Today's guest post comes from Ashley Lauren. THANKS ASHLEY!
The Project Abstract
For quite some time, feminists have used the power and ease of distribution of the written word to spread their ideas to a wider audience. According to several feminist writers, including Jacqueline Rhodes, they wrote radical texts in the form of manifestos, guides, statements of purpose, and other political texts that were often linked together – or referential to each other in some way – and were distributed quickly and publicly and often disappeared as rapidly as they appeared. It is no surprise, then, that social media, blogging in particular, is becoming the new face of activism, especially for feminists, giving them a venue to express their ideas, create awareness, and call followers to action. I propose that feminist bloggers exist in a community very much like the radical feminists in the late 1960s and early 1970s and create “temporary texts” using the modern technology of blogging. To explore this community, I conducted interviews with several feminist bloggers about their literacy practices within the community and analyzed them using Szwed’s five elements of literacy – text, context, function, participants, and motivation. I believe that the understanding of the feminist blogging community and how bloggers view their own literacy practices shows how women are harnessing blogging as a form of activism.
Now the tables have turned, and I'm answering my own questions as a guest post for the lovely Frau Sally Benz (you can see her answers to these questions here). I've always wanted to answer these questions myself, so thanks for the opportunity!
Name: Ashley Lauren
Occupation: High School English Teacher, grad student, blogger
1. Define the online feminist blogging community.
Interestingly, I began this literacy project because the only feminist community I had ever encountered was online. That isn't to say that I had never encountered feminists singularly, but they had never been as organized and bound together as they seemed to be through Twitter and their blogs. Because the community of feminists online is solely based on literacy (reading, writing, comprehension) practices, I myself defined the online feminist blogging community as women who read, write, discuss, and share information about feminism online.
Since this project began, I have seen the onset of several, smaller, more defined communities from book clubs to women who help and work with technology. These groups can really only help the feminist online community become stronger by opening up all sorts of different dialogues.
2. Tell me about how you came to be a blogger.
I started blogging in college as just a way to organize my thoughts and present them to the world. More recently - about a year ago, actually - I deleted my Facebook account and started a personal blog as a way to update my friends and family on my life. It wasn't until I joined Twitter on a whim and saw the community of feminists there that I became interested in the feminist movement and began writing papers about feminism in graduate school. It was then that I started my feminist-leaning blog and that has been growing ever since.
3. Tell me about your blogging experience now.
As I stated above, now I blog mostly about feminist issues, or about life issues through a feminist lens. I changed from a more personal blog because I desperately wanted my blogging to have a purpose, and the more research I did on early feminists, the more I found about their writing and networking. Now, I feel that I do have a purpose: to raise awareness about injustices and open important discussions about feminism. Just making someone aware of the issues and ways people can help fix them really does make a difference in the world.
4. Tell me about a time you were misread or misunderstood on your blog.
I don't think I've ever been misunderstood on my blog, but I have dealt with a particular tweeting anti-feminist. I don't think that was a case of misunderstanding so much as a case of misogyny, though. I have had a few comments, though, that have prompted me to write a follow-up post or reply in order to clarify a point. This all relates back to literacy - I may write something one way and comprehend it, but when someone else reads it, they are not comprehending it the same way I do. This can result in a lack of understanding. However, the beauty of a blog post is that it is a living, breathing, changeable document. If there is a misunderstanding, we can interact with the text by leaving comments or by changing the post itself.
5. Describe your process of writing online.
As a teacher, I don't work at a computer, so I cannot post anything during the day. Most often, I think of ideas for blog posts and jot them down on a piece of paper so I don't forget by the time I get home. As soon as I get home from school, I make myself some food - I can't write anything without food - and start writing the post that's been in my head all day. Then, I usually schedule it to post at around 9:00 AM the next day, so as to reach the most readers.
6. Describe your online reading habits.
I'm a bad online reader, to be perfectly honest. I don't have much time, and I'm subscribed to about 50 blogs and news outlets that update about 5 times a day on average, so I usually open reader in the headline-only view and if the post was written by someone I know or if it interests me, I'll read the whole thing (or star it for later reading if I want to leave a comment or something like that). If I really like it, I'll put it in my Shared Items on Google Reader, which also feeds to my Facebook and my Twitter. I do make sure I read all of the posts from my feminist friends (and my other friends, too), but when my news feeds update about 30 times a day, it can be hard to keep up on what's going on in the world!