03 October 2011

women and blogging

coming across this post on the topics favored by women bloggers in India (parenting, personal life, domesticity, cooking) was interesting, for several different reasons. firstly, I was surprised that there weren’t more women listed for writing about books, travel and current affairs, as I’m sure they’re out there. second, it was interesting to follow the comments regarding what constitutes ‘interesting’ topics, and I was reassured by most commenters noting that rather than women having to further diversify their interests (to ‘keep up’ with men), perhaps men should be encouraged to write more about parenting and domesticity. thirdly, it made me reflect upon the various blogs I read and their topics. a quick breakdown:

parenting: 3 women
Writing, books: 3 women, 2 group
Religion, spirituality: 1 woman, 4 men, 2 group
Life reflections: 11 women, 3 men
Poetry: 1 woman, 1 man
Travel: 1 woman
Current affairs: 3 men

while it is relatively easy to categorize the blogs in terms of gender, it was far more difficult to categorize them into various topics. not only do all the blogs fall into more than one category, but the categories themselves overlap: spirituality and life reflections for instance, or writing and travel. furthermore, how do I decide what is current affairs? should it be limited to the current debate on india’s poverty line, or is the southwest airlines’ policy on same sex kissing and its effects on a little girl included too? what about this and this ('this week'); are they current affairs, life reflections or parenting?

the majority of the blogs I read are not by Indian authors. (I have in fact been trying to increase my intake of Indian blogs, without success to date. recommendations are always welcome!) the three that I do read are on current affairs and politics, writing and life, and travel and life. two by women and one by a man. I read more blogs by women than men –this is something I only realized now, after this exercise. I read what interests me, what speaks to me, what makes me feel good. in other words, blogs about writing, faith, books, life, community, current affairs. and yes, I also read blogs written by people who interest me, who I care about.

fourth, a quick google search on the topic of women bloggers brought up an interesting book (that I hope to read someday), which indicated that while women bloggers are perhaps doing better in the west than in India, the same issues/stereotypes continue to plague them, albeit at a different level. some quote-worthy paras:
In an effort to counteract invisibility, many female bloggers have created gendered blog spaces on the Internet to support, promote and highlight each other’s work… Women bloggers use these blog spaces to identify good female blog content that is not being picked up in the popular or top lists…

Though women bloggers are often accused of avoiding political discussion, an analysis of blog postings… shows this assumption is erroneous. Quite the opposite, female bloggers shine a light on many neglected issues in the public sphere that relate to feminist politics… Much of the alternative news that is created in these networks addresses topics that are either routinely ignored by mass media news reports, or buried in such newspaper sections as the lifestyles or features.
I also came across the following article on Indian women bloggers, which noted that the advent of blogging in languages other than english gave more diverse women an opportunity for articulation than before. as a result,
In the Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Bengali blogospheres, the rise of female bloggers has been sharp in the past two or three years, especially in small-town and rural India. They discuss the joys and trials of more intimate but often more conservative communities, and the challenges of life within the extended family. Politics comes up, but with a focus on local issues usually missing from English-language discussions.

English-language female bloggers have tended to write about city life, dating and relationships, and workplace issues. The women who are coming online now from the small towns may have more circumscribed lives — fewer opportunities for work outside the home, a greater emphasis on marriage — but blog with confidence and self-awareness about changing social mores and their growing economic aspirations.

And whereas the women who dominate the English-language blogosphere tend to be urbanites in their teens and 20s, the Bengali, Hindi and Tamil blogs seem to have engaged the attention of older women.
so, to end, go women bloggers! anyone who thinks women blog about 'boring' or 'typical' topics simply needs to read more female blogs. on the other hand, if finance, IT and mainstream politics are their narrow world of 'interest', then their definition of boring needs to checked!

No comments: