“ Where Are the Women?” Rhetoric and Gender in Weblog Discourse Clancy Ratliff August 14, 2006
The “Where are the women?” Case <ul><li>Series of posts, August 2002 to February 2005 </li></ul>
Research Questions <ul><li>What is the influence of weblog technology on the discourse it contains? How are gender roles e...
Literature Review <ul><li>Computer Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Classroom Research </li></ul><ul><li>Girl (grrrl, gURL) Cultu...
Computer Culture <ul><li>Values associated with masculinity (competitiveness, hierarchy) are often built into and reflecte...
Classroom Research <ul><li>Computer technology has the potential to transform the classroom into a decentralized, nonhiera...
Girl (grrrl, gURL) Culture <ul><li>Women are entering a masculine writing space (the Web) and appropriating it for feminis...
Theoretical Influences <ul><li>Fraser claims that “[o]ne task for critical theory is to render visible the ways in which s...
Warnick <ul><li>What sorts of roles are being enacted? </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of participation or response is being s...
Research Design <ul><li>Sample selection </li></ul><ul><li>Procedure </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews </li></ul>
Initial List of Themes <ul><li>Attention to Gender  </li></ul><ul><li>Blog/Diary Distinction  </li></ul><ul><li>Blogroll R...
Influence of the Technology <ul><li>“ Men are from Movable Type, Women are from LiveJournal.” </li></ul>
 
Self-Promotion <ul><li>Comments </li></ul><ul><li>Trackbacks </li></ul><ul><li>Emails </li></ul><ul><li>Ranking tools </li...
Madonna/Whore Stereotypes <ul><li>Ideas about women tended to correspond to a Madonna/whore dichotomy (Gilbert & Gubar, 19...
John Hawkins,  Right Wing News,  April 2004 <ul><li>So while women can be successful in the blogosphere without ever showi...
Michele Catalano, April 2004: <ul><li>Oh yea, I heard she’s hot. Quite a few of the upper echelon male bloggers seem quite...
Photograph of Madison Slade on the “About” page  of her weblog,  Moxie
Parody graphic by Lauren Bruce of  Feministe , February 2005, titled “On Women and Blogging”
Madonna <ul><li>Blogging, kairos, and leisure time </li></ul><ul><li>The material conditions of weblog writing </li></ul>
Catjo, 2004, “Speaking as a woman who would love to be a blogger” <ul><li>“ before [women] can begin forming our bloggy th...
Elfy, February 2005 <ul><li>I have a first-grader son and a husband. All the child-related stuff takes a lot of time and e...
Political Discourse <ul><li>“Women are put off by the tone and pace of political opinion writing” </li></ul><ul><li>“Women...
Reg, February 2005 <ul><li>There are simply less females than males passionate about politics, hence less females blogging...
“ Woman Devotes Her Time to Gossip and Clothes  Because She Has Nothing  Else to Talk About.  Give Her Broader Interests  ...
 
What Is Political? <ul><li>Kerry’s Fan Club </li></ul><ul><li>Closing in on Osama Bin Laden </li></ul><ul><li>The Foreign ...
Rana, February 2005 <ul><li>Politics covers a LOT of ground, people -- yet if one talks about “female” issues (they are hu...
Dan Kervick, December 2004 <ul><li>I think there is a competitive, sporting aspect to a lot of blogging that needs to be m...
Dan Kervick (continued) <ul><li>My impression is that many women, when they write in their spare time, enjoy writing in a ...
Metaphors for Political Discourse Raised in the “Where Are the Women?” Case <ul><li>Food fight  </li></ul><ul><li>Bumper c...
Conclusion <ul><li>Not much has changed </li></ul><ul><li>Women  do  know how to play the game and can choose to or not to...
“ Andre,” Rhetoric 1101 Student <ul><li>” They are preaching something that they are not actually living. Writers are the ...
“ Julie,” Rhetoric 1101 student, Fall 2004 <ul><li>politics? riiiiight....I do not like politics. In fact, I am anti-gover...
<ul><li>1. </li></ul>
<ul><li>7. Early Technology Adopters (men’s weblogs are more popular because they started blogging first) </li></ul><ul><l...
 
 
 
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Presentation I gave at my dissertation defense

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Presentation I gave at my dissertation defense

  1. 1. “ Where Are the Women?” Rhetoric and Gender in Weblog Discourse Clancy Ratliff August 14, 2006
  2. 2. The “Where are the women?” Case <ul><li>Series of posts, August 2002 to February 2005 </li></ul>
  3. 3. Research Questions <ul><li>What is the influence of weblog technology on the discourse it contains? How are gender roles enacted through the ways users deploy the technology? </li></ul><ul><li>How are women’s roles constituted, and what challenges do those roles present to establishing ethos? </li></ul><ul><li>How is “political discourse” defined in the “Where are the women?” case? What are the implications of this definition for political literacy as it might be presented in rhetorical pedagogy? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Literature Review <ul><li>Computer Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Classroom Research </li></ul><ul><li>Girl (grrrl, gURL) Culture </li></ul>
  5. 5. Computer Culture <ul><li>Values associated with masculinity (competitiveness, hierarchy) are often built into and reflected in technological tools (Zimmerman, 1983; Kramarae, 1988; Turkle & Papert, 1990; Selfe & Selfe, 1994; Lay, 1996; Gurak, 1997, 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>Computers emerge out of the majority-male culture of engineering and the sciences, from which women are excluded (Turkle & Papert, 1990; Lay, 1996; Gurak, 1997, 2001) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Classroom Research <ul><li>Computer technology has the potential to transform the classroom into a decentralized, nonhierarchical space, but it often does not (Wahlstrom, 1994) </li></ul><ul><li>Men write more than women in electronic discussions (Kramarae & Taylor, 1993; Rickly, 1999; Wolfe, 1999) </li></ul><ul><li>Hypertext, as a nonlinear form, has the potential to disrupt traditional, institutionally defined forms of writing, but in practice it does not (LeCourt & Barnes, 1999) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Girl (grrrl, gURL) Culture <ul><li>Women are entering a masculine writing space (the Web) and appropriating it for feminist purposes (Blair, 1999; Comstock, 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>Women and girls are using stereotypically feminine imagery in a subversive fashion (Comstock, 2001; Cadle, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Women and girls are writing productively outside institutional contexts and forming new public spaces for writing (Hocks, 1999; Takayoshi, Huot, & Huot, 1999; Comstock, 2001; Cadle, 2005) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Theoretical Influences <ul><li>Fraser claims that “[o]ne task for critical theory is to render visible the ways in which societal inequality infects formally inclusive existing public spheres and taints discursive interaction within them” (p. 121). </li></ul>Fraser, Nancy. “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy.” Habermas and the Public Sphere. Ed. Craig Calhoun. City: Publisher, 1992.
  9. 9. Warnick <ul><li>What sorts of roles are being enacted? </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of participation or response is being sought? </li></ul><ul><li>How are value orderings implied or reinforced? </li></ul><ul><li>What sort of online community is assumed, and what are its conventions and values? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the significant absences -- who is excluded; what values are suppressed; what is not said? </li></ul>Warnick, Barbara. “Rhetorical Criticism of Public Discourse on the Internet: Theoretical Implications.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 28.4 (1998): 73-84.
  10. 10. Research Design <ul><li>Sample selection </li></ul><ul><li>Procedure </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews </li></ul>
  11. 11. Initial List of Themes <ul><li>Attention to Gender </li></ul><ul><li>Blog/Diary Distinction </li></ul><ul><li>Blogroll References </li></ul><ul><li>Caricatures/Parodies/ </li></ul><ul><li>Metacommentary </li></ul><ul><li>5. Communicate Differently </li></ul><ul><li>Criticism of Ranking Tools </li></ul><ul><li>Early Technology Adopters </li></ul><ul><li>Evolutionary Psychology </li></ul><ul><li>9. Leisure Time </li></ul><ul><li>10. Not Interested in Politics </li></ul><ul><li>Other Media </li></ul><ul><li>Personal Writing </li></ul><ul><li>13. Pseudonymity </li></ul><ul><li>Public Sphere </li></ul><ul><li>References to My Own Research </li></ul><ul><li>Self-Promotion </li></ul><ul><li>Sex and Attractiveness </li></ul><ul><li>What Is Political? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Influence of the Technology <ul><li>“ Men are from Movable Type, Women are from LiveJournal.” </li></ul>
  13. 14. Self-Promotion <ul><li>Comments </li></ul><ul><li>Trackbacks </li></ul><ul><li>Emails </li></ul><ul><li>Ranking tools </li></ul>
  14. 15. Madonna/Whore Stereotypes <ul><li>Ideas about women tended to correspond to a Madonna/whore dichotomy (Gilbert & Gubar, 1979; Feinman, 1980; Wood, 1980; Welldon, 1988; Fiske, 1999; McClintock, 1995) </li></ul>
  15. 16. John Hawkins, Right Wing News, April 2004 <ul><li>So while women can be successful in the blogosphere without ever showing a pic or mentioning sex, if you’re a female blogger and you’re attractive, you’ll get more traffic if you post your picture on your page. And if you’re so inclined to talk about sex, hey why not? It’s only going to bring in more visitors.... </li></ul><ul><li>“ But John, but John, that’s so unfair!” </li></ul><ul><li>The reality is that most men enjoy being around &/or being flirted with by pretty women -- even in the cyber world -- and you need to just accept it. Being surprised that’s the case is like being upset that your dog enjoys chasing a ball or chewing on a bone more than going to the opera. That’s how it is, was, and will probably always be and if you’re shocked or angry about it, you have the problem, not the dog. </li></ul>
  16. 17. Michele Catalano, April 2004: <ul><li>Oh yea, I heard she’s hot. Quite a few of the upper echelon male bloggers seem quite smitten with her. In fact, they are fawning all over her. And now she is considered to be on the A list of A listers, if there were such a thing. I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. Oh wait, I do. Guys will give you all the props you want as long as you are hot and write about sex. But if you aren’t hot, or if you don’t have a cute little image on your site depicting how adorably cute you are, then just give it up. [. . .] </li></ul><ul><li>This is why guys have an easier time “making it” or being taken seriously than women do. They just have to write. We have to be whores. I give up. Why bother spending hours doing research and writing, re-writing and editing when tiny little items about Bush’s daughter are what’s making the grade around blogs these days? You want the big boys to link you, girls? Start undressing. Or get a makeover. </li></ul>
  17. 18. Photograph of Madison Slade on the “About” page of her weblog, Moxie
  18. 19. Parody graphic by Lauren Bruce of Feministe , February 2005, titled “On Women and Blogging”
  19. 20. Madonna <ul><li>Blogging, kairos, and leisure time </li></ul><ul><li>The material conditions of weblog writing </li></ul>
  20. 21. Catjo, 2004, “Speaking as a woman who would love to be a blogger” <ul><li>“ before [women] can begin forming our bloggy thoughts,” they must “work, take care of the kid(s), do the shopping, cook, clean, plan, plant and tend to the garden, do the laundry, find the missing homework, make the lunches, take the dog to the vet, plan the events, remember the appointments, smooth over the family feuds, clean the fish tank, locate the tax papers from two years ago, volunteer for the school committees, transport the kiddies to all their activities, worry about whether the check will bounce and make sure tomorrow is reasonably together.” </li></ul>
  21. 22. Elfy, February 2005 <ul><li>I have a first-grader son and a husband. All the child-related stuff takes a lot of time and effort, and somehow my husband is the one with more free time to spend. I do not begrudge him that, and he does help out as much as he can, but in certain circumstances it’s just less damage control I have to do if I do it myself (let’s just say, homework and impatient fathers don’t mix well). I know that most of the working women with kids that I know of are in similar situations. </li></ul><ul><li>I’d LOVE to be more politically active, but my primary concern is to raise this kid as best I can. (not to say that it is the ONLY goal I have, but that’s a lengthy discussion for another time and place). I’d LOVE to have a political blog, but hey, I don’t even have time to maintain a personal one, and if I started something public, I’d feel like I have to update it regularly. As of now, I’m amazed at feministing people (and others) who have all this time to read news and find great articles so those of us who are busy can still have access to pertinent news. </li></ul><ul><li>On the other hand, my husband has time (and energy) to spend online and offline (washing dishes takes a whole less time than making up sentences with spelling words). So, my point is - and again, I do realize that my situation is not universal - maybe women in general just have less time to spend on politics or anything else, especially those who work and take care of children. </li></ul>
  22. 23. Political Discourse <ul><li>“Women are put off by the tone and pace of political opinion writing” </li></ul><ul><li>“Women aren’t interested in politics” </li></ul>
  23. 24. Reg, February 2005 <ul><li>There are simply less females than males passionate about politics, hence less females blogging. If there is a blogosphere concerned with sales at Nordstroms or Hollywood gossip, that blogosphere will be predominately female. </li></ul>
  24. 25. “ Woman Devotes Her Time to Gossip and Clothes Because She Has Nothing Else to Talk About. Give Her Broader Interests and She Will Cease to Be Vain and Frivolous.” Merle Johnson, 1909
  25. 27. What Is Political? <ul><li>Kerry’s Fan Club </li></ul><ul><li>Closing in on Osama Bin Laden </li></ul><ul><li>The Foreign Vote -- Do foreign leaders really want John Kerry to win the election? </li></ul><ul><li>Valerie Plame </li></ul><ul><li>Bush on WMD </li></ul><ul><li>Reproductive rights </li></ul><ul><li>Poverty and its impact on education </li></ul><ul><li>The environment </li></ul><ul><li>Health care </li></ul><ul><li>Child custody laws </li></ul><ul><li>Public resources for special needs </li></ul><ul><li>children </li></ul><ul><li>Marriage incentives (welfare reform) </li></ul>Trish Wilson, February 2005 Rayne, August 2004; Trish Wilson, February 2005
  26. 28. Rana, February 2005 <ul><li>Politics covers a LOT of ground, people -- yet if one talks about “female” issues (they are human issues, imho) like school elections or child welfare or female circumcision predominantly, or if one intersperses discussions of party politics and electoral results with posts on one’s children or hobbies or pets suddenly one is no longer deemed a ‘political blogger.’ </li></ul>
  27. 29. Dan Kervick, December 2004 <ul><li>I think there is a competitive, sporting aspect to a lot of blogging that needs to be mentioned. [. . .] If I’m in the mood to get into a good argument, I visit a blog. The men I know tend to like to argue, especially about politics. Fewer of the women I know enjoy the arguing. They are just as interested in politics, and have just as interesting things to say about it, but they don’t enjoy butting antlers over it. [. . .] I read three female-written blogs, Just World News , War and Piece and Body and Soul , pretty much every day. The blogs are interesting and well-written, and the writing is civil and thoughtful. But the guys’ blogs are more fun. </li></ul>
  28. 30. Dan Kervick (continued) <ul><li>My impression is that many women, when they write in their spare time, enjoy writing in a personal, creative, reflective and self-expressive mode. I do that sometimes. But personally, I most enjoy writing an argumentative essay where I rip another guy’s argument to shreds. And if he rips my argument to shreds before I go to bed, I sometimes can’t wait to get up in the morning so I can return the favor. Maybe this is unhealthy. But I enjoy the aggressive dimension of the blogosphere and indulge in it to sharpen my argumentative teeth. </li></ul>
  29. 31. Metaphors for Political Discourse Raised in the “Where Are the Women?” Case <ul><li>Food fight </li></ul><ul><li>Bumper cars </li></ul><ul><li>Sports </li></ul><ul><li>Bloodsports </li></ul><ul><li>Boxing match </li></ul><ul><li>Butting antlers </li></ul><ul><li>Crossfire </li></ul><ul><li>Hardball </li></ul>
  30. 32. Conclusion <ul><li>Not much has changed </li></ul><ul><li>Women do know how to play the game and can choose to or not to </li></ul><ul><li>Feminist rhetorical intervention into the term “political discourse” is still needed </li></ul>
  31. 33. “ Andre,” Rhetoric 1101 Student <ul><li>” They are preaching something that they are not actually living. Writers are the only thing that separates their lips from ours. I feel that they are too preachy about their situation and try to bask on something and ride it until the wheels fall off. They don't even have thoughts of their own.” </li></ul>
  32. 34. “ Julie,” Rhetoric 1101 student, Fall 2004 <ul><li>politics? riiiiight....I do not like politics. In fact, I am anti-government. Throughout the duration of this post, think of me as &quot;Anarchist Julie.&quot; I often find myself asking the same question that Pink Floyd asks in their famous album, The Wall. &quot;Mother should I trust the government?&quot; The answer is no. To be quite frank, I have more opinions on toothpaste and Febreze... which is why I chose to write about those issues instead of this one. My feelings towards my toothpaste and Febreze have more of an effect on me than the presidential candidates. Presidents tend to buckle in extreme situations and do not always do as they say they will (they're humans, just like all of us). I believe in three things....1) a God 2) karma and 3) fate. One of these three things will take care of me, and I choose not to obsess over political issues. </li></ul>
  33. 35. <ul><li>1. </li></ul>
  34. 36. <ul><li>7. Early Technology Adopters (men’s weblogs are more popular because they started blogging first) </li></ul><ul><li>8. Evolutionary Psychology (men naturally want to dominate discourse and are naturally more likely to want to “grab a megaphone” and shout their opinions) </li></ul><ul><li>9. Leisure Time (women don’t have time to blog; they’re too busy with children, work, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>10. Not Interested in Politics (women aren’t as interested in politics; women are more interested in celebrity gossip, babies, shopping, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>11. Other Media (references to mainstream media, comparisons of weblogs to op-ed columns, talk radio, and television punditry) </li></ul><ul><li>12. Personal Writing (detailed commentary on gendered dimensions of personal writing) </li></ul>

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