But the personal is political

Ahem. Ahh… I’ve just rated a mention in the Air New Zealand blog awards. For my non-NZ readers, who are almost certainly not conversant with the daily ins and outs and ups and downs of what must be one of the smaller blogospheres in the English speaking world, the awards were set up by a group of independent NZ bloggers (of whom some other NZ bloggers disapprove because in the world’s smallest blogosphere, we must surely have our schisms), in protest against the much more official Qantas Media awards, which short listed two MSM backed blogs, plus one other rather excellent blog. Given the inclusion of newspaper backed blogs, the Qantas awards looked pretty suspect to most NZ bloggers. So, alternative awards were set up, in adhoc fashion, with a bit of number 8 fencing wire. Go take a look at the Air NZ Blog awards site, if you like, ‘though I suspect that some of the humour will not necessarily translate across the Tasman to Australia, let alone further afield to other places where people read this blog.

I wasn’t number 1 (that would be Cactus Kate), nor even in the top three, ‘though two of my favourite bloggers were there (the very funny and wickedly incisive Dim-Post, and the excellent No Right Turn). But one of the judges put me in his top three, saying some very nice things about my writing, which I’m not going to repost here, because that would be immodest, and very, very, very unKiwi. That means that I got an honourable mention. That judge, Matthew Hooton, is well known in NZ politics as a right wing activist. Go figure. And some of the other judges made some gratifying comments about my work too. Thank you all, kind sirs.

That’s the nice bit. Now follows the bit where I wasn’t so impressed with what one of the judges had to say. It’s to do with feminist blogging.

Righteous, leftist, feminist anger in measured terms. The problem with the sort of female blogging (and writing) typified here is that it’s all: I, I, I, me, me, me. It is as if the only way anything can be explained or analysed is by having the author insert themselves into every aspect – so unnecessary and such a detraction to otherwise meaty opinion pieces – fuck I HATE that style.

But… but… but…

The Personal is Political!

I’m headdesking over this. When I read the entries submitted by feminist bloggers, what I read is women reflecting n their own experience, reflecting on other women’s experience, and from there, working towards an understanding of patterns of power, patterns of domination, patterns of oppression. Patterns that reflect the reality of women’s lives. But somehow, because this is not grand politics, because it is centred in women’s lived experience, it is not regarded as real, and valid, and worthy of discussion.

This comment was made about another woman’s blogging:

Would give [redacted]* a run for her money for the most gratuitous over-use of personal pronouns in a blog – quite some feat. Everything that is wrong with ‘typical’ female blogging: I, I, I, me, me, me.

Because if it’s women sharing their experiences, then it can’t be good.

I find this… distasteful at best, and more realistically, rude and nasty, and incredibly narrow minded. Women’s discussions just don’t count. Yet, women’s discussions about all sorts of things may contain the most astonishing political conversations. For example, I don’t particularly frequent craft blogs (‘though there are some I love), but in passing through, I have seen some fabulous political discussions there. Discussion about the division of labour, and the availability of child care, and the difficulty of work life balance, and the cost of caring, and the frustrations of housework, and the joys and horrors of parenting. Below the radar stuff, as far as the big political blogs are concerned, but very, very important in terms of the lived reality of women’s lives.

These awards are just a bit of fun. They’re not in any sense official, nor are they even backed by Air New Zealand (that’s more antipodean humour which may or may not be understood elsewhere). I really do appreciate the worth of what has been done this year. I like the idea of recognising and acknowledging the excellence of the work that people do in their blogging. But please, GENTLEMEN of the judging panel, don’t demand that every blogger fit into some abstracted ideal of the public man.


24 responses to “But the personal is political

  1. Melissa van der Linden

    Congratulations! Well deserved. I think that your articles are always so well thought out and put together with a real craft and intelligence. Well done.

  2. Unlike Bomber Bradbury, I do care about making jam. I read your blog and not his because yours is better written, broader and does not shout at me.

  3. littlegemsession

    Not only is the personal political (most importantly) but ALL good bloggers write about I,I,I. What planet does he live on?

  4. As someone who writes for a living in a formal sense, often about politics, I love the freedom of being able to say ‘I’ when I blog.

    We all look at politics through a lens of our experience.

    If talking about women’s issues by talking about my own experience is bad…I’m not entirely sure how to tell those stories. People don’t seem to listen when we give them numbers and facts, like on the wage gap, maybe they will listen when we talk about how our work and our roles are not valued.

    But no, apparently our stories aren’t valued either.

  5. Congratulations.

    And arrgh! As if it isn’t one of the major problems with the sort of politics that gets called politics that it doesn’t often enough consider the effect decisions have at a personal level.

  6. Richly deserved recognition.
    As for the I…if not for I, then who?

  7. Paul said it best. I suppose I should come out as a schismastic at this point? But really, the thing was so poorly and arrogantly presented, it seemed self-defeating to get on board. It repeated the fallacy that blogs need to be about “news”. It was pretty needlessly scathing of mum bloggers or really anybody who didn’t fit the mould of who these “independent bloggers” (read: three random people) happened to be. The rich irony of criticising somebody for using the pronoun “I” whilst giving the prize to Cactus Kate was like the icing on the cake, whereas the cake itself was Whale Oil placing in the top three.

    You are better than these people, and I don’t say that because I know you – in fact, I know you because of your writing. Recognition in the blogosphere already exists, and it’s in the network of connections and support that germinates from the activity of blogging itself. We don’t need prizes that are worse than the thing they are supposed to satirise.

  8. Well no wonder!
    You didn’t mention this part, except obliquely “GENTLEMEN of the judging panel” –

    The Judging Panel will consist of a balanced mix of political, media and social commentators and professionals including Tumeke’s Tim Selwyn, the creator of the first New Zealand blog ranking system:

    Matthew Hooton – right wing extremist, political commentator and co-owner of PR agency Exceltium;
    Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury – left wing extremist, media commentator and radio and TV host, co-author of Tumeke;
    Ricardo Simich – director of One Agency, marketing and events specialists;
    Tim Selwyn – creator of the first NZ blog ranking system, co-author of Tumeke; and
    Regan Cunliffe – doesn’t need to pimp himself as a social media guru, he runs Throng Media, a global network of Television websites and ffunnell, an ad network for independent publishers.
    No representatives or lackeys of “old media” in that lot and we have tried to cover all political spectrums so there is no accusations of bias…

    No accusations of bias eh? and your judging panel is 100% male, dudes. Maybe “I” doesn’t come up much in your own writings because you do very little self-examination!


  9. Sorry, I changed the “you” halfway through to mean the dudes of the judging panel, not you Deborah. Now that’s bad writing! 🙂

  10. Congrats and pfft to the haters.

  11. Well done and well said.

  12. Yes, yes, yes. I knew you’d respond and that you’d express so eloquently what I was so angrily thinking. Congrats on the mention. As Helen has pointed out, there wasn’t exactly a lot of balance on that panel!

  13. Raymond A Francis

    Well done on the honourable mention, I enjoy reading female bloggers as you tend to give some good insights into the real world

  14. @ Raymond – I agree, and Deborah is one of the best.

    @ the judge making those I I I comments – maybe women do that because we know that our experiences aren’t universal, and we accept that. A little self reflection may be in order there mate.

  15. Congratulations on your well deserved honourable mention.

    The personal is political, the politcial is personal and good blogs can be both.

    And a bit of jam making and family and general life and whatever takes your fancy blog-wise can also be worth reading.

  16. Also, who cares about a bunch of old hacks patting themselves on the back for mastering the new media? They’ve got no idea what new media is about, they’re stuck in the past. Craft and “Mommy bloggers” get way more hits than their shit. When I wrote a craft/mummy blog I got 2,000 unique visits a day at it’s zenith and it was political and had more relevance too. So there 😉

  17. Oh well done, Deborah, even if in some respects those judges can’t tell quality from a hole in the ground.

    How far would Cactus Kate get with an all-female judging panel, I lightly wonder? She sounds like a bloke, and not a very pleasant one either.

  18. I would far rather read something written from a personal perspective because it feels credible and because I might be able to related to it, as opposed to something more akin to reportage i.e. impersonal.

    Besides, it’s not exactly getting away from “old” media is it, if the judges are imposing old-style journalism standards?

  19. Thanks for the mention, Deborah, and congratulations on your mention. OMG, I put myself first! I shall repeat 50 times “I m a selfish feminist with a pointless craft blog” 50 times before I go to bed tonight.

    Silly buggers.

  20. Pingback: Did you see the one about . . . « Homepaddock

  21. Daleaway

    That is very much a pointless comment from someone baying to the very stereotypes this blog is against. I don’t write like a girl according to your laws of gender writing so now you are accusing me of being a bloke? Classy.

    A female blogger (me) wins the competition and a feminist blogger (Deborah) gets nice comments about her blog from a right wing commentator (Hooton) who is not meant to recognise talent because the writer is female?

    How would I cope with a female judging panel? Well if they read my 4 posts and recognised the work, effort and skill put into them then I would hazard a guess I would cope very nicely.

  22. first congratulations deborah on a very well-deserved honorable mention. second, thank you also for tackling the totally pathetic “I,I,I, me, me, me” thing. i read that last week and was totally pissed off to the extent of being speechless. i remember we had issues with mr selwyn last year (i think) in his criticism of MSM, which he believed was going down significantly in quality because of all the female journalists now employed. if there’s anything positive to be said about him, it’s that he is staying true to form.

    thanx for putting your time into sharing your thoughts, which obviously mean so much to so many people. sorry that i don’t comment here much, cos i’m not much of a commenter generally. but i read almost every post and love it all.

  23. Silly awards, but jolly well done, Deborah. All compliments coming your way are thoroughly well deserved.

  24. I was pretty disgusted by many of the comments aimed at female bloggers by the male panel. Really rude and unnecessarily nasty. And VERY fucking sexist. It really shits me no end because I thought the comp might be a way to recognise some great blogs that are a bit underground. No such luck I suppose. Just stereotypes about feminists and quips about lesbians. Le sigh.

    By the way I think you rule and I love your blog.