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Monday, 17 January 2011

blogging, gender and Christianity (part 1)

Last week, Lesley Fellows posted on her blog about a possible lack of top UK Christian bloggers who were, in fact, female (her original post is here).  This seems to have sparked off a mild discussion in some parts of the local (mainly Anglican) blogosphere, so I thought I’d add some of my own thoughts.

Before I get into the subject, I will say that I am very aware that many of my readers do not in fact hail from the UK.  (Likewise not all my readers are Christian, although probably the majority are, due to my subject matter.)  Hence this post may feel somewhat inapplicable to some readers, but nevertheless please do feel free to join the discussion, however loosely, as I would love to hear your thoughts.

Firstly I thought I’d list some of the UK Christian Women Bloggers I read regularly (a bit of a mouthful and I’m not keen on labels.  Never mind.).

Obviously, there’s Lesley herself.  That's where the discussion started (inspired by a post from The Church Mouse, I believe).

Here are some others:

One of the first friends I made in the UK Christian blogosphere since starting this blog was Lynn, over at Help I Work With Children.  She’s been firmly on my blog list ever since.

Through Lynn, I found Laura Anne, over at Learning from Sophie.  Laura Anne is funny, honest and compassionate.  Another favourite.

I enjoy reading Rachel’s thoughts over at Re-vis.e Re-form.  Rachel is also on Lesley’s list.  I love theological reflection and Rachel has an accessible style – a sense of journey which I appreciate.

Another regular read is Angela, who writes at Tracing Rainbows.  She, like me, is married to a Baptist Minister and we have actually met, which was fun! I believe we’ll be seeing each other this year too. Angela writes cheerful, newsy posts which have proved popular with many.

Another popular Baptist woman blogger, this time herself a minister, is Catriona over at Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life - great title!

I also stop by The Vicar’s Wife on occasion – another popular blogger also married to ministry – this time in the Church of England.

I should probably mention Christian author Maggi Dawn while I'm here - who seems to have a cross-denominational, general appeal which I like.

Kathryn at Good in Parts is another Anglican priest.  Like The Vicar's Wife and Maggi Dawn, I usually pop in via her Twitter feed.

Although it's in a rather different category, I will also include Lythan at Slightly Squiffy.  In the main, this is a crafting blog, but she also writes posts relating to her ministry.  As I myself dabble in crafty endeavours, I am quite happy to stop by and read both!

There are others I’m aware of, but these are probably the ones I drop in on most regularly.  I'm also sure there are many lesser known blogs written by UK Christian women.  But as Lesley's post talked about 'top' bloggers, I'm assuming we're talking about the amount of women within the more well known, regularly updated and read UK Christian bloggers.

On the topic, I should say I sympathise with the view point of Fr. David, over at The Vernacular Curate, in that I don’t really think too much on the gender of the bloggers I read.  I read the blogs I like and identify with, blogs that interest me and inspire me.  Of course, naturally some of these are women.

Are UK Christian Women (untwist tongue, glare at label)  less likely to blog regularly than their male counterparts?  Possibly. I think some good points have been raised in this discussion.  The old problem of having the time has been raised - particularly when it comes to posting regularly. Some have suggested that blogging is still looked at as geeky in some circles – and geekiness and womanliness don’t mesh – or aren’t seen to mesh – very well.
 
I think this in part is generational.  Certainly there are those who have looked at me oddly or indulgently when I say I keep a blog.  But perhaps for someone a decade younger than me, this would be less of an issue.  So perhaps as the younger, more techno oriented generations get older, things will weigh differently.

I should also add - is this something that could be said of the blogosphere in general?  There is nothing in these reasons which is exclusive to Christian women.  And is it widespread, or weighed towards different topics?  How do women use blogs?  Is it a means of information, debate, or simply an outlet? (More on that in part 2, or possibly 3 - depending on how much I waffle.)

It’s an interesting cultural thing too.  There seem to be oodles of Christian women bloggers in the USA – is this simply because the USA is so much bigger?  Or have they managed to ditch the geeky association?  It also ties in with other factors – for example, many stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) keep blogs.

And it’s these other factors I want to draw out – to give my take and opinion on this.  However, to stop this post getting unwieldy and wearying to your eyes, I’m going to stop here and say – to be continued

A few hints: remember my aversion to labels?  That will probably feature. What about subject matter? Purpose? Audience? And a word about denominations, too…

6 comments:

Fr David Cloake said...

A very timely summary of a week-long exchange. Thank you.

As an aside, I had wanted to say what I had said for some time about the distinctions that are drawn along gender lines, but frankly had been too fearful of the reaction - genuinely. I have written a number posts on this subject that have never been published (the only ones unpublished). A 'heated debate' (post post) on another forum, sadly, convinced me of the view that it never pays a man to confess women as equal. A subsequent post betrayed my frustration after that, but useful lessons are being learned.

Kathryn said...

Thanks for the mention :)
Having blogged throughout my ordained ministry & helped found the thriving RevGalBlogPals ring too, one thing I've noticed is that overall the tide of blogging is receding. Whereas many of us would blog daily at one time, and find time to read our way round the ring pretty regularly too, an increasing number have, like me, become sporadic bloggers. I loved it when I was producing reflective writing at least two or three times a week, but the pressures of incumbency are hugely different from the relatively spacious days of curacy, and in some ways it feels as if the blog conversation is pretty much over, so I'm less inclined to devote non-existent time to it.
All that said, there seem to be more UK bloggers now than a while ago, - and the blogs less visited are not, for the most part, actually disappearing - so perhaps it's just a quiet season before another outbreak! Hope so. I miss blogging regularly - and would love to return to the fray one day soon!

Lythan said...

thanks for the mention too. I started my blog because of crafting but it gradually dawned on me that this was a great opportunity to share faith and show that it is a vital part of my life - knowing that many of the (admittedly not huge number of) visitors to my blog are not Christians - or at least not Church goers.

margaretkiaora said...

I have been surprised too by the number of bloggers in the USA. Here in Filey, an outpost on the coast of North Yorkshire, the outed bloggers using the Blogger Platform number 19, and 2 of those are labelling themselves Christian.
David Cloake has it all taped, in my view, so wont repeat what he has said. I just agree with his views on gender.

I didnt become a stat watcher until I started co-ordinating the Filey Parish Blog. We are thrilled if we have 50 hits a day,especially if someone has been helped. I look at other Christian blogs on Google reader, and see that some people take wikio rankings etc very seriously, but it took me 2 days just to work out how to use Feedburner.

Some Christian Bloggers seem to use their blogs to further their careers by getting known. This is good, as it gives the rest of us an idea of the state of the C of E. Some Christian Bloggers help us in our search for answers .This is good , it helps us on our Life journeys. Some Christian bloggers are using their blogs as a missioned shaped foray into world of felt crafting,photography , knitting patterns and curry making. This is good , it shows that Christianity is not boring, and that we do not spend all our time mixing with other christians.

I think the Old Geezer Blog has it right, and what comes oozing out of his html is that he loves his fellow men, just like Jesus did. Nothing to do with gender, career paths, or hobbies.

Lucy said...

Some good thoughts here, many of which were already rumbling in my mind. Thanks so much for commenting!

Laura Anne said...

hee hee, thank you for the mention.

It's actually something I have thought about - there are LOADS of USA bloggers, and most of the UK bloggers I've 'met' who are also Christian tend to be male.

It also frustrates me that more Christian organisations in the UK are not using some of the social media tools as efficiently as some of our American brothers & sisters....we're missing huge opportunities I believe to encourage, inspire and bring people together.

"The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people."- Richard Foster