Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Might of Women [Bloggers]

My very good friend and colleague, Lesley, author of Lesley's Blog, made a post in the last day or so that has generated much attention. It concerned the as-yet broadly ignored subject of female bloggers. Her post was good, and I urge you to connect with it, and its comments.

I had read it in a hurry when it was published, and didn't have time to comment - and there are a couple of things that I wanted to say, I hope helpfully, but didn't. Actually, it raises an important question, and as always, what I am about to splurge here is my own perspective.

First, I wanted to bang the drum for the many many women who blog and whose work I read. They range from the copiously followed Maggi Dawn to the barely-noticed Doorkeeper or Daydreamer. All that these women write is wonderful, and are among list of excellent female writers upon which Lesley is a worthy and significant presence. I delight in all their work, in whatever frequency it lands in my reading list. But then it struck me ... 

Secondly, and this is where I get my nuts cracked, only when my mate made her post did I ever have cause to make any distinction among bloggers on the basis of gender. I have never thought: "this is a jolly good wo/man blogger", just simply "what a wonderful post". The post, which has (rightly, and perhaps inevitably) generated much attention has also frustrated me.

I may have missed the point in the great male-female 'struggle', but to me blogging was a place where it just didn't matter. I cannot honestly tell you if Church Mouse is a man-mouse or a lady-rat, and I have never cared - the blog is top-rate either way. There are others that are not clear to me either. When I pick up a book, I do not think: "I have read a lot of male authors, perhaps today is the day to pick up some female writing"; I just don't. Yes, some content is gender specific, and Lesley epitomises that well, but the very large majority of blog material (in the Christian setting) is, to me at least, non-gender specific. Did the distinction need then to be drawn? Perhaps women blog less because they have more sense, I don't know! Perhaps they don't blog less, but they blog outside of the spheres that many of us read. 

For my part, I thank God for Lesley, for Maggi, for Cymraeg, for Doorkeeper, for Madpriest, Churchmouse, Curate's Wife, Treagear Vean, Chelliah Laity, The Oxford Christian, Stuart at eChurch Blog, the folk at Beaker, the Naked Pastor, Clayboy, The Ugley Vicar, Gurdur, and everyone else whose words edify me and my faith. 

And for my part, as just one person, I couldn't give a monkey's if you are male, female, hermaphrodite, or even Sith Lord. In the world that is 'blog', I don't believe it matters. 


  1. Well said! Archdruid Eileen being a case in point.

  2. I completely agree.
    Good picture though ;)

  3. I also never think whether the writer is a fe/male. I ask whether it is either calling me to account or resounding with my own clanging gong. Will someone write and make me feel I should strive for more or cutail what I am doing? How does what you write make me responde? I don't notice gender.

    I do however when I examine this point I miss the female voice because when I look I find it missing. My mate joked on twitter that it wasn't that women didn't want to but that they were busy doing real work. (BTW it is 1045pm here)

  4. Absolutely agree. Gender is totally unimportant in blogging. All that matters is content and that it appeals either intellectually, spiritually, or amuses, just that it engages with the reader.
    Personally I find I read both male and female blogs in just about equal measure.
    Thanks for the generous mention.

  5. It is about power and respresentation - we worry if our parliament or churches are full of white, male, able bodied straight people. I agree from the point of reading blogs it doesn't matter. But surely you would worry if parliament was as skewed as the blogosphere and ask questions as to what it is in that sphere that was causing it? Giving voice to groups that are discriminated against is always important.

  6. Thanks for popping in mate! The thing is, in the blogosphere there is no discrimination. Every person is free to blog and be read in the same market that we all inhabit. This is not, surely, the same province as under-representation in Parliament, unfair pay scales, subjugation at any level. Surely this is the one place where everyone really is equal.

    Have you not just projected one an top of the other? Have you not just made this a gender issue? People first looked at my blog not knowing my gender - as it could be said that you could write under the title.

    I ought to stipulate, too, for the record (as I am out on a limb in this post, anyway) that I condemn in the strongest terms inequality of any nature.

    However, I do not recognise this as one such arena!

  7. It is a gender issue if the reason women are not blogging is because they have a lack of confidence.

    You are blind to discrimination because you have no reason to have suffered discrimination. But clearly of the Blogosphere is so skewed, especially the UK Christian Blogosphere, there must be a cause.

    It is the women who are discriminating against themselves because for so long they have been told that their voice doesn't count. The only way to overcome this is to encourage them and tell them that their voice does count.. which is what I am doing.

    I completely agree that you are against inequality, but what is your strategy for getting those who are in the crab bucket out of it?

  8. Oh another note, David, thanks for the mention!
    Anita, of The Oxford Christian, which now has a new name!

  9. I lacked confidence, you lacked confidence, my mother and several friends lacked confidence (in this venture), but got on and did it. I regard blogging as the one thing you can do without immediate regard for the world at large - it is a venture that allows one a voice, unquenched.

    The blogosphere, if it is skewed, is not (I believe), skewed for these reasons. There will be causes yes, but perhaps it just doesn't suit some people to be this open. I genuinely don't believe that women opt not to blog because they feel discriminated against. Well, I underwrite that comment with never having heard it claimed, and as one who works amongside many women (such as is church life, especially in this archdeaconry where female clerics, at least, are far more represented than in other places).

    You may well be right that women are their own worst enemy, but that is not an issue projected upon them by us nasty men. Who tells them that their voices don't count. Pre-Pankhurst, I might agree, but the internet is the first absolute device for rendering us all equal (in good ways or bad). Why? Because we can all do as we please if we can turn on a computer and drive one but a little.

    Lesley, I have never faulted you as a champion for those who are marginalised. It is among your greater gifts, and ones that improve our world. It is just that I think that you have invited a discriminative disparity to a place where there isn't one.

    As for your last comment, apart from liking the crab-bucket analogy, I list my place on a council that represents the deaf community (and my having learned their language), my considerable work past and present with the homeless community, my work with youngsters in danger of falling into criminality, my work with the Zimbabwean community, my ministry as a whole, and my deep-set fury and motivations caused by injustice - all these things are the ways in which I play my inadequate role in that. So little, but that is what I bring.

  10. Ok then, into the fray - can't resist.

    Having read the comments on Lesleys blog one thread that seems to come up most frequently is the 'techie stuff'. As a woman and a (very sporadic) blogger I can't say that I agree with Lesley that the barrier is about not having a voice or lacking confidence in that voice.

    Female friends of mine who know I spend a large chunk of my spare time on Twitter and the blogosphere generally respond with either a:how do you find the time? or more often b:I don't understand all that techie stuff, you must be a real computer whizz - usually with the closer "you're such a geek" ! These are not women who would ever be described as lacking a confident voice.

    Based on this regular experience I think the barrier is all to do with a perception that blogging is a techie/geeky/nerdy pasttime and ergo something for the boys.

    Not a perception helped by the current, not unusual, ongoing Star Wars/Metalhead/Highlander based banter (you know who you are !) on my own timeline. Not that I mind, am a devout Geek, speak fluent Geek and wouldn't have it any other way :)

    My friends know that if they drag me along to too many rom coms at the movies I will repay them in kind by forcing them to endure Tron Legacy or an extended discussion of the relative merits of The Matrix Trilogy - but I can understand why a lot of women might be put off blogging if they think they are entering a world, which at times feels like an extended episode of Big Bang Theory.

  11. Now this I do accept.

    On the same basis, it could also be said that blogging is perhaps as ageist as it may appear sexist (forgive the shorthand). That all said, the wonderful Daydreamer blogged within a week of turning on a computer for the first time, and I am honoured to say that I have been a source of some help to her in this venture (not that she needed it, if only she recognised that fact). My mother also blogs and her age begins with a 6!

    This all said, I recognise this as a credible cause in any disparity that exists. Though, it is also my perception that there are loads of women bloggers - it is just that many are very sporadic, sparsely followed, and performing other functions in their writing (family diaries, etc) - and are also far less concerned with rankings-sites whose stats the original blog post was based

  12. I'm going to use my usual get out clause. Dr Changing Worship is a christian and a woman. She has a Doctorate, she rides a harley, she is the bassplayer and lead singer in a band (come to our gig tonight in the local pub), I put the tea on the table each night for when she comes home from work and being the breadwinner and she has a blog.

    Here is her crowning glory

    I do love that she publicly stated "boobs" and that she would be getting some push up bras (That will make you click the link!!)

    She hasn't posted in 362 days. Her reason is that she doesn't see the results of it. For her, a non discriminated against woman christian there are no results. It doesn't enhance her life.

    She has said "well my speciality is Psychology [her doctorate] but I can't blog about that". She can't sit at a computer and say "I had an interesting client today...." People aren't really interested in our band meeting's minutes. She has no desire to beef theology [although I think she's better at it than me].

    Is there an age thing involved in this? We grew up in a world where we were told that you have the right to do whatever you want regardless of gender. So we did.

  13. I am an Old Age Pensioner (I have mentioned this before). I got A Levels in Chemistry, Physics & Biology in 1968 and studied Chemistry at University. Sorry, I must have missed something in my many years on earth. Should I have been sitting there embroidering samplers (I did that as well, actually!) Nobody told me that girls didn't do that sort of stuff, or that they weren't as good as men (although, I grant it was a bit easier for men than for women to get into Medical School in those days).

    I have come across individuals who have been patronising of women, but the only institutionalised discrimination I have encountered was in the CofE pre-1992 (I was a member of MOW, before you ask).

    So no, I don't think there is an 'age' thing. If there are issues of 'confidence' or 'discrimination' or even 'victimhood' I think they are specific to the individuals concerned.

    If you like you can come & tell my Mothers' Union that their voices don't count - I wouldn't dare!

  14. It's probably not very helpful that, having read this whole conversation with sober attention, I feel the need to say 'ooh! I like the Big Bang Theory!'



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...