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Of ‘boring’ women and our interests

Posted: March 29, 2011
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“Eclectic, interesting…will fill you with hope and resolve!” – Pick up our new short story collection, Women.Mutiny

As women who write on issues that matter to us, we have talked about relationships, glass ceiling in the workplace, expectations at home that make it difficult for women to perform equal to men and the evident absence of equal participation of women in politics and men in household activities. In many spaces, the issues that women face stem from the very fact that the base line was unequal. However, the inequality of opportunities and spaces, has decreased in many of our lives, especially some of us who have the independence of a job, have partners who respect that space and have been exposed to what we may name as women s rights. (I am not discounting that even today there are some internalized social roles and expectations which pose as problems for us also) But things are definitely better than where we started from.

So, for the sake of this post, I assume that many of us are in positions of equal status in family and work. I am inspired to write this post, based on a discussion with a male friend. He likes to tease me with extremely provocative statements, especially when it comes to women s issues. However, those discussions do help me articulate my own thoughts on those issues. This time, our discussion revolved around knowledge. Women are boring , he started! The only topics women can talk about are, Personal reflections and introspection on their lives, women s issues, children and relationship stuff

He had succeeded in irritating me. But then, these provocations did end up in a far saner conversation, when we started looking at some of the women bloggers. In my blog roll, most of the women bloggers write about personal reflections, including me. They are in my blog roll because I enjoy reading them. However, it was true that I found it difficult to find women bloggers who followed politics, technology or movies with as much passion as they wrote about women s issues or their own lives. I wonder why? In this discussion we keep aside all the professional women intellectuals like Romila Thapar, Jayati Ghosh, Sevanti Ninan etc who write about other issues. I also know of women writers in Malayalam who write humour really well Chandramathi and Sreebala Menon. In this discussion we are not talking about professional writers but amateurs like you and me.

Among male bloggers, I have examples of several bloggers who passionately follow politics, movies and technology. My blog roll is biased towards Kerala, but I take these examples only to demonstrate what I see as a visible gendered knowledge discourse. I would love to be proved wrong.

For instance,

  • Tvmtalkies, a blogger friend writes about politics, movies and poetry. He also writes personal reflections, at times. But he is known for his political analysis and his own unique sense of humour.
  • ReadersWords is a blogger who writes about books and poetry and personally for me, has helped me rethink my political ideologies.
  • Scorpio Genius is another blogger who writes about political issues and about Kerala.
  • Tvmrising is a blog on infrastructural development issues in the city of Trivandrum.
  • One of the funniest movie reviews that I have read, comes from The Vigil Idiot
  • At the Edge is an equally interesting blog that takes us back to retro space about tv, movies and events.

There are a few women bloggers who do write on different topics:

  • Silverine s poomanam is known for its humour.
  • Our own Indiequill is a pleasure to read when it comes to movies, also spiced up with a lot of humour.
  • Sreeja s blog revolves around technology, marketing and entrepreneurship.
  • The EvilHRLady is known for her posts on HR issues in the corporate world.
  • Apu s own blog was a space I used to wander around for book reviews.

Of course, the above is a small sample of blogs and people I know and related to topics that interest me. That is no sample to make a generalization that this post is making. Therefore, I did a small exercise. I checked out India Blogs which has categorized blogs into different themes. You may argue that there are more bloggers out there, but atleast, India Blogs was not created to do this kind of a differentiation and therefore, I think would be good enough as a random sample of bloggers.

The exercise demonstrated a trend. See it for yourself. From their list, I have taken the number of blogs which are written by men and women. (A third group consists of blogs which are not written by a single person). Its not perfect, but certainly gives a trend.

indian blogosphere by gender

Food and Parenting blogs was a clear women s space and Personal blogs had 75% women authors. Similarly, Technology blogs, Internet based blogs and Management blogs were typical male spaces. Blogs based on political and social issues had 75% male authors. Out of the 30 topic categories, only 6 topics had a majority of women authors with two topics with equal representation. As much as I hate to admit it, the trend seems to be in line with what my friend complained about. Women seemed to be writing about a narrow set of topics. This sample is interesting to me, because I presume that many of us would have got similar education compared to our male counterparts and yet we seem to be comfortable in a limited knowledge space. This includes me.

I don t mean to say that what we write about has no value. As you might have noticed, very few men write about gender/women s issues. So, if we don t talk about it, who will? In fact, I was a little uncomfortable with a tag named My Sins against gender stereotypes , especially when some posts displayed a tone which looked down on women who loved make up, fashion or the colour pink. At the same time, the tag also brought out that in many homes, women were more interested in financial investments than their male partners unlike what was usually believed. I don t think that all women should turn into men. If most women like some things and like to write or talk about it, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. I will continue to write personal reflections in my blog and I am proud that I have the ability to express my emotions unlike many of my male friends. And yes we do need to talk about our issues.

However, I would be a little concerned if our topics of interest are narrow, because it would mean that our world view is limited. My own personal experience with respect to my interest areas and topics of discussions, in my blog and in person, is quite close to this trend. When I spend time with my girl friends, we tend to discuss our personal lives more often than anything else although, I have to admit, talking to my friends is a stress buster. Politics takes very little time in our discussions. Technology is a utility mechanism and we talk about it, to perform a function. We do talk about movies, although, many of us write less about it. Of course, I don t talk sports 😉 We do talk a lot about women s issues, mostly because our own personal lives are manifestations of those issues. So, I do wonder, in spite of being equally educated as many of my classmates, why am I not passionate about so many other things, which matter to this world? I would like to hear your comments. In my own blog, I may have written a few posts on politics, sports and technology but you do get what I mean, right? I am not passionate enough to follow the intricacies of those issues, is the point. If you have a blog in which you passionately follow any of these supposedly, male spaces, do let us know. As I told you, I would love to be proved wrong.

Preethi is currently pursuing her Graduate Studies in Sociology in Purdue University in the US.

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