Monday, May 05, 2008

and then, the feminist interwebs exploded

You may have noticed that ABWAB has been a little quiet of late. It could be that i am horribly addicted to Google Reader and have been substituting sharing for full-fleshed posting. Or it could be that I've been out of doors enjoying the cheerful spring weather sans computer. Or that, as someone experiencing her first year as a non-student, I have an unhealthy relationship with a few bad TV shows.

Or it could just be that recent events in the feminist blogosphere have given me pause. And I've been thinking.

I'm still pensive. Despite careful consideration, I don't know if I want to weigh in, if that would be productive, or how I would want to respond. Of course, my silence - in and of itself - could be an expression of a certain privilege. And, given my personal politics of location, witnessing (without commentary) may or may not be appropriate.

What I can offer, though, is a place is cyberspace for folks to productively discuss the ongoing effects of these events - as well as larger implications for the future.* I am not staying silent because I think that there is nothing to say and I would like to instead offer space for collaboration for working through these issues. By being "quiet" as a blogger, I can amplify the comments ABWAB readers would like to share. And I really love that about blogging - the fact that it's bidirectional and creates lots of opportunities for exchange.

Another beauty of the blogosphere is that it allows for almost instaneous reaction (and, perhaps as we saw in this situation, that characteristic of the blogosphere can be complicating, too) and mobilization. Meaning we can all work together - quickly and effectly - to move forward.

So, yes. The feminist interwebs exploded. But maybe it was just the big get us all motivated to make some positive change. I'd like to think that this "interweb explosion" isn't a moment of community breaking, but is instead an opportunity for community building.

*Groundrule: Keep it productive - no ad hominem attacks!

Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjunction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.


  1. I'm new to feminism and have to say I was really saddened by this post. I've had a vague sense that the feminist movement has been fraught with infighting--but I've been blissfully unaware of the details (and obviously need to do some reading on feminist history). In any case, I do hope the conversation that emerges from this is productive because I believe strongly--as an outsider--that this moment in history is truly extraordinary. I am hearing all sorts of women identify themselves with feminism for the first time because of what's happening within this election cycle. Regardless of personal politics, I am feeling and hearing other women voice a tremendous sense of dis-ease and "aha!" about issues that have been lurking but largely unrecognized by many of us until now. It wasn't until just recently that we actually heard people broadcast opinions like, "I just don't know that I could bring myself to vote for a woman or a black man for President." And for those of us who didn't grow up steeped in feminist thought and discourse, this is a very bright moment indeed--a moment that I thought would be moving like a tidal wave through black and white communities alike and bringing us TOGETHER. So what do women like me do? Must we skip "feminism" and all of its baggage? I hope not, because I'm pretty convinced there are a lot of us out there...not just 20-somethings, but even older women, who feel like this is our moment to make a bold change. I understand how critically important all of these issues you're wrestling with are, but suddenly it seems like the feminist movement may be too preoccupied to seize this moment. I hope not. I'd like to join up.

  2. I just wanted to thank ANONYMOUS for sharing her/his thoughts on a tough issue. I agree that the current election cycle has brought issues into the mainstream that - although heavily discussed in other spheres - were not getting recognition in the public sphere. About time, right?

    The issues - whether related to the election or recent blog-controversy - that are coming up are not new, though. So while I would hate for anyone to feel like they would have to "skip 'feminism' and all of its baggage," I think it's also very important to be honest about the politics and history behind "feminism" (and the diversity of movements/moments associated with the term).

    Do I think giving up on feminism(s), the social activism potential of blogging, etc is the answer? I'd have to answer with a resounding HELLZ NO. But I do think there are issues that we need to work out. Or at least start working on. Pronto.

    As ANONYMOUS pointed out, we are at a turning point - whether it is a new moment or something else. Hopefully, we can make it something good. Together.

    One point I do want to clarify, though, is that I will no longer be publishing anonymous comments in this thread. I realize I should have made that ground rule clear from the get-go, so I did publish this insightful comment. But I do recognize how the blogosphere can get...feisty, especially when anonymity is too readily available.

    I'm also thinking more broadly about whether or not I should allow anonymous comments at all on ABWAB. Many blogs and community forums require usernames and profiles so trolls/flamers/other folks who don't respect community standards can be kept in check. When I was writing my M.A. thesis, allowing anonymous posting was important from a research perspective. This policy, however, is under revision. I appreciate that you are all bearing with me while I work through a new comment policy.


Please note that ABWAB reserves the right to not publish any comments that do not meet community standards.