I just finished reading Susan Bordo's essay on the feminist as the "Other", and I was really impressed. She articulated something that bothers me and is the underpinnings of the "why are there no female bloggers" debate--that feminists are Othered and therefore no matter how many of us there are, we will continue to be treated like a niche. When male bloggers ask why there are not that many female leftist bloggers, they mean, "Why are there no female leftist bloggers who keep feminism in its place as an 'issue' like FCC regulation or Social Security reform?" and continue to resist the fact that feminism is not a minor, side issue, but is one of the predominant ideaological forces of our time. Women have no choice but to deal with it, and leftist women are most likely to embrace it. But by declaring yourself a "feminist", you are marginalized, outside of the parameters of "female bloggers" (for the purposes of that debate) and now a "feminist blogger". And feminism, as a niche cause, cannot be the topic of 50% of the dominant blogs. Or so the thinking goes.
Bordo goes straight to the heart of the matter and addresses the first thing that popped into my head when she used the word "Other"--the woman who created this particular theory is a victim of the way it works. Simone de Beauvoir wrote one of the dominant texts of existentialism, but because it is an explicitly feminist book, it is ghettoized as such while male philosophers shamelessly steal her ideas and get celebrated for them because they are universal concepts the second they are expressed from a male mouth. The Second Sex is a feminist book and a work of philosophy, and it has influenced my life as both at once since I've read it. You cannot escape gendered readings of things--people do not conceive of themselves as human first and a sex second, but either a sex first or both at once.
de Beauvoir's ideas click with me more than Sartre's, because she has a more realistic edge to her thinking. She was his intellectual equal, if not his better, but sadly most people tend to know her only as his "mistress", if they know of her at all. It's a perfect example of the double-edged sword that is wearing a man's authority--on one hand, you get the temporary respect from it, but on the other hand, you'll always be known by it. de Beauvoir's brillant ideas may have been faded and never read but for her friend, but she'll always be seen as a hanger-on, too.
But the concept of the Other is one that is endlessly useful in so many modes--reading movies, literature, culture, politics, whatever. It's the concept that is at the center of red/blue debates--who is going to be the mainstream, and who the Other? Should one or the other even be Other? It's what people wrestle with when trying to articulate their issues with racism and sexism. It's what's at the heart of the debate over whether or not to put Christmas displays at courthouses--are we going to officially resign non-Christians to Other status or not? And it's a concept that is best articulated in a book that is resigned to the be in a feminist ghetto.
Back on the subject of blogging itself, men who articulate a desire for female bloggers who are "liberal", aka liberal with feminism firmly in its place as a minor concern, are really doing themselves and their political views a disservice. Feminism is not a minor concern, but in fact is a stance that has given birth to much of the most innovative progressive thinking of the 20th century. And it shows no signs of abating; in fact, as a generation of women grow up believing in feminism as a birthright, we're sure to see more and more writers and thinkers come forward who refuse to separate feminist thinking from thinking in general.