The world has never been as patriarchal as it is today. I’m not claiming that individual societies don’t treat their women better than they did previously, but in the globalised, interconnected world we live in, we can no longer consider issues in an isolated fashion. So as we now consider the situation of women everywhere, from FGM in African and Arab society to sexual exploitation of women in the west to sexism on wikipedia to the modern day witch hunt, the full scope of women’s oppression is more visible, and daunting, than ever.
Seen from a global perspective, where oppressions intertwine and augment, there is a pressing need to expand female consciousness. One of the ways to raise consciousness is by documenting and discussing a broad range of women’s stories online through blogging. Blogging’s ability to impact mainstream discourse has “never been greater” according to the Harvard Business Review, which also reports that if you want to have an impact, you should be setting the agenda by blogging your ideas.
For African women, whose stories are obscure from mainstream media, these advantages are especially important. We need to boost intellectual discussions, especially those that tackle sexism, repressive traditions and racist stereotypes and that empower us to make sense of our diverse journeys.
African women need to be encouraged to write, and to perceive that our ideas matter. It is up to us to end the tyranny of patriarchy, no one else will do it for us. It is up to us to challenge negative stereotypes about Africans, nobody else will do this for us. Blogging is one way to contribute to thought leadership by documenting our stories and ideas, in so doing slowly reinstating the stories that continue to be erased, censored and/or distorted.
There’s a lot of advice about how to start a blog but I’d suggest aspiring bloggers forget about most of it and focus on getting into the habit of writing regularly. Regularly could be once a day or week or maybe, maybe month, but don’t put in the effort of setting up a blog if you cant maintain a certain pace. It’s your regular presence that makes an impact. Only skip your pattern if you really must, or if you are Lauryn Hill.
Your blog does not need to be a feminist one (although I could not encourage this more) but please don’t be put off by the idea that women’s issues are “soft” issues. If that was the case major publications would not keep slapping them on their covers. Be confident that your writing has all the gravitas necessary to those who seek insights in your words.
If that doesn’t encourage you, think about this; to author a blog is to own a space, however humble or significant, in the most revolutionary medium since the printing press was established.
Furthermore, it is to continue a legacy of female writing, an écriture féminine of sorts, championed by Audre Lorde, Anne Frank, Mary McLeod, Adelaide Casely-Hayford, Virginia Woolf, Nuha al-Radi, Anaïs Nin and other women who could be seen as some of the first “bloggers”.
It’s worth mentioning that blogging about African society can be a risk, there is a lot of sexism in the “afrosphere” like everywhere else. But the more African women blog, the more we motivate each other, the more our presence makes an impact.
As Nawal El Saadawi says, “I do not separate between writing and fighting”.
What do you think? Do you write a blog? What do you see as most challenging or rewarding about blogging?
I offer workshops and consultations on blogging, if you or your organisation would like to hire me please drop me a line.
What I enjoy most about blogging is that I have a space, a real estate, that is solely mine. I am the president, the boss, the editor, the totalitarian…anything!
When you are able to speak your own truth, then find people that feel the same way or identify with you…it truly is something else.
Dont blog for glory, because you’ll never get it. Blog for yourself. It is a place to be fully authentic
“Dont blog for glory, because you’ll never get it. Blog for yourself. It is a place to be fully authentic” – This would be my second tip after the posting regularly one. People read blogs for the “voice” of the author, if they sense that the author is not genuine, they tend not to return.
Thanks for your comment and kudos for your beautiful blog!
Thank you for your kind words!
ify obah says
You are right,I recently started a blog-voice of an african woman-last month. The only challenges are that I really want to write more and I just have to create time to do that. What makes me happy doing this is that I can reach out to people.
Thanks for the comment. Yeah, blogging takes time, hence make a realistic schedule that you can stick to
Good post. Very important issue.
Great post. Very inspiring! You’re so right, we have to tell our own stories. I love blogging, I just wish I did it more often 🙂 Love your blog, keep it up!x
Thanks Kiri! Glad to see you’re blogging again, you had a different blog previously right? I recognise the word madomasi.
Thank so much for this post; I personally found it both inspiring and incredibly timely.
I try and capture my thoughts and experiences of travelling and living in the Caribbean as a black female Londoner with Caribbean roots on my blog movingblack, and have recently struggled with the writing/experiencing binary; sometimes it feels like either I’m too busy experiencing to write, or too busy writing to experience. After all, I do actually have a ‘normal’ job to do! I’m only 6 months in though so I’m guessing it’s just a learning curve to get the balance right.
Although I started the blog for the discipline ‘to learn the habit of writing’ I also found that I actually love it. Thanks for reminding me that it’s also important to make my voice heard if I want to see/hear a different discourse.
Just posted for the first time in a solid month. THANKS AGAIN!
How cool! My pleasure
Jenni Gate says
Thank you for the inspiration. I grew up all over Africa and Asia, and although I’m not African (more Heinz 57 splattering of Northern European with a sprinkling of Native American), a part of me always will be African, if that makes sense. Growing up in northern and central Africa, the people and places I loved as a child live on in my memories and continue to influence my thoughts and interests. This is why I found your blog.
I could not agree more with you about the need to express ourselves as women in order to counteract the patriarchal cultures that dominate our lives. I’m certain we all experience this differently, and as I age, I’m finding that what I thought I knew about men, women, and the world is being constantly turned on its head. The gains we thought we made as American women in the 60s/70s have been crippled by the past decade, and battles we thought we’d fought and won are being fought all over again with a new generation of women who are afraid to use the word “feminist” because, like the word “liberal,” it has been stolen from us and re-defined by those who want to keep us in the dark ages.
I recently started a blog about travel and growing up among worlds as a global nomad. I’m still finding my feet at it and trying to work out a regular schedule of posting. So far, it’s been pretty haphazard. I shall take your advice and set a more regular schedule and address more feminist issues once in a while. Thanks for the encouragement to blog about things that matter. 🙂
Thanks for the comment, happy that you found inspiration in my words.
You know, I think travel is a feminist issue and a big one in fact. Travel writing is possibly a genre that is one of the most unabashedly male-dominant (alongside philosophy perhaps?) so thank you for sharing women’s views on our beautiful, wondrous world.
James Chikonamombe says
Nice post, Minna, but you could have added a few notes on basic literacy. Literacy rates for rural African women and the urban poor are atrocious. Until we have basic literacy and numeracy for all, blogging will only be for African women in the diaspora and the urban elites of the major African cities.
Hi James, thanks for the feedback. My view is that those forms of culture that require literacy, such as blogging, should be spearheaded by people who not only can read and write but who can do so well. For instance, if I say that African women should write books, then I’m aware of the basic skills required to do so. Furthermore, the audience who reads MsAfropolitan are predominantly educated and literate.
That is not to say that rural and/or poor women should not blog but I’m interested in how technology could be used to share their stories. How would you go about this? I’m thinking blogs could be set up for the purpose of interviewing such women and then sharing their insights to a wider audience.
Also, I’d like to stress that literacy is not an achievement of only the elite in urban Africa as you suggested. At least not if by elite you mean the wealthier stratum of the population. Many lower income and middle class Africans are literate.
Victoria @ My Daily Cuppa says
I have a blog, and my current schedule is to post three times a week. It is a more a lifestyle inspiring blog as I wish to replace my real world job with an online freelance career.
I don’t particular focus on any black oriented topics but the fact that I am a black female writing a blog which received visitors and regular feedback from the community is definitely a point scored for our gender.
Gender and race!
Your blog is great and I think we ought to be blogging about all realms of life, absolutely.
Thanks for sharing.
I agree. If we are not happy about how we are being portrayed, then we should “tell our own stories” so to speak.
I blogged for many years and found it a wonderful way to express my ideas and discuss with others. I made some incredible friends via my blog. Unfortunately, since last year, I have not had the time nor motivation to blog. I look forward to continuing to write sometime in the future, whether it’s online or on paper.
I hope you’ll continue writing both on- and offline. Enjoy your blog.
I’m a Zambian who maintains a blog called “Queer Girl in Lusaka.”
I write about flirting with girls, dealing with work, meeting new people, engaging with art and new ideas, feeling lonely, feeling alive – all that.
I think that blogging is extremely important for the LGBT movement in Zambia where queer people are utterly invisible. It is illegal to advocate for gay rights, so I’m trying to encourage other LGBT Zambians to participate in safe, anonymous blogging as a radical form of activism.
Why is this kind of blogging radical? Because sharing your story and asserting the beauty of your existence when our society denies your being and devalues you as deviant is a courageous act of rebellion – a big fuck you to the bigots and haters.
Keep up the great work Anna, blogging about the LGBT movement and feminism is indeed about rocking the boat.
Will share this with BloggingGhana and TechNetworks in Ghana – I could not agree more. Blogging is also a life changing experience as it creates new friendships, in my experience especially between women.
Hi Kajsa, appreciate your spreading this. Thanks! Good point about friendships too, could not agree more.
This is my new fav quote btw “to author a blog is to own a space, however humble or significant, in the most revolutionary medium since the printing press was established.”
In blogging as an African woman, who also is trying to publicise her business, I struggle.
My race has a lot to do with what I’m selling, what I’ve helped create. But then I wonder how personal or “professional” I should be.
I don’t want my perspective to be quieted solely in the hopes of being successful. I also don’t want to hurt my business, which would be a gain I believe for African women everywhere, if I get too personal.
I’m treading a thin line. Boundaries?
Hi Najat, thanks for stopping by and posting.
There’s indeed a thin line between personal and professional, I understand where you’re coming from. However, since race is a factor of your product, I’d think you should incorporate it. Talking about race when your product is about diversity is not unprofessional. As long as you’re not offending anyone in your target audience.
In fact businesses nowadays in the age of the social thrive on honesty, openness and boldness.
Linda Limu says
I think you are on point that more african women should blog. I have just found your website today and am so passionate about many of the issues you cover. Having being born in Kenya and moving to a predominately white Scottish neighborhood at the age of seven- in the 90's. I have experienced quite a lot of hatred – in particular towards african women.
At school it was not so much from the students whom I went to school with (who had a healthy curiosity to learn about me) but from the teachers…whom rather than test me for dyslexia simply came to the conclusion that I didn't know english well enough. My learning experience was limited. It was upsetting and my parents being typically african never quite understood that the teachers were holding me back.
Luckily once my parents got their doctorates we moved to England and school was great again- not stimulus enough but being in the top percentile felt good.
Out of education and into the real world I still feel that african women have it quite hard in the UK. We are sandwiched by expectations from our own traditions and that from the societies we live in. We need to speak up because this issues can only be addressed by us.
So yes I agree more African women should blog. Even if it starts with twitter.
Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit here, hope to see you again.
This post has been one of my favourite to write and share because through the feedback, I’ve sensed that there truly is change in the air. There are increasingly many young women out there who are willing to speak up and tell their stories despite the consequences that it might bring.
Jasmine C Agyeman says
After telling a colleague of mine that I was interested in developing my own blog into a magazine style website based on black femininity he recommended your blog too me. I must say it is relief to come across such a successful medium owned and created by a black women who concentrates on every day issues we face. I'd be more than grateful if you could offer some advice on how to develop my own current blog which is a Tumblr page named ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING by jasmine-87. Thank you, Jasmine
After telling a colleague of mine that I was interested in developing my own blog into a magazine style website based on black femininity he recommended your blog too me. I must say it is relief to come across such a successful medium owned and created by a black women who concentrates on every day issues we face. I’d be more than grateful if you could offer some advice on how to develop my own current blog which is a Tumblr page named ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING by jasmine-87. Thank you, Jasmine