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.