Kerry Clare is an editor, fiction-writer, essayist, book reviewer, literary critic and writing instructor, and has been blogging since 2000, maintaining the literary blog Pickle Me This since 2006. Her essays, short fiction and criticism have appeared in magazines including The New Quarterly, The Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, Canadian Notes & Queries, and Readers Digest. Her essay “Love is a Let-Down” was featured by the UTNE Reader, and shortlisted for a 2011 National Magazine Award. She reads and writes in Toronto where she lives with her husband and daughter.
Visit Kerry's site at www.picklemethis.com
Scott Rosenberg forgot to put women in his definitive history of blogging,Say Everything: How Blogging Began, Where It’s Going and Why It Matters except for Dooce, of course, who was infamously fired when her boss discovered her blog, and who also documented her mental breakdown following the birth of her first child a few years later. Rosenberg does permit Blogger co-founder Meg Hourihan a brief appearance in his book, running out of her office in tears, but other than these two women, the oversharing, cyber-feuding, troll-feeding history of blogs has mostly been an all-male affair.
Margaret Wente thinks so too. “It’s more of a guy thing,” she wrote in a Globe and Mail column last year. “Not many women are interested enough in spitting out an opinion on current events every 20 minutes.” Of course, Margaret Wente was also demonstrating a better understanding of bloggers than she was letting on, intentionally provoking women to link to her article in their furious response posts, thereby delivering herself an barrage of page hits.
But Wente’s point of view was still a curious one, and just as curious was Scott Rosenberg’s apparent presumption that women had had so little part in how blogging began, where it’s going, or why it matters. All this particularly curious from the vantage point of my own little blogosphere (and there are, in fact, many blogospheres, as Scott Rosenberg correctly asserts in his actually quite interesting book), in which male bloggers are ridiculously scarce.
I’m not saying there aren’t any male bloggers—I just don’t read many of them. Though I also don’t read a lot of blogs written by women too: craft blogs, parenting blogs, home renovation blogs, fashion blogs, pregnancy blogs, infertility blogs, food blogs, and blogs about vintage rocking chairs. But the blogs that interest me, the literary ones— from the perspectives of common readers, academics, novelists, poets, mothers, book fetishists, illustrators, librarians, literary gossips, and critics alike—almost all of them are written by women.
Perhaps in some blogospheres, opinions spat out every 20 minutes actually constitutes a blog, but not in mine. Instead of, “Look at me!”, the bloggers I like best use their platform to say, “Look at this!”, and point me to wondrous things in the world. On these blogs, I find book reviews and recommendations, photographs, essays, critical responses to current events literary or otherwise. I find conversations, I find art opened up. I hear stories told and retold, I hear people asking questions, I see people making connections—between each other, between the books they’re reading, and the literature they’re making.
Of course, not everything is always so profound. And there are many more terrible blogs than there are good ones, but there are good ones, so many good ones. And what I mean to say, I think, is that there is something inherently womanly about blogging as I’ve come to understand it. Not just, of course, because it’s the latest in a long line of endeavours in which women have partaken in involving unpaid labour and undervalued craft. Or because the anonymity offered by blogs also offers a spectacular forum for women at their very bitchiest, though that’s a part of it too. But rather that the community-making that’s so essential to blogging seems like the kind of thing women have always been doing, whether historians saw fit to include it in the official record or not.
This essay also appears on the Women Doing Literary Things website.