January 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

was at netroots yesterday with hundreds of other people who campaign online and offline for various wonderful things and wanted ideas of how to do it better. it’s always exciting to be suddenly surrounded by people who are passionate enough about something to be willing to go far out of their way to do something about it – and when it comes with a free lunch, free media training and some pretty awesome speakers, there’s not really anything to complain about!

one of the workshops i attended aimed to address the question of online campaigning appears to be – overwhelmingly – a man’s world. admittedly, the slightly stuffy room got the better of me and i had to leave for fresh air, but nonetheless, the 2 speakers I heard – particularly blogger Lisa Ansell – got me thinking. I’ve never stopped to consider why it is that men are generally more vocal than women in online campaigning – or even IF they are. I genuinely don’t know.

But I think it might be true to say that in the virtual world, as often in the real one, women are to an extent expected to delete their gender in order to be taken seriously – as campaigners, as political/social commentators, as individuals in their own right. I know when I write for a general campaigining audience, I self-censor without really thinking about it. I try to draw attention away from my female-ness (and often from my muslim-ness) so that people take me seriously as someone with something worthwhile to say – rather than someone with an agenda. Of course, that makes no sense, because being a (Muslim) woman is often directly relevant to my life, my values and the issues I choose to campaign on. Yet when I write about extraordinarily emotional issues like child detention, I make my style a little more wooden so that I’m not written off as over-emotional and missing-the-point. I go a little over-the-top making sure that people I don’t agree with see that I can see where they’re coming from – to make sure they know I’ve done my research because I worry they will assume I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Actually, I don’t know if any of this is because I’m a woman, or just because I’m me – but I’m sure, to some extent, I’ve absorbed the idea that i need to make my female-ness negligible in order to be judged for who i am rather than simply what i am. A little worrying, no?


§ One Response to hmm.

  • Gemma says:

    Definitely worrying. Perhaps because most of what I write about is directly related to my gender – through the medium of feminism or because it touches on topics such as sexual violence – I don’t have the same problem. Perhaps if I wrote on something that was ‘gender neutral’ then I would feel the need to negate my gender because it may make what I say something which can be ignored as a ‘typical female overemotional reaction’. I do notice that academia has a particular issue with bringing emotion into debates because it almost fetishizes “objectivity”, but I will resolutely reply that I am emotional about what I study and rather than trying to hide behind a (macho?) exterior I will get angry, or upset, or pleased etc etc.

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