Blogging: Technology and Domesticity in the Julie/Julia Project

by Raina DeFonza

Redrawing the Boundaries of the Domestic Space

Blogs serve as an intersection of personal and communal space. As a cyber tool, blogs allow authors to share personal and private information willingly in an inherently (very) public setting. Not only are bloggers sharing personal information, they are allowing others intimate knowledge of their daily life, beliefs and thoughts.  “The Internet provides the means for a vast range of autobiographical texts to infiltrate, and ultimately to change, the composition of the public sphere” (Zalis 95).

Critics sometimes argue that blogs and other cyber social media disturb the boundaries between “private” and “public” spheres. Elayne Zalis says such cyber outlets have the ability to “unsettle boundaries traditionally lying between “private” and “public” spheres, destabilizing that paradigm of ‘separate spheres’ ” (Zalis 86). Furthermore, “this blurring of boundaries between private and public calls into question the culturally defined notions of what each sphere represents, particularly in relation to gender” (Zalis 97).

In looking at blogging through the lens of feminism, one of the more compelling considerations is the nature of both the “public” and “private” space with regard to women, as well as the impact blogging has on the relationships among these spaces and women.  The private sphere is the woman’s space: domestic space, the home. The private domestic tasks of the home are not meant to spill into the public sphere, but rather are expected to be relegated to the private sphere. Blogging has an obfuscating effect on the boundaries between these two spheres, and thus has the power to change women’s positions within them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Man’s Land

In the Julie/Julia project, Julie Powell uses her blogging to bring others into her space. By opening her domesticity to others, her kitchenspace becomes a public space, though only in the cyber sense. By removing privacy and seclusion from the equation, the boundaries of the kitchenspace are redrawn. The blogosphere is an inclusive, community based, and widely accessible tool. The marriage between this very communal tool and the domestic space changes the nature of the kitchen, opening it to other members of the blogging community. The nature of the kitchen is to be a place of isolation and seclusion for women, sequestering them away from the public sphere as they complete domestic tasks. The kitchen is a woman’s space, and as such it excludes others.

Women are connected to the domestic activities and spaces, such as taking care of children and cooking meals. “Probably the most domestic of spaces in our human existence is the kitchen” (Taylor 5), which makes the connections between blogging and the kitchenspace particularly interesting. What happens when the kitchen, the epitome of domesticity and an essential part of the private sphere, encounters the wholly dichotomous blogosphere?

Access to blogging allows women to redraw the edges of her domestic space. Rather than solid, impenetrable walls around her space, the lines become fluid suggestions; they are still indicators of separate space, but are no longer exclusionary. The significance of this change in palpability is the impact it has on the women in the space. The extension of the domestic space grants them a place between public and private where it is acceptable and possible for them to share and discuss domesticity. The blogosphere is a not-so-well-defined space between the public and the private spaces, a sort of no man’s land where the rules are ambiguous at best.

Blogging: Flattening the Earth and Leveling the Playing Field

The public nature of the blog is founded in part by technology that powers it. Blogging differs from other forms of journaling in several important ways.  Blogging derives much of its allure from its instantaneity. Bloggers can post or comment, and immediately anyone is able to access the content. The technology has made dissemination of information quicker, easier and more accessible. Blogging has “flattened” publication, in the sense that anyone can access these blogs and publish her thoughts. It has evened the playing field; anyone can create a blog and have her ideas shared with the world.

Individual bloggers do not need access to a power structure that they may not have the ability to enter into. While in the past you needed prominence, power or some form of publishing contract in order to mass-distribute your thoughts and ideas, blogs have made the process indiscriminant; there is equality in the blogosphere.

This page is part of a larger project entitled “Domesticity and Kitchens” by student researcher Raina DeFonza. Please go back to the Table of Contents to further explore this project.

Photo credits: Columbia Pictures / Sony

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