Exploring the Canadian Feminist Blogophere

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An exclusive report just released, informed by research conducted on behalf of WAM! Vancouver, illustrates that blogs authored by a group of contributors as well as those who do not identify explicitly as feminist are more likely than single-authored and explicitly feminist sites to remain active after they are launched. The report contains a wealth of other information and begins to paint a picture of a developing feminist blogosphere in Canada, challenging the very notion of what makes for a ‘feminist blog.’

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Download the report | Download the catalogue of Canadian blogs of feminist interest 

Key Findings, in brief:

  • 38% of Canadian blogs that covered feminist issues did not claim the feminist label, while 55% identified explicitly as feminist

  • Blogs authored by multiple contributors are significantly more likely to remain active than blogs managed by one person (42% vs. 18%)

  • Blogs authored by writers who do not identify as feminist are more likely to remain active than blogs authored by self-identified feminists (73% vs. 43%)

  • The most popular year for the launch of feminist-interest blogs was 2010

  • Bloggers that explicitly identify as feminist, and who author a blog alone, tend to foster a higher level of interaction amongst readers

The report, entitled “Exploring the Canadian Feminist Blogosphere,” was written by Simon Fraser University student Candace Coulson, and is based on research she conducted between January and April 2012 under the direction of the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG) and SFU Psychology Professor, Michael Schmitt.

wamvancouver2The project involved an intensive analysis of 108 Canadian blogs, and was designed to illustrate the landscape of the Canadian feminist blogosphere. In addition to an in-depth discussion around statistics gathered, the report contains a detailed catalogue of 108 blogs, an exciting new resource for bloggers and anyone interested in exploring the Canadian feminist blogosphere.

Interestingly, the very definition of a ‘feminist blog’ had to be revised during the course of the project, as a significant portion of blogs included in the study  – 38 per cent – were written by authors who did not identify as feminist, yet blogged about feminist issues. As a result, the scope of the project and catalogue was shifted to refer to “blogs of feminist interest.”

Beyond a breakdown of which bloggers identify as feminist and which do not, the research released by WAM! Vancouver this week also reveals interesting trends. According to the report, the largest proportion of active blogs was authored by bloggers who did not identify as feminist (73 per cent of blogs in this category were deemed to be active). Whereas, only 43 per cent of the blogs authored by persons who identified explicitly as feminist were active during the research period.

wamvancouver1Similar patterns were noted amongst blogs authored by multiple contributors, compared to just one writer. Blogs authored by multiple contributors were found to be significantly more likely to remain active than blogs managed by one person (42 per cent compared to 18 per cent).

Coulson, the report’s author, suggests this may be a result of burnout on the part of feminist-identified bloggers, especially those blogging alone, who seemed to expend a great deal of energy managing blog trolling and derailing within comment threads. She suggests this is likely more common on feminist blogs than less controversial blogs (i.e. parenting blog sites), because the very nature of feminist blogs is to “resist the status quo.” Coulson’s report suggests more research is needed to explore the factors that cause burnout in the feminist blogosphere.

The research contained in this new report is especially interesting given the findings of an informal survey conducted by WAM! Vancouver co-founder Joanna Chiu, who, in the fall of 2011, asked self-identified Canadian feminists about their blog reading habits. In this small survey, 76 per cent of respondents could not identify with more than three Canadian feminist blogs, and 80 per cent said they read American feminist blogs more often than Canadian feminist blogs. Finding Canadian feminist blogs on the Internet is not an easy feat, and Coulson believes this is largely due to the lack of centralization and categorization of the Canadian feminist blogs themselves.

WAM! Vancouver invites bloggers, feminist advocates and members of the media to excerpt and to share information from the report, ensuring attribution to Coulson and WAM! Vancouver. Feel free also to print, make copies of and distribute the report as long as the content remains intact and unedited.