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!
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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