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Friday, April 29, 2011

Mediate Gender: Performing New Momism in the Blogosphere (Part 2)


PERFORMING GENDER IN THE BLOGOSPHERE

            The role of mommy blogger itself is an example of gender performance. West and Zimmerman (1987) explain that certain roles are gendered. For instance the gender qualifier male is used to describe a nurse that is a man and female is used to describe a business executive that is a woman. This is because traditionally these roles were either male or female. This is much like the qualifier mommy being added to blogger to describe a woman blogger. While there has been some progress in distinguishing mommy bloggers into other categories it is still common to refer to a women who blog as mommy bloggers.
            This title is not universally accepted by mommy bloggers. "Despite... success, the title of ‘mommy blogger’ is not always wanted: it can be both a source of pride and a source of embarrassment; it can both compliment and demean" (Lopez, 2009:730). Many women feel that if they are known only as mommy bloggers that they cannot write about anything else. This is not the case. In fact, many so-called mommy blogs mix autobiographical information with topical information (Carstensen, 2009). By assigning female bloggers the role of mommy blogger they are limited in what they can and cannot write about. If they chose to post about politics or science or a topic other than motherhood they break their gender role and therefore will face criticism by their readers.
            Many women who blog topically chose to write about their children in order to "establish their footprint in the blogosphere" (Lopez 2007:734). It, however, is clear by reading these blogs that many of these women are "simply mothers and occasionally write about their children" (p. 734). While there are many exceptions to this statement (i.e. men writing about their children) it brings to light how mommy blogging is a role that these bloggers perform. Men and women are always performing a role because "gender is not merely something that happens in the nooks and crannies of interaction, fitted in here and there and not interfering with the serious business of life" (West and Zimmerman, 1987:130). While not explicitly stated, men are male bloggers just as women are mommy bloggers because gender is omnipresent. It is always being performed.

THE GENDERED STRUCTURE IN BLOGGING

         Another way to look at blogging is through the lens of gender as a structure. Just as government or the economy is a structure that effects society, gender is can also be seen as a structure. It is inherent in ever aspect of society. Ridgeway and Correll (2004) put it this way, "Social relational contexts bring sex categorization into every activity and sphere of life in which one person casts himself or herself in relation to a real or imagined other, be it in person, on paper, or through the Internet" (pp. 521-522). They go on to describe how thinking of gender this way give scholars the opportunity to analyze gender, not as a symptom of social influence, but as a cause of this influence. 
         Blogging also illustrates gender as a structure. Carstensen  (2009) wrote that blogs, "[range] from the reproduction of gendered structures in public spaces, to enthusiastic female bloggers, to chances for creating various gender identities" (p. 116). Van Doorn, van Zoonen, and Wyatt (2007) explain how gender is represented in blogs through analyzing their performances of gender on their blogs. They conclude, "[blogs] facilitate a mode of gender presentation that remains closely related to the binary gender system that structures people’s daily lives, they also offer a ‘rich’ environment... resulting in multiple heterogeneous performances of gender" (p. 155).  Therefore, in blogging, while gender as a structure supports many representations of blogs it also provides an environment for women to explore there relationship with their gender.


Works Cited

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