Feminist Fridays: Book blogging as a feminist space?

When I think about why I love blogging and why I’ve stuck with it for over five years, a few things come to mind: a welcoming sense of community, bloggers that support one another through encouragement, thought-provoking discussion, etc. Lately I’ve been asking myself what makes this kind of positive, supportive community possible online, and I’ve come to one of countless possible conclusions: a sense of equality. More specifically, I’ve been asking myself: Is the book blogging community a feminist space? 

{Disclaimer: This discussion is based on my own personal experiences in one corner of a much larger book blogging community online. I am not saying that all bloggers are feminists, nor that these views are necessary in order to be a blogger. Any statements that sound generalizing are inadvertent and are not meant to imply that every book blogger shares these same beliefs.}

When I say that the book blogging community is a “feminist space,” I’m not trying to suggest that only people who identify as women are book bloggers; rather, that this community is a space for everyone and anyone–no matter you gender, sexuality, race, class, etc.–to share their thoughts on books and bookish topics. Are there flaws with this view? Of course. No community is ideal, no matter how hard we strive to make it so. There are barriers preventing some people from participating as much as others: access to internet, computers to post with, cameras to take photos with, purchasing books vs. buying them from libraries, etc. There has also been much debate and discussion about the entrenched hierarchy of popularity regarding statistics. When one blogger becomes hugely popular, it can feel as though the sense of equality has diminished. At times it can feel as though numbers are all that matters and that an impressive number of page views is necessary in order to make your voice worth listening to in the midst of all others.

One way to combat this inequality due to statistics is to emphasize discussion and commenting rather than the number of views a blog receives. For the past few summers I’ve participated in the Comment Challenge hosted by Lonna @ FLYLēF and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense that runs from June to August. After filling out a short survey, the hosts match you up with a blogger that has similar interests as far as the kinds of books they write about. The goal is to comment on each other’s posts as much as possible over the course of the challenge (you can choose between the 5+ or 10+ posts categories) in order to help bloggers connect with each other and meet new people. Not only has this challenge introduced me to some fantastic new blogs in the past, but it also gets me into the habit of commenting more on other blogs. If this challenge sounds at all interesting to you then I’d highly recommend giving it a try! Click here to read more about the rules of the Comment Challenge.

With that said, my personal experience with blogging does lead me to view this platform as a feminist space. When I blog I feel comfortable sharing my opinions without being discriminated against or judged because of my gender. When I read other blogs I don’t care which gender they identify with. I’m able to make weekly features like Feminist Fridays and not be bombarded by angry, insulting comments; I’m lucky enough to be part of this supportive community that fosters thought-provoking discussion and challenges me to think more deeply about important topics such as this one. To me, these freedoms are priceless.

Whether or not this means that the blogging sphere is simply a feminist space from my perspective or that this sense is pervasive throughout the book blogging world, I’m not sure. Nevertheless, I am so grateful that a discussion like this is even made possible by this incredible platform. 

Click here to see other Feminist Friday posts!

Do you think book blogging is a feminist space? How can we improve it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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31 thoughts on “Feminist Fridays: Book blogging as a feminist space?

  1. I was actually vaguely thinking about this the other day, about how book blogging is an interesting corner of the Internet where I don’t feel I experience as much gender bias as I do commenting on other sites. Which can manifest different ways–people seemingly not taking you seriously if you have a feminine username, people thinking you’re overly aggressive for saying something in a way they would not be bothered by if a man did it, etc. I’ve also in seven years of book blogging never had someone send me a creepy sexual message, though I think that can be *partially* because I don’t use a photo of myself for my avatar. But, yeah, I just feel like this space is particularly welcoming to women and was thinking about why a couple days ago, and I think you’ve hit on some good points.

    As for improvements? I guess I still do feel the need to come across as “friendly” in the blogosphere and add exclamation points and smileys and notes that “this is just my opinion” because I think, even here sometimes, stating something matter-of-factly makes people think you’re being aggressive and rude. I wish that could change.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s a really great point. There is a tendency to have to feel really lighthearted when I comment anything, which obviously isn’t how I am in real life all of the time. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way!

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  2. Wow, what an interesting idea! I think that the book blogosphere is feminist for a number of reasons – it’s a female dominated community of supportive individuals all making and sharing their own original content. There’s a large number of women putting out their own thoughts and opinions however they want to, whenever they want to. Your blog is your own so anyone (male, female, whatever) who chooses to comment is entering your space, so the power dynamic is very much in favour of the creator.

    Also I think that because blogging tends to be long form it attracts genuinely passionate, intelligent, creative people – the opposite of small minded bigoted individuals.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s a really great point about the power dynamic being in the content creator’s favor with a blog. I suppose it’s the same with Youtube videos as well, but for some reason our comment sections don’t seem as controversial.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hadn’t thought about YouTube vlogs, that’s a good point. It must be something to do with seeing the creator – maybe because it’s more personal you get a greater emotional response? Or maybe it’s because book blogging is pretty niche and the trolls haven’t found us yet 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a great post! I think the book community is just a safe space for everybody, no matter their beliefs. We all accept each other and I’ve never experienced any judging in the community😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this post! Compared to other platforms I’ve been on, blogging is by far the friendliest and open minded one. Even if bloggers are of different opinions, I find that their conversations are polite and thoughtful; and they are always open to learning more! This community makes me feel both safe and happy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Cam! I agree– bloggers seem much more open to having actual dialogue than just spouting opinions like on many other media platforms.

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  5. What a thought provoking post. I enjoyed reading it Holly, thanks. 😊

    Do I think book blogging is a feminist place? I am still fairly new to blogging but during my short blogging experience, I have never experienced any feedback regarding my gender. So based on that experience, I would say YES.

    I think welcoming people with different, or seemingly challenging opinions into our lives is how we grow as a community. With that said, respect, kindness and generosity are key values during such discussions. I guess I’m hinting that I would welcome male bloggers to comment as well as most of my blogging friends are wonderful females (which I appreciate dearly). Diversity is always the key I think. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Books don’t have a gender. Books are there for anyone who wishes to pick them up. But a lot of men definitely think of books divided by gender and wouldn’t dare pick up a book they thought was for women. This is a problem in schools where don’t want to, or won’t read any books that have to do with girls but a lot of the books kids are forced to read are just horrible anyway and that makes them hate reading for the rest of their lives, regardless of gender.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a really great point! And such an interesting dilemma, considering that the majority of the books in the Western literary canon written by men…

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  7. While yes, blogging itself is a feminist space, A lot of books aren’t, especially in sci-fi. I suppose it is what we choose it to be, if we choose to blog about recent books about women or classics about men. It’s also a free space to talk about that kind of bias in books, so yes, it’s feminist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a really interesting point! Although I do think you can still read books that aren’t feminist but discuss them in a way that is (basically my entire English degree haha) 🙂

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  8. Oh wonderful topic Holly. You’ve said nearly everything I’ve wondered about here and there. Ultimately, the blogosphere feels very much like a safe space, especially in the book community, as readers are readers and nothing more. We all seem to quietly acknowledge that every reader has an opinion and that in order for book blogging to be an actual community, we should allow all opinions to be freely shared. Focusing on gender, sexuality, race, status, or anything else would be detrimental to what we’re trying to accomplish. So in the end, the book blogosphere is not only a feminist space, but a space of equality, for the most part anyways.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a thought that I’ve always had, and I’m glad you voiced it. I also think that the book community is one of the most liberal platforms people share in because for one, it includes a lot of female bloggers (thus why it’s very feminist), and secondly, books make you think about social issues, which leads to more life-relevant discussions about diversity, discrimination, and other social issues. So long story short, I’m not surprised you feel the book community is inherently more feminist–because I’d agree with you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you agree! I love your point about books making people think about social issues, too. That didn’t even cross my mind when I was writing this post but it’s so true 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, I do think the book blogging community is a feminist space. There are so many women and men using their voices and influence to not only promote the books they love but also to speak out about issues like gender bias, discrimination and the need for diversity. It’s a very welcoming and supportive community for all genders, I find.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m always trying to improve the number of comments I make on other blogs. I never really thought that commenting on other’s blogs would be so important when I first started blogging, but I love letting other’s know that their voices are important and they are being heard. Glad you’ll be joining the Comment Challenge again!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Feminist is a word I try to stay away from bc I don’t really know what it means but I do have to say I like blogging bc it’s sort of a space where we can talk abt whatever and find someone else who either agrees or is passionate abt the same things. Also that challenge sounds interesting, will check out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hate that the word “feminist” has so many negative associations nowadays… making real progress is difficult when everybody is stuck arguing about language. Glad you’ll check out the comment challenge 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I absolutely love this post Holly! You’re right – I feel very welcome in this space of the internet, where everyone embraces, supports and loves each other. I know there are probably some bad apples out there, but thankfully I haven’t encountered them. While at first I felt nervous talking about being bi, that had absolutely nothing to do with this little community, as I know so many people are just lovely about it. When bloggers criticise book for being sexist, racist, homophobic etc. we all listen to each other and try to educate ourselves, instead of attacking them. Okay, on Twitter this is a different story but I try to avoid that drama haha. I don’t think I’ve ever seen stuff like that happen on blogs themselves? I’m just so happy with our community!

    Liked by 1 person

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