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09/13/2003 Archived Entry: "Q&A on women bloggers"
The pop-culture philosophy message is a bit hokey...but the accompanying photos are a delight!
I was recently interviewed by a University of Michigan grad student for an essay on women bloggers that she was doing for a journal, and I thought readers might be interested in the brief Q&A exchange.
1. How long have you been blogging? What is your URL? How did you start (a friend recommended it, you read about it in the newspaper, etc.)? Did you keep a journal growing up?
The first blog entry on McBlog is 07/29/02; McBlog is my main forum from which I extract excerpts to post on various other blogs...at their invitation, of course. For example, during the invasion of Iraq , I contributed to the nowarblog. Currently I am part of the group blog Liberty & Power at History Network News. I first considered blogging as a result of a conversation with an avid blogger at an IHS conference. He pointed me to Samizdata and I was so impressed by the site's content that I immediately signed up at a blog site where you needed a password etc. to access your "account." That didn't work for me...but installing Greymatter did because it is so easy to use and totally under my control. I did keep a diary when I was growing up but the blog doesn't feel as tho' it is related to that childhood activity; the diary's purpose was to "express my deepest, most secret thoughts/feelings." I eschew overly personal expresssion in my blog.
2. Do you read other women's blogs? If so, whose?
Yes. I regularly read Karen de Coster, Claire Wolfe, and Erin O'Connor. Less frequently, Virginia Postrell.
3. What personal satisfaction do you get from your blog?
There are a number of satisfactions. The most obvious is hearing back from readers; indeed, I have reconnected with three old friends as a result of their reading the blog and writing in to comment on personal "items" from my life -- e.g. the blog in which I describe the life-and-death operation our dog Sam underwent recently. I enjoy the immediacy with which the material is published; too often, I've had to wait quite literally years between submitting and work and seeing it "in print." I also enjoy the absolute freedom to address any subject I wish. Much of my non-blog writing centers on feminism and, you may note, that nothing in my blog addresses that area. My interests are far broader than "women's issues" and the blog acts as a release valve, allowing my opinions to flow on a world of topics. I also hope to end up with something akin to an intellectual diary so that, in my dotage, I can reconstruct what I was thinking about, which books I was reading, what controversies were swirling in the libertarian movement, etc. One of the reasons I include personal commentary every once in a while, like reports on life on the farm, is to have some record for my own later purposes. You might ask, "why not just keep a private diary?" I could...or, rather, I could try. But the public aspect of writing makes me far more diligent about entries.
4. Are there other benefits of having a blog (professional use, way to make new friends, communicate with your out-of-town friends, etc. )?
Hmm...I think I answered this question in my previous response. I am not sure there is a professional benefit -- tho, having just written the foregoing words -- it is true that various people have contacted me with assignments as a result of "keeping in contact" through reading my blog. I definitely remain connected to friends and family members through my blog. I often receive hundreds of emails a day and it simply is not possible for me to adequately reply to any but a handful of them, even from people I know well and like. A blog can serve as a huge mass-mailing without losing the personal sense.
5. What are you wanting to communicate with your blog (political opinions, personal musings, etc.)? How much of what you write is really insight into who you are?
I communicate mostly on the political level but I often throw in personal musings and I think my personal philosophy of life is evident throughout. My blog is probably the best insight into who I am of anything I write because I am uncensored by anything but my own sense of the appropriate. Even in columns/articles where I am expressing my opinion, I am careful to do so in a methodical, well-documented, sometimes overly-fair manner. (BTW, by "overly fair" I mean that I sometimes give people the benefit of the doubt even when I don't believe there is real doubt.) In my blog, I just say whatever I think is true without worrying so much about substantiation. Even what I leave out is an insight into who I am. For example, you will never read an overly personal post about my husband, Brad, because I consider our relationship to be absolutely private. On the other hand, I want people to know about certain aspects of our lifestyle, such as our commitment to self-reliance and independence, because I wish to promote those values in society.
OPTIONAL: What's the weirdest thing that has happened as a result of your blog (crazy stalker, sister pissed you called her selfish on the site, etc.)
Because I speak out for men's rights and father's rights -- especially in child custody and other family law matters -- I have been targeted for rather severe harassment by various radical/gender feminists. I receive very nasty emails from one group, in particular, commenting on various posts. For example, one radfem literally chortled with joy about the post in which I expressed genuine pain and worry over my dog's 50/50 chances of surviving surgery. For this reason, I am cautious about putting too much information into the blog. (BTW, I am not being singled out for this sort of treatment. Quite a few people who speak out for father's rights are being routinely subjected to severe harassment and the spreading of libel. But the keeping of a blog does complicate the situation to some degree.)
Best to all,