Scapegoating feminine communication

Sometime Hoyden guest-blogger sajbrfem has a terrific post up at Diary of a Research Artist: “Blogoz and meandering thoughts about blog hierarchy”. We missed her dearly at Perth’s Femmecon, but at least she got a day at Blogoz as a consolation prize. Part of her musings:

I did get the feeling that certain types of blogs were given a privileged position above others. I do understand that with a limited time allocation you have no choice other than to focus on some things and leave others for another time, that can’t be helped, but I did feel that some very important aspects of blog culture, and therefore sections of the blogging community, were excluded. This feeling began for me with my first look at the program ““ though fair enough, limited time and all ““ but became much stronger for me in the introductory panel discussion. The speakers (Senator Andrew Bartlett, Duncan Riley and Professor John Quiggin) on more than one occasion referred to “knitting” blogs and “food” blogs in a way, though not actually a put down, that made it clear that these kinds of blogs were “other’. This “othering’ of more personal and domestic blogs suggested that in the context of the blogging conference and its associated community blogs that were not political, commercial, academic, or journalistic were considered less valuable.

In this context I see knitting and cooking blogs as scapegoats for the domestic in the public sphere. I think it is curious that we would have a platform that we term “citizen media’ but then fail to acknowledge the way a very large portion of citizens use that media ““ or, rather, acknowledge them on the surface, but then disregard them as irrelevant. For me, one of the most fascinating things about web media is that it gives unprecedented (though far from perfect) opportunity for people who were previously without a public voice to speak, yet by privileging those that most resemble offline media we are participating in silencing non dominant groups.

Note that people don’t tend to talk dismissively about “videogamer blogs” or “sports blogs” or “fratboy-boozing blogs” or “porn blogs”, all pastimes rather uninteresting to the non-participant and not uncommonly featured in the blog world. They specifically single out feminine-coded, domesticity-related blog topics to deprecate as trivial and not worthy of consideration. Food. Knitting. Cats. Kids.

Food for thought, hm?

Categories: gender & feminism


8 replies

  1. It’s a legitimate point, and one I’ve made myself more than once, but to be fair to the conference organiser, he was basically flying solo and pulled the whole thing together with very little help. The best way to disrupt these hierarchies is to be involved in setting the terms of the conversation. And sabjrfem also notes Jean Burgess’ work – and Jean was actively making similar points at the conference (as were others).

  2. Food for thought, indeed. Brilliant post. As feminist as I am, if you hadn’t brought up the “gamer,” “porn-enthusiast,” “fratboy-boozing,” etc. blogs, I probably wouldn’t have thought of them myself. Thank you for opening my eyes. Again.

  3. A good reminder, although the reason I mentioned knitting and food blogs was to note they are far more popular than political blogs. They may not overtly seek to ‘change the world’ in the same way some big-P Political blogs do, but they have very significant social impacts in many other ways. But I don’t feel very qualified to comment on them, as I don’t read them.
    I will add sports and film-buff blogs to the list next time I use the example (although I think I later mentioned arts blogs too). (I assume these are also more popular than Political blogs – most things are.)
    I don’t think of porn ‘blogs’ as blogs – all the ones I’ve seen just looked like variants on porn sites to me.

  4. Andrew – you don’t know what you are missing!

  5. Mark,

    to be fair to the conference organiser, he was basically flying solo and pulled the whole thing together with very little help

    I totally understand that and think he did an amazing job, my intention is not to slight the organiser, the conference or the individual participants, rather to point out a systemic trend.

    The best way to disrupt these hierarchies is to be involved in setting the terms of the conversation

    Indeed, hence my posting about it and opening up a conversation rather than letting it pass quietly by.
    I realise your mention of these blogs was not intended to deride the subjects and was made in good faith, my apologies if it appears I am having a go at you. However, you were not the only one to mention these blogs and the cumulative effect becomes like a Seinfeld-esque ‘not that there’s anything wrong with that’ sentiment that clearly marks them as ‘the other’ to the norm.

    They may not overtly seek to “change the world’ in the same way some big-P Political blogs do

    are you sure?

  6. sabjrfem, I didn’t think that you were trying to slight the organiser, and I recognise that this conversation is a good way of being involved in setting the terms of the conversation. 🙂

  7. The craft and foodie blogs I read are all political – they’re interested in globalisation, food production, sustainability, energy usage, feminism and fair trade. It’s just that they start from the point of view of the consumer (and individual responsibility) than social policy (collective responsibility).
    Some craft/gardening/food blogs are translating big picture political policy stuff into every day practical information. Some blogs talk about child slavery, some blogs tell you which retailer stocks tasty fair trade produce. We need both.

  8. Cheers Mark and Andrew for joining in the conversation. As I mentioned on S&A, this wasn’t meant as a slight to the conference as a whole, nor to the participants – I very much wish I could have been there myself!
    And great points kate and sajbrfem on the political nature of many “domestic” blogs. A perfect example of the personal being political, and the political being personal.

%d bloggers like this: