I read littlelight regularly. I also read a lot of people who read her and say “Did you see this thing littlelight wrote? You must go read it.” So, I have the impression of littlelight being a Big Blog. I think this has to to do, also, in part with littlelight’s experience being so different than mine. Every time I read her I learn something new or am challenged to think about what I do know in a new way.
On the other hand, I read Daisy regularly and I learn a lot from her, but my impression of her, as a reader, is of someone I’d be sitting at the kitchen table with, snapping beans or shucking corn. I don’t perceive her as a big blog. And yet, I’ve seen lists that rank her in the top ten of big feminist blogs.
I mention this for two reasons. One is because, if I hadn’t seen littlelight’s post today, I would have never known about Mandy Van Deven and Brittany Shoot’s post about the feminist blogosphere. I’m not saying this to mean that my experience is definitive. But my point is that no one person’s experience of the feminist blogosphere is definitive (or, in this case, even two people’s). Because, for one, we’re not talking about a mutually agreed-upon set of blogs. My feminist blogosphere, even the blogs in it that I assume to be widely known to be “Big Blogs,” are going to be different than other people’s. I don’t, for instance, read Feministe or Feministing unless I see that someone has said something about something happening there, because I feel like the audience for those blogs is younger and hipper than me. I rarely read Pandagon because I feel ambivalent, to put it mildly, about how stuff over there plays and has played out and whether my role as reader makes me complicit in it. I do read Shakesville, though I find that to be a more “nodding in agreement” place than a “whoa, yeah, I didn’t see that” place. I love Shapely Prose, because I feel like that’s a community of people who are also struggling with what it means to be in a body like this at a time like this.
But are those the big blogs under discussion? I don’t know. Are there others that are bigger?
If you don’t give people concrete examples of who you think is doing something uncool or problematic, how can we check for ourselves to see if we agree? How can the people who are being critiqued answer those criticisms if they don’t know they are the ones being talked about? If the blogosphere works through linking and engaging, how can that happen if we not only don’t link or engage, we don’t even name?
Van Deven and Shoot say
The prevention of small business growth is also present. If a blog replicates this corporate structure or becomes co-opted into the mainstream network, it can grow and compete with the bigwigs. But if a blog continues to simply work on its own, it tends to remain stagnant. In the blogging hierarchy, the system doesn’t allow for egalitarianism because of the competition for revenue. The big blogs will only let the smaller ones get so big, because they don’t want them getting as big as they are and pulling away their own sources of income.
And yet, they say nothing about what this mechanism is by which the big blogs only let the smaller ones get so big. And don’t get me wrong, I am as aware as the next person of the behind-the-scenes emailing and such, but it seems to me that, at most, all the bloggers who don’t want people to read you can do is not link to you. And all that means is that the people who read them will not hear about you from them. Okay, well, that kind of sucks, but they don’t have all the readers there are, right?
Amber Rhea says
I’m sick of the constant policing of each other (which I refuse to partake in, but I’m talking about what I see others doing), of who gets to speak and who doesn’t, the hierarchy of who’s the most oppressed; yes, the Oppression Olympics.
I agree (and wonder if that will surprise her). And I ask, [using what Amber Rhea says as a starting point, how is what Van Deven and Shoot not problematic?*] How is talking about people you won’t name (though clearly everyone participating in the discussion has some good guesses about who you mean) not about who gets to speak and who doesn’t? Because, frankly, once you’ve said “This blog, which I won’t name, is doing all these things wrong in ways that colonize space (re: oppresses people) and we need to discuss it,” how can the person you’re talking about defend herself? You always have plausibile deniability. So everyone can, say, know you mean Pandagon but you never have to admit to Marcotte that you mean her.
What good comes of that?
Again, I return, again, to what I always say, which is a.) one point of feminism is that we are all supposed to be figuring out how to be the boss of ourselves, each individually, and running around trying to figure out when and how it’s okay for you to monitor other women’s behavior to make sure they’re doing it right does not serve that end. You do not get to dictate what other women do. If they do stuff you don’t like, fight with them openly. Name them. Try to change their minds. But address them. and b.) one of the ways that women are fucked up by the patriarchy is that we are taught that our power comes through our ability to manipulate, to not be active actors, but to move behind the scenes to get our way without having to be clear about what we’re doing and thus open to confrontation. I feel, though, of course you are free not to, that we have to learn how to fight publicly with each other. Not naming names, claiming we’re just talking theoretically, not addressing our critics, not responding genuinely to criticism–all of that, and everybody does it, it seems to me, is manipulative. And I don’t see how it serves a feminist purpose.
And it’s not like I’m free of those impulses. I’m only human and I, too, was raised in this world and am colored by it. And I have done every single thing here that I think we should struggle not to do.
But I still think it’s important to struggle against the impulse to police the behavior of other women and to manipulate them into doing what we want. It’s just now how we should treat each other.
*I added the part in brackets for clarity because I wanted it to be clear that I was agreeing with Amber Rhea, not holding her up as another example of weird behavior.