Female geeks have found their own Internet voices

My favorite Internet hoax was executed in 2005 by a Libertarian blogger who was tired of being ignored by his community.


The self-styled "Libertarian Man of Mystery" complained, "When I had a blog as my real self, no one linked to me, no one left any comments, it was as if the blog existed in a vacuum."

So, how did he rise from obscurity? He pretended to be a girl.

He turned his Web site pink and put up a photo from a site that connects lonely men with Russian brides. He pretended to be a young girl just out of college and peppered his posts with references to fashion and frat parties.

None of this should matter, right? The Internet is the last place on Earth where superficialities don't matter, where writers are judged on merit, without regard to race, culture, creed or gender.

Not quite.

Our Mystery Man continues: "Things were different for Libertarian Girl. Every day I'd check Technorati and discover new unsolicited links. It was like I had warped into an alternate universe where all the rules had changed."

So what does this mean? Is the glass ceiling actually a sun roof? Are Libertarians just a bunch of lonely male geeks? Our Mystery Man (subsequently abbreviated as MM) certainly thinks so.

From his "coming out" post Feb. 15, 2005: "Libertarians tend to be ugly because it's an anti-majority philosophy. People who are attractive have an easy time going through life and derive far too many advantages from the status quo to ever question it. It's only outsiders, who are usually ugly, who join up with fringe movements."

I believe libertarianism appeals to men, particularly to male geeks, because it rewards quirkiness, independence and an obsession with economics. This made libertarianism a good fit for the Internet, to the point where it actually became a clichÃ.

So it's easy to see why the faithful would respond to a hot girl blogger who claimed to be a libertarian. But MM says it goes deeper than that:

"It's funny how there have been some posts in the blogosphere saying that the political blogosphere was a boys club that discriminated against women, as evidenced by how few politics bloggers were women. Boy were they completely off the mark. It's 10 times easier for a woman's blog to become popular."

Real women have better luck in the long run, but there's still a shocking amount of misogyny on the Web. The Internet really did start as a boy's club, and the anonymous nature of blog comments allows teenage boys (and way too many adult men) to abuse women online.

Still, we've come a long way since 2005. Women have found their voices on the Net. A medium that was once a geeky kind of boys' club has become a mainstream phenomenon. Blogging is serious business now, and the revolution is well under way.

Reach Michael's blog at michaelduff.net.