Recently, a group of New Zealand bloggers took exception to the in-bred nature of the Blog section of the Qantas Media Awards, and decided to set up their own piss-take rival award. The judges - solely a group of dudes, I'd like to point out - made their picks this week.
This post is not to bleat my opinion on their picks. In the commentary discussing the entries, the judges said things like "very, very female" and "Everything that is wrong with 'typical' female blogging: I, I, I, me, me, me."; a fashion blog "veered off into the frivolous" and a lesbian blog "I'm angry at Penthouse for making me think lesbians were so much more interesting than this." (roll eyes at the stereotypical pornification of lesbians). This got me wondering...what exactly do people expect from "female blogging"? Are there rules? If we write too much like a girl, is our opinion invalid? If we write too much like a man, are we trying too hard be something we're not? If we don't write within the rules of femininity/queerness, we're not a real woman/queer? If one thing we say challenges the male paradigm, is all our opinion invalid?
In this instance, not every example of "female blogging" was bagged - indeed, the winning blog is written by a woman. Cactus Kate is not my bag - she rightly earns the moniker "The Prickly One" quite well. She is intelligent and articulate. It seems to me though that she writes in a way that many men like - combative, non-feminine, male sexualized, anti-feminist. Hell, I'm sure if she got hold of me she'd tear me strips and tell me she writes whatever fucking way she likes.
But this is the point. Every woman blogger writes whatever fucking way she likes. It is our prerogative to make our narrative heard in any which way we like. It's up to you whether you like or dislike a woman's writing (for whatever literary, political, or interest level reason). But no-one has the right to accuse a woman of "writing like a girl", as if "writing like a girl" is some bad thing.
Do you hear people accuse men of "writing like a boy" in a derogatory tone? No, "writing like a boy" is the set default in societal narrative. A man can get angry and opinionated about something he strongly believes in, and he's lauded for taking a stand. A woman gets angry and opinionated, and she's accused ofbeing overly emotional. We're all acting on emotion when it comes to expressing an opinion, or talking about our personal narratives, so I'm at a loss to understand how a man's emotion is any better or more agreeable than mine.
Women of all stripes need to be heard. Whether it's women blogging about their body images, mummy-bloggers, feminists, conservatives, working women, fashion, child-free advocates, politicos, religion, scientists, writers, sex, sexuality, cupcakes, literature, movies, technology... good grief, for every woman and woman identifier, there is a blog, style and a voice to suit.
If a woman's style is to write in the first person, talk about herself, her narratives, her experiences, her emotions, her opinions...so be it. That is our voice, no matter how disparate that voice is. We will not conform to some male ideal of "girl writing", let alone fit in with the rules of "male writing". Every woman needs to know they're not alone, they have someone else on their level, and whatever way they want to write is right.