Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Chapter 1 (First Installment)

I look forward to your peer review!

Introduction

The influence of popular culture is ubiquitous in an age of a fast-paced, global media culture and most individuals heard of the internet phenomenon of blogging, whether or not they have actually visited or read such websites. In this decade, blogs have gained popularity as an alternative source of information to mainstream news reporting. For example, the effect of blogs has been seen in various aspects of American culture, including popular culture and politics; from the latest celebrity scandal to the most recent political controversies, blogs have become powerful sources for reporting and editorializing news. Although the blogging revolution has been described as a self-publishing revolution that makes everyone a media pundit, not all individuals have equal access to this technology and some individuals are more likely to become new media moguls than others. The digital divide prevents some individuals from utilizing internet technology while other social conditions make some voices more audible in the blogosphere than others.

Despite these limits of participation, the blogosphere does present a potential venue for making social change. By allowing individuals to engage hegemonic discourses in debate, the blogosphere creates a space for subversion and change. For social activist movements that challenge dominant paradigms, the blogosphere provides a unique opportunity. Many feminists have recognized the utility of blogging and have engaged in generating cultural critique via the blogosphere.


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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Coming Attractions

Peer Review...And You!

So, we've already talked about the fact that I am a little shy about going on the record with the conclusions that I am drawing from my thesis research. I think that my knees first started knocking when I was describing my project in my feminist methodologies course last semester and, in regards to my plan to ask for feedback from the blogosphere, one of my classmates responded, "Oh, god bless you." Visions of a (highly stereotyped) feminist feeding frenzy began to dance in my head...

Of course, my actual experience in the blogosphere has not been as such. Far from being critical or resistant, feminist bloggers have generally been supportive. In fact, I've found the suggestions that have been sent my way to be tre helpful. Therefore, despite my stage fright, I am actually looking forward to your constructive criticism as I begin to post sections of my thesis for peer review.

Peer review? Well, yeah! Usually in academia, your "peers" are limited to journal reviewers, dissertation committees, thesis advisors, etc. From my feminist perspective, however, I feel that it would be unethical to exclude the community I am writing about from being able to weigh in while my project is still in early stages of revision. You, the feminist bloggers, are the real experts (I'm still a newbie here). You probably know a lot more about the feminist blogosphere than just about anyone else. And you probably have the greatest stake in how you are portrayed in academia (or, as the recent John Edwards campaign business illustrated, to the public in general). So! I welcome your feedback. You can post comments or email ablogwithoutabicycle(at)gmail(dot)com as chapter pieces go up. And, I will be posting in pieces, as chapter length is a bit at odds with short and savory blog post standards.

Questions I have about my work:
1. Did I leave anything out? Are there any sources that I should pursue to make my research more complete? Am I giving readers the full picture?
2. Do you disagree with any of the points that I made? Why?
3. Do you particularly agree with any of the arguments that I made? Why?
4. Are there any questions that you think are important or that you are interested in that I feel like I am not pursuing?
5. Are there any questions that I am pursuing that you think are not particularly important or that you are not really interested in?

I appreciate your willingness to collaborate in my project. Kudos - and credit - to you!


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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Image-ism

Soroity Sisterhood?

Okay, so before I begin, I must admit that as an undergrad I was horribly biased against the Greek system. Now that I am no longer at a women's college, however, I can see how female undergrads could benefit from the sisterly space created by a soroity on a co-ed campus. I'm still mightly suspicious of many aspects of the Greek system, but I think there are some groups that do create a community that is beneficial to undergrads (networking, educational programs, support systems, community service opportunities, etc).

To the point...I kind of hate that image-ism is what is drawing attention to soroities today. Sure, there are some frightening (understatement!) standards imposed by some organizations. But what about groups who aren't fulfilling this stereotype? The situation is complicated. No, I don't want certain aspects of stereotypical soroity culture to continue, but I also don't want positive developments in the Greek system to be stifled by too much focus on older elements that are (hopefully) being phased out.

That being said, membership-only clubs always slide the slippery slope of isms in terms of their inherent exclusivity. Overly inclusive coalitions, however, can be diluted in terms of their ability to effect change. But I am more suspicious of cool kids clubs than I am of open communities.

Off to ponder...


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Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Five

Five things to do instead of working on your M.A. thesis:

5. Finish all of your course work for all of your other classes. Weeks in advance. For the semester even...

4. Knit a scarf for a friend.

3. Bake. Pick the most complex recipes. Eat. Feel like you need to take an exercise break as your baked goods settle on your stomach. Feel hungry. Repeat.

2. Conduct thesis research (ie, interviews), but don't actually write anything about said research. Just eye it guiltily.

1. Think of rationalizations for why you are not writing your thesis *right now*. Make a list. Post it!


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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Boldness...I like the font better...

"Don't be afraid to make bold statements." -Deborah Siegel

So, in a recent meeting with my thesis advisor, it was brought to my attention that I am a big fan of the passive voice. Tramlow pointed out that, well, I seem to qualify most every assertion I make. In fact, I sometimes try to sneak major points past readers through understatement. My response? But I was socialized as a girl! I don't make strong statements! I'm not supposed to! To which Tramlow replied, more or less, "Well, stop being a girl." (In a good, gender-aware way, of course.)

Which is very similar to the encouragement I have heard given by Deborah Siegel to aspiring (feminist) authors: be bold.

It's great advice. But, somewhere in this land of academia, I have learned academicese (or perhaps caught a case of academicitis?). And, with my ear keen to listen for polyphony, I do get caught up in worry over the dominating monologue that becomes one's M.A. thesis. Sure, I have strong opinions, but I don't want to impose them on anyone. Can't I just tell you about all the research in the field and let you read between the lines to see where I stand? I mean, obviously, if I cite theorist X in Y way then I must think Z...

Okay. So that is a glaringly bad writing strategy. But what if I make strong statements and I am, well, wrong? (Congrats! You've started a debate that will endure for years in the academy!) Or, what if I am bold and, well, right? And other people agree with me? And want me to say more? (Congrats! You have a book deal!) And what if I get all assertive and, well, no one listens? (Congrats! You can stop stressing over audience response from an audience that does not exist.)

I'm glad that I have you blog readers who do not seem to mind my bold statements or qualified assertions...or even my self-effacing stories. At least I can fall back on the old peer-review excuse if I get too bold...

[A bit paralyzed in terms of writing and looking at the bellybutton.]


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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Internet Researcher Blues

Sloth Song

My internet connection
Is so slow
Ah whoa whoa whoa

My internet connection
Was not always this slow
Ah whoa whoa whoa

My internet connection
Why are you slow
Ah whoa whoa whoa whoa

My internet connection
So slow so slow
Ah whoa whoa whoa whoa

My internet connection
Too slow too slow

AND NOW I CAN'T UPDATE MY BLOG

*Composed on a desktop sticky on 2/20/2007, posted upon regaining a fast enough connection to open Blogger.com.

(Me thinks I do not have a career as a lyricist...)

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Wiki What?!

This article cracked me up because I cite Wikipedia.com in my thesis *all the time* - and as an authoritative source! Gotta love cultural studies...

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Got Nothing

Nope. Nothing new to say today. But I will post on a daily basis. Even if it's just to say...I don't know have much to say at present.


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Sunday, February 18, 2007

S|F Online

The Scholar and the Feminist Online, the online (academic) journal of Barnard College's Center for Research on Women, will be publishing an issue on the feminist blogosphere in March. Exciting!


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Saturday, February 17, 2007

HPV

Mandatory Vaccinations?

What do people think about the recent trend in making the HPV vaccine mandatory? Given the history of poor development of reproductive health care for women (ie, the initial testing of the birth control pill), I am always a bit skeptical about such new technologies. I'm also aware of WHO will be most effected by legal requirements (ie, the requirement for public school kids) and in what ways (ie, it's very expensive). At the same time, certain forms of cervical cancer are preventable with the vaccine - great!

I'm also very interested in the assumptions here about sex/gender/sexuality. The vaccine is being aimed at heterosexual women, but there has been proven benefits for other populations. So, why are 6th grade girls seemingly the only people at whom marketing and laws are being aimed? Can we really eradicate/prevent STIs if only part of effected populations are educated and treated?


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Friday, February 16, 2007

Out of the Closet

Kudos to all of the folks who've confessed to being ABWAB readers!

Thanks to everyone who has shown support over the past week. I love hearing from folks who are, in fact, reading this blog. Sometimes it's easy to imagine, often when I am surrounded by a fortress of libary books, that this missive is getting lost in cyberspace. I am NOT invisible, great folks are reading, and some cool bloggers are even volunteering to be interviewed (would you like to be a featured research participant? contact me today!). Grazie!

...And, since people are reading, I had better attend to what I write. Spicier posts coming soon - along with the first chapter of my thesis! Set up that RSS feed today...


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Thursday, February 15, 2007

And what would people say if a therapy was offered to cure heterosexuality? (And it kept getting news coverage ad naseum?)

Well?

And, in case you were wondering NYTimes editors, sex, gender, and sexuality are distinct, yet related, identity categories; you should be watching for such precision of language - lest you confuse the "public." Le sigh.

Judith Butler, I ask you once more, please save us all!


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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Where in the world is...

My Site Meter Gives Me Wanderlust

So, once I had full IRB approval to start my project properly, I added a site meter to this blog. Whether or not it is the best tool for the job I do not know, nor in some ways do I have time to become a connoisseur. However, having the chance to look at where folks are checking this humble blog from is pretty cool (no, I do NOT have your IP address - I'm curious, not a stalker). Australia, China, UK, Norway, South Dakota, NYC...Those are just a few of the locations that stick in my mind. How cool? Gotta love rhizomes and the viral spread of...feminist blogging!

[End newbie wonder.]


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Sunday, February 11, 2007

damali ayo

But would anyone rent a feminist?

Check out performance artist damali ayo's cool website. Creator of web-famous projects like rent-a-negro.com, ayo presents thought-provoking art that focuses mainly on race and the legacy of slavery in the United States. And there's even a reality series!

ayo's it's-funny-but-it-hurts approach to opening discussion about dealing with white mis-conceptions of African American culture in rent-a-negro.com made me wonder: Have I been missing out as a feminist who is constantly asked to speak on behalf of all f-word identified individuals in the world? Should I be charging a fee for my one-on-one feminist (re)education program? And, if so, what fees should apply? How much is a "not a sexist vouch" worth? Or what about a 100 words or less explanation of an aspect of feminist theory? And sound-byte definitions of feminisms (a hot commodity and top seller, for sure!)?

Nevermind hosting ads on blogs. Feminist bloggers, start charging for your wisdom with comprehensive fees. Such a policy promises big bucks!


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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Hire this Girl

Looking to Make It on the Feminist Job Market

So, I've been slogging away at my thesis hardcore of late. And I started to wonder, why am I such a big procrastinator? Is it the allure of the blogosphere, the temptation to follow an endless list of links? Is it acquired attention deficeit? Is is the graduate student condition? Is it the fact that daytime television inspires car wreck fascination? Is it the other graduate work (2 classes!) that I need to complete?

OR is it the fear that once I finish my thesis, I will *really* graduate and then I will *really* need to find a job - and I'm not quite completely sure what I want to do besides working with feminism on a daily basis to work towards a more equitabale world? Oh, and world peace...

Yup, the last one is a doozie. And on point. So, I thought that I would put my musings out into the feminist blogosphere and work the network, if you will.

Top 5 Jobs I Think I Would Like:
1. Coordinator or director of university-level women's center (students, activism, research, publication editing, special events!)
2. Coordinator or director of young women's leadership program (young women, activism, event planning, energy!)
3. Non-proift employee extraordinaire at an organization focused on women's issues (making feminist change happen - on a budget!)
4. Independent scholar (get paid to research what one is already interested in!)
5. Creative writer (words, words, words!)

I will also really miss teaching after I graduate, so I'm hopeful that I will be able to incorporate learning/teaching into my future employ. And editorial work. I find it really fun to create publications. Publishable products!

I'm also interested in hearing about what experiences folks have had working the above fields, or just the feminist workplace in general. Loves? Hates? Surprises?

So, any ideas? I really need to figure this, er, research question out by May 20th...


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Friday, February 09, 2007

A Watched Blog...

Dear Blog Abby,

So, since I've committed myself to posting more regularly (daily updates, folks! DAILY!), I've become more and more obsessed with checking my blog throughout the day to see if anyone has commented on it. I also added a site meter to my main page, which has further increased my curiousity about who is reading my blog, when they are reading my blog, and why they chose not to comment on my blog (which is fine, really - I appreciate peeps just stopping by). I find myself facing strange cravings in the middle of the night that encourage me to log onto Blogger after my bedtime. Did anyone write anything yet? Has someone written something now? Comment? Comments? Maybe I'm just too excited about having obtained final IRB approval (interviews!). Maybe thesis writers(or at least this thesis writer)are just big procrastinators (funny, I should be concentrating on a draft right now, hm). Maybe I shouldn't act so desperate; maybe it's unattractive. But I really do look forward to reading your comments. You can always post anonymously, just for the sake of my morale (Mum? Not even my mum?).

...Or maybe you are all just too busy authoring your own interesting blog posts. Hm...Maybe you could just post a link?

Sincerely,
Lonely in the land of thesis writing

PS "Lonely in the land of thesis writing" should not be confused with Elizabeth-behind-in-meeting-her-chapter-submission-deadlines by any thesis advisors or readers. No, not at all...


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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Feminist Blogs: A 2008 Campaign Issue

Freedom of Speech, eh?

Check out this NYTimes article that explores a recent campaign 2008 controversy - what happens when staffers have personal blogs that express political news that may not be "good" for a candidate's campaign. Notably, the bloggers in question are of the feminist persuasion...


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Cybercultural Studies

In the conclusion of her book Cybertypes, Lisa Nakamura asks, “Who gets to speak about cyberspace? Who gets to speak in cyberspace? Who wants to speak about it? Who is trained to produce scholarly work in cyberculture? What kind of scholarly work has shaped the field today, such as it is? Are there racial ‘digital divides,’ or institutionalized inequities in access, resources, and cultural/academic capital, that obtain both inside cyberspace and in the field of cyberculture studies? Whose ideas have power? Whose discourse is privileged? And why haven’t these questions been asked before?”* (This statement is somehow reminiscent of Gayatri Chakavorty Spivak's "Can the Subaltern Speak?" to me.) Nakamura puts forth many of the questions that I have grappled with as an academic who is conducting research in cyberspace. I have made efforts to address many of these issues in my project, but I am also writing from my own standpoint. I think that it is important to ask for a "reality check" every once in a while. So, how am I doing as a feminist researcher studying the feminist blogosphere? And what are you thoughts on the politics of cyberculture studies?

*Nakamura, Lisa. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2002.


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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Feminist Blogosphere: 2005 v. 2007

Check out this great article about the feminist blogosphere that was published in Feminist Collections in January 2005. The author, Vicki Tobias, makes some great observations about women, blogging, and feminism online.

Now that the article is two years old, I am wondering if folks would suggest any revisions to this piece. In 2007, what would you add to a summary of the feminist blogosphere? Would you suggest changing the nomenclature used to describe blogs? Would you provide a different list of exemplary feminist bloggers? How would you define the "feminist blogosphere" today?

...And Feminist Collections has published several follow-up pieces about the feminsit blogosphere. Check them out - and support their future calls.


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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Carnival of Feminists #30

Check out the 30th Carnival of Feminists on The Feminist Pulse.

You'll notice that Jaymi features the work of yours truly; she writes (very complimentarily, may I add):

"Speaking of the feminist blogosphere in general, we have *e letting us in on the research she's doing about the feminist blogosphere, of which her blog A Blog Without A Bicycle is part. I'm really excited about her research because I'm especially interested in this topic. She gives basically her entire outline, and it's a mouthwatering read. Her research proposal is entitled: Carnival Collectivities: Blogging and the Formation of Online Feminist Networks. YUMMM!!"

Big thanks to Jaymi for hosting the carnival and for the props!


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Alpha Beta

Resistant to Change?

I'm not sure how I feel about the new Blogger. I mean, sure, yes, definitely, it has a lot of new user-friendly features. But, as I had just gotten comfortable enough with my HTML skills to really utilize the old platform, I was a little miffed by the sudden introduction of a new system (those who are tech-savvy, please do not die from my poor use of terminology here). I'm not qualified to give a technology review here; I'm just resistant to change.

The availability of free blogging software, however, is what has made the blogosphere what it is today (according to quite a few folks). The introduction of Blogger.com in 1999 is often cited as the catalyst for the blogging boom. So, I have to wonder. Will the new Blogger format change the face of blogging again? Is this the beginning of another new and exciting wave of blogging? Or are updates in blogging technology just par for the course at this point? No big exciting news - just new.

Hm...Points to ponder.


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Monday, February 05, 2007

We're Open

...for Interviews

After a few rounds of revisions, I now have full IRB approval to conduct interviews. So! You can expect some interesting reading material in the very near future, as I will post the conversations I have with feminist bloggers (who are cool with having a transcript posted, of course).

And, if you would like to be interviewed, just check out the informed consent form, post a comment, and I will get in touch with you. Or you can email ablogwithoutabicycle(at)gmail(dot)com, if you would prefer more confidentiality.

Thanks to everyone who has been supporting my project! You all rock.


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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Catalogue Me!

ISSN

Did you know that weblogs qualify to receive ISSN numbers? For US residents, you can visit the Library of Congress's ISSN for Serials website and register your blog; I believe a link to non-US registration sites is available on the page as well.

As a big geek who spends a lot of time doing library research, this fact (courtesy of The Weblog Handbook) tickled me. I mean, I use ISSN and accension numbers to procure articles all the time. To think that other researchers could find me that way...Like whoa.

Of course, I will probably gain more "publicity" just by keeping a public blog. And the idea of getting an ISSN assignment might be passe - a throwback to the debate about whether or not bloggers should be eligible for press passes.

But thesis-writers love a good distraction. Enjoy!

UPDATE 3/20/2007
Apparently, "personal blogs" are not eligible for ISSNs. It is unclear to me how the Library of Congress defines "personal blogs" from the material they sent to me, but perhaps multi-author blogs still qualify for ISSNs.



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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Seeking House Husband or House Wife

Reproductive Labor

Hey, I'm an equal opportunity employer...

After spending the last 2 weeks hitting the books hard and pumping out presentations and writing, I've noticed that I really could use a reproductive laborer. You know, someone to take care of the dishes that are walking out of the sink, restore my floors to their original color, make the bathroom useable again. Or maybe more basic tasks - like meal preparation and trash removal. I mean, I really need someone to take care of the fact that the only socks that I have left are those with cartoon characters or no-slip grippers on them.

But I also know that as a student, I really cannot afford to pay an empoyee a living wage, provide health insurance, contribute to a retirement account, etc. Hiring a personal assistant, or even a part-time maid, is out of the question. So, I asked myself, how did all of those successful academics do it back in the day? And then it hit me - many of them had wives! The question then became, how can I get myself a house husband or a house wife?

So, in case you are interested, I am currently accepting applications. I really just need someone to manage the day-to-day stuff so I don't have to step away from theorizing to figure out what type of meal one prepares with soy milk, mustard, walnuts, an apple, chocolate chips, and some frozen kale. Which is something of a theoretically based task in itself.

...Or I could just stop showering, cut the nonsense, and get back to work!


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Friday, February 02, 2007

Money, Money, Money

So, I live in a capitalist society. And I am very aware about how the patriarchal-capitalist values that exist in my culture (United States) put women at a disadvantage: 75 cents on a man's dollar, mommy tracking, tax benefits for housewifery versus career, old boy's network...So, when I started reading about how blogs can be used to create revenue, I immediately thought about multiple streams of income - diversifying one's personal portfolio, if you will. A good strategy for financial wealth, or at least health, is to have more than one source of income. Now, this does not mean working six jobs. Instead, it means finding additional ways, especially those that require little effort, to supplement one's income. So, if you are a personal trainer, turn your personal training program into a book. Make money from your expertise without needing to meet with individual clients; let them read your book instead. Or, more traditionally, invest in a few good stocks. Earn returns.

And what does this have to do with blogging? Well, you can put ads on your blog. Your blog could make money for you!

But...that could also be considered selling out.

But...women are generally economically disadvantaged. Shouldn't we get to work the system? Shouldn't we stick it to the man? Or just get to be creative, financially-savvy businesswomen?

Do feminist bloggers feature ads on their blogs? What do most feminist bloggers do generally? Is there a stance in the feminist blogosphere about ads? Would a feminist blog be able to generate significant revenue? Does the inclusion of ads change a feminist blog? Is there a way to incorporate ads that is more feminist? Are there any corporate blogs doing advertising in a feminist way?

In other words, are ads a good thing for feminist bloggers? I know I wouldn't right all of the financial woes of women by going on a add-ads-on-your-blog-campaign (and, as a researcher, I ethically could not post them on my blog). But every little bit helps, right? Or wrong?


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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Feminist Self-Promotion

There are lots of reasons that individuals blog - to share ideas, to connect with communities, to keep in touch with friends, to create social or activist networks, to have fun...Many feminist bloggers focus on themes such as calls to activism and integrating feminist ideals into their personal lives. In her blog Girl With Pen, feminist Deborah Siegel takes on another important issue - self-promotion. While detailing her book tour for her latest publication, Only Child, Deborah also discusses her views on current events, feminist happenings, and other items of interest. Shameless self-promotion, selling out, or taking feminism to the mainstream? I think of Deborah's project as a step towards making the feminist movement more visible, and in a positive light at that. Hey, if corporations and individuals whose politics I disagree with brand themselves with huge success via the blogopshere, then I definitely want feminists to utilize these tools for furthering feminist goals! And I think Deborah is providing a great example.


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