"if I'm gonna change the world, I can't do it from a swivel chair." -Veronica Nichols
I recently interviewed Veronica Nichols of Nine Pearls via instant messenger about her thoughts on the feminist blogosphere and beyond. Big thanks to Veronica for taking the time to chat with me!
A Blog Without a Bicycle (04:51:48 pm): to start, i usually just check in to make sure that folks are comfortable with the informed consent form (which you returned) and then ask if 1)what name you prefer to be used to refer to you in any writing i do, and 2)if you would like me to put a transcript of the interview on my blog with a link to your blog
Veronica Nichols (04:52:13 pm): i use my real name. Veronica Nichols.
Veronica Nichols (04:52:26 pm): and sure, a transcript is fine
A Blog Without a Bicycle (04:52:29 pm): works for me! i just like to double check...
A Blog Without a Bicycle (04:53:17 pm): any preference on the transcript?
Veronica Nichols (04:53:42 pm): yes. transcript it. links are good.
Veronica Nichols (04:53:44 pm): lol
A Blog Without a Bicycle (04:54:32 pm): my general feeling as well, but i don't want to violate anyone's confidentiality, if they prefer it
Veronica Nichols (04:54:52 pm): it's always good to be polite and ask.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (04:55:03 pm): so...generally, do you identify as a "feminist"?
Veronica Nichols (04:55:17 pm): yes
A Blog Without a Bicycle (04:55:41 pm): how important is identifying as a feminist to your identity?
Veronica Nichols (04:56:35 pm): it's pretty integral. it's not usually the first thing I say. I don't introduce myself that way. but, I also wouldn't feel like me without feminism.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (04:57:43 pm): introducing oneself as a feminist can be an interesting social experiment in some contexts, as folks have a variety of ideas about what it means to be a feminist. what does feminism mean to you? how do you define your feminism?
A Blog Without a Bicycle (04:59:17 pm): (and you can feel free to ask me any questions you might have at any point)
Veronica Nichols (04:59:22 pm): I'm pretty basic with it. I think that to me, it means that women should have access to equal rights and equal protections under law, first and foremost. All that other stuff--the ins and outs of "femininity" come second.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (04:59:55 pm): i'm not sure what you mean about the ins and out of femininity - would you mind explaining?
Veronica Nichols (05:01:38 pm): I mean that I don't care about whether or not it's "feminist" to high heels or miniskirts, as long as women, regardless of what they wear, are recognized as full citizens of the world.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:03:44 pm): so, for you, the primary thing is women should have equal access to choosing the path of their lives?
Veronica Nichols (05:04:06 pm): yup
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:04:28 pm): very cool
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:04:47 pm): moving onto blogging...tell me about your blogging life
Veronica Nichols (05:05:42 pm): um. i've been through a couple of them. I feel like I've been blogging for a long time.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:05:54 pm): how did you start getting interested in blogs?
Veronica Nichols (05:06:41 pm): i spent a lot of time bored at work, and it seemed like a fun thing to try
Veronica Nichols (05:07:09 pm): that was before "political blogs" were a big deal
aldahlia (05:07:21 pm): it was just, lots of people blogging about their day to day stuff
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:07:24 pm): so, pre-2001?
Veronica Nichols (05:07:41 pm): yeah... according to blogger it was june 2000
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:08:07 pm): i feel like many folks find blogs through internet surfing at work
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:08:15 pm): that is a long time, in the blog world
Veronica Nichols (05:08:42 pm): yeah. it's an eon in internet time.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:09:53 pm): what trajectory has your blogging career taken? you mentioned that you've had a few blogs...did they focus on specific themes or issues? how [did] your blogs change as your blogging skill set changed? stuff like that...
Veronica Nichols (05:10:58 pm): I started out with personal stuff. my life was pretty messy at 20-21. I'm pretty political by nature, so... that kind of thing creeped in from time to time. I've always been called "opinionated" online.
Veronica Nichols (05:11:30 pm): then, like a lot of other people, after 9-11, the writing went a LOT more political
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:12:02 pm): for you, is being labeled "opinionated" a good thing?
Veronica Nichols (05:12:18 pm): actually, I've always thought it was sort of stupid.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:12:19 pm): war blogs did change the blogging landscape indeed
Veronica Nichols (05:12:28 pm): who isn't opinionated?
Veronica Nichols (05:12:48 pm): "opinionated" is such a non-descriptor
Veronica Nichols (05:12:58 pm): it's a polite way of saying, "they're a know it all that won't shut up"
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:13:23 pm): very true - anna quindlen spoke at my undergrad commencement and she talked about the ways she's been labeled - and pondered why she has been told to apologize for having an opinion
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:13:48 pm): sometimes i wonder if "opinionated" is used to describe bloggers in gendered ways
Veronica Nichols (05:13:59 pm): i wouldn't doubt it
Veronica Nichols (05:14:16 pm): i haven't paid much attention, but who describes a man as "opinionated?"
Veronica Nichols (05:14:23 pm): they're supposed to have opinions, right?
Veronica Nichols (05:14:25 pm): heh
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:14:27 pm): if you don't mind sharing, have you had any personal experiences of that nature?
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:14:49 pm): well, i think that's an excellent question in some ways - what is a blog supposed to have?
Veronica Nichols (05:15:36 pm): well, a blog can have whatever you want to put on it... a blog that strangers read, though...
Veronica Nichols (05:15:43 pm): that's gotta have something going on
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:15:59 pm): for you, what makes a blog successful?
Veronica Nichols (05:16:28 pm): the blogs that I like are usually smart, but aware of the limitations of the medium
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:16:43 pm): what limitations do you see in the blogosphere?
Veronica Nichols (05:16:52 pm): well... no blog is going to change the world.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:17:08 pm): that seems realistic
Veronica Nichols (05:17:13 pm): we're all limited by audience, and by class
Veronica Nichols (05:17:23 pm): we're only talking with and to people that have computers
Veronica Nichols (05:17:25 pm): that have time
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:17:31 pm): the digital divide is really important to consider
Veronica Nichols (05:17:31 pm): and access to the interent
Veronica Nichols (05:17:37 pm): and even beyond that
Veronica Nichols (05:17:49 pm): we're usually talking mainly to other bloggers
Veronica Nichols (05:18:05 pm): it's a more of a closed community than a lot of people realize
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:18:06 pm): do you feel that the blogosphere can be incestuous?
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:18:24 pm): what do you mean by closed community exactly?
Veronica Nichols (05:18:29 pm): well, i dunno about incestuous
Veronica Nichols (05:18:31 pm): lol
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:18:39 pm): poor choice of words on my part, yes
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:19:02 pm): we've been talking about the blogosphere generally, but i'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the feminist blogosphere
Veronica Nichols (05:19:33 pm): by closed, i mean that outside of the blogosphere and maybe some politicians and pundits, most people don't really give a crap about blogs
Veronica Nichols (05:19:38 pm): sure
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:19:43 pm): like, is the feminist blogging world mostly the same, a little different than the larger blogosphere? are the limitations similar? is the community open/closed?
Veronica Nichols (05:21:00 pm): i'd say that there are a lot of the same dynamics, as there are in the larger network. there are cliques and memes spread in the [sic] same way. there are hubs in the community.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:21:20 pm): any specific hubs you'd like to point out?
Veronica Nichols (05:21:48 pm): i think that because there's such a hurdles in just using the word "feminist" that the feminist blogosphere has a seperate set of challenges
Veronica Nichols (05:21:58 pm): and hubs? well, there's the big blogs.
Veronica Nichols (05:22:17 pm): feministing, pandagon, blogher, etc
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:22:46 pm): what challenges do you see for the feminist blogosphere?
Veronica Nichols (05:23:10 pm): it changes so often it seems like there's a new challenge every couple of months
Veronica Nichols (05:23:15 pm): heh
Veronica Nichols (05:23:20 pm): repeatedly though
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:23:28 pm): like, thematic challenges?
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:23:38 pm): or, like, just a lot of challenges?
Veronica Nichols (05:23:40 pm): it comes down to trying to define what feminism is, repeatedly
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:24:07 pm): i think recent discussion on feministing about inter-generational feminism points to that
Veronica Nichols (05:24:38 pm): the valenti-pollit thing?
Veronica Nichols (05:24:54 pm): it's funny
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:25:10 pm): yes, jessica seems to have created quite a controversial post
Veronica Nichols (05:25:30 pm): i think that "ageism" is something that comes up a lot within the "second vs. third wave" debates
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:26:05 pm): as were discussing at the beginning of the interview, feminism can be quite a challenged term to employ
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:26:33 pm): thinking about feminism and blogs, though, and maybe "hubs" - what are your experiences with blog carnivals?
Veronica Nichols (05:27:15 pm): good mostly. sometimes it feels like the same people get featured over and over.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:27:21 pm): ageism, mother-daughter dynamics, doing one's time, recognizing/critiquing previous movements...first v. third is a huge topic
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:27:41 pm): *second v. third
Veronica Nichols (05:28:23 pm): heh... I think i've only seen first vs. third out of conservative "women's" groups
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:28:47 pm): do you think that carnivals create networks, or do you think that they do something else?
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:29:12 pm): are blog carnivals blogging communities?
Veronica Nichols (05:29:24 pm): eh. sometimes I find new people through the carnivals. but, i don't think that they are communities, no.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:29:42 pm): do you belong to any online communities?
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:29:50 pm): (however one defines such things)
Veronica Nichols (05:31:04 pm): my initial reaction, was to think of discussion boards. I suppose I belong to the "blog community."
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:31:45 pm): yeah, community is a slippery term
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:31:58 pm): as is my next topic...online activism
Veronica Nichols (05:32:07 pm): heh.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:32:08 pm): do you think online activism is being conducted online?
Veronica Nichols (05:32:11 pm): yes
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:32:16 pm): any examples?
Veronica Nichols (05:32:28 pm): well, the basic one is fundraising.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:32:44 pm): what about activism of the feminist variety?
Veronica Nichols (05:33:10 pm): i think that the feminist blogosphere is pretty good at "getting the word out" about things
Veronica Nichols (05:33:19 pm): if some outrage is happening out there
Veronica Nichols (05:33:29 pm): the internet allows that news to spread quickly
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:33:45 pm): information spreads virally indeed
Veronica Nichols (05:33:53 pm): then people can act accordingly
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:34:07 pm): and i agree that the feminist blogosphere catalyzes the spread of information
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:34:23 pm): do you think that people act accordingly in the offline world?
Veronica Nichols (05:34:30 pm): i think that a lot of them are
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:34:41 pm): any specific examples?
Veronica Nichols (05:34:49 pm): and i think that a lot of people just need to talk to people, to know that they're not alone in the way they think
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:35:27 pm): i think the blogosphere is great for connecting people with similar ideas who might never otherwise meet
Veronica Nichols (05:35:46 pm): examples of activism? I know people that protest. In my house, we work with the local "family resource center." people do what they can.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:36:34 pm): i agree, i was just wondering if you wanted to spotlight any specific efforts that started in the blogosphere
Veronica Nichols (05:36:34 pm): i think that activism tends to happen locally
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:36:50 pm): which is interesting, since the blogosphere is global
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:37:02 pm): or, at least potentially global
Veronica Nichols (05:37:15 pm): yeah, but aside from information spreading and money moving, the internet is "virtual"
Veronica Nichols (05:37:23 pm): activism often takes hands.
Veronica Nichols (05:37:28 pm): physical hands.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:37:42 pm): that's an interesting way to look at it
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:38:14 pm): personally, i have a tendency to argue against an IRL [in real life] v. online divide - but i think it's also true that there are some things one needs to show up in person for
A Blog Without a Bicycle e (05:38:21 pm): (and i don't mean web conferences)
Veronica Nichols (05:38:22 pm): if I'm gonna change the world, I can't do it from a swivel chair.
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:38:31 pm): that's a great quote!
Veronica Nichols (05:38:43 pm): thanks
A Blog Without a Bicycle (05:39:08 pm): well, i feel like you've answered all of the questions that i had for you. are there any issues you would like to discuss?
Veronica Nichols (05:39:35 pm): nope.
Veronica Nichols (05:39:52 pm): good luck with putting all this together!
Would you like to participate in an interview as a part of my M.A. thesis project? Leave a comment on this blog with information about how to contact you or email ablogwithoutabicycle(at)gmail(dot)com. I appreciate your support!
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