340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Try it, you might like it.

Bitch PhD, hands down one of the sharpest, most erudite bloggers out there, is conducting an informal survey of her readers. Always interested in sifting and parsing the sticky intersection of gender, sex, writing, publishing and the performance of gendered/sexed narration/media creation, Bitch PhD asked a series of questions designed to tease out her readers' personal loci of self-identification. There's probably a demographic motive as well, though I don't know if the aggregate data will be released.

Although I welcomed the survey (forwarded to me, of course, by Steenblogen), I fear my answers may disappoint. My avatar is pretty clearly gendered and besides, it's not like I have an audience of thousands-- or even dozens -- of strangers. Realistically, my readers are drawn from a small circle of friends: people who know me personally, rendering any attempt at anonymity moot (and silly). consequently, I wonder if I have anything to contribute to the conversation.

In any event, here are the questions and my answers:

1. In real life, are you a man / woman / other? (If "other," please explain.)


2. Do you blog under your own name or a pesudonym? (If your own name, skip questions 3 - 5.)


3. Is your pseudonym male / female / gender-neutral?

My name -- "lucky" -- is gender-neutral, but my avatar is male.

4. Is your persona male / female / gender-neutral? That is, apart from the name on the blog, do you blog about things that in your opinion clearly gender your blog? (Please give an example, e.g., "pregnancy," "knitting," "football.")

I don't feel that I explicitly gender my blog, but I've been told -- in person, by friends -- that the "tone" is usually masculine, whatever that means.

5. If you deliberately disguise your gender, or deliberately blog under a gender different from your "real life" gender identity, why?


6. Why did you decide to blog under your name / a persona?

Initially, I wanted to maintain a certain level of anonymity so I could talk about sensitive/personal topics without fear of having to deal with the consequences in the meat. Later, as I realized that the only people who read my blog regularly are friends and family whom I sent there, I decided that anonymity was moot.

7. What effects does your decision have on your content, if any?

I still try to avoid discussing sensitive situations and events.

8. Have you had readers mistake what you think the gender of your blog is? If so, would you characterize this mistake as rare, occasional, or common?

I can't be sure if this has ever happened.

9. If readers have mistaken your blog's gender, what kinds of comments / reactions has this mistake generated? (You can either characterize the reactions, or provide quotes.)


10. Have you seen readers, including other bloggers that may have linked to you, assess your content in ways that specifically tie it to your gender? For example, a link that says "isn't this a typically male comment," or "this piece shows that women really can blog about politics."

I don't think so, no.

11. Can you characterize such assessment, if you have seen it, as generally positive, generally negative, or mixed?


12. If mixed, do you have a sense of what the difference might be based on? (E.g., do political opponents tend to dismiss / praise you in gendered ways?)


13. How long have you been blogging under this pseudonym?

Almost a year.

14. What is the url of your blog? (If you have had more than one blog under the same pseudonym, provide all urls, with dates.)


15. What country do you live in? (If your nationality is not the same as your location, you may indicate either, or both--please indicate which.)

Qu├ębec, Canada.

16. May I quote your answers for publication?


17. If yes, would you like the quotes attributed? If so, please indicate whether you would prefer to be identified by your pseudonym or your real name, and if the latter, whether you want your real name associated with your blog url.

Please attribute them to my pseudonym.

18. Finally, is there anything you would like to add about blogging, pseudonymity / nymity, personae, and gender?

The possibilities for anonymous interaction afforded by the Internet are unprecedented and still seeded with the potential to reinvigorate our bricks-and-mortar/flesh-and-bone realities. By hiding sexual, racial and class markers, we can gain entry to spaces otherwise denied to us and be shielded from ad hominem attacks and the premature dismissal of our ideas; unfortunately, we can also duck accountability for our words & actions. The optimist in me hopes that this new fluidity permits us all to "surf in another's shoes," but maybe I'm seeing the world through rose-coloured browsers.


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