Feminist blogging Raise your voice
Jasna Strick | Foto: © Jasna Strick
Why should I blog?For women, queers, PoC and other people who are affected by discrimination it’s hard to get attention for their subjects. We don’t have a stage in classical media because journalists are gate keepers who decide what’s newsworthy and what’s not and who will be heard as experts. As long as editorial teams will stay less diverse, nothing will change in journalism and media. But nowadays blogs and social media are a new opportunity to speak about important issues – and mainstream press realizes this more and more, the acceptance of blogs raises.
As a feminist your own blog can be your contribution to current debates and this can be very empowering. A blog is easy to start and a perfect way to make yourself heard. Your own blog gives you the opportunity to tell your story, to enrich the world with a new (marginalized) sight or to start a complete new debate. Maybe you texts will inspire someone? Or you will be inspire yourself because writing down your thoughts helps to structure your arguments and to extend your ideas. If you think you have something to say – do it!
How should I start?At first you should decide under which name you want to write. Pseudonyms are common but not obligatory. How many information about yourself you want to spread online is your own choice. Consider if you want to blog alone or in a group. Of course your blog needs a name, too – or you name it after yourself.
If you blog in a team it’s useful to have a basic editorial concept: You should talk about the main process, main subjects, who is responsible for specific tasks and who decides things.
I think you don’t have to determine your specific themes, your blogging frequency and if you want to comment events of the day or rather analyse bigger contexts at the first day. Find out how blogging works for you, what you like and how much time you want to spend on your project.
You don’t need any coding skills to start a blog, you can choose one of the many free blog creation sites like Wordpress, Blogger or Tumblr. All of them have easy step by step explanations, so don’t be scared. You will learn how to write, format and structure your texts very quickly.
Most blogs allow reader’s comments. These comments can be really valuable and motivating. But there can also be annoying people who want to derail your topics, to steal your time or to spread antifeminism. Maybe you don’t want to publish such comments because they are abusive, disturb the discussion and you want a safe space for yourself and your readers. Read your blog’s setting options carefully, it’s possible to enable every comment before it is published on your blog. Or disable comments – it’s your space and your free time, it’s okay to handle it as you like it.
How do I get readers?Your articles can be the most interesting ones in the world – you will get more readers if they are “pretty” and well structured. Add some links to further information or explanation and some photos. Sometimes it’s useful to know some basic HTML commands, you can easily google them.
Networking is important for different reasons: Read what other feminists write, get a feel for current discussions and standard of knowledge (for example about inclusive language, trigger warnings and so on). Exchange views, be part of dialogues and get to know other feminist bloggers.
Maybe start with some comments in your favorite blogs to become part of the “scene” and – as a side effect – to call attention to yourself. As a commentator normally you have to leave your name and are able to leave your blog’s URL, too. If your comments in other blogs are interesting there will be new readers in your own blog. It’s also possible to publish a list with your favorite blogs to show your appreciation and to recommend good stuff to your readers.
Most bloggers use social media and most of them use the same pseudonyms, therefore it’s easy to find them and to network. Social networks are a good way to promote interesting texts (not only your own ones) and to get to know your readers or new friends – if you want to. Networks like Twitter have their own potential for feminist activism.
What about harassment?It’s not the case for everyone but especially women, PoC, homosexual or trans persons have negative experiences online. And sadly feminist topics attract antifeminists and hate speech. A lot of feminist bloggers are harassed online. Some people don’t want to discuss subjects, they just want that feminists disappear and be silent. Often they try to reach this goal by abuse, slur, intimidation, doxing or shitstorms. Currently online harassment is one of the main topics of online feminism. There are some guidlines for safe blogging and safe internet use in general – maybe you‘ll find them useful. I personally have a hard time giving advice to women about how to behave because these tips are always limitations. In the end you can’t prevent that anti-feminist hater will find your blog or Twitter account if they want to. But you can prepare yourself and think about how to handle the situation.
One of the most important tips is to keep in mind that nobody abandons a right on your attention. You are not committed to discuss with everyone every time they want you to. You don’t have to enable comments, you don’t have to answer mails and you’re allowed to block users on Twitter or your blog. Do everything to feel safe and comfortable with your online activism. To keep in mind that you are not the only victim of online harassment may help. Networking may help because other activists and bloggers make similar experiences. Don’t separate. It’s not your fault when somebody commits acts of (verbal or physical) violence on you. Nobody abandons a right on harassing you because you hold a feminist opinion.
Help each other when hearing about online harassment: Moderate each other’s blog comments and remind each other to focus on self care. Meet online to play a game or meet offline to drink a coffee. Be solidary and accept the very personal ways of handling harassment.
Don’t be scared of online debates, think about the positive aspects. It can be an empowering and of course feminist act to raise your own voice, take your own space and publish your own texts online. Let’s not leave the internet to the same privileged persons who own most public spaces. But be aware of what maybe can or cannot happen. Think about what you want to publish about yourself and how to handle bad situations.
Sometimes it’s hard but in the end it was one of my best decisions to publish my feminist thoughts online and to be part of important debates.