Friday, February 16, 2007

Blogs and gender

I've just been reading Susan Herring (et al)'s piece, 'Women and Children Last', both in preparation for a class I am teaching on language, gender and technology and whilst thinking about a paper I am going to write about blogging, gender and identity. While I have been teaching about feminist stylistics and textual feminism, I have been trying to explain the principle that academic research is not some kind of objective, neutral form of observation that simply describes data 'as it is'. As is well known, all analysis is inevitably selective and partial. What Herring et al point out so well that as far as the blogosphere seems to be concerned, the research up to the point at which this group were writing (2003/04) a fairly uncontested masculinist dominance appears. I wonder if this is still the case. Bruns and Jacobs' collection had a wide range of contributors (although about half as many female writers as male), and the pieces about gender was written by a woman. Does this, should this, make any difference? I should point out, that I am not suggesting that the editors of the collection are sexist in any way shape or form (or that the gender of the writer should have made any difference to their contribution). More that I wonder how far the apparently democratizing potential of blogging maps on to academic discussion and how both of those in turn are embedded in the gender politics of social realities.

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