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Women's Studies Link Project
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Below are the 12 most recent journal entries recorded in Women's Studies LJ Links Project's LiveJournal:

Monday, May 1st, 2006
11:06 pm
What's that? You want another conclusion? OKAY
Unfortunately, at the tail end of this project, it ultimately came down to two things: Either review everything for a huge, somewhat repetitive paper that is incredibly long, or condensing the rest of the communities into one big post.
Frankly, I know that I have not given it my all in terms of checking out communities. My reasons why are pretty silly, but hopefully have some weight:
1. Access. Gaining access to each board in the full requires joining a community. Sometimes, these memberships are moderated and have to be approved by the owners of the community before they can even start to look at posts. Frankly, I was not about to get happily welcomed into each of these communities, but without access to critical posts that may be hidden by the “friends-only” function, what can I do? Those are often the posts that have the most genuine emotions and candid thoughts.
2. Lack of time. I couldn’t check out each one of these communities everyday in order to properly gauge the atmosphere and overall attitude of the posters in the group.
3. Lack of interest. My previous post on problems I had with this project explains my mixed feelings towards the project.

This, however, will not be the last of wmst_linkproj! With any luck, I will keep adding more to it, even if I’m the only one that sees it. Unless it becomes completely derelict, there is no reason to shut it down. In spite of all of the other LiveJournal communities dedicated to the same topic, it seems like there are never too many more.
11:05 pm
Last minute review post!
Final group of quick info:
This community is dedicated to pretty much it’s name– it was created in order to discuss and fight the stereotypes and unrealistic standards of beauty that are found in most US media. Fairly active and requires moderator permission in order to join.

Troupes of female “cheerleaders.” They attend various activist events, giving a women’s point of view and a catchy image to attract others to their message. Not too active, and none of their websites appear to be working at this time.
One LiveJournal community covers the antics of a troupe in Salt Lake City: http://community.livejournal.com/pomsnotbombs/

Yes, Virginia, there are many anarchist feminists on LiveJournal. More than you might think, and they are pretty active, too! Who are they? “Anarcha-feminists believe that the struggle against patriarchy is an integral part of class struggle and the anarchist struggle against the State and capitalism. In essence, then, the philosophy sees anarchism as a necessary component of feminism and vice-versa.” (Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcha-feminism) Their user info gives several great resources for those more interested in learning about the movement.

Well, impending motherhood. Pregnant is the community to go to if you are, are trying to become, or have been pregnant. A well-moderated community for sharing advice, questions, stories or rants on the subject.

Because the majority of single parents are women, this is an important community to see the life of the single parent in action. Questions, answers, stories and pictures are all welcome in this fairly laid-back and active group.

Questions, answers and general gab on the subject, somewhat active.

On the flipside, here’s the place to come and talk about not wanting to have children and to support that choice for yourself or others. It’s basically cf_hardcore, with a lighter touch.
In case anyone was wondering, yes, there are people who don’t “get” the childfree movement. One of the more amusing ways to see the debate on this is to head over to the definition of “Breeder Bingo” at http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1522864

You don’t want kids? You REALLY don’t want kids? This is the place to go for lots of ranting and mutual support regarding the decision not to have children. If you come in just to question that, you will get stomped. These women do not apologize and they do not back down. Nearly anything goes. At least they’re upfront about what to expect!

Some think that religion and feminism are not two great tastes that go great together, while others feel the opposite. Those wishing to integrate their faith and their feminism find mutual support here, no matter what the religion.

Yes, it’s the LiveJournal lesbian community. Possibly the most active lesbian community available to LiveJournal users, and one of the largest. The name says it all: Lesbians, discuss! Rather laid back, but not open to trolling. The user info includes a link to a list of lesbian-themed films for those interested.

Women’s Studies:
For women’s studies majors, minors, teachers and prospective students to discuss their work and views. Also open to those who primarily work with women as a profession. Pretty active with a basic set of rules.

History buff? Women’s history buff? Here you go, a community just for the discussion of women’s history in general.

Talk about feminist literature here!

If you are a female musician, or just a fan, you’ll find this place a great spot for discussion.

Take a wild guess on this one. This community is for the discussion of women’s colleges, and is open to current students, prospective students, alumni and faculty. General talk of political feminism is frowned upon unless it is somehow linked to women’s educations.
Sunday, April 30th, 2006
2:00 pm
Review: feminist
The LJ Feminist community is a delightfully lively forum for posters to discuss modern feminism and the issues surrounding it. Posting is members-only, and this includes posting comments on public entries. Even without joining, one can find a wealth of information, articles and healthy debate to peruse while on LiveJournal. The community is open to both men and women, and there appear to be several male posters who are very active.
In addition to the members only stance, feminist has several rules regarding proper behavior. These are mostly similar to vaginapagina, and probably only in place in order to create a civilized space for debate. Those with questions regarding their policies are free to email the moderators, but there is no public record of deleted posts. Users who have been banned, unbanned or who have had a post edited or deleted by the mods are contacted privately. This is not to prohibit free speech. Most of these rules are designed in order to avoid meaningless flame wars, blatant ignorance and biased speech.
Please note that at this time, feminist is undergoing a revamp and posting is prohibited. They expect to reopen in a few days, but are taking the time to reformat the community, improve its structure and create better sources of information regarding the community.
Feminist has 2 subforums for specifics: feminist_101 was created in order to educate those who are new to the feminist theory. It is also considered a “homework” forum in that it allows common questions and surveys being used in women’s studies and theory classes to be posted and answered. Questions such as these are not tolerated in the main forum, which mostly caters to current events.
fem_activism is the forum that is used specifically for members to list their local feminist activism events and to discuss them.
Saturday, April 29th, 2006
5:38 pm
Topic: Issues regarding this project
As you can plainly see, this blog is crap. I apologize, however I would like to make several weak excuses as to why it is so bad:
1. Taking the project seriously. I had many problems looking at my outline and deciding that, “Hey, this is a great and very scholastic project that is worthy of everyone’s full attention.” It’s LiveJournal, for heaven’s sake. The internet is not the serious business that it is sometimes presented as. Therefore, sitting down and getting to work seemed utterly pointless, as any information I managed to pull would be marred by the fact that it was posted to an electronic journal service that is full of young people who are just finding their internet legs. Its also very easy to get sidetracked on LiveJournal, and easily outraged as well. After looking around, I had my fill of information and needed to get away from it. In fact, for this project, I could not even bring myself to look at rating or pro-ed communities. I’ve had my fill.
2. Sources. Most of the information presented here has been my observations of LiveJournal as a whole in my three years of constant usage and on and off for about five. Therefore, a lot of the topic articles were written from memory. In some cases, I have listed other sources of information that can be used as backup for what I have said. However, I am not sure if I should fully credit them when I knew this information already. I want to avoid plagiarism if at all possible, and frankly I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that. But I also want people to know that I haven’t made anything up in the course of this paper, and the best way to do that is to back the info up with other sources.
3. Retaining an authoritative voice. Once again, this paper is mostly based on my own experiences, and because it’s Livejournal, the informal language and first person references are hard for me to avoid.
4. Distribution. In my original proposal, I said that I wanted to get as many people as involved in my work as possible. However, I was so embarrassed with the topic and unsure of my devotion to it that I did not advertise it to anyone else on LiveJournal. Therefore the original idea of having other women involved was aborted.
5. Once again, I must reiterate that I am not taking myself too seriously with this project. It’s the internet, and a part of pop culture. I am not some amazing sociologist who has embedded herself in an isolated society, I am an English major with a Women’s Studies project due who wants to talk about something that I think I know pretty well.
And, even if you can’t take my project seriously, it is something to think about. We are now in the computer age and the internet is becoming easier and easier to access in this country all the time. Even if it doesn’t seem like big deal now, it could become one. Think about how much information has been gathered, and how many studies have been done, on the dynamics of girls in high school or the depiction of women in popular media? This is a venue that allows wide spectrum advertising, spread of opinions and opportunities to communicate with people that you might not have met without this tool. LiveJournal is just one site that needs to be looked at. In the coming years, the internet may still be a joke to some, but its usage has very important impact on women’s studies.
5:36 pm
Topic: Drama
Using “dramatic” as an adjective is a tricky situation, as the intensity of the emotions involved in the conflict can vary. On LiveJournal, it seems like “drama” immediately means that there is some sort of conflict that has created a ton of hoopla. Sometimes there can be just a little bit of drama between members of a community, and sometimes it can become an all-out defamation campaign.
The popular website ljdrama.org catalogs some of the most notorious, far-reaching and outright strange dramatic events. The site’s purpose seems to end there. Bring up LiveJournal drama fits, make fun of the people involved or what sparked the argument in the first place. In some cases, it may seem that these dramas arise from small and insignificant issues-- someone incorrectly credits an icon, someone misinterprets a journal entry, someone is offended by an off-hand comment or distasteful joke– and that is absolutely correct. The internet is mockingly described as “serious business” by sites like ljdrama.org precisely because of these incidents.
How this pertains to women’s issues is somewhat obvious. Rating communities can generate great deals of drama due to their already hostile environments. Communities related to parenting, healthcare at home and other personal issues suffer from differing opinions and what can be perceived as bad advice. This is another incidence of woman versus woman. Since many LiveJournal users are women, and especially so in communities targeted towards women, they have ample opportunity to become angry at other women on principle.
Note that there is also the use of the term “snark.” This is not drama, although it is seen as a cause of drama. To snark is to mock something, be it particularly stupid or just something that a given group does not agree with. The word “wank” is often used as well. Wanking used in this context seems to describe a large argument that ends up involving people who are even outside of the initial conflict. Wank is another term for drama, and I have found that frequently “wank” is used as opposed to “drama” in fandom communities.
5:16 pm
Topic: Pro-ED
As disturbing as it may sound, there are several sites available on LiveJournal and the internet in general that offer young women tips on how to manage their eating disorders. And by manage eating disorders, this does not mean that they are trying to help these girls get over their anorexia or bulimia. They encourage it.
The recent rash of pro-eating disorder sites are trying to redefine the meaning of anorexia and bulimia. Rather than an illness, they say that it is a lifestyle choice that they are free to make. Whether this is an attempt to defend the fact that they are refusing treatment, or rationalizing their illness, or really are using methods such as starvation and purging just to lose weight is something that is known only to the individual girls. Regardless of the reason, however, this is disturbing behavior.
Self destructive methods of stress relief and “bettering yourself” are nothing new to the internet, especially in personal and public forums such as LiveJournal. In addition to eating disorders, one could also easily find information and forums on drug use, self-mutilation and other such horrible things. Why these are now becoming somewhat mainstream ways of “managing” mental or physical pain is also unclear. On LiveJournal, many are quick to judge regarding the subject– the term “drama queen” is thrown out in favor of the much more vulgar “attention whore.” Because the people who are in these cutting communities tend to post pictures of their “progress”, it is difficult to take them seriously. When the self-destruction trend moved to eating disorders, the lack of caring came with it.
These communities differ from one to the other. Some are just places for girls (and boys, though in a much lower number) to post on their progress (starting weight, ending weight, lowest weight and highest weight are considered very important numbers) sometimes including pictures. They also post tips on how to diet, crash diet, fast, hide what they’re doing from friends and family, drugs to speed up the weight loss process and nearly everything else.
“Thinspiration” is a big word that’s getting thrown around these communities and those people who make fun of them. A Thinspiration is, simply, an inspiration for being skinny. Kudos to whoever decided to make that clever word so mainstream, as their uncanny ability to put two words together has earned them a place in the internet hall of fame. Entire galleries have been created containing only pictures of extremely skinny women, many of whom are models, celebrities or other “successful” members of the pro-ed community.
Additionally, there are some people who make out these disorders to be some sort of religious practice. Anorexia is personified as “Ana” and bulimia as “Mia”. They are goddesses of sorts, some of whom demand absolute adherence among their followers, determining those who are unable to continue with a strict regime as being too “weak” to be their disciples.
Even stranger, there are sects of “elite” pro-ed communities who claim to take it more seriously than others. Becoming elite is probably a process involving the length of time spent in the communities, the influence they hold and respect that they command, their involvement in the movement, their chosen thinspirations (popular celebrities such as Mary-Kate Olsen and Lindsay Lohan are considered to be thinspirations that are only appropriate for teenage girls who are not considered mature enough to take on this task.) Once again, the use of the term “elitist” is essentially meaningless.
According to Wikipedia, most pro-ed sites popped up in a period from 2000-2003. Today, one can still find members of the movement active on LiveJournal and the internet in general, but when the movement was fully exposed, many sites rushed to shut down places that would provide this harmful information. Most Livejournal communities are now friends-only (only members who have been approved for posting can see the entries) and do not seem very eager to let outsiders into their circle. In order to get approval, one must join the community and in many cases make an introductory entry. Those who only seem to be joining in order to observe the goings-on are discouraged. Likely, it is because these girls are afraid of being judged, and they should be. Places like EncyclopediaDramatica and other internet humor websites and communities on LiveJournal are merciless towards pro-ed people.
But should mercy be levied on them? Pro-ed people have an unrealistic standard of beauty for themselves, and many will force it on others without hesitation (consider that, for a long time, singer Beyonce Knowles was considered “fat” even as she was widely considered one of the most beautiful women in the world.) These comments create a lot of drama, especially when they are brought out into other communities that are without pro-ed stances. There is also the blame that is to be given for the illness– did these girls just pick it up because it was trendy? If so, that would be considered terribly insulting towards the actual victims of the disease who have not tried to rationalize it and are attempting to get healthy again.
Topic: Pro ED
Thursday, April 20th, 2006
12:57 pm
Topic: Ratings communities
NOTE: This entry is a beta run for this section of the paper, and citations have not been included. Most of the information here is the result of my spending 2+ years on LiveJournal and perusing its offerings. Links to some relevant sites are posted at the bottom of the article.
Topics: Rating Communities
Originally, this project was going to only be reviews about individual communities, however there are some things about LiveJournal that are best described with a general overview, rather than individual study.
I’m not sure when rating communities became so big, but it seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon. Since it is now very easy to obtain an account for websites solely designed to allow users to remote-link their pictures to another server, anyone can easily share their personal pictures on any forum. There are popular websites, such as hotornot.com, that let users upload a photo of themselves and allow the internet community at large to rate their looks on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best). Of course, it was not long before LiveJournal followed up on this trend.
The basic rating community operates thusly: users wishing to join the community must fill out a profile (sometimes very quick, other times quite long and intensive) and post a few pictures of themselves. Then, other approved community members (often called “stamped” members) will give their opinion on this person to decide if they are fit to join the community.
Sometimes, these communities focus almost entirely on looks. These are the ones that also rate the harshest. A girl who may be “average” looking (by current standards) might get a comment that simply says “EWW. No!” or even direct insults. Once in awhile, users will point out flaws in an applicant’s looks and suggest how to fix them in order to get approved.
The creators of these communities are the ones who set the standards: they will be the first to review any applicants, and it is their opinion whether or not these girls live up to their standards and expectations. Those approved probably hold similar standards of beauty.
270 communities include “rating” in their interests, 323 have “ratings” in the list (Encyclopedia Dramatica’s estimation of 10,000 is an amusing hyperbole). Most appear to be rating communities, although some of them focus on rating users’ icons and journal layouts, and others do nothing more than compare users to fictional characters.
What do ratings communities provide? Not much. One is almost immediately reminded of the “Plastics” clique in the film “Mean Girls”: users who want to be accepted must jump through hoops, have natural (or altered) features that please the creators, post entries relating to “themes” (for example, everyone has to post pictures of themselves in swimsuits by the end of the week in order to stay in the community) and promote their group. Perhaps, in the friends-only posts, one can find discussion and support posts, but frankly I’m not going to go in that deep.
Are rating communities empowering? That depends on your definition of empowering. If you think it means that women celebrate themselves for who they are and what they do, no matter how they look or what they’ve been done, you will be disappointed. If one thinks that empowering means “gaining power”, they are mostly right. This power, however, is used not only to boost the ego but also to give the user an “elite” status. Essentially, being elite means that a bunch of other people online think that you’re better than anyone else on LiveJournal. In the real world, it means nothing. These communities exist in order to give people the chance to belong with “better” people than the average user. And, yes, there are users who believe that one should yield to the elite on LiveJournal, so they do have some power.
These communities do nothing for sisterhood on a very basic level. They encourage women to be critical of other women based on rather arbitrary sets of rules, and to reject them if they are not immediately acceptable. This just promotes rivalry, jealously and maliciousness amongst the female community. Where is the solidarity that could give a woman real power? Where is the promotion of a healthy body-image in a time of unrealistic standard of beauty? While the trend might be dying, and may not be prevalent outside of LiveJournal and the like, it is damaging and discouraging to see this sort of behavior encouraged.

Topic: Ratings communities
Wednesday, April 12th, 2006
4:06 pm
Oh goodness...
Hi, I have an update! Sorta.
There are a TON of LJ communities in all of the sections that I wanted to cover, and even more in areas I hadn't even thought of, so I'm going to have to cut down the list in the interest of time and sanity.
(Yeah, my bibliography is due tomorrow.)
So, to everyone watching (Hi, Professor!) we're getting nowhere fast. But I do have a solid list that I can post, and eventually I will have actual articles (gasp) relating to this project.

I'm really sorry! I got in waaaayyy over my head with this one!
Saturday, April 1st, 2006
9:03 pm
A look at in_treatment
in_treatment is a support community for women suffering mental distress. The community is moderated, as is membership. Anyone wishing to join must fill out a short application (which is posted to a thread of other applications or can be emailed to the moderator if one is worried about privacy). Posts can be made public or friends-only (only available for viewing by other members).
This community allows almost anything that will help women express their feelings related to their mental health. This includes links to articles, rants about one’s experiences, questions regarding mental health and artistic expression as well.
Why is in_treatment for women only? The maintainer of the community has been experience, and finds single-sex environments more supportive. “in_treatment is for women only because having spent a 1 year+ in a mixed day patient environment I found that a single sex environment was much more supportive. For example, girls with depression and guys with depression often have different issues and do not relate to each other as well. I also know that many of the women here value the space to discuss certain topics in an all-girls forum. I hope you understand, guys!” (in_treatment Community Profile)
There is not much to say, otherwise. The content is user created and mostly experience. The community is moderated so that negative comments and activity are discouraged. In addition to any resources posted, it is a community designed simply for support and dialogue amongst women with similar issues. This is a wonderful community to all those who need to talk.
A note to users of in_treatment: You may have noticed that I am a member of this community, but that I do not post. I would just like you to know that I am not spying on you, or using any of your experiences for this paper (which is purely about LiveJournal resources). I joined the community quite awhile ago, shortly after being diagnosed with dysthemia, in order to have a place to go if I needed to talk. I found out that so far, I haven’t needed to use it, but I remain a member just in case. Trust me when I say that your information and stories will NOT be used in this project– this is just a review of the community.
8:35 pm
A quick look at fem_comm and sex_comm
Well, I feel somewhat silly posting this one, as it is essentially what this community was supposed to be like, but there’s no denying the meta-LJ resource at fem_comm. Created and maintained by a member of VaginaPagina, it is simply a list of links to other LiveJournal communities and internet links related to women.
There’s really not much to say. There are only two posts in the entire community, one for Livejournal links and one for internet links. They are updated as more resources are found by the maintainer and suggested by other users. If you want to find a good community fast, this is the place to go!
sex_comm is another link list that provides resources related to sexuality in general, female or otherwise.
Happy browsing!
8:22 pm
A look at vaginapagina
One of the best resources available on LiveJournal is vaginapagina. In fact, it may just be the ultimate resource on LJ for information relating to women’s health. The community has open membership and open posting, which has attracted almost 11,000 users who had questions or information regarding their sexual health. Users swap anecdotes, articles, and resources in order to help out anyone who feels as though they have nowhere else to go.
When a poster has a question, comment or interesting resource regarding the topic, they can post it directly to the community. If they choose, they can “lock” the entry, so that it is only viewable to other community members, otherwise all posts are publically posted and can be freely read and commented on. Those who are very embarrassed can send an email to a moderator who will happily post their query.
Moderators are on hand most of the day in order to catch any posts that may be offending VP’s “Safe Space” policy. It is best summed up on their FAQ: “Simply put, ‘safe space is one in which each person feels completely and unconditionally accepted and free, though not obligated, to speak her/his truth; I think the first step in engaging in honest discussion is feeling safe’” (VaginaPagina FAQ). They seek to encourage empowerment in their community, and not put anyone down, no matter what their sexual preferences or history. This is not to say that they do not allow someone to speak their opinion, (for example, telling about a negative experience with one type of birth control) but outright rudeness is a bannable offense.
But it doesn’t stop there! They also maintain a webpage, http://www.vaginapagina.com/, which contains the last few postings from the LiveJournal community, articles written by members and collected from other websites, frequently asked questions on many topics, an archive of particularly good posts, and a very large selection of related links. Some of these posts may be inaccessible to non-members, but most appear to be.
The links, by the way, are not just related to women’s health: there are also quite a few links to empowering art and writing available. In the community itself, the “Everyday Bodies” project is of particular interest. These are user-submitted pictures of different parts of their bodies, especially those that women express the most dissatisfaction with. The purpose of the project is to let women know that there are no two bodies that are alike, which is empowering, especially for those who have been influenced by the mainstream media and its perception of beauty. These posts can only be viewed by members.
Simply put, it is very difficult to find a question that has not been answered by the ladies (and men, who are allowed!) in VaginaPagina. I can’t find anything bad to say about it, except for the locked entries. Those might discourage users, but creating an account on LiveJournal is free, so creating a journal and joining the community gives you easy access. Highly recommended!
Happy browsing!
Tuesday, March 21st, 2006
11:35 pm
In addition to the info for this community, welcome to the placeholding first entry for this community! Please see the user info for more, well, info.
I expect to do one link a day, probably starting later this week. So watch this space!
About LiveJournal.com