What She Said!

The next time some guy asks you where all the female bloggers are,
tell him What She Said!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

WSS Featured Blogger: Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged

  • Name: Julia
  • Blog: Sisyphus Shrugged
  • Tag Line:Lasciate ogni speranza and put your feet up
  • Location: NYC

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?
Almost completely by accident. I started writing a LiveJournal because we were cut off from IM at work and I was going through typing withdrawal. I told six people where it was. Months later, I was reviewed by a LiveJournal reviewing community and they highlighted a post I'd written about Carter's trip to Cuba, and people started reading for the politics. I've always been a news junkie and politics is one of my major interests, so I went with it. After that it sort of accreted slowly until Jeanne D'Arc, the godmother of female political blogs, linked to a post I wrote and it snowballed.

Why do I keep at it? Well, occasionally it's really hard to keep up with, but it's always been an article of faith with me that a lot of what's wrong with politics in America comes from people just not having the time or the obsessive interest to keep up with the news and track down what's really going on. The "news establishment" doesn't make it any easier by throwing up confetti storms of jargon instead of explaining (my role models are Molly Ivinsand Dean Swift). I try to provide a little bit of context, or point out what the story doesn't say but should, or just say "Do you believe this shit?" I figure if I have a chance to say some of the stuff I think should be said, I should say it. It's sort of a put up or shut up thing (and no one who knows me thinks that's a real choice)..

2. What are your most important issues?

I've got a very broad populist streak. It frustrates me that comparatively few people are making most of the decisions for this country because they get involved and they vote. More power to them, but a lot of people who disagree with them are so dispirited that they don't get involved and they don't vote. I badly want to convince anyone I can reach that they can make a difference. A few votes here, a few votes there, before you know it you got a constituency.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?
I was on Air America twice, which was exciting, although I was completely terrified. Also, I'm on the sidebars at the Ms. Magazine blog and the Business Week blog, which fills me with glee. On the blog side, Teresa Nielsen-Hayden said I was a good writer, TBogg said I was funny and the Poor Man said I was shrill. Can't beat that.

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?
I have no idea. I have a terrific Friends List on LiveJournal but I had to screen comments when I started to get a lot of ads for porn sites, and I think it discourages commenting, which is a shame. I usually find out someone's been reading when I get linked (I haunt Technorati. Just for research purposes, of course). I'd like to think people come by for the writing, but mostly I'm just really pleased that they come by.

I really do talk like that, by the way. I have witnesses.

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?
Meta. Definitely meta. We have much bigger fish to fry right now. If I could have one wish for the left blogosphere, it would be that everyone with an urge to pronounce on who does and doesn't matter would cross their legs and hold it in until November 4th.

6. What's the one point you'd like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really "get"?
I'd like them to know that you don't have to wait for someone to tell you you're qualified to make your own decisions about politics and that you don't have to wait for someone to tell you that your opinions matter. Most of the world's gatekeepers are self-appointed. Once you make it your business to know what's going on, appoint yourself.

Also I would like to point out that I have a seriously cool kid.

WSS Featured Blogger: lenée of sister/ outsider

  • Name: lenée
  • Blog: http://coloredgurl.blogspot.com
  • Tag Line:sister/ outsider.
  • Location:philadelphia.

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?
blogging, for me, was a way of having a journal that i'd actually be incapable of losing. i've been blogging since 2002 & so far, so good. i keep at it primarily because i'm an exhibitionist & because i've become a much better writer as a result of having a blog. or, at least, i think i have.

2. What are your most important issues?
africans, both diasporan & continental. women. equitable treatment of all humans.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?
i get added to peoples' blogrolls... people i've never even communicated with. the random signings of my guestbook & comments are also quite neat. it makes me feel all dope, like folks dig what i'm talkin about.

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?
my audience is anyone who understands that there are such things as intersecting oppressions, that the things we do affect everyone around us, & people who want to learn more about people with whom they might
not regularly associate. i can't really name what makes my blog unique. i daresay that folks who read it can say so better than i. to me, it's just my ramblings & occasional well-thought responses to certain things.

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?
now that i've learned that people are reading, i sometimes feel obligated to write outstandingly . . . when sometimes all i wanna do is gripe about stuff. & i do. because it's my blog & i'll whine if i want to. it's frustrating to challenge yourself all of the time.

6. What's the one point you'd like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really "get"?
that i'm not even close to being preachy or on a soapbox. i'm sorting this stuff out one day at a damn time, just like everyone else is ... or should be.

fire & desire

WSS Featured Blogger: Laura Antoniou of But How's the Coffee?

  • Name: Laura Antoniou
  • Blog: But How's the Coffee?
  • Location:But How's the Coffee?

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?
I started when I realized I was reading more and more blogs and wanted to say things of my own. This would be in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, a turning point for many bloggers.

2. What are your most important issues?

Depends on the day! But overall, I tend to think and write of things that interest me personally. Just try to pain a cohesive picture of who I am, I dare ya. The state of Israel - I am a Zionist who believes in security and safety for the one refuge the world's Jews have. Gay rights - I am a lesbian in a committed relationship who supports the righs of adults to enter into any sort of relationshp they want, as long as it's consensual and harms no third parties. The fight against Islamist and other far-right, radical, hate and fear promoting religious movements, including the wack-a-doodles among Jews and Christians who would like to see people like me marginalized at best, or just slaughtered at worst. I'm a progressive, adult convert to Judiasm who struggles with issues of observance and identity from time to time and still admires and feels pride in my chosen identity, and will talk about it endlessly if you are foolish enough to give me an opening. Free speech and civil rights - I'm a pornographer and a sexuality activist who's been banned in Canada and celebrated throughout the American south. The war - I supported the invasion of Iraq, even though I predicted we'd fuck up the aftermath. Do I regret my support? No. But I regret that no one with more power than me seemed to get the warning signs and actually do something to prove me wrong. Don't you hate that? The odd times when I realize I am agreeing with someone I loathe, or get pissed at someone I admire. The stupid things people pay attention to. And movies. I like movies. And coffee. When the world is headed to hell, just tell me the coffee is OK, and I'll survive the trip.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?
Well...once I commented on a story on MTV and the author contacted me and that was pretty cool. A fan bought me this awesome espresso machine, which of course, fuels my writing nicely.

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?
The only unique thing about my blog is me. I don't break any important stories, I don't reach that wide an audience, according to my stats. I suspect my regular readers are friends and fans of my porn, who expect me to write more about sex. But you know, I do that for money. The blog I do because I have this need to rant occasionally.

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?
Having the time to do it! I wish I had more time. And a wireless connection! Yeah! I need an Air Port for my lap top. After that? Wishing I had more readers for my brilliant, sarcastic and witty posts. It's frustrating not to be famous for my political and social thoughts. But I manage to survive.

6. What's the one point you'd like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really "get"?
I can't be that reductive, it hurts my brain. I hope any reader understands how vital a good cup of coffee can be to quality of life. And I hope they understand that hate mail gets sent to their ISPs and the feds. Also, I do keep updating my wish list.

WSS Featured Blogger: CE Petro of Thoughts of an Average Woman

  • Name: CE Petro
  • Blog: Thoughts of an Average Woman
  • Tag Line:Targeting issues and policies that are harmful to women and working families and other rhetoric
  • Location:Knoxville, Tennessee

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?
I started blogging a few months after completing chemotherapy when I felt I had lost some of my cognitive functions, particularly reading comprehension. When my oncologist and I discussed this, all he could tell me is to try writing and clarifying my thoughts every day. Blogging really started as an exercise in forming and writing a few short sentences focusing on one or two points of a particular article I felt was important to women and working families.

I choose to focus on women in part because of the inequalities and, really, the mysoginist treatment of breast cancer patients (although I don't focus on that narrow issue in my blog). In a broader spectrum, women have had less than equal medical care and treatment in the US and globally. I also feel that the current administration and the ideology of corporations discriminate against the working class in much the same way they discriminate against women.

2. What are your most important issues?
I try to keep the blog politically and socially motivated, and sometimes I get pretty angry. While blogging is still an exercise in some respects, my priorities to continue change. I "see" so much damage being done to the average person, and I don't think many realize exactly how damaging some policies are to them. I base this assumption on what the people I see during the course of a day have to say.

I, like many others, are disgusted by the lies of this administration, not just in the foreign policy, but more particularly in domestic policy, which I don't feel is as well covered by the mainstream media as it should be.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?
Honestly, I don't know that I want to be recognized by the media, per se. I don't feel that many in the press really understand that bloggers blog for a multitude of different reasons, unlike the press that (allegedly) reports as part of their job. However, when a psuedo-blogger (a reporter that also blogs for their paper) from my local paper asked local bloggers "what is blogging," my answer was chosen by the editor and published in an editorial, although neither my name was used nor a path to my blog was given. (my answer was: blogging is letting loose the voice of the people) That was sort of exciting, but not as exciting as being recognized by other bloggers.

I am more thrilled when my blog is picked up by other bloggers. While having a post recognized by another blogger may not be a "big deal" to some, for me it validates several things for me, 1. I had a concise day, 2. others find the topic important as well, and 3. it confirms or adds to another bloggers perspective. I find the peer-review style in the blogospere to hold more credence and accountability than being recognized by the media.

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?
Broken down by country, it's predominately Americans. Whether it's mainly women or men, or in what age group, I couldn't tell you.

As far as uniqueness, my blog is a compilation of my thoughts on various issues. That, in and of itself, makes it unique.

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?
Sometimes I wish people would leave comments. Without comments I wonder if I've been able to clarify my feelings on a particular topic. Yet, I don't want constant validation of my thoughts, either. Some validation is a good thing, too much I feel would lead to complacency for me. So, there are times that I wish someone will post a differing opinion, hoping a discussion would then develop. But, I'm sure that will happen eventually.

My other frustration is that I don't always have enough time to blog. Life is funny that way, and it seems that on days when I'm the busiest are the same days so much happens in the world.

6. What's the one point you'd like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really "get"?
Living in an extremely conservative area overall I hope that I can enlighten just one person that not everyone thinks the same way or comes to the same conclusions.

Quote: I'm sorry to say this isn't creative, rather it's become an important part of my continuing life at this time, my motto is to live life one day at a time.

(Editor's Note: seems perfectly creative to me. Keep fighting. --Morgaine)

WSS Featured Blogger: Shari of An Old Soul

  • Name: shari
  • Blog: An old soul...
  • Location:http://anoldsoul.blogspot.com

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?
Post 9/11, I was so damn frustrated with what was in the papers. I was on a mission to get more info so I went online, only to find the wingnut blogs at first. Ick. Ick. Ick. Hell on earth, let me tell ya. When I found the progressive blogs, I thought I was in heaven.

By this time, I was inundating friends with emails. I'm sure they thought I was nuts. When I started losing track of my emails, I started my own blog so I could have a place to put all the links in one spot.

Funny. In the beginnning, what went on my blog was the same stuff going out in my emails. No more. Now, I send out in my emails the stuff that's all over the blogs. My blog focuses more on just a few of the issues very dear to my heart.

I keep going, even as my life gets busier and I have even less time to be online, because I see education issues presented in a way that really gets me steamed.

2. What are your most important issues?

On my blog: Education. Environment. Issues related to children, parenting, health, problems of corporate influence.

Since my online time is limited, if I see something covered by many others, I don't usually touch it.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?
Kudos to Kevin Hayden who makes such a great effort to include as many bloggers as possible underneath his umbrella. Natalie Davis, Nurse Ratched and Cyndy Roy were among the first to notice my blog. Meant a lot to me. In turn, I do my best to extend the same hospitality to others.

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?
Audience? My online pals, of course. Unique? My take on education, which comes from hours and hours of reading policy wonk.

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?
Time. Or lack of it. Trying to have balance in my life. Blogging can eat up a huge chunk of time I don't have.

6. What's the one point you'd like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really "get"?
Question the meaning of the words that people use, especially words used by the media and by politicians.
Does the speaker/writer come from the same worldview as you? If not, then what do those words really mean?
Education lingo is rife with catch phrases and code words that don't mean what you think.

Quotes I go by:

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.-- C. J. Jung

The loss of liberty in general would soon follow the supression (sic) of the liberty of the press; for it is an essential branch of liberty, so perhaps it is preservative of the whole. --John Peter Zenger (1697-1746)

WSS Featured Blogger: Roxanne of Rox Populi

  • Name: Roxanne
  • Blog: Rox Populi
  • Location:Washington, DC

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?
I've always been enchanted by all things rhetorical. In my "civilian" life, I work in media marketing. Truth be told, I initially started blogging to better understand the medium. I'm also fascinated by the viral nature of trends and blogs illustrate the nature of viruses quite well.

However, as the days and months have gone by, I find I blog because I relish the various communities I particpate in and conversations I direct.

2. What are your most important issues?
Being an archetypal Aries (not that I really believe in that shit), my interests can change on a dime. Like most everyone else, I'm currently obsessed with the presidential race. Ever since I watched the Watergate hearings as kid, I've always enjoyed politics. But, I also sometimes write about pop culture, the arts, and travel.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?
I like it best when a commenter who generally disagrees with my POV tells me I wrote something that made them think about an issue in a new way. Now that's impact.

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?
I've only been blogging for a few months, so I'm still finding my own "voice" and my audience. But, I think I have more readers who reside outside of the US than most US-based blogs.

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?
Loose ends. Readers come and leave comments that can create an interesting conversation. Some of those conversations are just left hanging there with no real end or resolution. It all seems so unfinished.

6. What's the one point you'd like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really "get"?
You're not going to agree with me on everything. But, I'll always give you something interesting to think about.

  • "The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates

  • "Tokyo is no place to examine your life." - Roxanne

WSS Featured Blogger: MizM of Left at the Altar

  • Name: MizM
  • Blog: Left At The Altar
  • Tag Line: Unapologetically liberal observations on news, politics, media, science, philosophy, faith and future
  • Location:San Francisco, CA

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?
I started when I realized I could use a blog to stop spamming my friends with emailed news clippings and diatribes, putting everything in one easy location that they could ignore at their own peril. Friends referred it to other friends, and the address began creeping around. (Kudos to Blogger for making it so easy to start.) I keep at it because people keep coming, and because I can't stop myself, and because there's so much work to do!

2. What are your most important issues?
(1) Regime change. (2) Regime change. (3) Regime change. And human rights, environmental issues, peacemaking, the interaction of faith and politics, ethics... Whenever possible, served up with a little humor.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?
A friend and fellow blogger called me "the Molly Ivins of the West Coast." Another asked me to run for office. Both were friends, of course, so it probably doesn't count.

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?
The blog is aimed at the community on the "religious left," which is certainly not completely unique, but it's a community that's still finding its voice. And the blog is definitely aimed at liberal Democrats. Liberal. (Be proud, people.)

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?
I feel really bad when I can't make daily updates; I know readers want daily updates!

6. What's the one point you'd like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really "get"?
That people of faith have a special obligation to oppose the policies of George W. Bush, in order to reverse the destruction, oppression and exploitation he is imposing in his "biblical world view." That means staying very well informed, because BushCo attacks on many fronts; I hope the blog contributes to that. (And even if we are successful in removing him from office, the obligation remains!)

Quote: "A successful autocracy rests on the universal failure of individual courage. In a democracy, abdications of conscience are never trivial." -- Marilynne Robinson

Monday, September 27, 2004

WSS Featured Blogger: Melanie of Just a Bump in the Beltway

  • Name: Melanie
  • Blog: Just a Bump in the Beltway
  • Tag Line: Politics and Culture from the Left Side of the Page
  • Location: http://www.node707.com

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?
I started reading the blogs a couple of years ago and admired the way they built (or defeated) community and gave voice to the powerless through the comments boxes. I'd been reading the fairly rough lefty political sites for a long time before I got the nerve to begin commenting a little over a year ago. The political blogs are very male dominated and not the friendliest place for a woman with strong views. In the process of becoming a heavy commentor at places like dKos and Atrios, I found a voice I'd never used before and discovered that I'd developed some real expertise at political and cultural commentary that was a new and surprising development for me. And that other people liked it.

Other people liked it so much that I was eventually invited to become a guest blogger at dKos, the first and still only woman ever to accept such an invitation. It was exciting, it was scary and a learned a great deal about myself as a writer, scary because Kos's audience is so huge and they have zero tolerance for mistakes. It was a wild ride and I enjoyed every minute of it, particularly the interaction with the other guest bloggers. I'd had some stylistic difficulties with Markos from the very beginning: I was consciously writing with a more personal woman's voice than had been my habit because I discovered early on that more women commentors would take the plunge and come out from lurking. Eventually, Kos decided that what I was doing stylistically just didn't fit with his "brand" anymore.

A few days after I disappeared from his site, I was contacted by a reader (with whom I'd corresponded briefly) who wondered where I had gone. When she discovered I was blogless, she offered to set up a site for me (which was beyond my technical capabilities at the time.) Within ten days or so, I was live at Just a Bump in the Beltway and a number of readers who liked my work at dKos followed.

2. What are your most important issues?
Bump is still evolving as my interests and those of the readers evolve and the constraints on my time change, but my interest in the intersection of politics, religion and culture hasn't changed much. My perspective is female and occasionally specifically feminist Gender and sexuality (and specific biases about what those words mean) are so much a part of the secular culture that they must be looked at as a prism which sometimes distorts and sometimes illuminates. I hope that I maintain a critical distance from both.

The secular left in this country doesn’t understand that it has a common cause with the religious left and I hope to bring my theological background to bear to help religious lefties find their voices. The vocabulary of the religious right has co-opted nearly all of the traditional language of theology. It is time for us to take it back.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?
Gosh, there has been so much approbation. My readers are some of the kindest, most generous people on the planet, and that is the recognition that matters to me the most. They've bouyed me through some of the darkest months of my life.

In terms of media recognition, I can't suss that out from my life in the blogosphere. Writing at Bump and The Village Gate has resulted in some magazine commissions from the dead tree media, I've been invited to join the fine stable of writers at The American Street and I received a nomination for a Koufax award last year within a couple of weeks of my first appearance at Bump. All of these things are meaningful, but it is still the readers who really make my heart sing.

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?
I mix news commentary with editorializing (and the odd rant,) theologizing on popular culture and politics and try to look for context stories that aren't getting much play on the lefty blogs, which can be as much of an echo chamber as the righty ones are. I'm looking for the stories and perspectives that "The Bigs" miss. I'm successful enough that some of my readers are daily visitors.

To the extent that I've got any kind of a handle on who my audience is (commentors and email writers being a small fraction of any blogs audience) I think that a lot of of them are rather a lot like me: older than the typical blog reader, professionals with advanced degrees. I have a lot of lawyers and academics. I also know that I'm frequently read by Washington/US correspondents for outside-DC newspapers and have regular correspondence with several of them. My readership in non-US English speaking countries is not insignificant. This pleases me enormously and it has resulted in some long and very rewarding email relationships.

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?
Same as everybody else: not enough time! I wish I had much more time for research.

6. What's the one point you'd like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really "get"?
That you don't have to drill too far beneath the traditional media to see how shallow the coverage is that we get in the states, that the popular culture itself is shallow and that we as a people have very tenous roots into the facts of our own existences. The world we live in now is the most superficial of any time in my 50 years on the planet.


We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

"Little Gidding," Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Can you help a Sister out?

Hi Morgaine.

I was wondering if you'd pass it around about Susan's upcoming birthday, re:

From email contact in the past two years, I know she's still overcoming a run of unemployment and is or was a journalist. The quality of her blog reporting has been high as long as I've read her stuff. But I'm poor and not much of a fundraiser, so when I read this tonight, I thought I'd pass it on to you on the chance that you might have an email list that you might utilize to put out an appeal to see if the women (or men) would help Susie get over this bump.

I can say something on my blog, but I'm not sure I can influence enough folks to get much done that way. So I hope you'll consider getting the word out.

Thank you;


Hey, Y'all - give what you can - we've all been there!

WSS Featured Blogger:Mary Kay Kare of Gallimaufry

  • Name: Mary Kay Kare
  • Blog: Gallimaufry
  • Location: Seattle, Washington

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?
I used to hang out on Usenet at a place called rec.arts.sf.fandom. There were a lot of interesting people there talking about interesting things. As the group began to degenerate in political flameage, some of my favorite people there left and started blogs. I started reading those, mostly Electrolite www.nielsenhayden.com/electrolite.
Electrolite had a blog roll and I started investigating and the next thing I knew I was spending all my time reading blogs. I started my own last December for a couple of reasons. One was political: I felt the need to talk about what was happening and to contribute in whatever way I could towards changing it. The other was personal: I don't think in words and translating my thoughts into words is difficult. I use both my blog and my LiveJournal as places to practice turning the stuff in my head into actual words.

2. What are your most important issues?
I'm terribly distressed with the current infringements of our civil rights. I write about that and about taking back our country from the corporatist elite who have stolen it. It will be interesting to see what happens to me after the election. I've always supported progressive and liberal causes but I've never been paticularly activist before. The inauguration protest in 2001 was my first protest march ever. Otherwise, I'm likely to talk about most anything. I'm
interested in food and cooking, fantasy and science fiction, and travel as well.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?
Both Kevin Drum (formerly CalPundit, Political Animal at Washington Monthly) and Jim Henley ( Unqualified Offerings) have been friendly, corresponding with and linking to me. Since Kevin has quit Friday Cat Blogging he has sent people to my page several times for a Friday Cat Blogging fix. Lately, I've been dragging contributions via my Majority Makers page out of my readers by threatening to withhold Cat Blogging unless they contribute! Worked pretty good too!

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?
Golly. A lot of the people who read me are people in the science fiction fandom community. A lot found me through LiveJournal or one of the lists of sf fans who blog. Others come to me with the oddest searches on google... What's unique about my blog? I try to give it a unique voice and mix of interests. One thing I've written a good deal about is the fact that I grew up in Oklahoma, one of the most Republican of states, and how that has affected me and what my take on the political situation in such places is. Growing up the only liberal in your family/school/town can have a pretty powerful effect on one's headspace.

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?
I wish I knew how I could get more comments from people. My 2 favorite blogs (Electrolite and Making Light) have comment sections to die for. Real conversations!

6. What's the one point you'd like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really "get"?
You know, I'm not really sure. Lately I've been saying a lot that people must/should contribute whatever they can either in money or time. Even if it seems very little, when combined with everyone else's little bit, it becomes enormous. I keep saying collective action makes us stronger.

Only a mediocre person is always at his best

-- Somerset Maugham

A Mother's View of Afghanistan

by Masha Hamilton, author of The Distance Between Us; Unbridled Books; (November 1, 2004) ISBN: 193296102X

My neighbor Jessie was giving in to guilt during our morning jog. “I adore this kid,” she said of her one-year-old. “But we spent a couple hours in the park yesterday and I was bored enough to cry. Today I couldn’t wait to hand him off to the sitter.” Jessie felt safe revealing to me what some might regard as a moment of maternal shortcoming because I am – ta dah – the reigning local Queen Of Maternal Shortcomings.

How’d I get the title? It began when I left my three wonderful children, ages nine to fifteen, to spend a month cloistered at an artists’ colony – no visitors, and phone calls only during mealtimes. Maybe that could be forgiven. But then I left them again, several months later, to spend two weeks traveling in Afghanistan.

That’s right, Afghanistan. Where foreign aide workers and American football heroes and election volunteers and average Afghans keep getting shot at and sometimes killed. Where I couldn’t even bring back one of those “My Mom went To Kabul And All I Got …” T-shirts, because of course they don’t make those T-shirts for Kabul yet.

While I was preparing for the trip, I came in for my share of criticism – most of it friendly, some not-so. A couple fathers said outright that I, as a mother, should not venture to a place considered unstable at best. My own husband balked at first, though he eventually came around. (Maybe it was when I began humming Cat Steven’s “I’m looking for a hard-headed woman.”)

When I told my daughter not to do anything foolish while I was gone, like walking in the park after dark, she began jabbing her finger at me, swinging her hips and speaking with emphasis. “You are going to Afghanistan, and you are telling me not to do anything dangerous?” Even Jessie urged me to write a note to my kids explaining why I’d done it, in case I never came back.

I didn’t write the note. But I did think carefully about what it meant to me to be a mom once the days of Play Dough and finger-paint are past, and in these times of terror alerts and video-taped beheadings and war.

First, I’m a normal mom: I love my kids. I know their teachers and their friends. I home-schooled two of them in the early grades, and taught all three how to read. I’ve baked bread with them, read to them and taken them to museums. When they were small, was constantly pulling out the construction paper and scissors. Sometimes, watching them sleeping, I cried a little over the parts of their lives that I would miss, once they grew up.

I’m passionate about them, actually. But I’m passionate about other things, too. The Middle East, and Russia, and war and journalism and the stories we make up out of whole cloth and the ones that have some basis in reality. Women’s issues and shiatsu and reading. Friendships.

My desire to go to Afghanistan was fueled by a longing to know, as much as possible, what it means to be an Afghan woman today. My interest stemmed in part from that infamous footage I saw several years ago of the woman in the blue burqua shot in the head in the Kabul football stadium during Taliban times, which came to represent the cruelty to which Afghan women were subjected. I was further drawn to the country after reading Jason Elliot’s wonderful An Unexpected Light: Travels In Afghanistan, published in 2000. Finally, I was curious to know whether we have, as the Bush administration insists, substantially improved the situation for the country’s women.

I wanted to go for personal, geopolitical reasons. The world our kids are growing into is more threatening that the one we inhabited at their age. Increasingly, people – not just Americans, of course – view their global neighbors through a lens of “us” versus “them.” This seems to me as wrong as it is dangerous. Links between women and mothers from various cultures can be a crucial step in dispelling this limited way of thinking.

Occasionally I felt a jolt of fear as I prepared for the journey. So much was unknown, and so much of the news from there was bad. But I’ve lived overseas and ventured into unfamiliar places as a journalist. I knew I could make contacts and find help when needed. Plus, I arranged to meet a friend, a photographer who is also a mother. It would be her first visit to Afghanistan as well.

My trip was all I’d hoped for. I interviewed women in prison, child brides, those who’d been jailed in Taliban times, and those who’d been refugees in Pakistan. I talked to a twelve-year-old girl who was in jail for refusing to marry the man her father had chosen, a man who was nearly 40. I sat on the dusty ground with an elderly matriarch and her extended family of 25 as she showed me her box full of wishes: what she will put in her room if she ever gets a room of her own. I practiced shiatsu on women who’d never experienced massage before. I learned about those who live in the country where some 18,000 of our soldiers are now based, and where we are likely to remain involved for some time.

On a personal level, I learned more about myself as a mother, and about how I hope to send my children off into young adulthood. It’s important to me that they know the world is not so scary that we should avoid it. I want them to understand that women – and mothers – must live their lives as fully as they can, and as much according to their beliefs as possible. And I want them to recognize that some risks, once measured, are worth taking.

For more Information visit www.writtenvoices.com

Good Conversation!

Wow, I asked for feedback and I got it! Thanks for the comments and the emails everyone. Here's my take on the situation:

As Barbara O'Brien pointed out, there are essentially three female blogospheres: Progressive, Conservative and Personal Diarists. All three are valid pursuits, of course, but combined they would comprise a huge and unmanageable blogroll. There has to be some categorization if the list is to have value.

I chose to take on this task, but since I'm volunteering my time, enegy and webspace, I feel justified in doing it in a way that makes the most of that contribution. For those of you who don't know me, I am disabled, so my time and attention is limited and valuable to me. I also have very strong and extreme political beliefs, with which I don't expect most people to agree. I try to be open-minded, but I honestly don't see the sense in working against myself. I'm anti-Bush and Pro-Choice and all of my energy is directed in those areas, including this project.

Now, I am very open to the idea of a sister site for conservative bloggers and another for diarists. I'll even lend the name, the design and the space for them IF someone else will manage them. Even with the very kind and generous help I am receiving, this one is all I can handle along with my many other projects.

That being said, "Progressive" is a very broad term. This blogroll already includes Pagans, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists and various other stripes, believer and non. That's a lot of variety. Within the realm of politics, there is a plethora of issues: budget deficits, civil rights, separation of church and state, war and peace, campaign practices, marketing, child care, abortion rights, pay equity, education, size acceptance, taxes, child care, class warfare, society itself.
The scope is breath-taking, and the only way to approach it is to begin with a basic agreement.

The group blogs are included if one participant is a progressive female. So would that include a blog of 20 guys and one feminist? Yes. The guys benefit from working with us, n'est pas? We want to encourage an open and inclusive dialogue - that's why I'm making us easy to find and hard to ignore.

I'm not requiring that everyone agree on every subject. We may butt heads on the Pledge of Allegiance, Social Security, civil unions vs. gay marriage, etc. but this isn't the place to fight the Christian Coalition. We know which side we're on, and we've moved forward to the debate of how to achieve our goals. The Conservatives already seem awfully well organized.

AND - the next time some guy asks you where all the women bloggers are, you can tell them What She Said!

Gimme some Feedback...

Hey, Everyone-

I've got a bunch of links and profiles I'll try to get caught up on in the next day or two, so if you sent something in, be patient. Also, I hear there are some duplicates I have to fix. I'll get to it ASAP, but I'm a little overwhelmed right now.

In the mean time, I've gotten some complaint that I'm limiting the scope to liberal politics. Before I enumerate my reasons for setting some limits other than gender, I wanted to open it up for discussion and see what you think. So talk to me!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Updates: THANKS!

Hey, everyone-

I have to say that the response to What She Said! has been amazing. I want to highlight a few people who have really been especially helpful:

Roxanne of Rox Populi has been great in helping me sort through links and eliminate those who don't meet the criteria.

Kevin at The American Street has sent tons of links and has been really supportive.

This site exists only because of the encouragement of Jeanne at Body and Soul and Ms. Jared at Worshipping at the Altar of Mediocrity.

And Ross at BlogRolling.com has donated a Gold account for the blogroll.

I'm doing the work to move the links over to blogrolling now, so that adding links will get easier, and links will be marked when they've pinged!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

WSS Featured Blogger:
Sheelzebub of Pinko Feminist HellCat

  • Name: Sheelzebub
  • Blog: Pinko Feminist Hellcat
  • Location: USA

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?
I love to write, I'm extremely opinionated, and I flood my local papers with letters to the editor. Blogging just makes sense. Blogging gives me the chance to be snarky and indulge in satire, write about events and issues that aren't getting a lot of coverage, and provide a different (okay, MY) viewpoint. It also gives me a chance to write in a different style and a different voice from my fiction writing.

I like the views I get in my comments section. There are commenters who will vent their frustration. Some have bantered with me, others have disagreed vehemently, but they've all added to the conversation.

2. What are your most important issues?
The usual pinko stuff--choice, sexism, racism, and homophobia, economic justice, corporations run amok, and human rights. Visibility is another issue. I get very frustrated that the issues and the concerns that are given priority "out there"--in the mainstream media--are the issues and concerns of white men, with a few crumbs thrown to us silly girls and minorities as an occasional consolation prize.

And of course, my campaign for President-for-Life. That's the most important thing. Why wouldn't you want a President-for-Life who will provide the masses with plenty of gossip fodder? Join me in my war on democracy! Vote once, and you'll never have to vote again. And that's a solemn promise.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?
I was invited to be on the Joy of Resistance show on WBAI. The Joy of Resistance is a show that focuses on feminist issues; Fran Luck asked me to talk about a post I wrote on Abu Ghraib. That was a real thrill.

I also write for XXBlog with several other female bloggers, and that's a great honor. Recently, I learned I was nominated as an Underblogger. What a great idea! I was overwhelmed--in a good way--by the links to my blog and to my posts when I first started. I was surprised that anyone knew I was out there, and thrilled that they liked my stuff enough to link to it.

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?
Progressives, feminists, and pinkos tend to drop by and comment. I think. Heck, maybe I've got a secret Hello Kitty Militia Fan Club out there that I don't even know about.

I think the name is pretty unique. I also think my shameless campaign for President-for-Life is pretty unique. Who else will brazenly admit such lust for power?

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?
Time to blog. I want more of it. Now.

6. What's the one point you'd like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really "get"?
It's the same as the wrap up quote you asked for:
Hold the powerful accountable.

WSS Featured Blogger:
Amanda Marcote of Mouse Words

  • Name: Amanda Marcotte
  • Blog: Mouse Words
  • Location: Austin, TX

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?
I found myself reading more and more blogs, and since I didn't want to suck up space in their comments section, I started my own. I like to rant and rave, and my poor friends are sick of hearing it. I keep at it because I found so many more blogs this way and I found that I really enjoyed the dialogue between people.

2. What are your most important issues?

Politics and feminism are the big ones, though sometimes I rant about music. I try to keep my writing about how things look from my vantage, keeping in mind that one of the important things about feminism is that it allows women to speak with their own voices.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?
Gosh, everyone is so nice and I couldn't say.

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?
Beats me. I never know who reads it, except of course those who link to me and make comments. If my friends read it, I have no idea. Well, I know my boyfriend reads it, because he will occasionally say something about it to me. My blog's not all that unique, except that I am a pretty aggressive writer and I'm from West Texas. I live in Austin now, but West Texas just doesn't have many people from it, period, much less bloggers.

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?
Not knowing who's reading. This is also its saving grace because it allows you to write honestly.

6. What's the one point you'd like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really "get"?
That Texas isn't a sinkhole of conservatism, that there are strongly liberal people out here that aren't about to give up.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Urgent! Call Your Senators!

From Shaula Evans - Pro-Choice Activists Need to Jump on this!

Thanks very much for posting this, Morgaine.

The full article is available at: http://www.bopnews.com/archives/001617.html .

A number of other bloggers have been sharing their research and we're constantly updating the thread.

I have three favors to ask the What She Said! crew:
1. Please publicize this on your blogs. No one seems to know what is going on. Finding information has been very difficult.
2. Please call your elected officials and raise hell about this. Not a single Democrat voted against the bill containing the amendment in Congress; it looks set to pass very quietly.
3. If you find any new information, please email me, or come and share your info on BOP. The trolls are also, as expected, coming out on this one. I'm rapidly growing exhausted and could use some reinforcements. Please consider yourselfs all formally and cordially invited to join the comments: http://www.bopnews.com/archives/001617.html .

Thank you, greatly--and thanks always to Morgaine and her helpers for giving us this great tool and access to such a wonderful community.

WSS Featured Blogger:
Elayne of Pen-Elayne on the Web

  • Name: Elayne Riggs
  • Blog: Pen-Elayne on the Web
  • Tag Line:Elayne Riggs' Journal
  • Location: NYC

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?

I've always done one-to-many writing. I first started doing it when I was 13 years old, I would make up "Dream Marriage" stories like the ones in the Tiger Beat magazines I read at the time and pass them around in class, the third row would be reading page 1 and the second row would be reading page 2 and I'd be writing page 3, it was my first instant audience and I loved it. :) From there I went on to penpals (at one point I had over 150, but of course those were the days of 6-cent stamps) then amateur press associations(apas) and self-published newsletters, like my INSIDE JOKE which I did throughout the '80s (what a money drain! but again, I loved it), then online via e-mail and Usenet and message boards and now weblogs. It's just a progression of something I've been doing all my life. I decided to take the plunge after reading my "blogfathers" Neil Gaiman and Wil Wheaton and Tom Tomorrow, and figuring I didn't really need to know all that much techie stuff after all.

2. What are your most important issues?
Oh gosh, whatever strikes my fancy at the moment. I like to keep things relatively light because there are enough people doing a much better job than I could at serious life-and-death stuff. But I'll touch on everything from politics to feminism to sushi to New York to cats to comic books.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?

Oh, I'm probably well under the radar of "the media" (whoever they are), but I love that Barbara O'Brienmentioned me in her book about blogging. And I thought it was really cool when Tom Tomorrow mentioned my blog about a week after my first post - I'd known Dan Perkins' work for about 20 years, we were both active in the '80s zine scene, and I admire the hell out of him so it was almost like coming full circle. And of course I still get a kick out of being blogrolled by folks.

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?

Oh, I have no bloody idea. I guess folks who have the same political and cultural interests as me. I'm so rarely the target audience for many kinds of entertainment or political propaganda, that it's nice to be among folks who share my values and viewpoints. It makes a nice change from watching mainstream TV or arguing on message boards with young male comic book fans who treat fictional characters with far more reverence than they ever show to real people.

I'd guess what's unique about my blog, as with every other blog, is my individual voice. That's all we can bring to the table, after all, is our individual voices.

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?

Those times when I haven't caught up on my blogroll. I have almost 400 blogs I try to check out regularly and it's nigh impossible to hit them all and, you know, have a full-time job and a life. Sometimes you have to step back, skim what you'd normally read, and go do something else for awhile (which to me usually means catching up on offline reading like comics and magazines)

6. What‚s the one point you‚d like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really "get"?

I guess that it's okay to be oneself, that if you don't hide behind a fake identity everything will still be fine. I pretty much write like I talk, I'venever been pseudonymous or dishonest, and I hope I still manage to make things interesting.

- Elayne

Saturday, September 18, 2004

URGENT: Anti-Choice rider being sneaked through Congress!

The Blogging of the President: 2004

Thanks to Shaula Evans at BOPNews.com for the heads up. This passed the House with nary a whimper, but if we all get after our Senators, we might be able to stop it.

The Guardian reports that another assault on reproductive freedom has quietly passed the house:
A little-noticed provision cleared the House of Representatives last week that would prohibit local, state or federal authorities from requiring any institution or health care professional to provide abortions, pay for them, or make abortion-related referrals, even in cases of rape or medical emergency.

Translation: if a woman requires emergency medical care, a hospital can legally turn her away, and state and local governments can't do anything about it.

WSS Featured Blogger:
Astarte of Utopian Hell

  • Name: Astarte
  • Blog: Utopian Hell
  • Tag Line: A Spinster's' Guide to Reality
  • Location: San Diego, California

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?
Well, I've technically been 'blogging' since about 1994. Back then wehad a penchant for animated gifts by the dozens and really loud backgrounds. That was before any of us realized that we could make websites aesthetically pleasing. I wrote and posted content about anything I could think of as an exercise in learning HTML. I remember getting so thrilled when transparent gifs came about. That was high tech.

I didn't really start taking blogging as a whole really seriously until after 9/11. I had been sent to S. Korea on a business trip, and while I was there I read a news article back home about a group of protesting students who turned their back on George W. Bush and were pulled out of their own graduation. I believe it was in Ohio. My political wheels had already begun turning (I've been a long-time democrat, worked on both Clinton campaigns in my hometown) with 9/11, and this seemed to serve as a gigantic wake-up call.

The war in Iraq and the sheer amount of beligerant republicans around me got me to writing about that, too. What continues to infuriate me the most is a group of people that claim unwavering patriotism, but who do some truly despicable things.

Utopian Hell is actually a new endeavor for me. This one is much less 'fluffy' than anything else I have ever done, and is dedicated to my pursuit of the written word, and the meaning of republicans.

2. What are your most important issues?
Feminism is a big one to me. I've worked all my life in industries that tend to be very hostile towards women, and I thrive in them. Feminists, for the most part, tend to be regarded quite wrong, and I think that if a lot of us work together we can make feminism not only right, but incredibly popular.

Other big issues for me are consumerism, the election year (of course), the taming of giant corporations, philosophy, and a touch of religion -- right now, I'm studying Taoism.

3. What's the nicest recognition you've ever received from the
media and/or the blogosphere?

Well, I've gained a little bit of recognition within a small community of mostly-feminist, left-leaning female bloggers, which has been very nice, and unexpected. The biggest, I'd say, came from Ampersand, at Alas, a Blog, in sheer size. To be honest, I'd shun off any media exposure, as I don't believe having big media cover independent media is a way to keep independent media independent ... and I use media in a very loose sense of the word. There are many people who get paid for writing like this who do a much better job than I do. My voice is primarily to please myself. That, and too much traffic could cause me to have difficulty in paying my Internet bills. I won't ever resort to ads in order to pay for my blog.

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?
My target audience are, really, progressives, but I'll take anyone willing to have a good conversation about how we can make the world a better, more civilized place.

What's unique? That's a tough one, because I don't think that anything about my blog is terribly *unique* with the exception of my voice. No one else writes quite like me. I also tend to like the fact that I try to stay away from the 'big news' pieces. Things like the swift boat and national guard incidents are covered so much that there's really no sense in beating the dead horse. Instead, I prefer talking about things that you might not have read about on CNN.

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?
For me, it's the fact that I constantly second-guess myself. In fact, you might call it quadruple-guessing myself. As a woman, I'm always leaning back and looking at what I write, wondering if I'm being too reactionary. As a blogger, I'm always worried that I'll hurt someone's feelings or piss someone off -- or worse, as I'm dyslexic, that someone will come along and mercilessly make fun of the grammar I try to be so terribly anal retentive about.

6. What's the one point you'd like a reader to take away from your
blog- the one thing for them to really "get".

That all liberals are correct, and all conservatives are backwater Neanderthals. No, really... if there was only one thing I'd want them to get, it's that the only voices in the world aren't the 'talking

Quote: I have two, actually. They're both on my whiteboard at work:

A man has to be Joe McCarthy to be called ruthless. All a woman has to do is put you on hold. - - Marlo Thomas.

May I never be complete. May I never be content. May I never be perfect. Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete. - -Narrator, Fight Club, Chapter 5

Thursday, September 16, 2004

WSS Feature Blogger:
Shaula Evans of Tsuredzuregusa

  • Name: Shaula Evans
  • Blog: Tsuredzuregusa
  • Tag Line: blades of grass upon the wind
  • Location: http://tsuredzuregusa.blogspot.com - or Virginia, USA

1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?

My husband encouraged me to start blogging. I keep at it because I enjoy writing and I enjoy the conversation. Plus, I read a vast amount of political news and analysis, and blogging allows me to channel the resulting frustration into something productive.

2. What are your most important issues?

I blog mainly in reaction to what I read; my reading is self-selected, but I don't generally say "I'm going to write about X today" when I sit down. The issues that are important to me are progressive politics; GLBT civil rights; diversity in politcs; reproductive freedoms; civil liberties; voices less heard; promoting social change; engaging people from all over the spectrum, but particularly young people, in the political process; speaking truth to power; education reform; the orchestrated rise of fascism in the US; debunking Republican-funded front groups; Canadian sovereignty; and grassroots campaigning, aka shoeleather or retail politics. And at the moment: taking back the White House.

3. What’s the nicest recognition you’ve ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?

When Matt Stoller invited me to write for The Blogging of the President. Also, being accused by The King of Zembla of "commiting acts of journalism."

4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?

Readers seem to be mainly in the US and Canada, concentrated
in Virginia, but some international readers as well.

I bring a unique perspective as a Canadian living in the US and
working in American politics. I also read widely and try to bring
in insights from other fields (technology, psychology, history,
literature) and try to find and read good French-language blogs. I
subscribe to the magpie theory of blogging--bring back something
shiny and new.

5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?

I wish more readers would write comments! I regret the one-to-many format of smaller blogs; I would really like to engage with my readers.

6. What’s the one point you’d like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really “get”.

Individuals can make a difference. I try to highlight ways we can be agents instead of just observers.



A grieving mother was dragged away from outside one of Laura Bush's campaign stops today in HANDCUFFS! She lost her son in Iraq and wanted to protest. Keith Olberman had film of it. This Gestapo bullshit has got to stop. Somebody from the Kerry campaign needs to wake up and start hammering these fascists! Is this the way we treat the mothers of slain soldiers in AMERICA?!

All you bloggers - get the word out to your readers - we've only got 48 more days to get these guys out of power!

Today's Status

Hi, everyone-

I've been getting an amazing response from sister bloggers and it's really exciting. I really appreciate everyone who has offered to pitch in.

I need help with checking the links that are up so far: tell me who I've missed, which are broken, which don't meet the criteria, which are as follows:
  • the blog is by a woman or group including women

  • they cover liberal politics at least part time, and

  • they have a feminist slant- pro-choice, size acceptance, pay equity, etc.

The list will be huge so there have to be a few limits. I want to make sure we have the writers who do topical stuff as opposed to personal journals. I hate limiting things, but the more seriously we take it, the more seriously we’ll be taken.

The form doesn’t work for some reason (any ideas?) so send the additions and corrections to my email: morgaine@the-goddess.org

So far, Roxanne from Rox Populi has volunteered to help with some graphic design, and Ms. Jared from Worshipping at the Altar of Mediocrity will help me with links. I hope to add two more helpers so we can keep the list lively.

Now about the interviews.

Maybe I’m trying too hard to be fair, or maybe I’m just chicken, but I can’t choose who to start with, so here is my proposal.

I’m going to list 6 questions. Any Woman interested write up your answers and email to me. I’ll post them, up to two or three a day, in the order in which they are received, so there’s no favoritism. That’s the most egalitarian solution I can come up with. It will get some solid content on the blog right up front so we all get our say in before the election- sound good?

Interview Questions:



Tag Line: (optional)


  1. How did you start blogging? Why do you keep at it?

  2. What are your most important issues?

  3. What’s the nicest recognition you’ve ever received from the media and/or the blogosphere?

  4. Who is your audience? What is unique about your blog?

  5. Most frustrating aspect of blogging?

  6. What’s the one point you’d like a reader to take away from your blog- the one thing for them to really “get”.

Quote: (Wrap up with a quotation – one of yours, a famous one you like, a personal Motto – be creative.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Here's the deal. Ladies!

OK, the idea here is to be as inclusive and comprehensive as possible. I'm open to suggestions, and volunteers. I think we need to stick to the left side of the political spectrum. Any objections?

Right now, the only rule to get into the blogroll is to be female and have a blog that deals with liberal politics at least part time.

Kiss My Blogroll...

The next time someone asks you where all the female bloggers are, tell them What She Said!