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Chicks, eggs and blogs

March 4th, 2004 · 2 Comments

Lisa Williams has proposed a session session on women and blogging at Blogger Con II (I noted the cracked egg icon?!) and wrote a draft description with possible topics:

Chick Blogs! A Roundtable on Women and Blogs

This session will attempt to be the pajama-party of the blogosphere — a lively and welcoming exchange on the best of blogs by women. Participants are encouraged to prepare to share what motivated them to start their blog, and what motivates them to keep blogging.

Since she first posted her original proposal, there’s been some discussion centering on her chosen vocabulary and the questions she listed.

  • Don’t call us chicks, please
  • “If guys attend, will they get cooties?”

    In Does being a woman matter in blogging? Lisa wrote:

    Like Lis, I would resist having my blog called a “woman’s blog.” (Why is that? Do we resist the idea that gender might define how we blog because defining an activity as feminine has usually been a way to demote it, to make it less important? Worth less money and having less prestige? Somehow it feels a bit like a put down, doesn’t it?) Yet something in me says, You know, I want to talk to other blogging women. Something about the idea of a room full to the rafters with women bloggers makes me happy. Why is that? Do you feel it too?

    I confess when I saw the words “chick” and “pajama party” I reacted a little. The only word I use for an adult female is “woman”. Maybe “gal” once in a while. But as my speech gets checked before it goes out through the door – with little editing required in the first place – “woman” is the word that remains.

    When I arrived at college, I remember vividly how our dorm counselors informed us freshpeople that we females were no longer “girls”. I was instructed to refer to all of us XXers as “women”. Otherwise I would offend many. I was surprised at this sudden metamorphosis. Was womanhood granted upon college matriculation? When do we begin to be “women”? At menarche? Motherhood? Not wanting to hurt anyone, I immediately adapted this principle. And it’s stuck with me. I don’t use the word “girlfriend” or “chick” even in my thoughts. If I think about female friends, they are “friends”. If anything, we have a “ladies night” (I’m not too fond of that either) or “mom’s night out” or yeah, maybe a “girl’s night out” but it’s been a long time since I’ve been to one of those.

    So I winced a bit at Lisa’s words. I imagined there would be some reaction since I reacted myself. Her post got me to consider coming to this “chick blog” session. The word wasn’t enough to discourage me from coming or drive me away. But it made me think twice: do I consider myself a “chick”?

    Context counts. And I’ve read enough of Lisa’s blog to know some of what she thinks. What she believes. So I had a some sense how she was using the word. It bothered me only in a superficial sense, that it went against my collegiate training. And it made me think about what I was taught and how it had impacted me.

    Vocabularly doesn’t necessarily indicate bias in itself. It describes beliefs and provides revelation. It’s a conduit for communication. But it’s possible to use the “right words” and yet still be a bigot. You can candy-coat and cloak sexism (racism, etc.) through training with select terms. On the one hand, words are powerful. Words are what the fight is about, in some sense. On the other hand, words can be facades, cardboard cutouts, disguises or cosmetics, hiding the truth. You can change the words but not the heart and mind behind them.

    If Lisa wants to use “chick” that’s fine with me. I feel I know what she means. Her explanation has been helpful too.

    My use of the word Chick and the pajama party trope are deliberately provocative. I think the “girl power” movement — which in essence says that girls can be girly and be taken seriously anyway — has some real currency. I love the fact that Martha Stewart gets paid billions for “womens’ work” that previously wasn’t worth two cents.

    I must say also that it’s not as if I’ve never felt oppressed because I was female. I’ve had painful experiences and I’ve had moments when I didn’t want to be a woman. Growing up, I didn’t want to be a girl.

    But life has changed me. I’ve found redemption in relationship, physiology and spirituality, the changes in my body and my soul that have come with time, birthing babies, new things growing inside me.

    It’s been my own metamorphosis. Now I want to be a woman. Maybe even I’d choose to be a “chick”.

    Does gender affect how you blog? Lisa asks. On the one hand, gender is a part of me along with many other aspects of my life. The fact that I’m a woman affects this blog as much as the fact that I’m a beginning gardener, a former microbiologist and a Pacific Northwest native. It’s who I am.

    On the other hand though, I’ve realized that I can’t blog about everything. I am choosing what I write here. I’m not writing a lot about politics or economics or art. I’m writing about being a woman. I write about living in the Northwest, striving for simplicity, enjoying gardening, studying science and being a parent. But what I’m choosing often to pursue, when I’m sitting here with limited time, the text I’m deciding to type in this space, is my marriage and my motherhood. It’s what I like to write. My impression from others also is that is my strength. And the reason I’m blogging at all is because I am married to Ted . He’s how I learned what a blog is. He’s the one who set me up to (movable) type. We even do a little blog dialogue here and there, back and forth, his and hers. Perhaps in another life I would have still become a blogger. But I’m writing, in a sense, because I am a woman. I’m writing because I’m a wife. I’m writing because I’m a mother. Because I want to write about my parenting experiences. And because my days at home create in me a need for connection and sharing.

    So sure, this is a woman’s blog. Take a look at some of my entries and see. I’m a woman. I’m a writer. I’m a wife and a mom. My gender affects my perspective. It is what I blog.

    Yeah it can sound like a bit of a “put-down”, as Lisa said. Phrases such as “that’s woman’s work” and “she throws like a girl” come to mind. There’s an impression in society that women and girls do is worth less than what men do. An inferiority of gender. I don’t hear it often myself but yet this impression still strong came to mind.

    Woman’s blog reminds me of “woman’s magazine” – those ones with pictures of models or meringues on the cover, waiting by the cash register with the candy and impulse items. Magazines touting how to have better intimacy in bed or how to bake better cakes. I don’t think this blog falls into either category although I tiptoe a bit at times into either territory.

    What comes to mind with “woman’s blog” is that there will be hordes of readers who reject it. Men and women who don’t want to read a “woman’s blog” just like they don’t want to read those magazines or watch certain shows on television. Perhaps they fear I’m writing about the nuances of nail polish or perspectives on parmesan cheese. Or maybe they would suspect I’m ranting and raving about breasts and PMS. I run the risk of using a term that others may have defined differently from me. I run the risk of stereotyping myself, of letting myself be judged by whatever stereotypes others have, whatever comes to mind with the words “woman’s blog”. I run the risk of being rejected before being read.

    Gender shouldn’t matter in blogging. And it doesn’t. What matters most to me is what’s written, and well written, not who writes it. I could type away all kinds of posts in a way that no one would know I was a woman (or I could try). I haven’t posted a picture of myself and for a while I didn’t even want to put my name at the top of the page. I didn’t want to be known I was a woman until I was read.

    But I think gender may matter. There are differences, as Lisa cites in her questions. And even if I call this blog a women’s blog, I don’t think that should make a difference. People should still want to read a “woman’s blog” just as I should still want to read a “man’s blog”. We should desire diversity. We should strive for various perspectives on our blogrolls. Who wants a one-instrument symphony?

    This blog is what it is. I can’t pretend it’s something else. If I look at what I’ve written and posted, I can’t deny it. It’s me. It’s mine. I’m a woman.

    Say it loud and proud: This is a chick blog.

    In the time it’s taken me to polish this post, a few more comments have been added in response to Lisa’s post on gender and blogging. Looks like Blogger Con II might have a bit of debate and Ye Olde Positive Energie . Yeah, I want to talk to other women bloggers too: can’t resist this invitation. See you there !

  • Tags: blog

    2 responses so far ↓

    • 1 Katherine // Mar 4, 2004 at 5:44 pm

      #161, huh? Have a great time…will you blog from there, or wait until you return?

    • 2 Julie // Mar 4, 2004 at 10:29 pm

      I dunno – I’ll probably blog some from the conference and some when I get home. It’s only one day. My blogging style is to let posts simmer overnight in draft mode; I don’t usually post right away. Also my laptop’s battery life is short.