“You know what they say: Knowledge is power. And the Internet can help spread that knowledge – and spread the power. If more people learn about feminism – and debunk the radical myths surrounding it – then that in and of itself is a form of activism. And the Internet can help us reach such goals.” –Carly Hope Finseth
Carly Hope Finseth, editor of the 'zine Empowerment4Women and blogger at The Greatest Blog You'll (Probably) Never Read is the latest member of the feminist blogosphere to join me in another great email-based interview.
A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you identify as a “feminist”? How important, if at all, is being/not being a feminist to your identity?
Carly Hope Finseth: I absolutely identify as a feminist. I wouldn’t say that it’s a conscious part of my self-identity, though. It certainly helps define who I am – but my feminist beliefs are more like a subconscious intuitiveness in that they’re automatic, a filter through which I see the world (my “feminist colored glasses”). I couldn’t turn it off even if I wanted to.
I guess I’d put it this way: for me, being a feminist is as important to my central identity as being a woman; the two, I believe, go hand in hand. But I don’t sit around and think, “Hey, I’m a woman – and hey, I’m a feminist.” I just am. And frankly, I think that most women are feminists at heart; most women want what’s best for them. That, to me, is the cornerstone of feminism – the idea that any woman has the right to make her own choices, to define her own life. And from that standpoint, I believe every woman should identify as a feminist – and most probably do, even if they don’t identify with the term itself.
A Blog Without a Bicycle: Whether or not you identify as a feminist, what does “feminism” mean to you?
Carly Hope Finseth: Feminism is the belief that women have the right (and even the duty) to choose their own path, create their own destiny, to live the way they want to – without barriers, without judgment. For some women, this symbolizes equality (a term we hear a lot when referencing feminism); for others, it’s about respect and rights. For some, it’s about choice. Choice about one’s own body, the choice between career or family – or even a balance of both. Still others view it as a way to overcome oppression and inequity.
In my experience, a person will define feminism differently depending on his or her own experiences. Abuse and rape victims may look at feminism as a way to overcome patriarchal objectification and seek true gender equality. Women who have had an abortion experience may view feminism as a way for a woman to keep – or gain, in some instances – her right to choose what to do with her own body. For some it’s personal, for some it’s political. For me, feminism is about choice, respect, rights, and – especially – the self-empowerment to do what’s right for you.
A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you or have you ever kept a blog or blogs? When you spend time online, do you read blogs? Are there any blogs you read regularly?
Carly Hope Finseth: Oh absolutely. I have a blog, “The Greatest Blog You’ll (Probably) Never Read” (www.empowerment4women.org/community/blogs/thegreatestblog/). And since my job (as the Managing Editor/Publisher of the online magazine Empowerment4Women, www.empowerment4women.org) is primarily Internet-based, I spend a lot of time browsing through women’s interest sites and blogs – as well as a few just for fun.
Just recently I switched over to a new e-mail client that has a built-in aggregator for news and blog feeds – so I’ve been able to keep up-to-date with some of my favorite blogs, which is fabulous! Some of my favorites are Bitch, Ph.D. (http://bitchphd.blogspot.com), Feministing (www.feministing.com), Buttercup & Bean (http://buttercupandbean.blogspot.com), Peek (www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/), The Feminist Pulse (http://www.girlistic.com/blog/blogs), and, of course, my fellow E4W blogs, like Inside the Box (www.empowerment4women.org/community/blogs/insidethebox/). I also subscribe to a few entertainment blogs, too, like Pajiba (http://www.pajiba.com) and The Futon Critic (http://www.thefutoncritic.com).
A Blog Without a Bicycle: Tell me about your blog(s).
Carly Hope Finseth: My blog just recently turned one year old, actually. Wow. I just realized that and I can’t believe it. I began it truly just for fun. No inspiration, no suggestion. I’ve always enjoyed journaling and thought, “Hey. Why not journal for the entire world to read? Because it’s not like it’s embarrassing or anything…” Actually, now that I think about it, who knows why I would air my dirty laundry for the world to read? I guess it’s just fun. In some sick sort of way…
I had a hard time coming up with a name for my blog because while it’s hosted through my feminist ‘zine, I also wasn’t planning on it being a primarily feminist blog. “The Greatest Blog You’ll (Probably) Never Read” is what I came up with – mostly because I figured I’d be writing about so much drivel that people probably wouldn’t read it. And honestly, that’s okay – because some of the stuff I probably shouldn’t be sharing anyway. ☺ And so, since you asked, I’d probably characterize my blog as a little bit of this and a little bit of that – with some feminist insights thrown in along the way for good measure. There’s no theme, per se; it’s just about me. Welcome to my brain. Sometimes it’s a scary place.
A Blog Without a Bicycle: How do you define a “blog”?
Carly Hope Finseth: Isn’t there a standard definition for this somewhere? Hmm… I guess I’d define it as a web site that gets updated very often, has an interactive component where readers can leave their comments and essentially “chat amongst themselves,” contains several entries written in a mostly conversational tone, and comes in one of two forms: personal journalistic narrative and/or informative news. I personally like the blogs that incorporate a little of the two: shows readers the “real” person, while also giving round-ups of news across the globe or offering insightful tidbits on current real life issues.
A Blog Without a Bicycle: What qualifies as a “feminist blog”?
Carly Hope Finseth: I’d say pretty much any blog written by a person who identifies as a feminist. There are a few obvious ones (like Feministing, etc.) that very clearly focus their content on feminist issues. But I also think that there are several “everyday people” blogs written by or for women that could also be considered a “feminist blog.” Whether or not the author considers his or her blog to be feminist in nature is probably the best indicator.
A Blog Without a Bicycle: Have you ever participated in a blog carnival? If so, tell me about that experience.
Carly Hope Finseth: Yes, actually. I was given the honor of hosting the 33rd Carnival of Feminists just a few weeks ago. It was a fantastic experience. It put me more in touch with current women’s issues than I had been in a long time; in fact, it forced me to take a few days out of my life and focus on nothing but feminism. The best part, though, was being introduced to so many new blogs and bloggers that would have otherwise taken me a long time to discover.
A dear friend of mine told me about the feminist carnivals and I’ve been a faithful reader ever since. I became interested in participating when I ran across a blog entry from somewhere – now I can’t remember where, but it’s likely it was from a previous feminist carnival – which led me to the carnival host’s site. I discovered she was looking for future hosts and without really even thinking about it, I signed up. Later, I realized that it would be a great way for me to get people to learn more about me and my ‘zine – and make some new online friends.
Now that I’ve participated in a carnival, I think that they can be a fabulous networking tool – not to mention a way in which people with likeminded philosophies can visit each other’s blogs, read each other’s work, and become engaged in conversations that really matter. It’s really strengthened my belief in the importance of such an event, as if anything, I want to show my support for all of these fantastic, intelligent, insightful, empowered feminist bloggers.
And really, that’s the best part about carnivals: the networking and triumphant sense of support and unity that arises out of such an event. The worst part, if there is one, is that sometimes the carnival entries can be a bit repetitive; in other words, the same bloggers are featured in the same carnivals – and we aren’t able to see a lot of new faces. But that’s only if I’m looking for something to gripe about.
A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you belong to or consider yourself a member of any online community? How do you define these communities?
Carly Hope Finseth: Well, the primary online community I’d say I’m a part of is Empowerment4Women (www.empowerment4women.org) – but that’s kind of a no-brainer. I do participate in things like MySpace but see them as less of an online community than, say, a marketing tool. My blog – and my experience hosting the feminist carnival – has been one arena in which I’ve felt that I’ve become more a part of the overall blogging community, as well as a tiny part of the subculture of feminist blogging. Ultimately, I wouldn’t say that I am a member of any online community; that is, separate from my work at and for E4W.
A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that activism can be carried out online? What are the possibilities of such activism?
Carly Hope Finseth: Oh, wow. I love this question. I sure hope so – because I’ve built my business and my online identity on the belief that activism (in my case, feminist activism) absolutely can be carried out online. The Internet can be an incredibly powerful arena for which to gather the troops so to speak, to link people with common interests, build communities, and work together toward a common goal. In my mind, activism can take on several forms, not the least of which is the dissemination of information. You know what they say: Knowledge is power. And the Internet can help spread that knowledge – and spread the power. If more people learn about feminism – and debunk the radical myths surrounding it – then that in and of itself is a form of activism. And the Internet can help us reach such goals.
A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that feminist activism is being conducted online? If so, can you think of any examples?
Carly Hope Finseth: Well, for starters, there’s my ‘zine, Empowerment4Women (www.e4w.org)… ☺ But, seriously, I’d like to think that E4W is a place where we engage in some form of feminist activism every day – through our blogs, as well as through our bimonthly issues, which we try to use as a tool to inform and connect women to each other, as well to the concept of self-empowerment. There are countless other ‘zines – big and small – cropping up all over the Internet, as well – and of course there are the blogs, such as Feministing.com, Bitch, Ph.D., and many others which focus on feminist activism through building online communities and awareness.
Carly and I will be continuing our conversation - check back soon!
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