As a part of my thesis project, I am interviewing self-identified feminist bloggers about their thoughts on the feminist blogosphere. On October 25, 2006, I spoke with Makeshift Dialect over instant messenger.
Interview with Makeshift Dialect
A Blog Without A Bicycle: so, as you know, i'm writing my thesis about blogging and the formation of feminist networks online
8:20 PM EST
Makeshift Dialect: yes
A Blog Without A Bicycle: and i'm posting my progress on a blog without a bicycle
Makeshift Dialect: yes, this is a nice arrangement, methinks
A Blog Without A Bicycle: and that this interview is a part of my thesis, but that i am also using it as an assignment for my research methods course (required wstu grad class)
Makeshift Dialect: yes i am aware of all this.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: okay, just checking, sorry to be a bore!
Makeshift Dialect: not at all!
Makeshift Dialect: just letting you know i'm on the same page.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: want to just jump right in?
Makeshift Dialect: yes, let's!
A Blog Without A Bicycle: so, do you consider yourself a feminist?
Makeshift Dialect: well, it always depends on who's defining it. so, if i want to define feminst [sic] as someone who is concerned about gender equality (not just equal pay, etc.), then, yes, i do consider myself to be a feminist
A Blog Without A Bicycle: (sorry if i am asking any questions that seem obvious, as we know each other in the "real" world)
Makeshift Dialect: yes it's fine. i'm not being sarcastic.
Makeshift Dialect: i'm just being more precise.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: i think i define feminism in a similar way...what do you consider to be feminist issues - you know, besides equal pay
8:25 PM EST
Makeshift Dialect: public education - this may be due to my current place of work (a high school) - but there is a lot of talk about boys "falling behind" in school. educators are alarmed by these "statistics." in reality, girls are just doing better, and i am currently reading a study saying just that: men are afraid that their daughters are exceeding their sons academically. (even though we all know who goes to ivy league institutions anyway.)
A Blog Without A Bicycle: there has been a lot of nytimes [sic] coverage about the "plight"
Makeshift Dialect: boys now face in education, especially on the college level
Makeshift Dialect: aside from education, i would say that race and sexuality are two strong arms feminists (white in particular) wrestle with
Makeshift Dialect: and yes, well, boys drop out
Makeshift Dialect: because they can
Makeshift Dialect: (of college, i mean)
A Blog Without A Bicycle: i gotcha
Makeshift Dialect: i think the subtleties of how our society reads or refuses to acknowledge gender in situations is also worthy of feminist "issuedom"
Makeshift Dialect: i'm thinking of a post on my blog about women getting the new nj license
Makeshift Dialect: and how they need their marriage certificate, suddenly
A Blog Without A Bicycle: did you write about that in one of your earlier posts?
Makeshift Dialect: yes, i think i wrote it in my first or second post, actually
A Blog Without A Bicycle: i vaguely remember something about needed your MRS. to be able to drive in jersey
Makeshift Dialect: haha, yes, well i can explain better
Makeshift Dialect: for the sake of this dialogue
A Blog Without A Bicycle: i think it's hilarious, since new jersey was the only colony that gave women the vote (until 1808!) after the united states united
Makeshift Dialect: in 2001 (i think) nj adopted a new set of criterion to get one's license.
Makeshift Dialect: women and men who already held licenses needed to get new ones and "vouch" for their identities. women who were married had to bring their marriage certificates -- even though their married name was on their old license.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: a social security card with an updated name wouldn't do?
8:30 PM EST
Makeshift Dialect: that's funny because i think the scenario i'm talking about really highlights one of my concerns: is gender an invisible part of everyday situations? we recognize race (mostly) and sexuality nowadays, but gender feels absent, in a way. it seems we take more gender-related
Makeshift Dialect: "oppression" as just what society does. it's so subtle.
Makeshift Dialect: i'd think so? about the sscard.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: i would posit that maybe one of the problems with gender is that it is "natural" and often confused with sex
A Blog Without A Bicycle: gender is "the way things are"
Makeshift Dialect: exactly
A Blog Without A Bicycle: in the same way that race and sexuality once were
A Blog Without A Bicycle: (and still are, to some degree)
Makeshift Dialect: right, which is funny since it feels like there's always so much "open talk" about the women'smovement [sic], and all those feminists who wanted the right to vote, or the era.
Makeshift Dialect: it feels like "feminism" is part of a lot of everyday fabric of our culture, whereas race and sexuality are taboo and in turn seen as more defined issues.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: well, i guess i feel like feminism has been made into enough of an f-word for some people who would otherwise oppose it to feel comfortable
A Blog Without A Bicycle: whereas there isn't necessarily the same level of comfort with race, sexuality, class, etcf [sic]
Makeshift Dialect: yes, i agree. it has a different "taboo" status almost.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: so many taboos...
Makeshift Dialect: there are!
A Blog Without A Bicycle: so, given our great conversation about gender that's going, i'm going to assume that it's fairly safe to say that feminism is pretty important to your world view?
8:35 PM EST
Makeshift Dialect: yes, i would say that it is.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: good, because i would have felt pretty dumb is you had said no and i had asked you such a leading question : )
Makeshift Dialect: hahaha
Makeshift Dialect: yeah
A Blog Without A Bicycle: so, let's switch gears and talk a little about blogging
Makeshift Dialect: surely!
A Blog Without A Bicycle: we've already mentioned that you keep a blog, but before we talk about makeshift dialect, i'm just wondering if you read any blogs regularly
Makeshift Dialect: celebrity blogs mostly (much to my chagrin). nowadays i don't have much time to do a lot of online writing or reading. i'd say i read gawker. i don't think i read any other "feminist" blogs, though.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: hey, that's cool - i mean, i've set up a bloglines account and i check it every once in a bit, but unless i'm reading for my thesis...
A Blog Without A Bicycle: are there any celeb blogs you follow in particular?
A Blog Without A Bicycle: (celebs write their own blogs?!)
Makeshift Dialect: well, i read gawker. no!!! they're ABOUT celebrities, and they're trash, really.
Makeshift Dialect: it's mind-numbing
Makeshift Dialect: gawker.com, perezhilton.com
A Blog Without a Bicycle: lol
Makeshift Dialect: i also look at stuffonmycat.com
Makeshift Dialect: none of these are feminist
A Blog Without A Bicycle: an important distinction?
8:40 PM EST
Makeshift Dialect: no not really. in general, i don't like to read blogs that are about one person's point of view -- unless their writing is really stellar/creative.
Makeshift Dialect: the celeb blogs have a lot of picture so, as i said before, it is mindless to scroll on through.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: (this does not bode well for a blog without a bicycle - jk_
Makeshift Dialect: hahahaha no! don't say that!
A Blog Without A Bicycle: you are too kind, too kind
A Blog Without A Bicycle: you use a lot of visuals on your blog
Makeshift Dialect: i do
Makeshift Dialect: i think the internet makes is conducive for short attention spans
Makeshift Dialect: i'm not interested in "selling" what i have to say, but i'd rather market well with creative use of images, etc. than have just plain text.
Makeshift Dialect: it feels like you can bring in an audience based on the pictures and enrapture them with the powerful content
A Blog Without A Bicycle: that's a really interesting way to describe your self-presentation
Makeshift Dialect: there's so much on the internet, you know?
A Blog Without A Bicycle: how do you select images?
Makeshift Dialect: how do i select them? like find them? or decide to use a certain one?
A Blog Without A Bicycle: yeah, i agree, there is soooo much on the internet...
A Blog Without A Bicycle: either, both
Makeshift Dialect: okay, well, if i'm talking about something, i'll think of how to describe what i'm talking about in order to get a picture that will illustrate it.
Makeshift Dialect: so i use google images (you really shouldn't do this)
Makeshift Dialect: and sometimes use my own photos -- i have quite a digital collection on my computer, but it's often easier to just look at google images
Makeshift Dialect: and then something will just strike me about one particular image. one that i'm thinking of from one of my blogs is the picture of poverty with the little black boy looking confused
Makeshift Dialect: i mean, i'm in [location omitted]
A Blog Without A Bicycle: your images do add something to your blog that not all blogs have going on; it's a different way to engage
Makeshift Dialect: i sort of don't take myself too seriously with the images, but i think i make a point.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: a picture is worth a thousand words
8:45 PM EST
A Blog Without A Bicycle: and i like that you use a lot of the images ironically
Makeshift Dialect: indeed. and then i always try to pair the photo with a caption that ties together the image and the content.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: you add tone to your narrative voice
Makeshift Dialect: yeah, well, thanks!
A Blog Without a Bicycle: all right, i'm going to put my english major away for a minute
A Blog Without A Bicycle: so, going backwards, tell me a little about makeshift dialect
A Blog Without A Bicycle: like, why did you start blogging? what is your blog "about"? does it have a theme? etc etc
Makeshift Dialect: i think that i started blogging because a lot of people told me i should have a blog.
Makeshift Dialect: that sounds ridiculous
Makeshift Dialect: but it's kind of something that i thought would be interesting to do.
A Blog Without A Bicycle:...i think i might have been one of those peeps...
A Blog Without A Bicycle: and it's true!
Makeshift Dialect: i don't post that often because it's such an EXPERIENCE to post and it takes a long time to create because i'm often telling a very elaborate story about something or other.
Makeshift Dialect: i like my blog because it feels relevant
Makeshift Dialect: i think that i'm always striving to produce relevant material in whatever i do.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: a technological experience, a life experience, or a creative/literary experience?
Makeshift Dialect: so, i don't just post frivolously. i wait until i really have something.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: that is a very distinct blog style
Makeshift Dialect: it feels like a creative experience - i sort of have a physical reaction to it because i just get really into it and drawn into how to describe what has happened
Makeshift Dialect: i am thinking of i think the most recent post that i have about the girl who was bisexual and thought i was talking about coming out day
A Blog Without A Bicycle: because the internet moves so quickly, there's a lot of pressure to post constantly to ensure your popularity in the blogosphere
Makeshift Dialect: that was a really funny story and took like 2 minutes to tell someone, but on my blog, i had to sort of pay attention to a lot of minutiae that added up to the story being funny to read.
Makeshift Dialect: yes, you're right. that's something that concerns me in a way about my blog - my posting frequency and the fast-pace. but i just can't make myself, as i said.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: yeah, there is an art to creating interesting blog articles; i mean, my personal challenge is making an academic project interesting to other people who aren't obsessing 24/7 about the topic as i am
Makeshift Dialect: it's like, i kind of know what i sound like when it ell a story and what makes people laugh. i just have to really hone in on re-creating my tone.
8:50 PM EST
A Blog Without A Bicycle: well, i think it's fine to not buy into the whole fast-paced media idea - if i posted every day it would become an ode to anxiety or a poem about procrastination
Makeshift Dialect: yeah really. it's just crazy. and who has TIME for that?
Makeshift Dialect: like, the gawker people -- that's their full time job.
Makeshift Dialect: it's not mine (yet?!)
Makeshift Dialect: so i don't rush it. and i think that you can definitely make something that's academic appealing in a blog form.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: it's an interesting career - filtering your consciousness into the 'net
Makeshift Dialect: i think if you stripped my blog of my narrative voice, you'd see a lot of pieces of academia
A Blog Without A Bicycle: there are quite a few academical blogs out there (tiara.org, bitchphd, feministspectator...and i think those are just the ones i looked at today)
A Blog Without A Bicycle: so what does that say about academia?
A Blog Without A Bicycle: (or your voice?)
A Blog Without A Bicycle: (that might have been a rhetorical question)
Makeshift Dialect: interesting about the academia blog. well, i think that there's a perception of what academia is.
Makeshift Dialect: and that perception is held by many people who work at universities
Makeshift Dialect: but just because you're smart, doesn't mean you can't make what you're saying accessible
A Blog Without A Bicycle: access is a hugely hot topic
Makeshift Dialect: i think that blogs can be a good connective device between academia and the world
Makeshift Dialect: it comes up all the time in feminist courses - and the opinions are quite divided about what "access" is and if it is "important"
Makeshift Dialect: well, i think that it's hard to see academia as anything [sic] less than overwritten articles about non-issues of the world
Makeshift Dialect: well, "accessible" on the internet means that poor people can't read it
Makeshift Dialect: and then they can't read the language i might use either
A Blog Without A Bicycle: at the same time, there are quite a few feminists who get upset about the presentation of "feminism lite" or diluted feminism...so, do you think that's applicable to academia?
A Blog Without A Bicycle: i agree - the digital divide is very important to consider
Makeshift Dialect: so, class-able people, might be able to understand my blog and access it and walk away with a nugget of an academic "intellect" or something
Makeshift Dialect: but, i think that diluted feminism is definitely something [sic] to think about
A Blog Without A Bicycle: what are your thoughts here - a lot of folks have made the argument that the internet is inherently democratic
8:55 PM EST
Makeshift Dialect: i don't feel what i write on my blog is diluted f eminism [sic]. i think that i'm more direct than a lot of academics can be because they probably hav ea [sic] book on the line, and i have a mere blog post.
Makeshift Dialect: and i don't think that it's inherently democratic -- you need to have knowledge to find anything, or to want to find anything on the internet.
A Blog Without A Bicycle: (oh! i didn't mean to imply that it was watered down or diet)
Makeshift Dialect: there is a certain freedom in blogging
A Blog Without A Bicycle: but there is also the question of online versus on-campus identity - if you blog openly, will you get tenure? <--a completely academy-focused concern
Makeshift Dialect: (i know!! i was just remarking on that - because my blog is more accessible than something that may be traditionally "academic") and like public libraries are always helpful? in [location omitted], the public library is always packed, and it seems like the same 7 people are on those computers for hours on end. who has TIME for the public library?
A Blog Without A Bicycle: and public libraries are, well, public
A Blog Without A Bicycle: there's not guarantee of privacy
Makeshift Dialect: exactly
Makeshift Dialect: and i don’t know about your question about tenure
…[side conversation omitted]…
Makeshift Dialect: i think what you're doing is really interesting
Makeshift Dialect: i think it's interesting because it feels like you're in the university setting and you're getting a graduate degree in women's studies ... yet you're ABLE to openly blog about things. things like my blog, which isn't academic, for instance.
Makeshift Dialect: and it's an experiment for you to it might be perceived as more acceptable than a professor who is "openly blogging" and seeking tenure
9:00 PM EST
A Blog Without A Bicycle: i agree, being a student gives me freedom here
A Blog Without A Bicycle: i mean, conducting interviews over im? must be one of those crazy younuns [sic]...
Makeshift Dialect: but, at the same time, the world is changing very quickly - i mean because of the internet
A Blog Without A Bicycle: *youngins
Makeshift Dialect: hahaha yeah exactly
A Blog Without A Bicycle: remember when we were like 6 and the idea of a portable device that was telephone/computer/doctor/locator/transporter/book/encyclopedia/whatever all in one was science fiction?
A Blog Without A Bicycle: when these new hand held devices come out, i feel old
Makeshift Dialect: hahaa i know right!
Makeshift Dialect: yeah, that's really an interesting thing to say.
Makeshift Dialect: okay well, i think i have to go!
A Blog Without A Bicycle: i guess i'll be telling the grandkids about the first time i logged onto the internet...
Makeshift Dialect: sorry [name removed] is cooking dinner and she came in her ea [sic] few times already a lookin at me
Makeshift Dialect: hahaha
A Blog Without A Bicycle: all right - i will email you
Makeshift Dialect: they'll be surfing the internet in their brain (science fiction of today)
A Blog Without A Bicycle: great!
A Blog Without A Bicycle: thanks!!!
Makeshift Dialect: bye!!
To be continued!
Note: All links were added by A Blog Without a Bicycle. Timestamps were included in this transcript to illuminate how the interview took place in “real time.”
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