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A Collaborative Diablog on Feminist Pedagogy
On my “Kitchen Table(s)” and other random thoughts of the day…
Categories: Reflections

It’s funny how you mention the kitchen table (side note – I like the blog you found, it looks like an awesome project). In my methods chapter of my dissertation I actually re-visioned it as a discussion around the various types of intimacies that emerge while doing oral histories in the context in which I did mine and consequently I had bring up the role of the kitchen table for me. Many of my oral history collections took place at women’s kitchen tables and I contrasted that with the fact that for the interviews that did not happen in women’s homes there was this sense of distance, or a wall that was constructed where women were silent on particular issues.

So, while I can appreciate this idea of the kitchen table, I see our project as different for some reason, either through my own identity and through recognizing the kitchen table as particularly important for women of color (my writing group is called the Kitchen Table Collective – aka KTC)  or maybe because of that “intimacy” I mentioned earlier. While we are intimately sharing our thoughts on pedagogy and blogging (in our classrooms and in our personal lives) it doesn’t quite feel the same. Perhaps this is because of the fact that this really is an academic blog – it is a blog documenting the processes behind writing a chapter for an academic anthology on cyberfeminisms after all. So, to me, I like the general idea behind it but maybe we should call it the coffee shop table process or the (hopeful) outside table for margaritas process. I hope this is coming across how I want it to, I am unsure of whether or not it is, but I hope so.

After reviewing the Kitchen Table blog project I also read through the special issue “Blogging Feminism” link which you mentioned you are already familiar with. Several articles stood out for me and set me on a research journey in terms of what has been written about “access” and “feminist blogging” that I felt I needed to familiarize myself with in order to begin writing my piece on why I am invested in these feminist practices. So, I thought I would link to some of the articles along with my thoughts here to help ground my thinking as I prepare to write.

While we are focusing on the issue of accessibility in different ways (through the four categories we’ve mentioned a couple of times now – Visibility, Creating Community, Training, & Engagement and Evaluations) I do think we will at least need to have a footnote that mentions our own engagement with the discussions on an overview or trajectory of women’s “access” to blogging and cybertechnologies at large.

In Marie Varghese’s “Race, Sexuality, Cyberactivism and the Legacy of Rashawn Brazell” she links her need to expose violence against queers of color through public discourse (via blogging) as a means to counter the silence around these issues in the mainstream media. Specifically she says, “In a number of concrete ways, blogging represents a new media technology that enables people from marginalized groups to communicate with each other, share information, and form powerful networks of belonging that can function both within and outside of cyberspace” (p. 3, para. 1). While she links this use of blogging in the specific context of activism, I see that we could easily translate this into the goals of teaching with blogs as well. It is (at least for me) a means to break down the academic/non-academic divide that is so pervasive in the increasingly corporate academy.

Tracy L. M. Kennedy’s article, “Feminist Blogging and Virtual Consciousness-Raising” gives a great overview on how blogging emerged and the processes of how blogging was taken up as feminist practices highlighted in her section entitled, “Surveying the Blogosphere.” Similarly, Shireen Mitchell’s “Access to Technology: Race, Gender, Class Bias” also gives a great overview of the rise of feminist blogging as well as questions the intersections of race and class along with gender in conceiving access to technology. More importantly, Kennedy also notes, “Above all, we need to recognize how blogs can—and already do—facilitate a new generation of virtual consciousness raising” (p. 4, para. 1). I really like this idea of “virtual consciousness raising” in the potential for students’ consciousnesses to be raised on particular issues (I’m thinking through the assignments we create for students) and then also the potential for the audience to learn something new (like with my Chicana Gender and Sexuality Studies course blog). I really want to think about this more especially in the context of “creating community” and “engagement and evaluation” categories that we’ve decided to structure our chapter around.

Lastly, in her conclusion she states that, “…using virtual space to transcend physical borders with the goal of inciting collective action and social change can build bridges between women globally” (Kennedy, p. 4, para. 4). To me, I like to think about this in the context of the classroom, again, as a means to disrupt the walls of the ivory tower vs. those who are engaging in feminist politics/activism “on the ground.” The process of encouraging students to blog then is to enable my students to do this work, as one of many of the goals.

Through the Kennedy article I also stumbled upon a blog post on our very own blog.lib.umn system entitled, “Women and Children Last: The Discursive Construction of Weblogs” which interestingly enough both work to dispel the apparent myth that women and young people are not in the blogosphere. Overall, this along with the transcript of “Blogging Feminism Panel Discussion” really seem to counter the public discourse about the lack of women as greatly misinformed, such that I envision our discussion on accessibility then to not necessarily need to support this, but I find our innovative thinking about defining accessibility in different ways is thus even more important.

Unfortunately, I feel like I have so much more to say but as I started this four + days ago I realized I should just post this as it is so I can focus on my next post as SLP has already posted her stuff. So, much to say and not enough hours in the day, alas – this is what my writing process often looks like though, let’s be real.

2 Comments to “On my “Kitchen Table(s)” and other random thoughts of the day…”

  1. SLP says:

    Thanks for your helpful summarizing of parts of the articles. I love the idea of virtual consciousness raising as well. In Feminism is for Everybody, bell hooks discusses the need for mass-based feminist education and a return to CR groups. I frequently assign that book in my feminist debates class and then suggest that maybe blogs could be one way to educate and raise awareness.

    I like what you write at the end of your post about your writing process. One thing I really like about blogs is that they can encourage you to post things as you are working through them instead of waiting until they are completely polished.

    I agree with your assessment of the kitchen table and how it is not appropriate for our blog–both because of the nature of our project and because, as a white feminist troublemaker, I don’t believe that it is my term to claim. In our discussion of the kitchen table, you mention the idea of intimacy and how it is not possible in the same way on our blog (as opposed to your kitchen table interviews with family members). How would you define intimacy? Is intimacy possible in the classroom? On a class blog (do you think you have experienced it on any of your course blogs)? On any blog or in cyberspace? I am intrigued by the possibility of redefining (or expanding) how intimacy might work online (especially in academic online spaces, like course blogs) and what impact that online intimacy might have on our in-class connections. As I am writing this comment, I am reminded of the book that I bought today (and mentioned in my post on “some other sources”): Share This. In what i have read (and skimmed so far), the idea of sharing (stories/ideas/experiences) is central for developing trust and empathy with others. What is the link between sharing and intimacy? And how do we think about these in relation to the idea of the blog as a space for virtual consciousness raising?

    Do any of my questions make sense? My brain is still foggy after 10 days of vacation (and 10 days away from blogging).

  2. KCF says:

    Hey SLP

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments on my quick/brief summaries. I realize with the intimacy piece I may not have been completely clear. I believe that there can definitely be a level of intimacy that exists with blogs and readers either between writing and the blog as an avenue to transmit feelings, share experiences, or build community OR as a connection one may feel to a blog/blog writer as a reader of said blog. That being said, I don’t conceive of our blog as fulfilling either of those categories. While it could be conceived as the “intimate” sharing of our writing processes, I don’t see it as the same thing, because I don’t necessarily feel this sense of risk or believe that thorugh sharing my writing process I am letting anyone into my life beyond what I anticipate my comfort level to be – if that makes any sense at all.

    Ok, next up some comments on your sharing post and my intro will be posted tonight so you can review it tomorrow morning before our session!