The hullabaloo over Digby

Does it matter that she's a woman? With opinion writing still dominated by men, the answer is a loud yes.

Published June 20, 2007 10:45PM (EDT)

About two years ago, in the heat of what seems like a quarterly storm over why opinion writing is so male, even in the blogosphere, someone I trust told me that the great Digby of Digby's Hullabaloo fame was actually a woman. S/he'd won the coveted Koufax award for blog writing, and her gender seemed newsworthy and important. So we talked about trying to get her to "come out" on Salon, but for various reasons, it never happened. And I personally never confirmed that she was, in fact, a woman.

Since then it seems more people have come to know Digby's "secret," but her cover wasn't totally blown until this week when she accepted an award for the progressive blogosphere at the Take Back America conference. She came out of her self-described "Santa Monica bunker" to be revealed as, yes, a woman, in all her brainy, blond, good-hearted glory. She gave a great speech; Glenn Greenwald wrote about it here and Jane Hamsher posted the video on FireDogLake. Be sure to read the comments there: If I thought Digby's gender was an open secret, I was wrong; lots of people didn't know, and there were great posts like this, from a poster called Evan, that reminded me why it matters.

"I hang my head in shame that it never even remotely occurred to me Digby might be a woman. I feel like someone's just rearranged the furniture in my brain.

"Anyway, great job Digby!"

I e-mailed Digby to congratulate her on the award and the speech and to ask why she went public now. Here's what she said.

"There wasn't any real plan to 'come out' but when Rick Perlstein approached me about this I felt it was an important moment for the progressive blogosphere, and I knew that it would be a good use of my (otherwise useless) mystique. I am not very comfortable with being a public figure and it likely won't have much of an effect on my approach to any of this in the long run but I'm glad we all got a little love from the liberal community and was happy to do what I could."

I wish it didn't matter, but it does. And yes, I recognize the irony of posting this right after I criticized one of the country's top Op-Ed columnists, Maureen Dowd, but Dowd matters out of proportion precisely because she's so rare (it would be good for her to have more company). So it's great to count one more smart, mouthy woman in the top ranks of opinion-makers. Welcome, Digby!

By Joan Walsh

Related Topics ------------------------------------------