A week or so ago Pinko-Feminist Hell Cat ( I love that name! ) made reference to the â€œwhere are the women bloggers debate”. Black Looks followed up on this by asking Where are the African Women Bloggers? In her second post on this subject, Black Looks commented that ,
“it is not always clear whether the blogger is male or female”.
As I read all this, I found myself thinking back the days of the Bronte’s, when writing was a deemed to be a manâ€™s thing and the only way for a woman writer to succeed was by assuming a male pseudonym. To be honest I didn’t even have to think that far; two fairly recent events have led me to wonder that that perhaps some of our African women bloggers have deliberately assumed androgynous blog identities.
The first event takes me back to the days of ‘Wakili’. Wakili , which is Kiswahili for lawyer, was a handle I created for the purposes of interacting on a Kenyan discussion forum. Most of the time other members mistook me for a man especially since I engaged in discussions that were perceived to be topics for the men i.e anything that fell outside of shopping and pregnancy.
Over the years the forum became increasingly anti-female. Women contributors were (still are) subjected to abuse especially when they â€˜trespassedâ€™ into the male arena of politics, law and other seemingly intellectual debates. If a woman raised an objection to an issue that was considered male only, some of the members chose to attack her womanhood as opposed to dealing with the issues she raised.
It was not uncommon for a member to respond with comments such â€˜she must be PMS-ingâ€™. Insults like â€˜bitchâ€™ and â€˜malayaâ€™ (Kiswahili for prostitute) were constantly hurled at women who were deemed to have stepped outside their place. If these insults did not silence us were instructed to â€˜find a manâ€™ and â€˜get laidâ€™. Some women were clearly considered beyond the cure of a penis and they were referred to as lesbians. At present, quite a few contributors have taken to starting whole topics whose sole purpose is to abuse and degrade women.
Needless to say a lot of women, including myself, got fed up of the verbal violence and opted to leave the forums or remain as lurkers. Thankfully blogs arrived in time to meet my internet addiction.
Unfortunately, while blogs have provided countless of women with our own space to speak as we wish on issues that we consider important; it has done little to change the sexist attitudes of some our men. This is evident in some of the blogs maintained by African men and sadly in some of the comments left behind by men on the blogs maintained by women. This leads me to the second event which comes in the form of a blog entry by a Kenyan male blogger.
The blogger wanted to know why the Kenyan Blog Webring had more female bloggers. According to him,
“I know that women do talk more but if we look at journalism they sure do not write more.”
He did invite the blogsphere to let him know what we thought but at that time I opted not to. I felt there was little more I could say to a person who thinks that Kenyan women bloggers have chosen to blog because we live abroad and have no-one to talk to. Kenyan Pundit did start up a good debate on this.
In light of all this I canâ€™t help but wonder that maybe some of my fellow women bloggers have decided to blog as gender neutral beings because they are tired of being shouted down by men who are uncomfortable with their intellect.
Perhaps there a women bloggers who choose to blog because they can? These women do not want some man to mistake their passion for writing for some unfulfilled need, sexual or otherwise.
It could be that there are African women bloggers who would like a place that allows them to just be without having to deal with the misogynistic views of others.
There are, perhaps, some women who want to rant about something or someone who has enraged them without some man blaming her anger on her biological make up.
I am not really sure why. I am just guessing, thinking aloud.
I do know that behind our names are real women, with real feelings and we will do whatever it takes to make sure that nobody invades our space or attempts to knock our thoughts and views solely on the basis of our sex.