Wait, what? I was reading this article What if the feminist blogosphere is a form of digital colonialism which SJ linked me to this morning. Apparently it is causing a little bit of kerfluffle amongst those in the feminist blogosphere who are, as the article kind of predicts, taking it a bit like a personal kick in the teeth.
I think the article poses some interesting questions, but I have to ask whether the issues they point out about the dynamics of colonization are really particular to feminist online communities. Actually, I don’t have to ask, because I know: they aren’t. So what really is the issue, here? That somehow, we want things that call themselves “feminist” to operate differently? To be speshul?
Let me take a moment here to navel-gaze, and to take this post personally. Am I colonial power? Is this even a feminist blog?
Well, hmmm. Let’s see. I think I am a feminist, although I have at times been told that I can’t possibly be one because I am in a heterosexual relationship with a man (the person who said this had been in a heterosexual relationship with the same man, but had, after a subsequent heterosexual relationship, decided she was gay and moved into a lesbian household and perhaps at the time, this was more about her than me, but I digress…), but I am a professional person, and I try to see myself as an independent woman and a feminist. Ergo, this is a blog written by a feminist. Sometimes it is about feminist stuff, like reading Emily Martin’s essay with my class, pondering the issues of body image and my daughter or dealing with Sexual Harrassment Colleague. Sometimes, I dare say, it is about stuff that would horrify some feminists, like my previous post where I gave an annoying female student a rather rude nickname. To be fair, I do this to the male students, too. Equal opportunity sarcasm.
Is it a feminist blog? I guess maybe, although I have only had hatemail from one male reader, so maybe I am not trying hard enough. Let’s put a small checkmark in the feminist column, anyway.
So what about the other stuff? The potential colonialism? Full disclosure: I am white and currently live in what might technically be called a British colonial outpost. I used to live in a different British colonial outpost, so not now, nor ever have been exactly USAsian, which I think means I am not quite in the right group. I am not a visible minority, and I have checkmarks in the “educated” column although I am not wealthy, dammit. So do I fall into that mainstream being defined here: “Larger feminist blogs are often run by a centralized group of like-minded, economically privileged, white, heterosexual, American women who follow a third wave feminist ideology”? Outside observers might say “yes”. I am not sure. Sometimes these feel like they might be my people, sometimes they are light years away from how I think about things.
The other issue is the one about the purpose of the blog. “Let’s be honest: blogs are businesses. They sell a product (writing) to their customers (readers) in exchange for revenue (via donation buttons, advertising dollars, referral programs, speaker’s fees, and book deal).”
Full disclosure: this blog costs me $20 a year. No, that’s not some kind of preamble to a donation drive. No ads, and I am not looking for ad revenue. I am not doing this for the cash directly. If someone offered me a book deal, would I take it? Hells yes. Am I in it for the popularity? I guess, but my desires are pretty modest. I look at my blog stats, now and again, and the fact that I have 100 or so hits a day makes me happy. I go, “cool”. But I did that when I had 30, too. I guess what I am saying is that I am happy with my population, and not really looking to expand my territory, to use the “colonial power” metaphor. I’m an outpost. A minor outpost, off the beaten track, with crap weather. If I get a little surge of tourist traffic now and again, well and good, but otherwise, as long as we have internet access and the local store sells coffee and booze, we are content.
If you want to thrash this out a bit more, there’s a discussion thread on Uppity Women.