Monday, July 17, 2006

Ms. Emily (Blog) Post

The more time I spend in blog world, the more time I find myself musing on the various forms of etiquette that are practiced throughout the various communities on the internets. I've found, for example, some incredible generosity from Asian American bloggers (most notably Jenn, who's page has now been down for awhile. I'm worried. Are you out there, Jenn? Are you okay? Holla!). Likewise, the people who maintain personal blogs (and I don't know how they would characterize themselves here--academics? writers?) have been friendly and welcoming indeed, to someone they don't know from Eve. I suppose that this is one of the reasons that I began blogging in the first place--because I had been reading these people for a year or so, and had been very influenced by their writing (I'm talking to you, Mel!). It's quite a privilege to have been included into their community.

Have you been waiting for the "but?" Here it is. BUT, it seems that all communities don't work the same way. And it's difficult for me to tell if this is a function of blog culture, or if it's an extension of the problems that that kind of community has in the real world. Case in point: feminist blogs. I do love the kind of conversations that go on there, despite the very vocal presence of trolls. On occasion, I'll drop a comment if I think I have something pertinent to say, which is not very often (but, come on, when the topic is Lolita, I'm a bit of a scrapper). Right now, at Feministe, there's a discussion going on about Michelle Wie, the Chinese American golf wunderkind. Now, I've got a bit of a personal stake in Wie; she attends a school very close to my ancestral manse (ie., shack), and when I visit during golf season, the whole town is behind Wie. I've seen her push Bush off the front page (and you've gotta get behind that!). Of course, I know jack about golf, but I do know that Wie is important specifically because of her popular appeal. Golf is becoming an incredibly popular sport in Asian countries like Japan and Korea. Thus, the golf world becomes one that can activate all kinds of atavistic ethnic and nationalist ideas about what draws athletes to the sport, what makes them succeed at it, etc. (You might remember the kinds of crap sportscasters said about Kristi Yamaguchi when she was skating in the Olympics.) Wie, as an Asian American who gets a LOT of press, serves two purposes for the public imaginary: first, she troubles the kinds of easy distinctions that people want to make about American (or white) golfers vs. Asians. Don't forget that golf, before and during the Tiger Woods era, has been deeply classist and segregated--far more than most of our other televised pasttimes. Second, Wie is notable for her incredibly drives--with the club, that is. She's a power player. I can't remember a time when an Asian American woman was recognized for her physical strength. It's so anti-Memoirs of a Geisha I just want to stand up and cheer. And Asian American female athletes? Forget about it. Wie's our girl!

The point of all of this (I bet you forgot there was one), is that in the middle of a raging debate about whether Wie is being held to a higher standard based on her gender, I posted a comment about the way in which she's important above and beyond her gender, noting briefly the ways in which she is poised to become a crucial figure because of her gender and ethnicity. There's been absolutely no response. Not a peep. The conversation goes on, largely fueled by an argument about racism towards Tiger Woods, who commenters have called black a number of times. This is, of course, despite the fact that Woods himself constantly and famously refers to his significant multiple heritages, of which Thai is a major part.

So, is it the case that I'm begin too sensitive? Is it that I always think it's all about me? Or is it the case that the commenters on a feminist blog aren't willing/prepared to think about the ways that ethnicity matters in connection to gender? Is it a combination of both?


Blogger Flavia said...

This is a good question, and it's an experience that I've had myself at some of the larger feminist blogs--and I think that's part of the problem: the largeness. Personally, I think it's rude not at least to acknowledge someone who pops up with a new or different perspective, even if it's only to say, "This is an important point; thanks for reminding me of it," but I suspect that many comments get buried or forgotten if they're not what the group as a whole is interested in discussing.

(And given how bad I myself can be at responding to my rather small number of commenters, I can't imagine how hard it must be to run a blog that really IS a public forum!)

Monday, July 17, 2006 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Thanks for the words of wisdom, Flavia. Feministe does get a TON of comments and traffic (it's mind-boggling, actually), so I could definitely be a bit less sensitive. I'm probably also made more paranoid by the debates about the role of women of color in the last Carnival of the Feminists. I've clearly been spending far too much time in front of the computer.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 17, 2006 2:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

I think it's partly the size, but also there is a different sort of culture around so-called "personal" blogs (which might discuss political topics) and those which present themselves as "political". A lot of good ideas get lost in the swarm of comments.

I was interested in your thoughts here, though, since I don't follow golf at all and hadn't heard much about Wie. Now I'll pay attention...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 1:46:00 AM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Ah, that's where I started the post, but it got away from me (or it got too involved with me--that's another way of thinking about it).

There's more to think through here, about the ways in which acceptable practices change based on the kind of blog one interacts with... Thanks for the reminder!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 9:39:00 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I think all posts on a more political blog should be recognized. Could stimulate a new path in the discussion. Bring it on your blog, and we'll go at it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Mighty kind of you, Beth. Actually, it's something I want to think more about, but I think the question is something like this: are there instances in which a public figure's value should be determined by more than simply his or her talent? As soon as I work it out, I'll write something up.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 5:58:00 PM  

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