Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Finding Our Voices....

At first, I had a bit of a balk at the thought of "empowerment".

I am so not about power.

I am attracted to humility, modesty, gentleness. My sensibilities belong to another place and time.

Power has a different feel. Aggression. Oppression. All sorts of nasty gnarly things.
It resonates of the self-help movement which I, generally speaking, despise.

So when the call was put out by BlogRhet (via Slouching Mom) to answer the question as to whether blogging empowers women, or more specifically does my blog empower me, I was going to skip the exercise and wait for the next one.

If I use the term "empower" in its original meaning before it was coopted by politics and the self-help movement, that being "to enable, to authorize", I was able to look at the question differently.

In that respect, yes, my blog enables me. My blog authorizes me to speak by the cultural norms of the wide open Internet, the virtual roundtable where we can all speak our minds.

It's more contemporary version of the soap box.

It is here that I can put my thoughts and ideas out for general consumption, learn new perspectives from the comments of others and tap into the wisdom of the community.

As for the enabling and authorizing me as a woman specifically, I don't think so. The Internet is, in a sense, the great equalizer. It is principles before personality. It is the one place where I can get beyond anyone's snap judgment or perception of this rather eccentric middle-aged woman with an abundance of pounds and too much Thai jewelry. Here is where my brain gets to play. Here's where my ideas are put out on the table, surrounded by people brighter and far more educated from all over the world. My ideas are tested. And I get feedback. And I grow and learn daily.

It offers me contact with people I would otherwise never have the honor of knowing. Geography, social status, demographics and many things divide us. Blogs unite us, men and women alike.

I also want to publicly thank the women of BlogRhet for its inclusivness. If there is such a thing as "empowerment", inclusiveness is the stem cell.




Biby Cletus said...

Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

Biby Cletus

heartinsanfrancisco said...

We are once again operating synchronistically. I just put up a post in which I use the word "empower," and I meant it in exactly the way you define it. I'm not sure I made that clear, though.

To me, empowerment means being able to own our space completely, without apology, pride w/o pridefulness, and a degree of confidence. I am not into power over others and would never endorse anything that conveyed that to me or others.

slouching mom said...

Here is where my brain gets to play.

Oh, yes. I love the image of all of our brains playing together. ;)

Are you quite sure that blogging doesn't empower you as a woman? Cuz when you mentioned those excess pounds, and the fact that the blogosphere doesn't "see" them, I thought you might be leaning in that direction... Because if you were a man, would that excess poundage even bother you in the first place? LOL.

Julie Pippert said...

I agree with you, although I think honestly the jury is still a bit out wrt the specifically women bit.

I'm not sure it is quite the equalizer for me that it is for you (POV wise). Do you think that the snap judgment is still there, just using different factors?

It is a more contemporary version of the soapbox, the town meeting, the free circular, the community coffeeshop.

Pam said...

I agree, also. It's about owning your space, not power in the usual sense of the term.

Slouching Mom made a good point about the extra pounds and I smile as I think she is probably right.

Christine said...

Another insightful post, Chani.

"The Internet is. . .the great equalizer." I have found this to be very true for me.

Lee said...

Brain play...that's what the blogging world does for me.

Snoskred said...

I get that you are not about power but I really don't think that is what empowerment is about so much, especially when you are talking about blogging.

I think the real word is enablement, if that is a word. A blog does enable you to do so many things.

I agree with most of what you've written, too. :) but I feel power is not always a dirty word or a bad thing.


thailandchani said...

Biby, thanks. :)


Susan, for me it's not even so much about being able to carve out space. It's a comfort level, an ability to know that it is safe to interact. There is a safety zone in the anonymity perhaps. I'll have to think more about what you said. There's something there and I can't put my finger on it. :)


SM, I never said blogging made me androgynous.. although I probably could go in that direction. I am still a woman and many of my perspectives are going to come from my femaleness. I just don't see it as related to empowerment.


Julie, it's possible. It would be interesting to hear more of your thoughts on that. There are probably some sort of snap judgments going on. You know, "I like this blog" or "I don't like that one" but I suspect the judgments are based on entirely different factors than physical or social markers. It would have to do with the person's ideas or how the ideas are presented.


Pam, I know I'm weird... I think of it as sharing my space.

I'm hopeless, I know. :)


Christine, it can't be anything else. While there may be powerplay among bloggers, it would be much harder to carry off. There would be too many cultural markers that are not available.


Lee, yes.. brain play. Brain play is one of the best things it has to offer.


Snos, I have some very unusual thoughts about power.. the use of power... how it is defined culturally. It doesn't have to be a bad word... but mostly, it probably is. I think of blogging as offering a fairly neutral environment ~ and in that way, yes... it is enabling.




Julie Pippert said...


(Sorry to shout in girlie squeal way)

I'm just so happy. I had this Hump Day Hmm topic of Accident of Birth and I knew I got it *somewhere* so I have been looking and thinking, and finally it was YOU! A comment you made about the divine right of kings.

Okay to escape hitting republish...which apparently generates too many notices to subscribers? I don't know this. Anyway next time I need to publish I will put credit where it is due, but also...

I admit to hoping a wee bit that maybe you will help with the idea?

Feel free to email me j pippert at gmail dot com (also a link on my blog) or reply. Sorry to hijack your comments.

thailandchani said...

Julie, I'm not a score-keeper. This is a discussion, not a link competition. Don't worry about it. :)

Oh, I definitely plan on writing to that question as well. Given my weird background, at least it will have some entertainment value.

If there's something else you have in mind, let me know.





QT said...

Chani - I wonder about the snap judgments as well - not being made by YOU, but by others. I wonder truly if that Karen K person from yesterday (for instance) even knew that you were a caucasian woman living in California?

I do love the exchange of ideas, and in that way, I believe it to be empowering.

Hel said...

I also have a problem with power in the traditional sense. However, when it comes to empowerment through education and sharing with other women I always picture it as the power that lights up behind someones eyes, allowing them to shine.

jen said...

i like your version of empowerment. often that word is used (in my field) or overused, should i say, in a way that feels inauthentic. i still like it though, in the sense you mean.

it's the inclusion that it brings, vs the exclusion that power alone seems to foster.

KC said...

Yes, I'm with you on this. It absolutely empowers and gives strength to our voices. And I like the inclusive/stem cell metaphor.

thailandchani said...

QT, I suspect she did not know. There were a few past tenses in her comment that led me to believe she's read here more than once...but how much she knows is questionable.

So, yes, she made a snap judgment about me and my motives. Some people will do that, I guess.. no matter what the medium might be.

I find it refreshing to not have knowledge of all the social markers of the people who read here. That keeps my mind open.


Hel, I'm all for education. No doubt about it. Information is enlightenment.


Jen, I think power depends on exclusivity and divisiveness. It can't maintain its strength without that on some level.


KC, thanks. It seemed to fit... this random cell that turns into something. :)




Her Bad Mother said...

'Authorize' is exactly the right word. To make oneself *author*, to claim or reclaim one's *authority*, in terms of voice.

YES. Thank you for writing this.