Thursday, May 10, 2007

Blogging and beyond: building online communities

In Part IV, the contributors to (Web)Sites of Resistance explore the various ways of building online communities, in and outside of academia.

In the video blog “We Are the Media,” Mary C. Matthews details her experience in the world of video blogging, examining the ways in which women journalists are able to share intimate experiences through the video blog.

Hosu Kim’s “A Flickering Motherhood: Korean Birthmothers' Internet Community” explores the online support networks built by Korean mothers who gave their children up for adoption. Kim examines a nontraditional type of “virtual mothering” expressed by these women, which is enabled by an “epistemological and ontological shift from a human-centered paradigm” that “opens the possibility of a new body politics in this age of global teletechnology.” Kim also argues that the very existence of these communities “demands a critical examination of the practice of transnational adoption and women's sexuality in a transnational feminist framework.”

In “The Little FemBlog that Wasn't,” Shira Tarrant explores lessons learned from her experience using blogs in the classroom. This article should be especially useful for those thinking of using the blog to supplement & enhance class discussion. For those interested in learning more, we have also provided a “S&F Online in the classroom” section on the Scholar & Feminist website.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Thank you!

We'd like to thank you for joining us on this companion blog for Blogging Feminism: (Web)Sites of Resistance, edition 5.2 of the Scholar & Feminist Online. We would also like to thank the Barnard Center for Research on Women, especially Janet Jakobsen for her vision and support. Thanks also to our wonderful contributors and bloggers, who helped us start what we know is a very important conversation.

For a wrap-up of the issue, be sure to check out the Afterword of (Web)Sites of Resistance, written by author and founder of the Scholar & Feminist Online, Deborah Siegel.

And thank you again -- we know that the conversation will not stop here, and we encourage you to keep the spirit of this issue alive by visiting the blogs listed, creating your own, and contributing to the resistance online!

Gwendolyn & Jessica

Overcoming Digital Divides

Today our post from the Journal portion of (Web)Sites of Resistance focuses on Part III: Gender Disparity and Web Access. In this section, Gillian Youngs and Shireen Mitchell provide an in-depth look at some of the barriers to online feminist organizing.

Youngs argues that, while "feminism is alive and well, evolving and changing in these cybertimes," divisive social and global inequalities are also in danger of growing if "the kinds of warnings about exclusion that feminist voices articulate are not heard and acted on."

Mitchell discusses the “digital divide” in the U.S., which acts as a barrier to women’s participation not only in terms of online activism and discussion, but in improving their livelihoods. The “digital divide” is explored as it specifically affects women of color and poor women, with a look to improving the situation through the example of Digital Sistas, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded by Mitchell that focuses on building self-sufficiency skills for women and children who are traditionally underserved technologically.

Blogging and vulnerability

I read with interest the post "“The Vulnerable Video Blogger: Promoting Social Change through Intimacy,” which is a brilliant use of video activism. I picked up on the word "vulnerability" and in particular Rox's decision to wear a bikini on her video whilst discussing serious issues. The point I want to raise here is the "risk" and "vulnerability" element when we as bloggers (using, text, audio or video) expose our intimate selves particularly those of us who do not blog anonymously (admittedly at least in my case,a choice I freely made). I recently chose to write a piece on violence against women (VAW) on my blog. Initially I wanted to simply link to another blog that was created solely to highlight VAW called VAW: Do Something. Somehow or other (I am not sure how) I ended up drawn into revealing my own experience of domestic and sexual violence. I believed it was important as the blog VAW: Do Something, challenged us all to speak out. I could not ask or expect others to speak out unless I too spoke out. But in doing so I felt extremely vulnerable. Somewhere deep inside a series of very disturbing unpleasant feelings of having exposed myself to the point of stripping naked in front of the whole world. In short I almost feel as if I violated myself in revealing my own experiences and worse because these experiences have not been acknowledged.

So how far do we as blogging feminists and activists go? How much of a tight rope do we walk before we fall off and when we land who is there but ourselves to pick up the emotional pieces. Blogging is very much a solo activity - we may have partners, family, friends who support us in our daily non blogging or even blogging lives. But it in cases like this - it is really only the blogging community that can really understand landing on your head and ending up with an almighty headache that wont go away very easily.

On the other hand the point of the post was to speak out against the silence and normalisation that exists around VAW - but the point is if we as women are going to do this then we need to have the support of the community of feminists - women and men behind us because otherwise we end up in a place of self made violation which is not where any of us want to be.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Women's voices are louder online

In the final article of the section, “Blogging Was Just the Beginning: Women's Voices are Louder Online,” Chris Nolan argues that instead of becoming fixated on the "where are the women" discussions, women should look forward, focusing on how women's voices can contribute to public discourse by taking advantage of new technology. Nolan issues a call to action for "women who really care about politics and public discourse" to support Web sites and other online efforts that speak to women's needs better than mainstream, male-dominated media outlets.

Pseudonymity and the where are the women debate

In the second article in Part II, “Where are the Women?: Pseudonymity and the Public Sphere, Then and Now,”
Tedra Osell uses survey findings to explore the differences between men and women’s choices to blog pseudonymously. Osell traces the historic roots of women and pseudonymous writing, asking whether the contemporary perception that men dominate the blogosphere might stem from "…this question of pseudonymity… perhaps part of the gap between reality and perception comes from women hiding in plain sight."