Monday, April 30, 2007

The Washington Post printed an article about the harassment of feminist bloggers online; this article is the latest of many articles that have been written in response to Kathy Sierra's experiences.

This article does a good job of providing a wide range of perspectives on this situation, but one area that it fails to address is the way in which harassment, especially sexual harassment, is aimed at women more often than men AND that this fact reflects larger social systems that need to be interrogated. Historically, women's speech in public spaces has been limited. The social mechanisms used to silence women in public have included legal codes, but are more often maintained through cultural conventions. The fact that women are harassed online, in the streets, at work, at school...This points to a need to address, as a society, how social constructions of gender limit individuals' abilities to participate fully in public functions.


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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sexing Up My Thesis

Fact: I am no graphic designer.

But I do try! Several individuals have indicated that they would prefer a "sexier" version of my thesis that is prettily formatted. I agree that presentation counts. So, I am trying to oblige to the degree that my skills allow. A few self-publishing snafus that I've run into:

1. Cover Art: I can make a pretty cover using PowerPoint. That is about the extent of my software access. So, if you would like to participate in the "design a cover" contest - do jump in!

2. Hyperlinks: Is there a way to keep hyperlinks live when one PDFs a document? My thesis is full of link love in MS Word format, but I know a PDF document would be more accessible to folks. Losing links might be a trade off, but I just thought I would ask about this dilemma.

Thanks!


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Mind Your Manners Online?

Would a blogging code of conduct improve the quality of debate in cyberspace and make the blogosphere a safer and more "civil" place? Or would such rules stifle free speech and limit the discourse that makes the blogosphere such a rich venue for debate?

W.W.H.S.: What would Habermas say?


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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Posting of the Thesis

How do you want it to go?

So, I am quickly approaching the point at which I will be ready to post the final and official draft of my thesis. Hurrah! This accomplishment, however, does raise a few questions. Like...

1. Would you rather see my thesis in the format in which I submitted it to the college (lots of formatting requirements) or in a sexier, better designed lay out form? And, if a nicer layout would take more time, would you mind?

2. What type of "activities" would you be interested in around the release of my thesis? A live online chat, Q&A sessions via blog posts, streamed audio interviews, thesis copy signings and pictures with the author (okay, so I'm joking about this last one)?

3. Is the posting my thesis as PDF file accessible for most folks? (PDFing gurus - I have some questions - send help!) If not, suggestions?

Basically, I'm just asking what would best serve the feminist blogosphere in how I present the final report of my research. So, let me know! And, if you want to contact me anonymously, feel free to shoot an email to ablogwithoutabicycle(at)gmail(dot)com; just indicate that you would like to remain anonymous.

Celebrating...


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HPV Debate Continues

Lawmakers in Texas have blocked the mandatory vaccination of tween-age girls entering 6th grade (read more here).
Apparently, the mixture of "under-age girls, cancer, and sex had proven too volatile" for Govenor Rick Perry, who had sponsored the bill that was vetoed.

I do hold the recommendation for vaccinations of young girls (why not boys?) to be suspect, but I also do think that *not* talking about "under-age girls, cancer, and sex" is perhaps more dangerous. Let's have healthy and balanced debates about health and health care - and provide individuals with enough information to make informed decisions.


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Monday, April 23, 2007

When Spell Check is Trying to Tell You Something...

So, MS Word's spell check prompted me to change "femi-nazi" to "feminize" in the draft of my thesis that I have been editing to completion. A subtle suggestion, no?

How funny. Spell check supports the patriarchy...


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Saturday, April 21, 2007

From the Cutting Room Floor

Killing My Darlings

No, that's not a reference to a slasher film. A friend back in college once quoted a famous editor, whose name I now forget, who used to refer to the editing process as "killing one's darlings." I am terrible at killing my darlings; I can barely work myself up to change words or phrases - nevermind sacrificing whole sentences. In fact, I usually just end up being more verbose in attempts to correctLuckily, I have a great thesis committee who are keeping me on editorial track.

But I'm still having a hard time letting the following dear ones go...like the following turns of phrase:

An example of undermining my own argument that had to go:
Of course, one could challenge this assessment of blog carnivals as carnivalesque spaces because of the many differences between the carnivals Bakhtin describes and weblog carnivals. For example, an important aspect of medieval carnivals and literary carnival is the use of the grotesque. Although some bloggers may include elements of the grotesque in their blog postings, the grotesque is not an implicit component of blog carnivals. Despite such disjunctures, the spirit of the carnival, however, is maintained in feminist blog carnivals in the way that they provide a venue for challenging official narratives.


Easy, breezy, beautiful prose that is stylistically distracting:
The description that these bloggers provide of feminism is somewhat similar to that given by feminist writers Jennifer Baumgardener and Amy Richards in Manifesta: Young Women, Feminsm and the Future: “for anyone born after the early 1960s, the presence of feminism in our lives is taken for granted. For our generation [third wave feminists], feminism is like fluoride. We scarcely even notice that we have it – it’s simply there.” Or, perhaps more accurately, feminism is to these bloggers like fluoride is to their teeth. Teeth are a key component of one’s being and whether they recently started treating their teeth with fluoride or have always been doing so, these bloggers have a difficult time imagining life without the integrity of their fluoride-treated teeth.


Darlings, you're out! And I mourn you...


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Friday, April 20, 2007

Interview with Janet Grace Riehl

"Part of what made me think about blogging was how much time I spent in personal email and on listserves...and how I could perhaps maximize my impact through my blog." -Janet Grace Riehl

Janet Grace Riehl of Riehlife.com and I recently exchanged emails about the feminist blogosphere. Enjoy our interview below!

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?

Janet Grace Riehl: I don’t introduce myself as a feminist. I do my best to dodge most labels, because I’ve noticed they tend to cut connections, rather than create them. Probably if there were a checklist of values held by feminists, I would agree with many of these.

When the Feminist Movement was on the rise in the 1970s, I was in my 20s, and so these ideas were important to my thinking at the time. My great-aunt Amelia was a feminist—wearing bloomers and running the family farm long before these things were thought seemly in a woman. My mother, who died last year at 90, was certainly a feminist, although she would never have called herself that. Mother was a matriarch and the daughter of a matriarch. My father is a feminist in that without giving it a thought he treated his daughters with every equal opportunity to engage in his world of fixing and making things just as he did with his son. My sister, a world-class physicist who died in 2004 in a car accident, was certainly a feminist and focused on bringing more women into science and math professions.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Whether or not you identify as a feminist, what does “feminism” mean to you?

Janet Grace Riehl: When I worked in Africa for five years in the 1970s, I saw strong women outside my family and culture. I thought, “These are women of power.” That’s what I feel “feminism” means in its best sense—a “woman-ism”—each woman achieving her fullest power in whatever way she defines this. Beyond this, equality of the sexes has to mean that men are included as well, in relieving their burdens as well as in supporting women’s.

In a broader sense, I feel feminism merges with humanism and I feel a strong connection to the feminista spirituality movement that draws on ancient myths around Gaia to fuel Eco-Activism. I see my Eco-Art Work and my participation in Womens Caucus for the Arts as feminist-related.

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?

Janet Grace Riehl: I’ve just started my blog “Riehl Life: Village Wisdom for the 21st Century.” I’m just starting to learn about blogs and the (dratted word) blogosphere.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Tell me about your blog(s). How long have you been keeping a blog?

Janet Grace Riehl: I started my blog this year in January, but only started posting daily recently.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What made you want to start a blog? What was your inspiration?

Janet Grace Riehl: My website was focused on highlighting my book “Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary.” I wanted to go beyond the book. I’d been hearing about blog/blogging for some time, and finally during a virtual tour for my book, decided to set one up as the face page for my website.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How would you describe your blog?

Janet Grace Riehl: It’s a mix of down-home and high culture, I guess.

I wanted to set it up so I’d have lots of room. “Riehl Life” lets me write about everything that I love…connections, in whatever form, including family.

The official tagline is “Creating connections through the arts and across cultures.” In addition to writing, I’m also a visual artist, performer, and musician. I’m very interested in how these relate to each other. I’ve also lived and worked with several cultures, particularly in Africa and plan to write about Africa for my next publishing project. Communication and connecting across cultures fascinates me.

The blog also allows me to feature my father, 91, and his publishing projects and stories. That’s precious to both of us.

My blog reflects my thinking and reading life to great extent.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Does your blog have a theme or does it focus on a particular issue?

Janet Grace Riehl: “Creating connections through the arts and across cultures” is the tag line. Also,Village Wisdom. What is it? What is a village? My village? What is wisdom? How can wisdom from the past be brought forward into the 21st century to make things make a little more sense?

This month, since April is poetry month, I’m focusing on poetry.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How do you define a “blog”?

Janet Grace Riehl: Web logs (blogs) seem to have a range in terms of their audiences. Some are mainly on-line journals and scrapbooks. Others are marketing tools. And so on. It seems as if blogs provide a more focused and immediate way to get out your message, whatever that message happens to be.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What qualifies as a “feminist blog”?

Janet Grace Riehl: Using the definition above, it would be any blog that helps a woman become more powerful, however she defines this. And, any blog that helps men move forward in their sense of self and society.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Have you ever participated in a blog carnival? If so, tell me about that experience. Why did you want to participate in a carnival?

Janet Grace Riehl: I’m currently participating in Eric Maisel’s “Ten Zen Second’s” blogtour. Is this a blogcarnival? I thought it was a good book; it would be fun; educational; and might help my blog visibility.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How did you find out about the blog carnival you participated in?

Janet Grace Riehl: I was signed up to Eric’s Creativity newsletter and then to his Ten Zen Seconds group.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Now that you have participated in a carnival, what do you think about them?

Janet Grace Riehl: We’re in the middle of it now, so it’s too early to say.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What do you think is the best/worst aspect of blog carnivals?

Janet Grace Riehl: The best is meeting a few new people. The funniest part was bumping in to folks in another group I belong to, that would appear quite unrelated. No downsides so far.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you belong to or consider yourself a member of any online community? How do you define these communities?

Janet Grace Riehl: I belong to a number of yahoo groups related to publishing such as Women Writing the West and EPIC—electronic publishing; and my Buddhist group, Rigpa.

Mainly, I participate through daily email digests and posting. Part of what made me think about blogging was how much time I spent in personal email and on listserves...and how I could perhaps maximize my impact through my blog.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that activism can be carried out online? What are the possibilities of such activism?

Janet Grace Riehl: Certainly there are examples of that. It seems like an inexpensive way to bring like-minded people together….as Move On! Has done.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that feminist activism is being conducted online? If so, can you think of any examples?

Janet Grace Riehl: That’s not my area, so I don’t know. Women are certainly empowering themselves and they are using the Internet to do that.


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Interview with Nathan (Continued)

Nathan of Misanthrope Cyclist and I continued our conversation aboout the feminist blogosphere.

Interview

A Blog Without a Bicycle: You note that how women are treated in society is only one problem created by "the patriarchy." What exactly do you mean by patriarchy? What are some of the other issues that you would highlight in addition to women's treatment?

Nathan: Patriarchy is the cultural pretense that men are superior to women. At the same time, it is the collection of people who desire to maintain this pretense, consciously or unconsciously.

A major assumption under the patriarchy is that it is acceptable for the "strong" to prey upon the "weak" - the "strong" being the societarily [sic] privileged; those whom "the system" backs up; those who are willing to use, or at least threaten to use, this backing to get what they want from someone "weak", someone lower down the patriarchical [sic] totem pole - to get what they're entitled to in the feminist vernacular.

The strong believe everything they see is rightfully theirs (see Adrienne Rich's poem Mother-Right). They protect "their" weak and keep them in line; they take advantage of "other" weak. Queers [sic] are feared, demonized, and persecuted; strong women are feared, shunned, and ridiculed. And, not only is this acceptable, it is expected and rewarded! What's more, *not* behaving this way is punished! Sensitive men are mocked - Showing feelings of an almost human nature! This will not do. And, because many women fall for the lure of the patriarchy, men worry about showing signs of "weakness" to even their partners. Everyone is so distracted just trying to get by they fail to see the problem or, if they do see it, they can't or won't act - The big fish eat the little ones / Not my problem, give me some.

Entitlement, however and for example, is not just a "feminism" problem, though. Not to say that it's minor from that perspective – certainly rape, both violent and not (see the Biting Beaver's Rapist Checklist - http://bitingbeaver.blogspot.com/2006/10/repost-of-old-favorite.html); abusive relationships; sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. It's just that it's more than even that! It's big kids picking on little kids; motorists harassing cyclists; white people fearing blacks and controlling their behavior; straights fearing queers [sic] and demonizing and abusing them; hell, it's xenophobia in general; it's rich people making the rules… that only the poor must follow; it's humans mistreating animals. It's a wicked sickness that spreads and spreads.

Anyway, radical feminist (such a loaded phrase!) theory speaks to all of this; provides a language and foundation that should be built upon relating all these issues and more. I fully expect this has been done to some extent but this has so much potential I can't believe it's been exhausted.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: You mention that politics are left out of your blog "at least explicitly." Is there a reason that you have chosen not to write about politics explicitly?

Nathan: I'm generally not comfortable making statements about things I'm uncertain about. Blog entries are statements made before, potentially, the whole world and the political is filled with deceit.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: You list a number of online communities that you belong to. How would you compare online communities to offline communities? Are there specific features that online communities have that offline communities do not, or vice versa?

Nathan: Online communities have freedom from physical bias; for the most part, the only "facts" known about you online are those you willfully reveal.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: You mentioned some great examples of feminist activism that is happening online. Have you ever participated in any activist efforts via the internet? How effective do you find online activism to be?

Nathan: Most online activism online is fairly ineffective, directly. E.g., I suspect online petitions carry very little weight. Typically, online activism can only bring ideas to people and allow discussion on those ideas, both of which could potentially change the opinion of the person on either side of the exchange which could have limitless indirect effects. I like to think I've done some of that. That and I've signed online petitions. :)


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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Interview with Jenn (Continued)

Further, I’ve worried for some time that blogging, by its definition, excludes lower income people, who cannot afford to host their own blog, or cannot afford the time commitment it takes to blog consistently. Most prominent bloggers are either full-time bloggers or can set aside time during the day to write and edit meaningful posts; blogging excludes the illiterate and those who don’t have reliable internet access. I think this is a fundamental weakness in blogging-as-activism that has yet to be satisfactorily addressed. -Jenn

Jenn of Reappropriate.com and I have continued our conversation. More great insights!

Interview

A Blog Without a Bicycle: In your description of your blogging history, you mention that you have only kept a “traditional blog” for two years. What exactly do you mean by this? What constitutes a “traditional blog” for you? How do you distinguish between blogs and online diaries, etc?

Jenn: I started out doing online web design and development, so I define a “traditional blog” versus an “online diary” by technology and by purpose. When Reappropriate was first conceived of, I used it primarily as a diary, and generated diary entries by hand/hard-coding. Most of my entries had to do with my feelings and personal events occurring in my life. However, I eventually realized that what I enjoyed about my diary was sharing my opinion rather than my day-to-day activities, and as I became more involved in political activism, I decided to re-invent my blog as a political activism/current events blog. As I began to blog more frequently, I gave up on hard-coding each entry, and opted to publish via online blogger publication software (Blogger.com), before eventually transitioning to Wordpress. So, by distinguishing between my blog and its roots as a diary, I am acknowledging how my blog’s technology and purpose has changed over time. Looking back at my old entries, my blog is almost nothing like it was when it first started.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: I’m curious about the title of your blog. What made you choose Reappropriate.com?

Jenn: Appropriation of Asian/Asian American culture in the form of Orientalism and fetishization of the East has always been an interesting issue for me. I feel that much of the way the West has interacted with Asian/Asian American people is due to this Orientalist perspective, which has led to the Asian/Asian American community allowing itself to be defined in the American landscape largely by non-Asian influences. Reappropriate.com was named because I believe that the Asian/Asian American community needs to start our community-building efforts by re-appropriating our identity and narrative. Eventually, this word has come to symbolize the general need for all minority identities to stand up for ourselves and work towards social justice.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: You explain that one of your motivations for creating your blog was increasing the Asian American feminist presence online, if I understand correctly. Do you feel that there has been a change in the blogosphere since you began this effort? Further, are there any groups that you feel are underrepresented in the feminist blogosphere today?

Jenn: I did mention that when I started blogging, it was right when blogging really started becoming popular and accessible. Back when I started, there was no existing collective of Asian American feminist bloggers, or even very many APIA bloggers who consistently blogged primarily on political analysis and identity politics discussion. Since I started blogging, the Technorati blog category, “Asian American” has grown from just myself to over twenty different blogs. I also started APIAblogs.net, which is a syndicated blog community modeled after feministblogs.org, and which currently boasts over 30 member blogs. I definitely feel like there has been an improvement in the visibility of the Asian American politic in the blogosphere since I started blogging. I don’t think I had much to do with it, but I certainly think it’s been great to observe.

In my opinion, the feminist blogosphere has wonderfully capitalized on group debate as a means of exploring feminist thought. However, I am concerned that feminists of colour are underrepresented within the feminist blogging community. I think the reasons for this aren’t simple, but I think the solution is greater collaboration between feminist blogs and feminist of colour blogs while respecting the fact that both perspectives are different and equally viable.

Further, I’ve worried for some time that blogging, by its definition, excludes lower income people, who cannot afford to host their own blog, or cannot afford the time commitment it takes to blog consistently. Most prominent bloggers are either full-time bloggers or can set aside time during the day to write and edit meaningful posts; blogging excludes the illiterate and those who don’t have reliable internet access. I think this is a fundamental weakness in blogging-as-activism that has yet to be satisfactorily addressed.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: I’ve never participated in live-blogging and I am not entirely familiar with it. Would you mind sharing your experiences or perspectives on this blogging technique?

Jenn: Sure! I found live-blogging to be a fun way to include readers in a common event, and to share the experience with them. Also, afterwards, my live-blogs have ended up being good summaries for readers who miss the event. I started live-blogging the Oscars, and then transitioned to reality television shows that have implications towards race activism (e.g. FX’s “Black/White”). I’ve experimented with different formats and styles of live-blogging, and have found that the easiest way to do it is to leave the television on and write a play-by-play of what’s happening, along with snarky comments to intersperse a little analysis. Obviously, you need to be a pretty fast typist but I’ve found that my live-blogs usually get re-linked as summaries and are great at stimulating discussion. I continue to do it mainly with shows I already plan on watching.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Your description of what qualifies for you as a feminist blog is really interesting. You wrote that, “In my opinion, a “feminist blog” is one that is maintained by a self-identified feminist and that periodically considers issues of feminism and gender equality. I’m not of the opinion that a feminist blog need be pro-feminist (although, obviously, it’s unlikely that a self-identified feminist would blog anti-feminist material), need be blogged by predominantly female bloggers, or that a feminist blog be a safe space for the feminist mindset.” I’m not quite if I completely understand what you mean. Generally, I would agree with your points about a feminist blog being one that is self-identified by the blogger or that it would not have to always focus solely on feminism. And, personally, I think that one can be a feminist regardless of one’s gender or sex. Further, I think there is room for feminist blogs to be spaces for working out conflicts between different feminisms and internal conflicts within specific feminist groups. Are these ideas the ones you are getting at? Or have I missed your point?

Jenn: Yes, that is a good summary of my ideas – I’m sorry if I wasn’t being too articulate. The only extra idea is that I believe that there must be some discussion of feminism. I don’t think being a feminist is enough – the blog must also address feminist/gender equality issues on occasion. I’ve seen several blogs that claim to be an Asian American political blog, for example, that blog almost entirely on food, homework, etc.


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Welcome to the World...

...Z.! Congrats, G.W....


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Carnival of Feminists #36

The latest Carnival of Feminists is available on Fetch Me My Axe.


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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bye, Bye Abortion!

I have yet to find an emoticon that expresses my unhappiness with today's Supreme Court ruling on the so-called "partial birthy abortion" procedure. Medical decisions should be made between medical doctors and medical patients. Enough said.


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100th Post Party

So, it seems appropriate that my 100th post is appearing on the same day that the first full draft of thesis got approval (minus some revisions to be prepared). Start the music and drop the balloons! Let's celebrate...


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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Girls Afraid of Being Geeks?

What's really going on with women and computer science?

I found this recent article by the NYTimes to be a bit puzzling. In attempting to assess why women seem to be entering the field of computer science in smaller numbers than men, one issue that the reporter did not consider was sexism. Sexism in terms of what fields women are encouraged to puruse. Sexism in terms of how women are treated once they enter a field. Given the experiences of Kathy Sierra, I would say that investigating how gender shapes inviduals experience in information technology fields is very important. But is the only reason that women do not pursue this career path the fact that pocket protectors aren't the best accessories?


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Monday, April 16, 2007

Part 2

I welcome your Peer Review!

For the sake of time, I uploaded Part 2 of my thesis as PDF document as opposed to doing all of the necessary edititing to display it in the text of a blog post. Please check out Part 2! When reading this installment of my thesis, note that some interviews are still in progress, so this section will be updated once those interviews have been completed and I integrate the information I gather from these interviews into my thesis.

And, for those of you who want to review Part 1, here are the links to the previous installments:

First Installment: Introduction

Second Installment: That Which We Call a Blog?

Third Installment: From Blogs to Blog Carnivals and Beyond

Fourth Installment:The Myth of Internet Democracy

Fifth Installment: The Imagined Communities of Blog Communities

Sixth Installment: The Public-o-sphere

UPDATE 4/17/07:
Looking for the tables?

Looking for the figures?

Apologies for forgetting to upload them in the original post!



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Getting Over Delusions of Grandeur

Taking my M.A. comprehensive exam gave me the opportunity (or required me to through a test question - however you want to look at it) to reflect on what exactly is a feminist methodology. There has been much debate and discussion about what makes a method feminist or not, as no method is inherently feminist. So, what is it about my project here that makes it a feminst one? And, are there any ways in which my project is not feminist - despite my goal of making it so?

In my research, I have made respecting the wishes of the folks who participated in interviews my #1 goal. I asked people to tell me how they wanted to be identified (legal name, blog name, psudeonym, etc), to review all transcripts, and to decide for themselves if they want transcripts to be posted on my blog.

In reporting my research, I have tried to honor the spirit of the blogosphere and have soliticited feedback from folks about whether or not I am on target in my analysis. Feminist bloggers are the REAL experts about the feminist blogosphere and I want to give them the strongest voice in my project.

Despite these efforts, the fact remains that I, the researcher, still have the most control over my project. There are ethical and political implications to my project and there will always be some degree of power imbalance between researchers and research participants. But, in being aware of these factors, I have tried to close this power gap and to make my research beneficial to the blogosphere. By keeping a blog and sharing my research and interviews, I am in a small way contributing to archive feminist work in the blogosphere.

There is still a part of me, however, that gets nervous about making strong claims based on the conclusions that I draw from my research. Indeed, I often fall into the trap of self-reflexive paralysis. Especially when dealing with the insight interviewees have shared with me. I want to remain true to the spirit of what bloggers stated when discussing interviews in my thesis while at the same time allowing myself the freedom to provide assessments based on my own interpretations. But what if a blogger disagrees with how I represented her or him? Well, that's when I fall back on the structure of my research plan - I actively solicit peer review to provide a great opportunity for bloggers to have voice in this project. Yes, the narrative voice of the researcher is often all-power, but I really want to change this dynamic in my work.

The question remains whether or not I have been successful in doing this. I do hope so...


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Yes, She's Back...Back Again

After taking a bit of a sabbatical from blogging in order to take my M.A. comprehensive exam and to turn in a full draft of my thesis, I have returned to the blogosphere! Lots of updates are forthcoming: more thesis writing for your peer review, several additional interviews, and more!


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Monday, April 09, 2007

Just Click...And Have a Say!

Again, please take my polls!

Poll #1: What theme/category of articles that frequently appears in feminist carnivals do you think is the most important?

Poll #2: As a feminist blogger, with what wave of feminism do you identify?

Poll #3: As a feminist blogger, have you ever experienced sexism in your online experiences?

I know that I won't get a scientifically valid sample from using on-blog polls, but I'd love to get some more feedback on these topics. Thanks!

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Interview with Uma

Uma from Indian Writing expanded the global scope of my project by participating in an interiew. Big thanks to Uma!

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?

Uma: Yes, I identify as a feminist. It is an integral part of who I am.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Whether or not you identify as a feminist, what does “feminism” mean to you?

Uma: It means the continuous effort to dream and hope and transform the world into a fairer and more humane place.

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?

Uma: Yes, I have a blog – http://indianwriting.blogsome.com. I do read other blogs, but not as much as I would like to. There are some blogs that I read regularly, those which share at least some of my interests.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Tell me about your blog(s). How long have you been keeping a blog?

Uma: Over two years now.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What made you want to start a blog? What was your inspiration?

Uma: I wanted a space of my own for my personal expression. It’s like a room of my own on the web.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How would you describe your blog?

Uma: It’s my personal space on the web, a reflection of who I am, and my varied interests – Indian writing, feminism, social and environmental issues, animal rights, poetry, health issues especially cancer, and more.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Does your blog have a theme or does it focus on a particular issue?

Uma: It is called Indian Writing but it reflects all of the interests I have listed above, and more.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How do you define a “blog”?

Uma: A personal space. A presence, individual or collective, on the internet. A speaking voice, a listener (real or implied).

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What qualifies as a “feminist blog”?

Uma: A blog that reflects the blogger’s concern about any issue that concerns feminism. Including justice, dignity, quality of life, etc etc.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Have you ever participated in a blog carnival? If so, tell me about that experience. Why did you want to participate in a carnival?

Uma: A great sense of solidarity. Connecting across colours, cultures and countries. Wow.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How did you find out about the blog carnival you participated in?

Uma: From one of my favourite blogs!

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Now that you have participated in a carnival, what do you think about them?

Uma: I love them.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What do you think is the best/worst aspect of blog carnivals?

Uma: The best thing – the sheer diversity of voices and concerns. Nothing really “worst” that I can think of, unless it’s a carnival where the blogger hosting it is indifferent to the hard work it takes to present a good carnival, or only focuses on certain kinds of issues. I enjoy diversity and look for it in the carnivals I visit.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you belong to or consider yourself a member of any online community? How do you define these communities?

Uma: Yes. Many communities, and they intersect across various lines – Indian, feminist, brown feminist, animal rights, blogging, progressive/liberal, literary, and so on.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that activism can be carried out online? What are the possibilities of such activism?

Uma: Yes, to an extent. But India is still deeply divided on the digital front, with illiteracy and poverty being more immediate issues than internet access. But as more and more people come online, voices will start speaking about their own lives, their own stories. I am confident of this.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that feminist activism is being conducted online? If so, can you think of any examples?

Uma: Every blog that talks of feminist concerns is taking the conversation forward in its own way. Feministing, Pandagon, Bitch PhD, I Blame the Patriarchy, Blank Noise Project are all doing activism in their own ways.


Please read the Informed Consent Form in full before posting to this blog.

Chapter 1 (Sixth Installment)

I welcome your Peer Review!

First Installment: Introduction

Second Installment: That Which We Call a Blog?

Third Installment: From Blogs to Blog Carnivals and Beyond

Fourth Installment:The Myth of Internet Democracy

Fifth Installment: The Imagined Communities of Blog Communities

The Public-o-Sphere

“The changes sweeping through news media are vast and tremendously disruptive of old hierarchies. But they are not limited to the news media. They are coming to your life and probably have already appeared there" (92). –Hugh Hewitt

In exploring the blogosphere, it is important to consider what type of space this cyberspace has become. To better understand the blogging world, I will utilize feminist applications of Jürgen Habermas’s theories on the public sphere. Using the work of theorists who have extended Habermas’s original concept to take new information technologies like the internet and rapidly the evolving transnational condition developing through the global migration of industries, materials, and ideas into account, the blogosphere can be understood as a transnational public sphere. In this assessment, the feminist blogosphere relates to the larger world of blogging as a counterpublic sphere. Focusing on the elements of the feminist blogosphere that contest hegemonic discourses, I will incorporate Mikhail Bhaktin’s concept of the carnivalesque to supplement Habermas’s rendering of the public sphere. While many theorists have read the differences between the publics of Bhaktin and Habermas as oppositional, I use this theoretical tension as a generative space for exploration of the potential of feminist blogging to make social change in cyberspace and in the offline world.

The concept of the public sphere comes out of The Theory of Communicative Action in which Habermas argues for “communicative rationality” (93) in civil society that would promote a democratic culture. Using nineteenth century literary salons of the liberal bourgeois as an example of what he calls ideal speech situations, Habermas presents the public sphere as an intermediary space in which the “lifeworld” (94), or private sphere, can be protected from “colonization” (95) by the “system” (96), or the forces of the modernizing state. For Habermas and many of the theorists who have further developed this concept, the public sphere “describes a social imaginary that is created and reproduced through discourse, but, at the same time, denotes a collection of historically-specific institutions that structure the possibilities for communicative access” (97). In this way, the public sphere is relational and contextually situated.

Habermas’s formation of the public sphere has been criticized for its exclusive nature (98), its lack of attention to the counterpublic spheres that are created through the hegemony of a dominant public sphere (99), and its linguistic focus that dos not address embodiment (100). Further, theorists like Gemma Edwards have asked what is so “new” about the new social movements that Habermas proposes originate in opposition of colonization of the lifeworld (101). In light of these accurate critiques, I will be incorporating feminist revisions of the public sphere and Bakhtin’s concept of the carnivalesque into my assessment of the blogosphere as a public sphere.

Can cyberspace be considered a public sphere? In applying Habermasian theory in analysis of the blogosphere, this question is the first that must be addressed. If the requirement of face-to-face communication is relaxed, then many aspects of the public sphere can be found in the online world. Although theorists have expressed skepticism about the degree to which cyberspace fits the definition of Habermas’s public sphere, I would argue that the blogosphere in particular meets many of the “normative features of communicative public interaction”: the “social acts” that take place in the blogosphere are aimed at an audience that is “indefinite,” there is an “expectation of response” to these social acts, and it is an open space for “interaction” (102). Generally speaking, blogs are available to any (or at least most) internet users who choose to access them and feature a comment system that allows dialogue between the blogger and reader. In this way, blogs present the possibility of enacting the democratic ideals that underlie Habermas’s public sphere.

While arguing that the blogosphere is a public sphere it is important, however, to remember who has access to this space. As previously discussed, the digital divide prevents some individuals from entering cyberspace and the systems of oppressions that exist in the offline world are also present online, as “the Internet develops in interaction with the larger social structures, ‘offline’ problems and conflicts it internalizes and refracts” (103). So although the blogosphere may fit the parameters necessary to be considered a public sphere, it also shares the same negative exclusive qualities and other problems of such spaces.

One distinction between the public sphere of the internet and the public sphere Habermas describes is found in what type of intermediary the public sphere is in these two cases. For Habermas, the public sphere is generally mediating between the individual and the state; this conception has a local focus. On the internet, institutional forces largely originate in the corporations and media conglomerates that provide the infrastructure of cyberspace; these institutional forces operate on a global scale. As James Bohman explains in “Expanding Dialogue: The Internet, the Public Sphere and Prospects for Transnational Democracy,” “[t]hose powerful social institutions that may now inhibit the formation of a public sphere in electronic space are no longer states, but, rather, corporations and other market actors who increasingly design and control its architecture” (104). The global reach of internet is important in terms of the transnational movement of capitalism and culturally based values. While some theorists have seen the trend towards transnationalism as having more negative effects than positive ones (105), Bohman does see promise in the formation of transnational public sphere:
In such boundary crossing publics [of a transnational public sphere], the speed, scale, and intensity of communicative interaction facilitated by the Internet that open social space that is a positive and enabling condition for democratic and perhaps cosmopolitan deliberation (106).


For Bohman, the “development and expansion of a transnational civil society” (107) in cyberspace is both possible and, at least potentially, positive. Bohman makes it clear, however, that the transnational public sphere created via the internet is not unitary. He explains that computer-mediated communication is “distributive” in that it “‘decentres’ the public sphere: it is a public of publics rather than a distinctively unified and encompassing public sphere in which all communicators participate” (108). The overlapping public spheres of this assessment are helpful in considering how the feminist blogosphere in its specificity relates to the larger blogosphere. As I will later illustrate using feminist public sphere theory, the feminist blogosphere becomes a counterpublic to the public sphere of the greater blogosphere. Bohman makes it clear that such counterpublics are important to the maintenance of public space:
Just as all public spheres have technological mediations of features of communicative interaction, all public spheres require counter-intermediaries and counter-public spaces to maintain their publicness; that is, their sustainability over time depends precisely upon those members of public concerned with the public sphere and public opinion and, thus, concerned to have a say in the construction of the public space in whatever technical means of communication is available (109).

In what follows, I will consider how the feminist blogosphere helps to construct the public sphere of the cyberspace and vice versa.

In “Feminism and the Political Economy of Transnational Space,” Lisa Laughlin discusses how feminist theory has been used to revise Habermas’s conception of the public sphere. Laughlin explains,
Feminists have revealed the ways in which political and economic factors that have played a role in the exclusions constitutive of the normative and historical dimensions of a liberal-burgeois public sphere, where the very meaning of ‘civil society’ was constructed through the very exclusion of women, the proletariat, and popular culture (110).
As a corrective to this theoretical position that ignores these exclusions, feminist theorists have “introduced the concept of the counterpublic sphere, a space for the invention and circulation of counter-discourses by members of subordinated social groups” (111) Similar arguments have been made about the existence of other alternative public spheres, such as those focusing on “[s]ubaltern counterpublics” (112). The feminist blogosphere is a counterpublic sphere, as it is composed of members of a “subordinated social group” (113) and as it presents a “counter-discourse” (114) to the oppressive ideologies that circulate in the larger blogosphere and cyberspace in general. In its communicative composition, the counterpublic of the feminist blogosphere is quite similar to the larger public sphere of cyberspace; it is the content of the counterhegemonic discourse that circulates in the feminist blogosphere and its subordinated status to the discourse of the larger blogosphere that makes it a counterpublic.

The way in which feminist bloggers are a “subordinated social group” (115) may not be immediately clear, especially because of the democratic assessments that are usually provided about the blogosphere in general. For example, in describing how the blogosphere has innovated traditional media, Hugh Hewitt claims that through the blogophere “[t]he public becomes the editor” (116) and therefore decides what information is deemed newsworthy and subsequently circulated. Citing the role of blogs in exposing the scandals surrounding Trent Lott, Dan Rather, and Jayson Blair, Hewitt proclaims, “[t]he old information monopoly has had an enormous ability to decide where and when news would be ‘news.’ That gatekeeping function is gone, and blogs have rushed in to decide for themselves what matters” (117). It is true that blogs have changed the way in which news is reported; not only have blogs broken stories before traditional new venues, but they have also pursued issues that were not being reported until they forced mainstream media outlets to do so. While it may seem that the blogosphere is realizing the potential of the public sphere through its ability to influence the corporate media system, some individuals are denied access to effecting change in this way. Individuals who are separated from cyberspace by the digital divide do not have the option to participate in the public-o-sphere of the blogosphere. Further, some individuals are silenced in the blogosphere because of their identities and beliefs; gatekeeping is still taking place. Analogous to the systems of oppression that operate in the offline world, individuals who are excluded from the public sphere in the offline world are also excluded online.

Exclusion from the public-o-sphere based on gender categories is especially important to consider in assessing the role of the feminist blogosphere in relation to the larger blogging world. Laughlin raises gendered aspect of the digital divide when she points out that,
When gender is factored into the equation [of the digital divide], the gap between ‘information-haves’ and ‘information have-nots’ is an especially wide one, with poverty, illiteracy, and lack of access to basic infrastructure such as electricity and telephone lines blocking the majority of the world’s women from having any opportunity to represent themselves and their concerns (118).
Laughlin does not, however, believe that the answer is to dismiss the public spheres that are enabled through new technologies. Instead Laughlin calls for a
transnational feminist approach to the public sphere to find a way to address this simultaneous inclusion and exclusion of women [specifically through low-skilled and semi-skilled information technology employment] rather than to walk away from it as thought it were a lamentable ending to an otherwise appealing narrative (119)
. I believe that the feminist blogosphere is one potential space for fostering this “transnational feminist approach” (120). While acknowledging the limitations of the blogosphere in terms of its accessibility, feminist bloggers can – and do – use this space to raise awareness not only about the digital divide but also about other feminist issues. The feminist blogosphere provides a space for countering hegemonic discourses through its counterpublic qualities and many feminists are taking advantage of it.

The counterhegemonic discourses that are circulated in the feminist blogosphere are not always well received; in fact, ideas circulated in this counterpublic of the have often been rejected in other public spheres of cyberspace. Further, the dominant public of cyberspace – and even the offline world – have policed the discourses of the feminist blogosphere. Examples of such censure can be seen in the recent experiences of bloggers Kathy Sierra, Melissa McEwan, and Amanda Marcotte.

In late March 2007, technology expert and software programmer Kathy Sierra was “subjected to verbal abuse” on weblogs that ranged from hate-speech to threats of sexual violence and death (121). The motivation behind this attack seems to be sexist and misogynist attitudes towards women; the fact that Sierra is a woman who is succeeding in a male-dominanted field appearss to be what earned her this negative attention. In early February 2007, Melissa McEwan and Amanda Marcotte chose to leave the staff of John Edwards’s presidential campaign because of the blogstorm that centered around the feminist writings that they posted on their personal blogs prior to joining the campaign. The negative attention that these two bloggers received became so great that they felt that the controversy over their feminist positions prevented them from being able to effectively contribute to Edwards’s campaign.

In both of these cases, women who were participating in counterpublic spaces were silenced because of their sex, the content of their speech, or a combination of these elements. In this way, the legitimate entry of these individuals into the public sphere was limited; seen as undesirables by those who dominant the public-o-sphere, Sierra, McEwan, and Marcotte were denied access. Such maintenance of the public sphere is important to consider when attempting to assess the potential of counterpublic spheres online. If the contributions of the members of counterpublic spheres can be shut down, as can be seen in the case of these bloggers, then the ultimate ability of the feminist blogosphere to effect social change must be questioned.

Before lamenting the demise of the feminist blogosphere that such public policing seems to suggest, it is important to consider the fact that there have been instances in which this counterpublic has successfully confronted dominant groups. Despite setbacks faced by individual bloggers like Sierra, McEwan, and Marcotte, the feminist blogosphere as whole remains robust. Further, some activist projects that have been launched via the blogosphere have been extremely effective. For example, the anti-street harassment campaign launched through the collaborative HollabackNYC blog led to direct action by the New York City Police Department to reduce “sexual misconduct” aimed at women in the city’s subway system (122). Today, Hollaback blogs have been started in various cities and states in the United States and around the world; HollabackNYC currently lists sixteen other locations have that have launched similar projects (123). Further, even in the cases of Sierra, McEwan, and Marcotte, the feminist blogosphere was able to level some resistance against its detractors. By compiling large archives of blog and media coverage of these events, the feminist blogosphere launched a counternarrative that interrogated mainstream sensibilities about these situations. The 32nd and 35th editions of the Carnival of Feminists provide examples of such archives. Here I would like to suggest that it is the very carnival nature of feminist blog carnivals that allow them to succeed as counterpublics despite opposition. In framing blog carnivals as carnival spaces in the Bakhtinian sense, a place for subverting official narratives is created.

Many blog carnivals have been introduced by their hosts with language that recalls the ambience of a county fair or circus. In fact, the first blog carnival was started with a call for bloggers to “Come one, come all. See the freaks on the display for the low, low price of absolutely nothing!” (124). Feminist carnivals have opened with similar lines like “Welcome! to the first Carnival of Feminists. In this show there are no captive animals or ‘freak’ displays, but plenty of passion, lots of fun, and more than the odd bit of juggling of life” (125) or “Welcome, ladies and germs, to the sixth edition of the Carnival of Feminists. We’ve got quite a show for you tonight, so sit down, take a whiff of that sawdust, break open that bag of buttery popcorn, and enjoy the show!” (126). While these introductions that emphasize the playful nature of carnival may just be clever word play, the fact that bloggers consistently reframe blog carnivals in this way is important. In invoking the carnivalesque, bloggers reinforce the idea that blog carnivals are a carnival space. This insistence on the carnivalesque indicates that it is not only a primary quality of blog carnivals, but one that is also useful to bloggers in some way. As illustrated by Bakhtin, in the middle ages, carnivals provided a space for individuals of lower status to engage individuals of higher status in acts of subversion. By asserting the carnivalesque nature of weblog carnivals, feminist bloggers are implicitly establishing blog carnivals as a space for challenging dominant groups.

Obviously, the nature of carnival online is different than its embodied form in the offline world. Nakamura provides an assessment of the carnivalesque qualities that cyberspace generally takes on in Cypertypes:
This ‘second world’ [cyberspace], like a carnival, possesses constantly fluctuating boundaries, frontiers, and dividing lines that separate it from both the realm of the ‘real’ (that which takes place offline) and its corollary, the world of the physical body which gets projected, manipulated, and performed via online interaction (127).
It is the “constantly fluctuating boundaries, frontiers, and dividing lines” (128) that make the online world such a generative space for contradicting hegemonic discourse. As a new “frontier” (129) the rules and norms of cyberspace are still being developed. Although this “wild west” quality can sometimes lead to expressions of prejudices online that are not considered appropriate in the offline world, it also simultaneously frees internet activities from offline constraints. The norms that govern the world wide web, however, are quickly being established through the corporatization of cyberspace. In this rapidly developing environment, blog carnivals function in a similar way that the medieval carnivals that Bakhtin studies in Rabelais and His World do: “they buil[d] a second world and second life outside officialdom” (130). Feminist blog carnivals operate outside of the “officialdom” of mainstream news media and the larger blogosphere. Like the literary carnival spirit that “offers the chance to have a new outlook on the world, to realize the relative nature of all that exists, and to enter a completely new order of things” feminist blog carnivals serve
to consecrate inventive freedom, to permit the combination of a variety of different elements and their rapprochement, to liberate from the prevailing point of view of the world, from conventions and established truths, from clichés, from all that is humdrum and universally accepted (132).

In other words, feminist blog carnivals enable the spread of counterhegemonic discourses through their very carnival nature.

Having established that feminist blog carnivals have utility despite resistance from the larger public sphere, it may be helpful to explore the formal traits that blog carnivals share with Bakhtin’s carnivals. Like the “mesalliances” (133) Bakhtin’s carnivals, weblog carnivals blur boundaries. In providing a list of links to blog articles spanning a variety of topics, blog carnivals “allow for unusual combinations” (134); different types of information from personal to political to public and an assortment of writing styles from non-fiction prose to opinion piece persuasive to life writing all come together in weblog carnivals. Further, blog carnivals encourage “‘free and familiar contact between people’ who would usually be separated hierarchically” (135), temporally, or even by the difference in subject matter that they include in their blogging. Additionally, blog carnivals blur the boundary between reader and writer in their weblog format; as previously illustrated, the community that is created through the comment feature on a blog is as important to defining the blog genre as the writing done by the individual blogger who is creating this website. In the same way that there is “no difference between actors and spectators” (136) and “everyone is a participant” (137) in Bakhtin’s carnivals, blog carnivals also have a participatory nature. It is this “free and familiar contact” between individuals and collective participation that make blog carnivals as space that “allows for ‘mass action’” (138) that effects social change.

Of course, one could challenge this assessment of blog carnivals as carnivalesque spaces because of the many differences between the carnivals Bakhtin describes and weblog carnivals. For example, an important aspect of medieval carnivals and literary carnival is the use of the grotesque. Although some bloggers may include elements of the grotesque in their blog postings, the grotesque is not an implicit component of blog carnivals. Despite such disjunctures, the spirit of the carnival, however, is maintained in feminist blog carnivals in the way that they provide a venue for challenging official narratives.

Notes
92. Hewitt, Blog, 155.
93. Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, 1:10.
94. Ibid, 2:318.
95. Ibid.
96. Ibid.
97. Laughlin, “Feminism and the Economy of Transnational Public Space,” 159.
98. Ibid, 160.
99. Ibid. Crossley and Roberts, “Introduction,” 15. Gardiner, “Wild Publics and Grotesque Symposiums,” 43-4.
100. Gardiner, “Wild Publics and Grotesque Symposiums,” 30-1.
101. Edwards, “Habermas and Social Movements: What’s ‘New’?,” 111.
102. Bohman, “Expanding Dialogue,” 135.
103. Ibid., 141.
104. Ibid, 137.
105. For example, Inderpal Grewal provides an excellent discussion of the consequences of transnationalism in terms of how the United States has circulated globally both in physical and ideological manifestations in Transnational America: Feminisms,
Diasporas, Neoliberalisms.
106. Bohman, “Expanding Dialogue,” 137.
107. Ibid., 138.
108. Bohman, “Expanding Dialogue, 139-40.
109. Ibid., 143.
110. Laughlin, “Feminism and the Political Economy of Transnational Space,” 160.
111. Ibid.
112. Crossley and Roberts, “Introduction,” 15.
113. Laughlin, “Feminism and the Political Economy of Transnational Space,” 160.
114. Ibid.
115. Ibid.
116. Hewitt, Blog, 108.
117. Ibid., 17, 103.
118. Laughlin, “Feminism and the Political Economy of the Transnational Public Sphere,” 172.
119. Ibid.
120. Ibid.
121. Walsh, “Men Who Hate Women on the Web,” http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2007/03/31/sierra.
122. Lee, “Undercover Police Charge 13 with Lewdness on Subways,” http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/23/nyregion/23expose.html?ex=1176177600&en=9909877ba3309975&ei=5070.
123. HollabackNYC, http://www.hollabacknyc.blogspot.com.
124. Carnival of the Vanities, http://www.silflayhraka.com/archives/carnival.
125. Bennett, “Carnival of Feminists #1,” Philobiblion, http://philobiblion.blogspot.com/2005/10/carnival-of-feminists-no-1.html.
126. Jenn, “Carnival of Feminists #6,” Reappropriate.com, http://www.reappropriate.com/?p=348.
127. Nakamura, Cybertypes, 142.
128. Ibid.
129. Ibid.
130. Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, 6.
131. Ibid.
132. Ibid., 34.
133. Vice, Introducing Bakhtin, 149.
134. Ibid.
135. Ibid., 152.
136. Ibid., 181.
137. Ibid.
138. Ibid.,152.


Constructive criticism from "experts" on Bakhtin and Habermas would be especially appreciated!


Please read the Informed Consent Form in full before posting to this blog.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Interview with Ginger

Ginger from Diary of a Freak Magnet joined the interview insanity. Thanks, Ginger!

Interview

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you identify as a “feminist”?

Ginger: Since the day I was born. My family is full of strong women, and strong men who love them; we believe you have to make your own way, take full responsibility for your life, help whomever you can, and don’t tell other people what’s good for them.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How important, if at all, is being/not being a feminist to your identity?

Ginger: I would say that it is an integral part of my identity. I absolutely MUST be the person who directs the course of my own life, and I believe that every other human being is born with the right to do the same.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Whether or not you identify as a feminist, what does “feminism” mean to you?

Ginger: Economic, social and political equality for both genders. Period.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you or have you ever kept a blog or blogs?

Ginger: I’m the writer of “Diary of a Freak Magnet.”

A Blog Without a Bicycle: When you spend time online, do you read blogs?

Ginger: Yes – political, personal, news, entertainment, you name it!

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Are there any blogs you read regularly?

Ginger: Pandagon, Feministe, Feministing, Shakerville, PunkAss Blog, GoFugYourself, Abyss2Hope, Mad Sheila Musings, I Blame the Patriarchy, A View From a Broad, Heartless Bitches International, Angry Black Bitch, A Socialite’s Life, Bitch PhD, Defamer, Hello Dollface, The Happy Feminist…I guess I’m a bit of an addict!

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Tell me about your blog(s). How long have you been keeping a blog?

Ginger: Since January 2006.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What made you want to start a blog? What was your inspiration?

Ginger:I've got a rep for attracting odd characters, particularly of the male variety. I've told so many funny/horrifying stories that friends and family members told me that I should start writing them down. I started the blog so for their amusement,and to stretch a different creative muscle (I'm a graphic artist by trade, but I love to write). When I went back and re-read what I'd written, I began to notice behavioral patterns that I could actually relate to feminist theory and research regarding gender politics. Even though I usually presented these encounters with humor, a good deal of the underlying interactions were serious. Unwanted attention from men, hostile male reactions to women's rejection (no matter how kind), sexual harassment at work, violation of women's personal space…these are all antifeminist behaviors.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How would you describe your blog?

Ginger: Personal/Humor/Feminist.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Does your blog have a theme or does it focus on a particular issue?

Ginger: I mostly write about my bizarre interactions with men and other unusual, “boundary-challenged” people. Sometimes I veer into political territory – I do believe that the personal is political.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How do you define a “blog”?

Ginger: An online diary that focuses on whatever interests its writer.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What qualifies as a “feminist blog”?

Ginger: Any blog that is written by a self-identified feminist. The ones I read tend to address the disparities between women and men in the social, economic, and political spheres. They also address how certain behaviors are interpreted depending on which gender is demonstrating that behavior.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Have you ever participated in a blog carnival? If so, tell me about that experience.

Ginger: I hosted the 28th Carnival of Feminists, and I had contributed a few posts to earlier carnivals.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Why did you want to participate in a carnival?

Ginger: I had read a few, and enjoyed them, but rarely found any links which dealt with the humorous aspect of the absurdity of most anti-feminist behavior.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How did you find out about the blog carnival you participated in?

Ginger: Probably through Feministe or Pandagon. Can’t remember.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Now that you have participated in a carnival, what do you think about them?

Ginger: Participating and hosting are a thrill. You increase your blog traffic, get some great feedback on your posts, get to read some tremendously interesting material, and feel like you contributed something to a very large online community of people who are seriously voracious to increase their knowledge.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What do you think is the best/worst aspect of blog carnivals?

Ginger: The amount of bullshit spam you get when you host! Sifting through entries is difficult enough without all the gay dating service ads and porno links. Also, you will attract the occasional troll, which can be annoying. The old “I bet U are a hairy-legs sasquatch CUNT” line gets old.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you belong to or consider yourself a member of any online community? How do you define these communities?

Ginger: I don’t know if I “belong”, but I enjoy feminist discourse enough to both read and contribute.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that activism can be carried out online? What are the possibilities of such activism?

Ginger: Look at what MoveOn.org did for the congressional elections. Large feminist blogs contributed also, by constantly writing about the hypocrisy, money grubbing and bias within the previous Congress (and showing their effects on common people). Progressive blogging and feminist blogging are keeping certain issues in the news, and in the public consciousness. It’s hard to marginalize people who can tear apart a biased news article minutes after it’s published online.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that feminist activism is being conducted online? If so, can you think of any examples?

Ginger: Feminists make up a huge part of the blogosphere, and their intelligent commentary on gender relations builds bridges between generations in a way that hasn’t been seen before. It makes antifeminists nervous, which is evident in the backlash we’ve seen recently (most notably against Kathy Sierra and Jessica of Feministing).


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1,000th Visitor Party

*Flashing Lights, Confetti and Ballon Drop, Celebratory Music*

Today, the number of visitors who have stopped by A Blog Without a Bicycle since January 31, 2007 surpassed 1,000. To honor what seems to me to be a momentous event (read: blogosphere newbie), I am having a small 1,000th Visitor Party via this post. You're all invited to celebrate the success of this blog and my project thus far - and yourselves, of course, as you are the folks who are making it possible.


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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Second Interview with Suze

Suze of Personal Political and I finished our interview exchange. Kudos to Suze!

Interview

A Blog Without a Bicycle: In our previous exchange, you mentioned that you think of a feminist blog as those written by women that focus on improving women’s position in the world. Generally, your assessment reflects what I’ve seen on the web in the feminist blogosphere. I am wondering, however, about your opinion on men’s role in feminism. In your opinion, can a man be a feminist (some regional differences dictate how this label can be applied)? Should men participate in the feminist blogosphere? If so, how? And, have you observed any male bloggers writing on feminist issues? What did you think about their efforts?

Suze: I think men can be pro-feminist and active supporters of the women's movement (and of individual women) but personally I prefer to reserve the word 'feminist' for women (though both women and men can be anti-feminist!)

I've seen some men participating in the feminist blogosphere, mainly around the issue of parenting – they keep their own blogs about parenthood and comment (positively) on feminist mothers' blogs and a community grows from there.

On the general political blogs, such as the Australian one I belong to, women usually post on the typically feminist issues, such as abortion and contraception, but many pro-feminist men join in on the comments threads. I like to see men engage with other men on these issues.


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Friday, April 06, 2007

Interview with Suze

I tend to think that a feminist blog would be written by a woman/women and that they reflect on the position of women in the world (in hopes of improving it!) – whether it's an individual's account of her own life or an explicitly political blog. -Suze

Suze of Personal Political and I have been exchanging emails about the feminist blogosphere. This is the first of two interviews that will be posted here. Thanks, Suze!

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?

Suze: Yes I strongly identify as a feminist. I’m 50 now and have identified as a feminist since I was in my early teens, around the age of 14 or 15. So it is a fundamental part of who I am and have been for most of my life (all of my life really, because I felt the same as a child but didn’t have the word for it).

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Whether or not you identify as a feminist, what does “feminism” mean to you?

Suze: It means a lot of things! It means, basically, that as human beings, women are worth as much as men. It’s an understanding that women have been oppressed physically and psychologically throughout history. It means that women have the right to control their own bodies and lives, to develop as individuals and that of course, in order for that to happen, women must have equal rights in education and work, equal legal standing, equal standing in relationships, etc, as men. Feminism also implies an organised political movement made up of all sorts of women’s groups, working to improve the situation of women all over the world at every level.

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?

Suze: I keep my own blog and also belong to a collectively run blog.

When I go online I spend a lot of time (too much time!) reading blogs. There are several I read regularly, most of which are on my blogroll, most of which are written by women and which address both the personal and political dimensions of their lives.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Tell me about your blog(s). How long have you been keeping a blog?

Suze: I started blogging in early 2004.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What made you want to start a blog? What was your inspiration?

Suze: I started reading blogs in early 2003 and became very interested in them. I work in the media and have worked as a writer and columnist, so the form of opinion-writing was one I was already familiar with. I had also been involved in online discussion groups since the mid-90s, mainly through email listserves. Blogs were a new avenue for communication and expression on the Web which many of my online pals had turned to. So it seemed a natural development for me to start blogging too.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How would you describe your blog? Does your blog have a theme or does it focus on a particular issue?

Suze: My blog is titled Personal Political – the personal in the political/the political in the personal' and that sums it up! It is of course based on the famous feminist saying that 'the personal is political', something I've always felt very strongly and which was explored by feminists in consciousness raising groups in the 1970s. I make about 3-7 blog entries a week – sometimes they are short posts with a link to an article of interest to me; sometimes they are personal diary-like entries about my life. I look at some of the 'big' issues, such as the war in Iraq, the environment and Australian politics; I also blog a lot about being a mother and about my child. In all my personal posts I try to explore the political consequences and in my political posts I cover the personal dimension.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How do you define a “blog”?

Suze: A blog is typified by being instantaneous publishing to the web. It's not necessarily interactive as not all blogs allow comments, but in my mind, comments and the discussions of the posts are almost as important as the blogger's entries.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What qualifies as a “feminist blog”?

Suze: I tend to think that a feminist blog would be written by a woman/women and that they reflect on the position of women in the world (in hopes of improving it!) – whether it's an individual's account of her own life or an explicitly political blog.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Have you ever participated in a blog carnival? If so, tell me about that experience.

Suze: I hosted the second Carnival of Feminists.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Why did you want to participate in a carnival?

Suze: I saw it as an important way of raising the profile of feminist bloggers and of drawing attention especially to women in the third world. I also wanted to help women bloggers connect with each other.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How did you find out about the blog carnival you participated in?

Suze: I knew Natalie, the founder of the carnival from an email media discussion group and then from her blog – when she decided to instigate a feminist blog carnival, she asked me if I would host the second one.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Now that you have participated in a carnival, what do you think about them?

Suze: I gained quite a few regular readers for my own blog, which was an unexpected side effect, and I also found several feminist blogs which I continue to read over a year later – so I think they're a good thing.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What do you think is the best/worst aspect of blog carnivals?

Suze: Best aspect is providing a gathering point for likeminded bloggers on the web, which can be a huge lonely place. Worst aspect is that there's so much material, it's impossible to read it all.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you belong to or consider yourself a member of any online community? How do you define these communities?

Suze: I consider myself to be a member of various online communities, some of which overlap and some which don't. For example, I see myself as a member of the Australian blogging community, which is still relatively small; and within that, I see myself as part of the Australian feminist blogging community; and also of the community of blogging mothers and so on.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that activism can be carried out online? What are the possibilities of such activism?

Suze: There can be online activism, as exemplified by MoveOn and in Australia, GetUp – they disseminate information, organize petitions and can have a big influence on attendance at protests. I also hope that the more general political blogs are an active force in influencing the political mood. I'm a member of a group political blog in Australia which I think has quite a lot of influence.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that feminist activism is being conducted online? If so, can you think of any examples?

Suze: I'm sure there is feminist activism online – in Australia, there was a 2006 bill to make the 'abortion pill' RU486 available and there was a lot of online (as well as 'real') organizing, which was successful in the end.


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Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Polls Are (Almost) In...

Please take my polls!

Poll #1: What theme/category of articles that frequently appears in feminist carnivals do you think is the most important?

Poll #2: As a feminist blogger, with what wave of feminism do you identify?

Poll #3: As a feminist blogger, have you ever experienced sexism in your online experiences?

This would be a great way for you busy folks who don't have time to participate in an interview but still want to share input in my project to get involved. (Hint, Hint!)

And feel free to post comments, anonymous or otherwise, about any questions/concerns/critiques/etc that you may have about the poll format.

Thanks!


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Sexism in the Blogosphere

Another Poll - Do Participate!

As a feminist blogger, have you ever experienced sexism in your online experiences?

As a feminist blogger, have you ever experienced sexism in your online experiences?
Yes. I am a female feminist blogger.
No. I am a female feminist blogger.
Yes. I am a male feminist blogger.
No. I am a male feminist blogger.
Yes. I am a trans identified feminist blogger.
No. I am a trans identified feminist blogger.
Yes. I would rather not specify my gender, but I consider myself to be a feminist blogger..
No. I would rather not specify my gender, but I consider myself to be a feminist blogger.
  
pollcode.com free polls



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Carnival of Feminists #35

The latest Carnival of Feminists is up on the the f-word blog. Check it out!


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Interview with HippieChyck

"What I find interesting about this is the way that the web has facilitated the private sector’s ability to appropriate the tactics of community activists in order to mobilize supporters for political and public relations campaigns." -HippieChyck

HippieChyck and I exchanged emails about blogging, social media, private sector applications of blogging, and other great topics. Thanks, HippieChyck!

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?

HippieChyck: I definitely identify as a feminist, and it is a key part of my personal identity. Reading feminist theory and engaging in community and journalistic activism as an undergraduate student were central to my “coming of age” experience.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Whether or not you identify as a feminist, what does “feminism” mean to you?

HippieChyck: For me, feminism is a movement that seeks to both promote equality between men and women, and also to reduce assigned gender roles.

So as important as it is to elect more women to the boards of corporations and to the ranks of senior management in the private sector in western countries, it is also important to encourage these societies to accept men playing a larger role in domestic life.

In developing countries, my feminist lens is tuned to issues like economic empowerment for women, marriage rights, sexual freedom (so that women who are raped are not considered ruined and so that women can negotiate condom use by their husbands/partners), access to birth control and planning information, and education rights.

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?

HippieChyck: My blog is an experiment in defining/refining and sharing my voice. I use it to explore personal, political, and theoretical issues, but also to share information about my daily life with friends and family who live far away.

I am still developing a “favourites” list of bloggers at the moment, but so far I tend to read blogs about communications (which is my profession), politics (which is my passion), and diary-type blogs by other women of colour and by men.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Tell me about your blog(s).

HippieChyck: I have been blogging for one month. I started after returning from an overseas posting with an international NGO to resume working in the private sector after three years away from the business community. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the shift, and the blog was a way to explore my reactions. (I’m loving it, by the way). At the same time, because I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last 15 years (seven cities, four countries), my closest friends and family live far away. They can’t be a part of my daily life, so the blog is a way of including them in it.

The flip side to this, of course, is that the new friends I make in this city don’t know me very well. In theory, the blog could offer them a short hand insight into who I am. In reality, I haven’t shared the link with that many people who live in my city, and I’m finding that I feel most comfortable with either close friends or complete strangers reading the posts.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How do you define a “blog”?

HippieChyck: A blog is an online magazine of articles, opinion pieces, links, and graphics by one or more authors, I’d say.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What qualifies as a “feminist blog”?

HippieChyck: Interesting. Since stumbling upon your blog (by Googling and Technorati-ing for feminist blogs), I’d say there are two types. One provides a forum to look at issues in an academic or theory-like tone. The other is the blog that provides narrative on the author’s life, revealing the political in the issues the author faces in her daily life.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Have you ever participated in a blog carnival? If so, tell me about that experience.

HippieChyck: I hadn’t ever participated in a blog carnival and was a little fuzzy on the concept before taking part in this interview.

But I think the idea of a linkfest, or means of having readers/bloggers share links to information on a specific topic is a tactic that has been used intuitively in the communications business …even if we don’t use the cool name.

What I find interesting about this is the way that the web has facilitated the private sector’s ability to appropriate the tactics of community activists in order to mobilize supporters for political and public relations campaigns.

Communications firms were engaging in mobilisation tactics in the past, of course, but now the Internet allows firms to identify and reach out to potential supporters of an issue or company much faster than before.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you belong to or consider yourself a member of any online community? How do you define these communities?

HippieChyck: I’m not sure I’m quite a member of a specific community yet. There’s still time.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that activism can be carried out online? What are the possibilities of such activism?

HippieChyck: Absolutely. The quick rallying of supporters to protest George W. Bush’s war in Iraq is one example – the web allows for quick sharing of information, including backgrounders, fact sheets, media clippings and supporting documents, if necessary.

On Facebook, I’ve joined a group of women who self-identify as “backroom bitches” – ie women who have worked in the back rooms of political campaigns. Facebook allows me to interact with a targeted group of women who I know share my political party affiliation, know some of the same people I know, but whom I would not have met so quickly without the online group.

For activism that is not tied to partisan politics, I look again to the lobby industry. As a professional lobbyist, I can see that the tactics we use at our firm are easily applied to other groups interested in policy issues. We use the Internet to:
Share information about a policy or issue we/our clients think needs to be changed
Develop an independent platform through which those who are interested in the issue can share what they know
Bring supporters together across geographic regions
Operate in a completely transparent way – our opponents can follow our campaign as closely as supporters
Provide decision makers (politicians, CEOs, whoever the target of the campaign might be) with access to our client’s point of view, and to give them access to the opinions of all those who comment on the site; and
Provide the media with a simple way to track the issue as well


A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that feminist activism is being conducted online? If so, can you think of any examples?

HippieChyck: Well, after finding your site, I’ve continued searching for others. One unfortunate example I found was that of www.blackacademic.com who seems to have sparked so much controversy and reader feedback with her blog (formerly www.blackacademic.blogspot.com) that she’s decided not to post anymore.

Even though this is a negative example, I think it shows clearly that social media has power to affect off-line life.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you have any questions for me based on our conversation?

HippieChyck: I hope this has been useful – let me know how your thesis goes, and keep reading my site!


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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Interview with Jenn

My blog focuses mainly on Asian Americana and feminism, usually with an intersection of both identities. -Jenn

Jenn from Reappropriate.com shared her thought-provoking perspective about the feminist blogosphere with me recently. Thanks, Jenn!

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? Whether or not you identify as a feminist, what does “feminism” mean to you?

Jenn: I do identify as a feminist, although this occurred more recently in my adult life. For a long time, I thought feminism consisted of the stereotypical “femi-nazi” perspective, and I couldn’t reconcile my childhood appreciation for chivalry and romance with an outlook that I felt was about female empowerment and the discarding of the male gender.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that feminism is an expansive term that refers primarily to gender equality. As I’ve grown apart from the Walt Disney Co. ideals of romance and my understanding of feminism shifted, I realized that I do consider myself a feminist. Specifically, I feel that the Asian American feminist perspective is particularly critical to my self-identity since the Asian American politic is still very male-centric and ignores issues of gender and gender iniquity. I believe that Asian American feminism is necessary to insist that the nascent Asian American politic continues to consider a feminist perspective in its discussion of its history and direction.

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?

Jenn: I have kept an online diary for over four years. Only the last two and a half years has the diary really become a more traditional blog.

When I’m online, I spend a little time reading blogs, but usually real life gets in the way. The blogs I read regularly are kept by my real life friends and/or are linked to my blogroll. I usually check up on Angry Asian Man (http://www.angryasianman.com/) and Racialicious (http://www.racialicious.com) for any news that might be relevant to my blog audience.

A Blog Without a Bicyle: Tell me about your blog(s). How long have you been keeping a blog?

Jenn: Reappropriate.com has been around for four years as my online diary, but transitioned into a full blog in December 2004.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What made you want to start a blog? What was your inspiration?

Jenn: Originally, I kept a diary because I felt it helped me better express how I was feeling about my life. However, I soon found that what I most enjoyed about my diary was my commentary on current events and news. As my Asian American feminist identity evolved, I turned to my blog as a way of expressing my political perspective and encouraging other Asian American women to do the same (… wow, that sounds so narcisstic – however, when I first started Reappropriate, I created the “Asian American” tag on Technorati and Google didn’t pull up any hits for “Asian American feminism and blog”.)

My inspiration was my perception that there was a lack of any grassroots discussion of Asian American identity issues as it relates to feminism. I was further motivated by online discussions that I participated in. In these discussions, Asian American male views predominated, and these men frequently bullied Asian American women with their viewpoints. I was disgusted by how frequently a feminist perspective was interpreted as race hatred.

I was heavily inspired by Angry Asian Man (http://www.angryasianman.com), which was (and still is) the foremost Asian American political blog on the Internet.

So, I started Reappropriate as a true blog with the intention of expressing my views and in hopes that it would help to develop the Asian American feminist identity in cyberspace. Because I moderated the space, I also hoped to give the feminist perspective equal time compared to the more male-dominated perspectives that were, at the time, controlling Asian American political outlets on the Internet.

On a more personal note, I always considered myself to be a pretty terrible writer, so I hoped that starting a blog would help me practice my writing skills.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How would you describe your blog?

Jenn: I consider Reappropriate to be part personal and part a political, current events blog. I do a little blogging on my personal life, but mostly I stick to “analysis” of current events that relate to my blog’s themes.

I believe blogs should be a free exchange of ideas. As a blogger, I believe I can learn a great deal from my readers and am always looking for a dissenting opinion to help me challenge my views. So, part of how I view my blog necessarily includes the discussion and debate of my comments.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Does your blog have a theme or does it focus on a particular issue?

Jenn: My blog focuses mainly on Asian Americana and feminism, usually with an intersection of both identities. Most of my readers seem to enjoy having a space where they can discuss issues of Asian American feminism, even if they disagree heavily with it. I also like to delve into American politics, overall race issues, and live-blogging of reality television (primarily as a context for discussion race in media). Also, I infrequently discuss comic books. As you can tell, my blog basically spans my own real world interests.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How do you define a “blog”?

Jenn: A blog is an online space moderated by a small group of people (i.e. “bloggers”) and populated by blogger-centric/blogger-created content as a means of disseminating individualized perspectives and opinions regardless of the numerical majority or minority that the perspective is a part of. However, it is also a meeting point for vastly differing perspectives all aimed at dissecting and debating the content, in hopes that a communal development of a particular politic or perspective can occur.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What qualifies as a “feminist blog”?

Jenn: In my opinion, a “feminist blog” is one that is maintained by a self-identified feminist and that periodically considers issues of feminism and gender equality. I’m not of the opinion that a feminist blog need be pro-feminist (although, obviously, it’s unlikely that a self-identified feminist would blog anti-feminist material), need be blogged by predominantly female bloggers, or that a feminist blog be a safe space for the feminist mindset. Although other blogs fit into these considerations, I don’t personally feel them to be necessary.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Have you ever participated in a blog carnival? If so, tell me about that experience.

Jenn: Yes, I participated in the Carnival of Feminists nearly a year ago.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Why did you want to participate in a carnival?

Jenn: I noticed that the Carnival of Feminists was circulating and I had taken some time to follow it over the months prior. I had noticed that very few of the editions of the Carnival had written about or cent[e]red around the Feminist of Colour’s perspective. I asked if I might host the Carnival so that I might draw attention to the unique perspectives of Women of Colour in a feminist context.

I also hosted an edition of the Radical Women of Colour Carnival, which I found out about through the Carnival’s founder. I participated in that carnival because it was just getting off the ground and needed some support.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How did you find out about the blog carnival you participated in?

Jenn: I think I first found out about the Carnival of Feminists via FeministBlogs.org.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Now that you have participated in a carnival, what do you think about them?

Jenn: I think carnivals are a useful tool for filtering blog content and helping to raise awareness towards good material within a particular group of like-minded bloggers. I think they help to foster a sense of community and are frequently where I find my favourite blogs.

However, carnivals are also biased by the blogger who creates them, and it must be kept in mind that each edition represents a blogger’s opinion of that month’s best posts – not a definitive statement about the quality of posts.

Hosting an edition of a carnival is also a lot of work – more work than one would imagine from the other end.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What do you think is the best/worst aspect of blog carnivals?

Jenn: I think the best aspect of carnivals is the community-fostering element. You can read through a carnival edition and get a good sense of what’s going on in a particular blog community, and frequently you can find some great new blogs to blogroll.

However, sometimes I’m concerned that carnivals are too much all at once. The comments of carnival editions rarely stimulate a holistic discussion of the edition’s theme; rather, they seem to be a spot for linked blogs to thank the host and for readers to comment about which posts were their favourite (with no particular reason given one way or another). I think I would prefer that carnivals stimulate some sort of larger discussion considering all the linked posts as a whole.

Also, I think carnivals can be the source of unnecessary online drama. There’s a potential for taking each edition too seriously, and to be offended if one post (but not another) is linked. Again, I think carnivals are a useful tool for community-building, but there are still some flaws surrounding the process that I think need to be worked out.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you belong to or consider yourself a member of any online community? How do you define these communities?

I consider myself to be part of the feminist blogging community and the Asian American blogging community. I’m not sure that I could define these communities with strict boundaries except that there are certain notable blogs within each community that most people visit – and I aspire to be like them.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that activism can be carried out online? What are the possibilities of such activism?

Jenn: Yes, I do think activism can be carried out online – with the caveat that it must be done in conjunction with real life activism. Many of the Asian American’s recent victories were initiated as online movements, that later transitioned into letter-writing, press statements and street protests. Classically, in 2001, Asian American activists successfully obtained an apology and a recall of offensive T-shirts by Abercrombie and Fitch following a series of simultaneous protests nationwide that was organized over AOL Instant Messenger. But, even in this example, although the Internet was used as an organizational and awareness-raising tool, the actual protests were carried out on the streets, where I think protests would be more effective.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that feminist activism is being conducted online? If so, can you think of any examples?

Jenn: Hmm… although I think feminist activism is being conducted online, I can’t think of too many really good examples. I think a good example would be the internet-based movement amongst female comic book fans to raise awareness regarding the unfair treatment of female comic book characters (http://www.girl-wonder.org). This movement centers around the sexism of DC Comics – Batman keeps a glass class in the Batcave containing a Robin suit as a tribute to Jason Todd, the second Robin who was murdered by the Joker. In a recent story arc, however, Stephanie Brown briefly became the new Robin and, afterwards, was killed by Black Mask. However, until recently, Batman never kept a glass case memorializing her death.

Although it’s not clear to me whether this was as a result of G-W.org’s efforts or not, a recent issue of Teen Titans shows that the third Robin, Tim Drake, has a similar cave in which he has a glass case containing a female Robin suit.


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