I am a female bookblogger – a personal manifesto

It strikes me that the majority of bookbloggers these days are female, with males being in a minority. It’s a decently-sized minority, or at least that’s been my experience with the blogs I read. Maybe it’s different when the focus is on other genres. Still, I think overall the majority of bookbloggers are of the female variety.

I am one of them. A female bookblogger. But I find it very hard to put myself in the same category as most of them, because there are just so many difference between how I do things and how a lot of them do things. It creates a bit of a divide in which I feel like I should be able to relate and yet can’t.

I may be female. I may blog about books. But there are many things I don’t do that I see a surprising amount of other female bookbloggers doing.

– I don’t base my enjoyment of a book on how hot the male lead was, or how intense the romance/sex was.

– I don’t think about which literary males I would like to date, nor do I discuss how attractive they are.

– I don’t particularly enjoy romance as a primary focus in what I’m reading. I believe that romance should be a side-dish, not the main course.

– I’m not prone to doing character interviews or memes. The biggest meme I participate in is Im My Mailbox, but there are a ton of others that, if I participated in, could yield more hits for my blog. But they mostly feel like filler or irrelevent information that I don’t want cluttering up my blog.

– I don’t give a fig about book trailers.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that just because I don’t do these things that thus others shouldn’t do them either. And some of them (such as the book trailers thing) don’t seem particularly gender-oriented in principle but nearly always seem to appear on blogs run by females. Damned if I know why.

But it’s these things, and others, that make me feel like I don’t have a real connection to most of the female bookblogging community. I have no idea if people could mistake me for male if my name didn’t appear at the bottom of posts. One of those weird gender-guesser things declares my writing to be alternately weakly female or weakly male (sometimes both in one analysis), so maybe it could be so.

I could probably get more hits to this blog if I joined up with BlogHer, for example, which is a fairly good collections of blogs that are run by girls and women, often with an emphasis on thigns related to women. And while I technically have the creds, I’d feel wrong taking advantage of that resource when I don’t fit the mold. It feels like cheating, somehow, like I’m doing something unfair. Having boobs doesn’t necessarily make me feminine, so it feels wrong to join a listing that would admit me not based on my content, not based on how well I express myself, but because I have boobs, just like them.

I am a female bookblogger. But that doesn’t mean that I act particularly feminine when it comes to books or what I think of them.

14 comments on “I am a female bookblogger – a personal manifesto

  1. Hi Ria. You know, I have spent a good portion of my life feeling the same way as you – that I didn't fit into the “mould” of stereotypical femininity, that being female was not the one thing that determined who I was. It's really, really frustrating when people assume that it is, or that it ought to be, and expect us to act and think and feel in gender-appropriate ways every minute of the day.

    What happened to me was, I first realised that it was okay NOT to be be stereotypically “girly” (which you seem to have done as well). And then I realised that actually, a lot of women out there are not like that either. Gender stereotypes are just that – stereotypes. Which is why your generalisations about female bloggers as a whole make me really uncomfortable. You're not as much of an exception as you believe.

    It's okay for women not to be into romance or hot male leads or whatever these interests so many of us feel pressured to share are. But it's also PERFECTLY okay to be into those things. A lot of the time, girls and women who aren't exactly “girly” and struggled against being lumped into this category end up buying into the idea that these interests are somehow shameful or inferior. I know you say you don't think there's anything wrong with bloggers who talk about these things, but at the same time, I think I read some contempt in your tone. I'm sorry if I'm making assumptions – it's just that this was another aspect of your post that made me uncomfortable.

    I hope you don't mind my saying all this. It's just that reading your commenting made me relate to you on the one hand, but on the other hand, I felt really uneasy seeing female bloggers being lumped together into an amorphous category to which you're one of the few exceptions.

    I wish you the best of luck finding a place where you feel comfortable in this community. I've been a book blogger for 5 years, and I can honestly tell you I don't think you'll be pigeon-holed by people who make gendered assumptions about you. People will see you as YOU, period.

    Also, if you have the chance to pick it up, I highly recommend the book Delusions of Gender by Cornelia Fine.

  2. I can definitely understand where you're coming from there. And it's by no means all female bookbloggers who do that sort of thing. But I see a large number who do, especially when it comes to the book boyfriend/hot characters kind of thing, and these also seem to be the blogs that attract a record number of female readers who can relate to that manner of thinking. it is perfectly fine to be into that, and I don't begrudge them their likes and dislikes in the slightest.

    I just don't relate to them.

    It doesn't bother me. Not really. It just occured to me one day that I don't fit with many of the typical female bookblogger traits. And like I said, some of the typical things I see on female-run blogs aren't even gender-specific things. There just seems to be a greater prevelence, and I'll be damned if I know why. I don't worry about being pigeon-holed. I don't worry that much about fitting in. I'm here to do what I do to the best of my abilities, gender issues aside.

    Gender's a fairly fluid thing, really. I typically identify as agendered, and really wish I'd been able to establish myself as a gender-neutral personality on this blog. I didn't realize for the longest time that my name was being posted on each entry, and by the time I figured it out, my rather female name was established. People may see me as me, but there is still a gender association attached to their view of me, and I can't escape that. Like, ever. I reached that conclusion a long time ago. And not just here, either. The rest of life. People will look at me and see all my quirks and foibles and personality traits, but they also see female characteristics and make the assumption that on some level, I relate to general female things. Or have a female mindset and approach to situations. They see some things and add others whether I demonstrate those tendancies or not.

    Sorry 'bout the ramble. You just brought up some good points that made thoughts start going. :)

  3. Not molds, exactly, but certainly tendancies. Habits, common interests, that sort of thing. And people do tend to make a lot of assumptions about gender, whether or not those assumptions happen to be backed up by facts or demonstration. Even if those assumptions are passive ones. For example, nobody bats an eye if a female likes to knit, but people think it's odd if males do. So even if they don't make particular commentary on a female knitting, there's a passive thought process that tells people they don't need to make comment because it's normal or expected. When I used to read a lot of craft blogs, I would often see posts by males that were validation posts, not quite defensive but still making a point of saying, “Yeah, I'm a guy and I embroider/crochet/whatever, and so what?” And none of the same from females, even though the craft itself is not a gender-specific thing. Adversity is met because assumptions are made, as much for females and for males, just more passively in one case than another.

    So no, no molds, and so no molds to break. But the mold is one-sided. I don't break my mold. I may not even break your mold. But somebody else's mold might be cracking right now, because they made assumptions about what is or isn't right, for me, for this blog, for female bookbloggers, what have you. And knowing this, knowing that there's a group that people can easily lump me in with when I don't fit the common design, makes me feel weird. I guess this was my validation post, in many ways.

  4. Well, you have a friend in me. I pretty much agree with everything you said. I don't like trailers, don't fantasize about imaginary characters, and hardly ever do a meme. So, there are a few of us around. :)

  5. 'People will look at me and see all my quirks and foibles and personality traits, but they also see female characteristics and make the assumption that on some level, I relate to general female things. Or have a female mindset and approach to situations. They see some things and add others whether I demonstrate those tendancies or not.'

    And that's really a shame, because you seem not to identify as female, or male (I mean that's what I'm taking your identification as a-gendered to mean, please correct me if I'm wrong) and it would be great if everyone could understand that about you.

    I guess the thing that confuses me about the way you express that sentiment is that even as you say that you don't fit a definition of feminine, or female book blogger, you kind of seem to be reinforcing that these definitions of feminine and female are correct for the rest of women. You say people will assume that you have 'a female mindset and approach to situations' as if there really is such a homogenous kind of female mindset, rather than as if this is just another assumption people who don't understand are taking up (like their assumption that you identify as female). Really women and female bloggers are a very diverse group.

    Many people who do identify as female spend time being read wrongly, as well, just in a different way than you. Women spend time having assumptions made about them that don't fit, or only fit partly, or are just stereotypical and wrong, because of their sex. And they often can't escape the judgement of other people. It's frustrating, that society is so attached to making assumptions about gender and assigning negatives, or sometimes even just gendered meaning, to the personal traits of someone who is a particular gender. But…there's no way to really change the way other people see us, we can only try to get over those judgements (which is so hard, they are everywhere and people are loud) and exist as who we want to be for ourselves (again, hard). I don't know if the fact that people will make incorrect judgements about you because they see you as female, really seperates you from women, although the fact that you don't identify as female means that you are approaching the issue from a different angle. We should all be piling on this gender assumptions issue as one big force (the dudes too), I guess I am saying, because we all suffer from incorrect judgements. All our different needs necessitate each group to take different action and fight for different issues, but essentially we're all concentrating on off shoots of one big central issue.

    Anyway I have gone ON. I'd kind of like to ask though, if you can't relate to many female bloggers, do you find that you identify with male bloggers, or do you have gender-neutral spaces on the web that you visit?

  6. I agree – when it comes to book blogs, and blogs in general, gender shouldn't pigeon hole the content or the way the blog is perceived. Like you, I don't participate in blog memes, and it's a shame that the majority of potential readers skip over blogs that don't.

    You've got us, though, and that's something :)

  7. I don't do many of the other female bloggers either. I do like to do little meme's about the books to help share some of what's between the covers though. And to share new covers. But other than that I just like sharing the books, what I have here and what's yet to come.

    And like you I'm not into all the sexy scenes and romance stuff. I like to have a good story that gets me thinking, if the other stuff fits in as an extra, then very good. :)

    But do as you enjoy doing. :)

  8. You must read a lot of book blogs focused on romance. I don't, and I can't remember any review I've read (by a woman or a man) that focuses on the hotness of the main character, interviews a character (ick), or throws in too many memes. I don't think it's a male/female thing, I think it's a genre thing.

  9. I don't typically read a lot of blogs focused on romance, actually. I've never been that big on romance. Of course, romance tends to get really mixed in with urban fantasy and YA novels of nearly all genres that it does show up pretty commonly in blogs that review those kinds of books, so you're right that such things may be skewing my perceptions a bit.

  10. Like you, I don't participate in blog memes, and it's a shame that the majority of potential readers skip over blogs that don't.

    Yes! A thousand times yes! I can understand that memes provide a good way to relate and connect with a community of like-minded people, but a large number of book-related memes that I've come across, especially the more common ones, tend to be ones that I don't have much interest in participating. But for the few times I have participated in memes like that, my blog readership skyrockets.

    I'm definitely glad to have the people who understand and accept me for who and what I am. It's a great comfort.

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