I commented a few days ago that I thought that women blogging on the bible were invisible because we weren't including them on our biblioblog rolls and that if we linked to them and included them, that this would increase their visibility and hopefully change the appalling stats. So I had promised my readers that this weekend, when I had more time, I would get them into my own blog roll. My husband (thank you Wade!) and I are in the process of searching the web for blogs written by women who address the bible. As we find the blogs, we are putting them into my blog rolls. In order to try to organize this a bit, I have now put up two blog rolls. One I call "Women and Religion Blog Roll" and the other "Early Christian History Blog Roll." I will continue to add blogs as they come to my attention.
I especially want to thank all those women who emailed me and pointed me to their blogs. It is unfortunate, however, that the biblioblogging environment appears to have become even more hostile to women since I started talking about this on my blog. Many women have said to me in those emails that they have not felt welcome in the biblioblog environment and some have faced such hostile reactions to their previous posts that they have retreated and stopped talking about the bible on their blogs anymore. This is so incredibly sad to me. What is it about women's voices on the bible that is so threatening, especially to male readers?
I have to say that it is striking how immediately aggressive and sexualized some of the male reaction to my gender blogging has been, and how the humor used (including the cartoons and some of my colleagues reactions to those cartoons and circulation of them) turned women like me into either bitches, madams, or dominatrixes. Much of the male interpretation of my words has literalized them and exaggerated them, so that my words have been turned into the sexist words of a "man-hater" as one blogger put it. I wonder if he would say this to my husband?
I wonder if anyone else has wondered what the purpose of this kind of sexually aggressive rhetoric is? What is it trying to accomplish?
So what have I discovered out of all of this about gender and biblioblogging?
1. Males dominate the biblioblogs, not just in terms of numbers, but in terms of voice and interpretation. Many women who have tried to blog on the bible did not find it a welcome environment. They talk about aggressive and hostile reactions to their posts from male responders, so they chose to retreat and stop writing on the subject rather than become involved in a fight they didn't seek.
2. Women bloggers are not showing up often enough in biblioblog rolls. This is compounding the problem of the appallingly low numbers of bibliobloggers who are women.
3. Women bibliobloggers are usually devoting their blogs to subjects that most bibliobloggers consider marginal or uninteresting or perhaps (dare I suggest this?) threatening. A good number of women bloggers I'm finding are either blogging on extra-canonical materials or feminist issues which is not considered "biblical-enough" to bother with.
4. Women bloggers who talk about the bible are not doing so exclusively nor in the SBL sense. Women's blogs show more concerns for the present-day church and gender issues related to their relationship with the clergy and the church. They are more in line with AAR considerations than SBL. Many are confessional and include a significant amount of personal journaling. So again they are "on the margins" of the bible and not turning up in the biblioblog conversation.
5. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Gage were right (more on Gage in another post).