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Women Lawyers Too Busy Reading People Magazine To Blog, Suggests Crime & Federalism Blogger

by Carolyn Elefant on February 9, 2011 · 18 comments

in Parents Who Practice, Work/Life Balance & Women

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Objectively speaking, there are fewer women than men who blog or contribute to wikipedia or are partners at AmLaw 100 law firms, for whatever that dubious honor is worth besides a huge paycheck. Sure, I’d like to see more women enjoy the same benefits that I have from blogging, but I surely don’t blame men for holding them back. It just is what it is. Trouble is, what is for women is very different from what is for men.

But my intrepid blogging colleague, Mike Cernovich of Crime and Federalism isn’t content to live with what is.  Mike wants answers to the gender differences, and he’s come up with a doozy. Mike contends that women aren’t blogging or contributing to Wikipedia or otherwise engaging in online discourse because….they’ve got their noses buried in gossip magazines. I kid you not. From Mike’s post :

Walk into any gym in the country – even one in a liberalized, feminist city like San Francisco. You’ll see rows of professional women on the treadmills and stair climbers. I know several of them, and they are doctors, lawyers, psychologists, and other professionals. No patriarchy has kept them from earning fuck loads of money, and obtaining educational credentials. Yet they read stupid shit like People and US Weekly (76% women).

Why should anyone be surprised that a demographic who uses its off-hours to read celebrity gossip aren’t on the Internet sharing useful knowledge, and provoking interesting discussions? Why should anyone blame men?

As I said, I don’t blame men — but here are a few questions that I’d like Mike and his male colleagues to answer which may offer some insight:

1. When’s the last time you scheduled a teacher conference, hired a babysitter or a nanny, visited a nursery school or private school or made appointments for your kids at the pediatrician or the dentist?

2. When’s the last time you watched the clock ticking towards three o’clock during a hearing and felt your heart pounding out of your chest because you needed to make it to the bus stop to pick up your kids?

3. When’s the last time you did the grocery shopping and planned all the meals for the week and made all the lunches and made sure that kids had the materials they needed for that science project and those chips for the class party and the white shirt for the special performance and a three ring binder and six family photos?

4. When you’re done with work, do you cook dinner and make sure homework is done and put in the schoolbag or emailed out, and check the website to really make sure because your kid has lied about it before and give baths if your kids are little or nag about showers if they’re not, and use your cross-examination and investigative skills to try to figure out what your kids did at school, and use your negotiating skills to break up fights and then when  your kids are asleep go back to your desk to work for another few hours or maybe overnight to make up the time you lost when you cut out at 4 pm?

5. When you travel out of town on business, do you just throw a suit in the travel bag and go, or do you pack for three – yourself and your two kids who need to go to grandma’s house and your dog who’s headed for the kennel?

If you answered “this evening” to questions 1 through 3 and YES to questions 4 through 5, then welcome to my world.  Maybe now you’ll understand (if you actually care) why some women indulge in gossip magazines.   I certainly do – and in fact, I will publicly admit that I’ve got an Oprah Magazine right on my nightstand, next to my ipad that’s loaded with the New Yorker, New York Times and the Harvard Business Review.  Trouble is, most nights, I’m so exhausted when I get into bed that Oprah or something even more trashy is really all that I have the energy for.   And I suspect that the same is true of many of those professional ladies who you see at the gym with their noses buried in trashy, guilty pleasures.

As I said at the outset, I don’t think it’s sexism that’s behind the fact that there are fewer blogs by women than men.   But I do think it’s sexism – or a deep disrespect for women – that’s behind Mike’s blog post.

Correct me if this is a joke and I just didn’t get it.  Or if I’m being hypersensitive or an irrational, hysterical little lady.  Oh and by the way…remind me – what century is this?

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  • shg

    Funny thing is ( and this will no doubt surprise a few people), I do many of those things for my kids. Always have. I’ve been deeply involved in their upbringing, and the welfare of the family. I don’t cook or do wash, but then Dr. SJ likes doing both and won’t let me. Aside from that, we fight over who gets to pick up the kid at the bus stop, since we both enjoy it.

    And yet:

    “Trouble is, most nights, I’m so exhausted when I get into bed that Oprah or something even more trashy is really all that I have the energy for. ”

    doesn’t reflect anything about my life, and never has. But then, I enjoy participating in my home and family, just as I enjoy working on my Healey, or writing. And working. And winning. And coming up with new and ingenuous ways to represent my clients.

    Drudgery is a state of mind. Reading people magazine doesn’t help.

    I saw a toilet the other day that needed cleaning, so I cleaned it. No big deal.

  • Carolyn Elefant

    Scott,
    I can tell from reading between the lines at SJ that you are an involved (and proud) parent, though I didn’t realize the extent. This is something I’m happy to be wrong about and in fact, if I receive 20 other comments like yours, I’ll put a big red mea culpa up at the top of my blog. I believe that this is one area, as with others, where you are the exception, or even exceptional. But I also don’t think that you would write a post like the one that I commented on – you can be blunt or even harsh, but always in an equal opportunity kind of way.

    As for my Oprah indulgence, I find it difficult to express the appeal. Generally, the articles are well written – some are even about lawyers (http://67.225.230.212/~sh1ngl3/2010/01/articles/marketing-making-money/the-importance-of-getting-out-in-the-world-how-a-lawyer-found-an-oprah-worthy-case-on-a-trip-to-staples/) Plus you’ve got to love how Oprah is completely and entirely self-made., against all odds. .

  • shg

    I would think better of Oprah if she either had me on as a guest or gave me a free car. Neither is looking promising at the moment.

  • http://www.pocoyayo.com robyn L

    Gossip magazines aside, the lack of women bloggers could indicate a plain old lack of time.

  • http://crblaw.blogspot.com/ Meg

    I think everyone suffers from a lack of time. What it comes down to for me is a question of priorities and rewards.

    We’re all busy and have to prioritize the tasks in our life. For me, sleep and recreational reading tend to be the first things to go. They lose out to things that I give higher priority, like work and eating a good meal.

    The things I prioritize get that way because they bring some sort of reward. It might be salary; we all need money to live. It might be personal satisfaction; trust me, I don’t get up to coach rowing before heading to the office every day because I like watching the sun rise. I do it because I love the kids and enjoy seeing them develop as rowers and as people. (I don’t have any kids of my own, but I assume the same general rule applies, just to a greater extent if they’re your own progeny. Therefore, kids get priority.)

    And we all, like it or not, need to make a little time for recreation. For me, coaching is recreation. I get to play a game for two hours every morning. But I’m lucky enough that recreation and one of my jobs overlap. That is not the case for everyone, and even I need the occasional trashy TV show to let my brain relax for a bit. Coaching is many things (including fun), but a brain break is not one of them. For other people, that brain rest might be yard work. For still others, it might be working on your car, or reading history books, or working at a soup kitchen. For those women at the gym, it just might be People magazine. And really, what’s so wrong with that?

    How about this: rather than belittle them for reading gossip magazines, let’s applaud them for getting a workout in?

  • http://crblaw.blogspot.com/ Meg

    I think everyone suffers from a lack of time. What it comes down to for me is a question of priorities and rewards.

    We’re all busy and have to prioritize the tasks in our life. For me, sleep and recreational reading tend to be the first things to go. They lose out to things that I give higher priority, like work and eating a good meal.

    The things I prioritize get that way because they bring some sort of reward. It might be salary; we all need money to live. It might be personal satisfaction; trust me, I don’t get up to coach rowing before heading to the office every day because I like watching the sun rise. I do it because I love the kids and enjoy seeing them develop as rowers and as people. (I don’t have any kids of my own, but I assume the same general rule applies, just to a greater extent if they’re your own progeny. Therefore, kids get priority.)

    And we all, like it or not, need to make a little time for recreation. For me, coaching is recreation. I get to play a game for two hours every morning. But I’m lucky enough that recreation and one of my jobs overlap. That is not the case for everyone, and even I need the occasional trashy TV show to let my brain relax for a bit. Coaching is many things (including fun), but a brain break is not one of them. For other people, that brain rest might be yard work. For still others, it might be working on your car, or reading history books, or working at a soup kitchen. For those women at the gym, it just might be People magazine. And really, what’s so wrong with that?

    How about this: rather than belittle them for reading gossip magazines, let’s applaud them for getting a workout in?

  • http://twitter.com/appellatepro Appellate Pro Guy

    Are you and Mike talking past each other perhaps? You read O at night, exhausted, but he wrote that “professional women on the treadmills and stair climbers” read the celebrity gossip magazines. Anyhow, the professional men on the treadmills and stair climbers are probably consuming sports gossip on the ubiquitous flat panel televisions. From my own experience, it’s difficult to read/comprehend a law review article while on a treadmill.

  • http://twitter.com/mospeedatty Aimee Gromowsky

    You are giving him page views? You shouldn’t. He is flame throwing and you bit. When I graduated in ’99, there was a statistic that only 20% of the women would be practicing after ten years. I am not sure if this still holds true but the lack of women bloggers probably has to do with our minority in the profession.

    I mean why would he even say that – it’s like a girl in high school with pink hair. “Look at me. Look at me.”

  • Carolyn Elefant

    You are so right!

  • Erin

    Here, here!

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  • http://twitter.com/SKToronto Stephanie Toronto

    Fantastic post, I completely agree with you. I spend all day being an “intellectual” and taking care of the household stuff, so sometimes it is really nice to just “switch off” and read a gossip magazine or watch some trash TV. Would hate to think people judge me for wanting to use the little free time I have to do something that requires little brain activity, but I guess they do.

  • http://www.pennersbergen.com Ann Penners Bergen

    Carolyn — you made some excellent points. But, here’s where I think Mr. Cernovich completely misses the mark. There is simply nothing wrong with People magazine or U.S. Weekly. In fact, I think that perspective is good for attorneys. As lawyers, we need to work to connect with our clients and, believe me, many of them would prefer People or the sports pages to esoteric legal analysis. INMHO, there is nothing wrong with keeping our fingers on the pulse. . .

  • http://www.pennersbergen.com Ann Penners Bergen

    Carolyn — you made some excellent points. But, here’s where I think Mr. Cernovich completely misses the mark. There is simply nothing wrong with People magazine or U.S. Weekly. In fact, I think that perspective is good for attorneys. As lawyers, we need to work to connect with our clients and, believe me, many of them would prefer People or the sports pages to esoteric legal analysis. INMHO, there is nothing wrong with keeping our fingers on the pulse. . .

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692125000 Bruce Godfrey

    Cernovich proceeded thereafter to show his true colors more clearly. He is a one-man monument to patriarchy and an adolescent view of life. No thanks, Mike; I will stick with the women who have the good sense to read trash while working up a sweat, while you go read Dostoyevsky on the ellipticals.

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