Man Out: why a man reads women’s blogs

[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.

***

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22 Responses to Odd Man Out: why a man reads women’s blogs

  1. Glad you have written on two of my three blogs. Glad there are people (men and women) who still blog. Also, love the variety you put on this blog, even if I don’t always comment.

  2. Jeannie says:

    Tim, as one of those many women bloggers I appreciate your participation out here in the blogosphere, the Twitterverse, and any other spheres, verses, and spaces you are part of!

    • Tim says:

      Spheres, Verses and Spaces sounds like a great name for a band, Jeannie. Perhaps a Canadian band. Let me know if you ever start that up.

  3. Michelle says:

    I’ve often seen and appreciated your thoughtful comments and interactions on women’s blogs around the internet. I’m so thankful that you recognize that women offer a different and valuable perspective on the things of life. I wish for more men and women to recognize the variance and the value in one another’s perspectives and be able to interact with those insights in a manner that helps all parties grow in understanding. Thanks for reading women’s blogs!

  4. Pastor Bob says:

    Differing perspectives among learned people are valuable, the gold of the thinking process.

  5. Terry Rios says:

    Spinal Tap. Have always enjoyed your posts and comments at RoP — even if we don’t see you as often as we did, now that you have your own forum. Tim, we need more of your ilk in this world!

  6. kathibonham says:

    Eleven…it’s one louder, isn’t it?

    Please don’t ask me to quote any Jane Austen. I’m afraid you’ve lost me there.

    • Tim says:

      “Isn’t it?” Yes it is.

      And don’t forget his shirt: “This is my exact inner structure, done in a tee shirt. Exactly medically accurate. See?” It’s important that one’s T-shirt be medically accurate.

  7. Aimee Byrd says:

    I have been so encouraged by your contributions Tim, thank you!

    • Tim says:

      I am likewise edified and encouraged by your blog, Aimee. Yours is consistently the best I read – whether written by a woman or a man.

  8. lauradroege says:

    I love that you read and comment on women’s blogs. I also love that you’ve drawn all kinds of people to your blog, and that I’ve gotten to know some really terrific people through you. It feels like a community, and we’re all neighbors on this site.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks you so much. Laura. That is exactly what I have hoped for here, and your comment – as always – is extremely encouraging!

  9. No More Perfect says:

    Hi Tim!

    I blogged for 8 years before I quit, so I am technically not a blogger but I am a woman so I just want to thank you for taking our viewpoints seriously. I appreciate your written interactions with others because they remind me to temper my own with wisdom and grace.

    And you like Jane Austen? Well, now I respect you all the more!

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, NMP, for being part of the gracious discussion. Even though you’re not blogging yourself any more, you contribute much to the conversations going on in the blogosphere.

  10. Gail Wallace says:

    Tim, all of us at The Junia Project so appreciate your advocacy for women and the way you engage with our readers and share our posts! It means more than you know to be assured that there are men willing to stand up for us women 🙂

  11. Pingback: Jesus Never Put a Woman Down | Tim's Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another

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