Deaf Women Bloggers: Belated Questions Are Better Than No Questions
A few days ago, I made a post asking Where the Deaf minority bloggers are. In that post, among other things, I asked, “Where are the Deaf women bloggers?” One commenter by the screen name Janis, answered–with a restrained tinge of sarcasm but very correctly– “Um… all over the place, actually …” You can almost see Janis (whoever Janis is) looking at me as if I am either stupid or really, really clueless or, possibly, both. 🙂 And, alas, I can’t really blame her.
When I wrote that question, “Where are the deaf women bloggers,” I was throwing it into a longer list of questions (where are the deaf Latinos, African Americans, yada yada). For most of the other “categories” in the list (if humans can ever be put into categories) I either actually didn’t know or I didn’t really know many. But for deaf women, I did already know that deaf women bloggers are “all over the place, actually …” When I threw that into there, I was thinking more among the lines of, “Well, for THIS group of people, I know who some of them are already, but do we have enough gender balance? Where is the female Ricky Taylor–if not necessarily a woman as controversial then at least a woman who is about as popular? Should we have more deaf women bloggers than there are? If so, how do we get more women writers to jump in?”
But, silly silly me, I expected my readers to be psychic and figure this out on their own. And of course my readers are not psychic so, no surprise at all, they didn’t. So if Janis’ comment can be interpreted as sarcastic, then the snarkiness is deserved. Well, at least Janis and the other commenters didn’t sneer!
More precisely: I thought of the above questions, but left them out because it would have broken the flow of text. And I was trying to wrap up quickly so I could get to bed, so I didn’t want to take the time to find a way to work them in. If I had, I could have put these kinds of questions in a paragraph on their own, along with similar questions on “where are the gay, lesbian, and bisexual and transsexual bloggers?” Because we have a parallel situation here. We KNOW where at least some deaf GLBT bloggers are. In particular, we have Ricky, who is probably the most visible deaf blogger of all. Probably a good 5 to 10 percent of the people who come to my blog site come here from his site (presumably from the DeafRead RSS feed he has there). His site is second only to DeafRead.com itself as a “referrer” to mine. But most other GLBT deaf bloggers are not nearly so visible. Some identify themselves but aren’t as well known (for example, gnarlydorkette, who I hadn’t known of before). Others (like me) are not only relatively unknown but also haven’t yet identified ourselves. (This sentence is the first that I’ve gotten around to mentioning that, hey, I’m a deaf bisexual woman myself.) Either this may be just because it hasn’t been relevant to what they’ve been discussing, or, for many, because they’re not ready to be out of the closet in such a public forum, which can be so easily discovered by friends, relatives, co-workers, bosses, and future employers.
Women bloggers, and other bloggers who share multiple identities, have a situation that is both similar to and different from GLBT bloggers. On one hand, most women are already known to their friends, relatives, and co-workers as women. (Ditto for most Latino, Black, Asian, Native American, etc.–at least if they have enough of the relevant physical characteristics for their racial or ethnic heritage to be obvious.) So if their own circle of acquanitices are the only people they’re really worried about, they have no reason to hide their identity on line. But even if there’s no point in hiding from the people who have met them in person, there is a whole world of blog readers who haven’t met them yet. And being online (as gnarlydorkette points out) gives them the option they haven’t had before to be anonymous to a new group of people. That means a chance to be judged on other characteristics, such as opinions and ideas, instead of who they are.
And these questions and issues only touch upon the surface. There are many many more that could be raised. Some were pointed out by the people commenting in my original “Where are the deaf minority bloggers” post or by Surdobitch over at her own blog. And some I’m thinking of on my own. But I think I’ll save those for another, future post.
[Want to submit your own essay for publication at Reunify Gally? It should be related in some way to reunifying or healing the Gallaudet community in the aftermath of the protests. Posts related to diversity are also relevant. If interested, review my Guidelines for Guest Bloggers and submit your essay to ashettle (at) patriot.net]