Monday, August 8, 2011

More Public Discussion: and some of my complaints

Suzanne, as you know there has been a lot of private discussion about these matters. So I will discuss it with you privately.
   -Peter Kirk
I've been away from the blog for a few days.  Do you know whether there have been private discussions?  Of course you don't.  Now that I'm back, I see that Peter Kirk has announced at his own blog that he's on vacation, that he won't be back until September.  This, to me, is important for several reasons.

First, if there's a public discussion here at this blog, I don't want to leave Peter out of a more public conversation that he may have started (even if he announces in public at my blog how he prefers for some things "private discussion").  Second, if there's discussion mentioning him, he should be able to speak for himself.  Third, Peter asked a question of me, which I haven't taken the time to answer as if I've had the time; but I think he deserves an answer before September.  Fourth, related to Peter's question, there's really a larger discussion going on at BBB, that's been stopped now.  Fifth, what happened at BBB is indicative of a larger problem we've already observed with bible-blogging in general, the fact that men and not women continue to dominate the bible "studies" blogger carnivals and the Top 50 listings, where Peter now finds himself comfortably and increasingly near the top.  Sixth, the general bible-blogging problem seems related to male privilege and to sexism and to mysogyny and to gynophobia.

Seventh, several have already noted particular issues for them, very likely because they are women.  For example, Suzanne notes:
"Naturally my comment will stand out as marked, because I am one woman among a large group of male bloggers."
 And Paula remarks:
"Right now, based on this conversation alone, all I can see is that Sue has a legitimate grievance of clear bias against only her discussing gender. If the BBB wants us to believe this isn't so, they can't hide their argument from public view."
And Kristen says:
"I made a couple of suggestions over there. But I'm leaving tomorrow on a trip and will be gone for about a week, so I won't see the results. Catch you when I get back! "
And Judith reads and then comments "over there":
"A nice carnival. Any real reason that all the women bloggers are down at the bottom in a group called ‘Miscellaneous’? As one of that pack, I’m curious…."
She gets an answer and then replies:
"Believe me, I know how much time it takes to put together a good carnival. So thanks very much for your work on this one. As I said, I was just curious how we all landed up in the same category of ‘Oddities’ :-)"
Please observe
the oddities that Judith observes,
the extra work that Kristen must do,
the call for more public discussion that Paula has to make,
and the public markedness.
The markedness is what Suzanne
can't help but experience.

This is the experience of females, not males,
of women, not men,
in bible blogging.

So Peter, as one justifiably hypocritical man to another, asks me:
"Kurk, isn't it the pot calling the kettle black when on this all-male blog you complain about BBB being all-male? The only reason BBB is all-male is that, despite looking, we can't find a woman who wants to join it. But surely what matters in this case is not what body parts we possess but what we have to say.
I have written quite a lot about the phrase sometimes translated "husband of one wife". Last year I busted the myth that it was used of women. Five years ago I wrote a whole series about this phrase.

But there are other interesting topics in Bible translation, so at BBB we don't want every thread diverted into a discussion of gender."
Now, I reply:
"Peter, I am glad you worked to 'bust the myth' that the Greek phrases μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, mias gunaikos andra AND ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή, henos andros gune were used exclusively for one sex but not the other.  You did that by blogging individually; and not in a team of bloggers as you're a member of at BBB.  Probably I should have pointed out that I don't blog with anybody else at my blog just as you don't at your Gentle Wisdom blog.  But I do value the comments of women as well as men.  I censor neither and try to allow the voices of all people of all genders to be expressed as the individuals commenting here would like.

Is my observation about the BBB team being all-male a complaint?  If so,
  •  then my complaint is that you haven't looked hard enough to include women in your team of BBB bloggers.  
  • My complaint is that you want the default and unmarked body parts to be male so then you can say, by male logic, that "surely what matters in this case is not what body parts we possess but what we have to say."  
  • My complaint is that you all-male BBB bloggers censor a woman differently than you do a man.  
  • My complaint is that you have rules for commenters that you apply rather unevenly and pretend that gender is not in view.  
  • My complaint is that you all-men BBB bloggers say, 'Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback' but then you allow trackbacks, if seems, only if we don't use the g-word in our posts.  
  • My complaint is not that all-you-males-and-only-males 'don't want every thread diverted into a discussion of gender.'  Rather, my complaint is that you use your maleness as if it's not gender to control who gets to say what and how.  
  • My complaint is that you say you only want to 'discuss' such things in private while making rather public statements nonetheless here also at my blog."


Shawna Atteberry said...

"The only reason BBB is all-male is that, despite looking, we can't find a woman who wants to join it."

This is a lie. I applied to be a biblioblogger at The Biblioblog Reference Library when Rachel was putting together women Bible bloggers on her site. I never heard back, and my blog isn't listed. They had one women's blog dropped in their laps, they ignored. Of course their excuse is probably I'm not "academic" enough.

To be honest this is fine by me. After all you and Suzanne have posted, I see that this is a good ole boys club who isn't going to let girls play and will always have the rules rigged to make the girls lose. I have better ways of spending my time than tilting against windmills.

I doubt I'm the only female biblioblogger who thinks this way, which may be another reason there are so few of us represented.

J. K. Gayle said...

So sorry to hear your story, Shawna. It would be good to hear from the BBB why they didn't respond to you. Hopefully when Peter is back from vacation, he can help explain. Maybe there will be an earlier response from someone else perhaps. Much of this is puzzling. Thanks for commenting.

Suzanne said...

Shawna is referring to the Biblioblog reference library and I suggest that it was accidental that Shawna did not get a response. Isn't Rachel on that blog?

The Better Bibles Blog requires training in Bible translation and knowledge of Greek and/or Hebrew, so there are not so many candidates.

J. K. Gayle said...


I read Shawna's comment too quickly; but then again in my post I also may have quickly alluded to blogs and bloggers other than BBB and its men to contribute to some confusion.

Yes, there are some efforts to revise the Biblioblog reference library. Rachel's inclusion is a great start. And Steve Caruso the Librarian has this idea for a "Women's Studies portal" on the Library. Maybe he'd know whether Shawna was not contacted back accidentally. At any rate, it's not BBB this time who snubbed Shawna.

And I should add that Chris Brady and Daniel McClellan have made good efforts at including women bloggers, in their biblical studies carnivals after the fact, and Daniel also in his democratic Top 10, where you have been voted top most recently and in the top several months with a few other bloggers who are women.

Thanks for your post today reflecting on reasons for some of the discriminations and silencings in the bibleblogosphere. Yours is such a very important post, linking also to so many others speaking up and speaking out, and giving voice to many as per the first comment, by Charis.

Shawna Atteberry said...

I didn't realize the reference library was different from BBB. To be honest, I find it all a bit confusing with the BBB, library, then different lists blogs they have.

I do have training in both Greek and Hebrew, but I guess I've never found where to apply for BBB. Like I said, that's OK. After all I've seen in the last few weeks, I'm no longer interested. I'd rather use my time online finding the women I want to minister to than fighting with the good ole boys club.

Tho I applaud you Suzanne for continuing the fight. I respect you a lot for first, staying evangelical, and second, for making them see and hear you. I wish I had your patience, grit, and determination, but I don't. You should see what my blood pressure shoots to when Kurk quotes some of these guys: don't know if I could handle the full blog posts, let alone engage and respond to them without having a stroke.

And to be honest: I love how women being equals with men in all areas of life, including ordination and leadership, is just a non-issue for the most part in Mainline churches (I live in Chicago, so it's fairly liberal here). I love that I don't have to waste my time defending myself and I can just do what Godde has called me to do.

But I have a great deal of respect for the women who stay and fight because I could not do it.