To Blog Oneself Free, to Lock Oneself Up: (Re)negotiations of Blogs as Spaces for Power Structures, Social Relations and Eating Disordered Girlhood
In research concerning blogging, blogs have been viewed as spaces in which people can be themselves, free of constraints, and able to say what they think and feel about everyone around them (Reed, 2005). In this article, I aim to problematize this view by discussing blogs as spaces that affect to power structures and social relations. I ask, how can girls who blog about eating disorders construct a space as their own, while they at the same time operate within given frameworks set by the moderators of an online community? I argue that girls who blog about eating disorders challenge questions concerning public and private space. While the topic can be considered private, the space can be considered public. The private and public dichotomy is, however, blurry.
Space and agency have been discussed to a great extent in feminist studies on girlhood, and the focus has often been on a girl’s need for a room of her own, within certain limits, and away from the critical gaze of the public space (see, e.g. McRobbie & Garber 1976; Oinas & Colliander 2007; Björk 2013). Studies have focused in particular on what kinds of cultural spaces are constructed by and for girls, what kinds of meanings girls give to these spaces and how girls are perceived or given space within a specific culture. In this article, I argue that eating disordered girlhood is constructed in a specific space and as a specific culture, one which consequently also uses a blog as a social space. The blog, as a space, facilitates and restricts the construction of eating disordered girlhood, and the construction is socio-spatial.