Monday, June 13, 2011

A Housekeeping Post. I Recommend Reading It.

I took this weekend off because I was exhausted. So I went to the seaside and the sea decided to storm and rain on me for two days, all gray and frowning, and I had packed only hot weather clothes and the tourist shops do not sell tube socks but I did find a two-dollar sweatshirt with a silly picture in the front and my very skeleton turned icy and my muscles seaweedish but damn I WAS going to have a break and wasn't this such fun! Not distinguishing between the rain and my dripping nose was fun and the splish-splosh sound of my wet sandals was fun and the sneezes were ejaculations of pure joy at this freedom break.

Though the place did make a mean coffee with extra espresso beans thrown in. Being an east-coast elitist power-holder I naturally appreciated that while discussing the different flavors of imported olive oil from isolated farms where virginal young men are carried until the harvest is ready for stomping. That's the first time they are allowed to set their velvety feet on anything! Only that oil is worth buying, as we elitists so very well know, while pushing the heads of ordinary Murkans under the olive mash. With our sheer power.

OK. The virginal young men were made up but this is not: On the way back in a small town where people were having lunch after church I sat near a grandmother with three smallish children, two girls and a boy. The children were discussing their favorite colors, one girl said "green", the boy said "red." The grandmother intervened: "Well, boys usually like brown." Of such small strokes is our reality made. Loving strokes they are, strokes meant to educate and help. And in such small ways we return from mini-vacations back to the everyday life.

Talking of everyday life:

1. From now on, the rules of these comments threads will be administered more stringently. I will remove nasty personal statements without explanation and repeated offenders will be banned. Trolls are still kept banned as has been the case.

2. What someone writes in the comments threads is NOT the same as my opinions or the opinions of everyone who comments there. Do NOT generalize in inappropriate ways.

3. My co-bloggers have quite a bit of freedom in the topics they choose. I may or I may not agree with their views on any particular post. Sometimes I comment on those posts, sometimes I have used the opportunity for a break to actually take one. All my co-bloggers know that this is a mostly feminists blog in subject matter and that what they write should not be sexist, racist etcetera. I believe that having co-bloggers enhances this blog by introducing issues that I might not tackle because I don't have the experiences or the training they have or simply because different individuals focus on different topics. Even controversial topics (such as the one debated this weekend) can clarify our thinking and tug it wider or make it clearer.

4. What does it mean to run a feminist blog? Or mostly feminist blog in the subject matter sense (as my co-bloggers and I also cover general political and health care issues)? There are several different types of feminist blogs in the Internet, partly reflecting basic theoretical differences, and to some extent I have tried to fill a few gaps with this blog.

For instance, I don't write as much on questions of sexuality because other blogs cover that topic in great detail. On the other hand, I write more on labor questions because they are less comprehensively covered. I also focus on gender research because some of it appears to be motivated by misogyny and few blogs write on it on a continuous basis.

In another sense, feminist blogs can be movement blogs or thought blogs. This blog is the latter, simply because that's where my preferences and strengths might be. I do hand out action alerts and react to news but I have no special openings to either and I am not made out of the ingredients a real activist needs.

The final distinction is the one that cropped up over the weekend, and it has to do with the question of what might be expected from a blog that is mostly about feminism. Should it be a safe place? Should it be a place where people argue it out with lots of energy? Both? Can it be both?

I have battled with these questions many times, inside the dark chambers of my head, and though I still don't know the correct answer, my approach seems to have developed into a half-way type house. The basic rule is that women are people, too, as some old-time feminist stated. But I cover topics on misogyny and violence and I also cover the kind of research which argues that girls are born lesser beings.

In that sense this blog cannot be a safe space. Both types of sites are needed, in my view. I'm not sure if one site can perform both roles equally well. If we are going to analyze questions and debate them, negative energies will awaken. The debate is good, however, because of the sunlight-and-fresh-air aspect. And the learning.

At the same time, not all debate is going to lead to improvements in understanding, and not all debaters engage in debates for that reason. Hence the need for some types of basic rules, including those I wrote above but not necessarily limited to them.

When I first started blogging I believed that every debate was worthwhile and sometimes spent eons going around in those silly circles with a thinking-type of a misogynist.

You may know what I'm talking about. It's the sort of thing where argument A is presented, you demolish it, then argument B replaces it, you address it, then argument C comes along, you spend hours getting evidence against it, then, suddenly, you are back with argument A and you are older!

I'm not always right, of course (says she, modestly), but there are professional arguers who carry out the circular scenario I have outlined there, and except for the possible lurkers the game is not worth engaging in.

All this is a very long way to state my current opinion about the role this blog might play and about the role of the debates it might elicit. I invite you to share your ideas in the comments of this post.