January 24, 2006

Don't Get Me Started

Shelley took Adam Green to task for (I guess--the words aren't on his post now) talking about how linking to chick-blogs and saying nice things got him links back.

I think Shelley has done a good job pointing out to Adam that this is not such an amazing thing. It happens sometimes when you join a conversation and say something interesting, and often enough. Even when the conversation is mostly men or mostly women. And Shelley's right: some of the best conversations tend to come out of those environments. But not all the best.

Shelley also uses the opportunity to call for the end of terms (and groups?) like BlogHer that "differentiate" women.

I disagree. That differentiation's been done for us. That same argument that we should blur the lines is used by some of my least favorite people when it comes to race, as though the race card's "being played" -- notice the PASSIVE VOICE -- when in fact, it's DONE BEEN played.

BlogHer is simply this: An answer to the oft-stated and oft-stated and oft-stated -- then stupidly stated again -- fallacy: "There just aren't any women bloggers out there." Yah, well shut up, yes there are. They're here and here and there and there and here and there.

BlogHer isn't THE women's thang. It's A woman's thang. Just like Blog Sisters and other groups of women writing/speaking/laughing/arguing together. It doesn't take us away from our individual presences; it augments them.

BlogHer is how one group of women is choosing to answer an erroneous assertion--and take it from there. They are answering it by speaking and by writing, podcasting and photocasting. Often and everywhere. Loudly. With Passion. With other women, with men, by ourselves. However the fuck we want to do it. Just do it. Or don't.

The thing that keeps me at arms length with the term "feminism" is feminism's common inconsistency with itself. Women want to embrace their differentiation, but don't want anyone to point it out. And at the risk of sounding like Dave Winer, it's annoying.

BlogHer is a good thing. Women blogging on their own blogs is a good thing. Men blogging is a good thing. Children blogging is a good thing. Seniors blogging is a good thing. CEOs blogging is a good thing. Employees blogging is a good thing. EVERY THING IS A GOOD THING and none of it means anything = all at the same time!

It's NOT black and white. It's as shady gray as it gets.

Except for spam. Spammers are a bad thing.

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Anonymous said...

Good post! You're right, spammers are bad and Blogher is good!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeneane. I haven't changed or removed any of the words on my blog. I allow myself a few minutes to fix spelling mistakes, and then its frozen. I think Shelley had two problems with my posts. First of all she hates the word "chick." I can understand that, although I also know that many women use it as a sassy form of self-identification. Either way, I've promised not to use it any more.

What really set her off though is the idea of any assumption of gender based differences. She sees it as reductionist, hence the name "Reductio" for her post. I understand the argument, and the reason for it. If there are truly differences between all men and all women, then prejudice is acceptable. The problem is that anyone who has children, and I'm looking at a picture of what I assume is your daughter right now, knows that there are differences from birth. The danger is in assuming those differences apply to all women or all men. My answer is to again look at kids. Not only ar there differences between little girls and boys (personally I think little boys are another species entirely), but there are also differences between each child, which are even greater. So the answer is that boys and girls are different, but their individual personalities are so different that this swamps the gender difference and assumptions for all people based on gender are therefore worthless.

(Don't even get me started on race, because I am thoroughly convinced that there is such thing as a distinct "race" biologically. Race is a social construct. Darwin also believed this. I wrote a masters thesis on this.)

The bigger issue is how do women gain the maximum freedom in a society that focuses too much on gender differences. This is an issue I too am concerned about. My daughter wants to be a director in either film or the theater. She has just started college and is coming up against the problems facing a woman trying to exert control over others, not for her own pleasure, but to get the job of directing a play done. She can't practice many of the tactics adopted by men. She can't raise her voice or use a command voice. She also can't be "girly" and cry. She has to find a very tricky middle ground.

I wish we could discuss these issues without throwing around charges of essentialism. Even when you stipulate that there is no biological basis for gender differences, there still are accepted standards of behavior in our culture that place women at a disadvantage. This disadvantage extends to the blogging world as well.

This is certainly more than enough for this little comment window, but I'd welcome the chance to continue this discussion.

Anonymous said...

Oops. I left out a crucial word. I was trying to say that there is no such thing as a distinct race biologically.

Shelley said...

Jeneane, are there then black bloggers and just bloggers? I think we're all bloggers, and some bloggers are black, and then identify themselves as such -- but if you judge the merit of their work on different critera just because they are black, or are not white, then where have we created a society that isn't controlled by white men, and Other Groups?

Adam, you did it again -- you talk about your daughter and how she can't do what the guys do, but she can't cry either (supposedly this is what the girls do, is it?). Why in all that is green and apples can't she use a command voice? Did you train her that she can't? Do you enforce her to behave 'nicely'? What is stopping her--last time I look, boobs don't cut off our voices.

Why doesn't you daughter just do what she wants to do, and to hell with what everyone expects of her because of her damn sex?

Don't you get it? It's not the use of 'chick' that bothers me; its that you categorized our behavior based purely on the fact that we're women. You don't let any of us respond as ourselve, regardless of our sex. You lessened what we said as individuals. You grouped us, and then treated us as a bit bucket of bodies.

You talk biology, yet this has less impact in day to day operations than most people credit. In fact, much of the myth of women's 'behavior' is established by men not wanting us to have equal advantage.

And what behavior am I supposed to exhibit to put me at a disadvantage? Don't you mean that certain 'people' exhibit certain behaviors that put themselves at a disadvantage?

I am me, Shelley Powers. I am not me, woman first, then white, then me, Shelley Powers.

Jeneane, I said once before and I meant it: if the women of weblogging want to make an impact, they don't have their own conference--they show up at all the other conferences, in numbers too damn big to ignore.

People don't have to segregate us--we do it just fine ourselves.

Jeneane Sessum said...

I'm leaving Adam out of this--I don't know what he's getting at; his logic is very mike-sandersesque, and I find it confusing.

Shelley, why do you keep making it a black-and-white thing (and I don't mean race). We CAN show up at mixed conferences and we CAN have a women-run conference. This is not some x-random attempt at segregation; it's realizing that the conference space IS skewed, the blogworld doesn't fair much better most of the time, and it's about setting aside a time and place to say whatever the folks scheduled to talk/show/listen/gather want to say/hear.

Show up at all the other conferences and do what? Beg to be heard? Take a number? Do a sit in? Okay, if you think that will work, fine--do that.

And do this too.

It is ABSOULTELY right for bloggers of color to say "Hello, we're right here, and want to listen to what it feels like to blog from our perspective?" at a "blogging while black" conference just as it's ABSOLUTELY right for those same bloggers to expect to be included in mainstream conferences because they know about XYZ topic and HAPPEN to be black.

It's all that.

And it's economic. And if it means creating economic models that root around a system that's not designed for inclusion, THEN COUNT ME THE FUCK IN.

That's sort of where I stand.

Anonymous said...

OK, Shelly. You win. You are way too good at projecting actions and motives onto me that I never imagined. I know I'm not half as evil as you paint me, but if I keep arguing, I leave trails of your comments that seem to concede at least the other half, and that is making me a little ill. I guess this discussion can't happen. At least I won't try and have it. I wish you peace, although I'm not sure you will find it.

Jeneane, I'm sorry that this spread to your blog. I have learned my lesson. I'll no longer go near this subject. From now on I'll be gender agnostic in the blogosphere.

Jeneane Sessum said...

Adam, these discussions are supposed to spread. I wrote about the topic and linked to you; you have every right to comment, and to comment back to a commentor. And you'll probably get comments back.

Unfortunately I haven't traced the original discussions back far enough for me to say what I think is going on between your differing points of view, though Adam, you do write in a way that rephrases what has been said by other people 'in summary' and that often results in attributing motives to others that might not be there. That's frustrating. It reminds me of Mike Sanders. Like that style if you want, but it's not for me. Now, I don't know you from Adam, granted, but you may want to work on losing that technique.