Some Reflections on Blogging and Feminist Scholarship.


Hey Folks! I’m back from my five week hiatus wherein I focused on life outside of the internet and worked on my MA thesis (which is almost done!) in Women and Gender Studies. In the last few weeks, I had the opportunity to push aside writing online to delve into my thesis research which is an exploration of the production of identity vis-à-vis the internet and specifically how people articulate, vet out and circulate ideas about race, gender, class and sexuality in online worlds. Academic writing is so different in many ways from journalistic or blog style writing; citations are more formal, arguments more nuanced, obviously pieces are longer and filled with complex terms. But in some ways it is the same, since as a blogger, we strive for more nuance, we clear theoretical ground and we hat tip those that said it before us. There are benefits and pitfalls to both and I think the two types of thought production hold the potential to compliment each other very well.
In researching, thinking about and writing about what identity means on the internet and how meaning is produced through how we discuss issues, where we fall along political lines, I got an opportunity to really think about the power and pitfalls of blogging. I am lucky to be in a position where I have a captive audience that listens to and engages with the work I put out there. But I also thought about the ways feminist discourse sometimes runs in a circle and becomes a constant game of she said/she said, difficult to break through with innovative new ways of engaging, when historical inequities and the language we use to describe them, has not changed.
For a few years, I disengaged myself from my academic writing, feeling constricted by what I felt its jargon and exclusivity. But after careful reflection on many of the events that have happened in the last few years at Feministing and the reactions to them by other bloggers, conservative bloggers and the greater news-reading public, I realize we have only but to gain from the intersectional analysis of authors such as Patricia Hill Collins, Donna Haraway, Audre Lorde, Kimberle Crenshaw, Lisa Nakamura, among many many other, anti-racist feminist, socialist feminist, cyberfeminist and radical feminist scholars that paved the way for us to be able to do the work that we do and engage with the ideas we engage with. Many of the battles being fought online and in feminism are battles that have been fought before, ideas engaged with and categories, like gender, destabilized. Of course, repetition is the name of the game, and hopefully every time we engage in a conversation, be it old or new, we learn something new.
That is a long-winded way of saying, despite the inherent exclusivity and accessibility issues around academia and blogging, I am glad to be back engaging with what feminism and social change means to us, as a movement, as clusters, as subgroups and as complex imperfect humans. I have a renewed energy and belief that telling our stories and writing our words is the most powerful and effective step towards creating the world we want to see around us. Perhaps in Lorde’s vision, it was never possible for us to move forward like this, using the tools of the oppressor in this way, but maybe through our repetition and mindful diligence, it actually is making a difference.
Bear with me as I catch up with the news cycle!

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6 Comments

  1. Gretel
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Welcome back, Samhita! Your nuanced and thoughtful approach to blogging is one of my favorite parts of this site. You were missed.

  2. Samhita
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Thanks!

  3. Lindsay
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    First and foremost, congratulations on completion. I defended my MA thesis in Women and Gender Studies in September. I discussed women increasing their health literacy online. I think your research is extremely interested and was wondering if you have or will be publishing any of this research or presenting it at a conference. I would love to hear more about it as it does impact some of my own arguments.

  4. Lindsay
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    First and foremost, congratulations on completion. I defended my MA thesis in Women and Gender Studies in September. I discussed women increasing their health literacy online. I think your research is extremely interested and was wondering if you have or will be publishing any of this research or presenting it at a conference. I would love to hear more about it as it does impact some of my own arguments.

  5. robinemmarose
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Yaaaaay so glad you are back! I’ve missed your posts.

  6. Tabitha
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Welcome back and congrats on your nearly-finished thesis.
    I’m in academia and have often thought about the issue of exclusivity. I think that I have come to the conclusion that, although some writers do use lots of jargon and write in a dense way, it’s not really exclusive.
    I am all about encouraging young people to actually go to a library and check out books and even delve into academic journals. Ideas aren’t really exclusive if they can be read for free. Initiative needs to be instilled and encourage in everyone without excuses (just like President Obama stated in his address to young people).
    Some writers like Patricia Hill Collins has complex ideas presented in clear prose. There are others as well-Susan Faludi, Naomi Wolf, Arlie Hochschild, Barbara Ehrenreich, to name a few, that have interesting ideas but can be read by anyone with a high school education.
    It’s easy to look at academics as a privileged group that promotes exclusivity. But many of us didn’t start out privileged. Many are from poor or working-class families and are sometimes the first in their families to graduate from high school and college. Many women come with the baggage of divorces, children, and the primary responsibility of the domestic realm in addition to a career.
    So I guess my cliche message is READ!!

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