The Libyan Blogosphere and gender

Writing at Global Voices Online, Fozia Mohamed rounds up some comments from the Libyan blogosphere about gender in the country. One of those she highlights is Lone Higherlander, writing at ‘From the Rock‘:

“I’m all for sharing everything with family but it’s difficult enough to be a blogger so why bother to tell anyone? (personally I regret telling some people – who are not family about it but I was happily surprised that one of my brothers who stumbled on it by chance loved it and was so proud of me he actually wanted me to stop being anonymous). Use the blogosphere as a sandpit to hon in your writing skills ladies – and don’t tell anyone yet 😛

I don’t think that the Libyan males are against their sisters, mothers, wives etc. writing but more as social pressure and the 3ayb part – as in what cannot be seen then does not exist… or that the precious females maybe recognised and their ideas misintepreted and God forbid their reputation ruined because Libyan dudes would be trolling their website/blog .”

Blogs are important part of development journalism. When we refer to blogs in the developing world as allowing those dissenting from the government and majority to have a voice. But what it also allows, including a region that is still admittedly male-dominated, is female voices to be heard above and beyond the society they live in. Not that – such as the reaction of the brother above – we should always expect a negative reaction about women blogging from men in the Middle East.

Fozia concludes:

“Women in Libyan society are loved, respected and cared for as mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters and wives. The state guarantees freedom and equality between men and women but it still runs across cultural norms and traditions and here I don’t mean religion. This post is not about feminism, it’s just observations about anomalies plaguing our society and a reflection on how to deal with them.”

Even if the post isn’t about feminism, it still gives an idea about how bloggers can discuss issues in a society where such discussions would often be taboo, or at least frowned upon. It’s now almost a cliche to refer to new media as ‘liberating’ silent majorities or minorities, but just as important are it’s ability to allow slower discussions about issues we often de-politicise, such as gender.

And such discussions are advancing the development of a society: not that they will necessarily lead to Western-like equality (a debatable concept itself), but they will perhaps lead to some change in gender relations in Libya. This isn’t a topic I know much about, nor feel that qualified to comment at length on – so have a read of Fozia’s post and the associated links.

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