Female and Feminst Blogging: A Rundown of my Panel Talk

This last weekend, I took part in a panel at the Miller Eccles Study Group. Kaimi and Nate from Times and Seasons were the other two panelists. Kaimi did a great job giving an intro to blogging – how it works, some growth statistics, etc. Nate went into some interesting academic and intellectual issues with blogging, and I discussed female and feminist blogging, dividing my talk into three sections: 1. how I got involved in the blogging world 2. trends in female blogging 3. importance of female/feminist blogs.

My portion of the panel was more personal than the other two presentations, as I described how I came to set up this Exponent II blog. Here’s a summary of my story: I first learned of Feminist Mormon Housewives and became slowly impressed with the level of thought and conversation I found there. At the same time I was experiencing FMH, I was becoming involved in Exponent II; I became convinced that this publication needed more of a web presence if it was to find a new generation of Exponent II women and continue into the 21st century. Exponent has a rich tradition of featuring women’s voices, and in an age in which there is a real dearth of LDS women’s voices endorsed by the Church, forums like blogs can become invaluable to women who are needing to grapple with Church questions and issues.

Trends in female blogging (highly speculative and preliminary): The bloggernacle began as overwhelmingly male. Times and Seasons began with all male bloggers, but now have 4 females and 11 males. Across the bloggernacle at large, I counted 12/60 blogs with exclusively female contributors, 40/60 exclusively male; 8/60 were both. What did this tell me? The bloggernacle is still being dominated by males, but more and more women’s blogs are popping up. This might be due to a couple of reasons. a) stay at home moms with high speed internet connections are discovering that blogs are a great way to establish community and get some adult conversation during the day. b) ‘mommyblogging’ is catching on: women who use blogs as personal journals/scrapbooks, generally focusing many of their posts ot on their children.

Importance of female/feminist blogs: 1. They provide intellectual stimulation with regards to Mormon topics. Relief Society (and Sunday School) may satisfy some women’s intellectual gospel needs, but many women want to go deeper than R.S can accommodate. Why is R.S sometimes inadequate for this? First because of the exclusively male voiced manuals – lots of women desperately want to hear other women’s ideas about the gospel, doctrine, etc. Second, certain topics can’t be addressed in these sponsored Church forums. Polygamy, Heavenly Mother, problems with gender roles – most church classes don’t want to touch these with 10 foot poles. But blogs allow us the freedom to discuss these issues, with relative lack of fear of getting in trouble with the authorities, since the church seems to pretty much leave bloggers alone and we don’t have to use our full or real names. 2. Blogs allow for women to find a community that resonates with them. Bloggers who in real life have a hard time finding like-minded people in their wards can find kindred spirit easily and quickly through these blogs. We can reach out and minister to one another, give them support, affirmation, carry each other’s burdons through blog conversations.

What impact are feminist blogs having on Mormon feminism? I think they are having a positive impact. Sometimes (rarely) I’ve seen women who never before labeled themselves as feminists interact with women who do and then say “Wow, I agree with you on these issues. Perhaps I’m a feminist too.” But even more importantly, I think feminist blogs/bloggers are making feminism less frightening and less abhorrent to mainstream LDS. There are lots of opportunities for people to see feminists one moment express deep concerns about something like the Proclamation, but then the next minute turn around and beautifully express their testimony of Jesus Christ or their devotion to the gospel. It’s a lot harder to write a feminist off as wanting to destroy the Church when a person also sees how devoted one is to her family, how pure her ideals are, how nuanced her personality is. So ultimately, I think (hope) blogs can be a means of building bridges and facilitating conversation between people of disparate mindframes.
(end of talk)

As a sidenote, it was fun to meet in real life so many bloggers I recognized in the bloggernacle. I already mentioned Kaimi and Nate, but I also met Heather from Mormon Mommy Wars, Carrie from Tales From the Crib, and Dave from Dave’s Mormon Inquiry.

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women’s Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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  1. Aimee "Roo" says:

    What is interesting to me is that the majority of female LDS bloggers that I know of are not considered part of the “Bloggernacle”. I think it’s too bad they aren’t included, as they have some of the most lovely blogs around.

    It is good to know that there are more women participating in the “Bloggernacle” as it is defined though.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Thanks Caroline – It sounded really interesting and I’m glad to see us female bloggers were well represented by you!

  3. Deborah says:

    Aimee wrote, “What is interesting to me is that the majority of female LDS bloggers that I know of are not considered part of the “Bloggernacle” . . .”

    Yeah — there are a lot of beautiful solo blogs from women, some that I’ve found through LDSwomenblogs.blogspot.com, and some from the FMH sidebar. As my reading time allows, I’m going to try to highlight more of these posts in my weekly round-up of LDS women’s voices on the web. For example, I recently stumbled on this

    I’m not sure how one does or doesn’t become part of the “Bloggernacle” — though being listed on the ldsblogs.com does seem to be a marker — and I’m not sure how important it is, except in terms of traffic. (There can be some bizarre in-fighting at times, it seems.) My interest in _this_ blog stems from my history with ExII, it’s mission to be a place for women’s voices, and my desire to have it have more of a web presence. That there are dozens of new women blog authors is exciting. As numbers (and technology) grow, I imagine this medium — and thus it’s grouping and marketing — will be subject to significant change.

  4. Mike says:

    At the MESG, Kaimi defined the Bloggernacle as the collection of LDS blogs. He said this ranges from 40 to 200 depending on how you count them. I think the broad calculation would include any LDS themed blog by a woman.

    When Caroline said that across the Bloggernacle there are 60 blogs, this only includes the ones she counted at LDSBlogs.org, which would not include all blogs in the broad defn of the Bloggernacle.

  5. Mike says:

    I noticed that Kaimi and Dave also have posts on the MESG meeting T&S and DMI.

  6. Jack N says:

    Your Friday presentation was very good. I think the woman next to me may start reading some blogs, but right now it is all print. I mentioned in T&S that it seemed most listeners were still more interested in print media, but you all made a very good showing. I’m glad I went

  7. Caroline says:

    Hi Jack N.,
    Nice to meet you as well. I’m glad you found the evening interesting. It was quite fun for me to meet some of the people I’ve been reading for the past year.

    Deborah (and Aimee),
    Yes, I was going by the blogs listed at mormon archipelago, but it is really good to acknowledge that there are LOTS of female solo blogs by Mormon women. Looking at that list over at FMH probably gives just a peek as to what’s out there in terms of women’s mormon blogs. Perhaps as time goes on, more and more of these women’s blogs will get be listed on Mormon Arch. One can only hope.

  8. Rosetta S. says:

    Caroline:
    I sure appreciated your taking the time and energy to come to Miller-Eccles! You gave very helpful information, which helped make it possible for me to share my opinion here and there.
    Many thanks,
    Rosetta S.

  9. Anonymous says:

    A QUESTION for you all. Sorry to put it on your post, Caroline, but I can’t figure out how to start a new one.

    A non-LDS friend of mine told me that she had had a couple of the missionary discussions. The young elders brought in an older couple for the third visit (Stake missionaries, maybe?) Patti had been doing some research on the Church and challenged them about eternal progression, citing Isaiah 43:10, “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” The lady got very upset with her husband, and said, “You said we would be gods. What about all those spirit children you told me we were creating every time we had sex?” I have never heard this before (i.e., every time a couple had sex in this life, they create a spirit child). Have you? She might have misunderstood what the lady was saying (on the other hand, it sounds like a good line: She: “Not tonight, dear.” He: “But what about our celestial kingdom?”)
    Carrie

  10. manaen says:

    I was at Friday’s meeting also and enjoyed your presentation, as well as Kaimi’s and Nate’s.

    However, I’ve been annoyed since the meeting about all the other bloggers who were there that I didn’t meet as bloggers — Heather, Carrie, Dave, etc!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Keep up the good work
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