Blogging and women in Afghanistan
5.4 The Role of Blogging in Changing the Quality of Women’s Life
Writing the personal experiences of a woman‘s daily life, women interact with few hundred and thousand views, comments and feedbacks from different people and all led to encourage them to continue blogging and it was an open invitation for all the women from various walks of life whether a young girls or elderly women to go to the cyberspace and get an identity for themselves.
It had been less than 12 years since the first publishing blogs started by women but the numbers are increasing every day and we witness the leading blogs by women from age 12- 50. Although, the detailed statistics of registered and active blogs by women cannot be measured (estimation of 10% of existence blogs (digiato.com), but a look at the cyberspace is showing the inflammatory presence of women author in the field of blogging.
With the new age of weblog writing by women, new research fields opens to researchers and sociologists as well. To observe and write about their daily life and comparison of various women in different background and classes and whom no one knew about their presence for years.
The author of the web log "The shout" writes, ―When I started blogging, I had no confidence, but now I have found out that I can write, I can now take a picture and can give consultation, I now know that I can become a sociologist. So I decided to enroll in the Sociology course in the University‖ (faryad. Blogfa.com). Hence women have upgraded their skills to move from strength to strength.
In Afghanistan, ―Autobiography‖ as a form of literature did not developed the way it did in west, and still there is no genre of writing biography and autobiography.
Although, few of what exists in this regard are written by men and those by women have the male point of view. There are many reasons for that in Afghanistan such as, cultural issues, fear of judgment of others, honor and expressing and revealing the unsaid aspects of a women‘s life. Religious and traditional views made this type of literature in Afghanistan very limited and archaic, so we have incomplete picture of a women‘s life of Afghanistan. This view shows itself more in male perspectives. That is why till today whatever we have is from the stories told by men. Even when women author wrote about the life of other women they often had a patriarchal view and as a result we had stories which were indirect and dishonest.
With the spread of the weblog, we witness a great change in this field and for the first time we see the story of the women first hand and completely factual. Many of the women started to write that they had no knowledge and information about blogs.
Among them were housewives, employees, students and religious practitioners but they soon picked this up. What is important is that at first what we see is not intellectual women and writers but the ordinary women. Although we do not know who is the writer and how much of the content is an absolute truth, but these blogs are all important because in writing a weblog, one must create an identity and shape it since we have access to their previous content of that blog.
What this freedom translates for Afghan women is non-existence face to face interaction. In fact the absence of this kind of interaction provides a freedom and type of security to allow a person to write whatever she wants and it is only made possible in virtual world.
Women use the opportunity provided for them in the cyberspace and express their presence and produce the content to reveal their feelings and opinions. They meet the people similar to them to interact and discuss and talk with them to find the solutions for their problems. This space had increased the level of awareness and knowledge of women. Virtual education with easy access to many sources will remove the economic, cultural and social obstacles for women and is considered the fastest and cheapest method of exchanging information, and providing a great potential to help women in solving their training and educational issues.
Knowledge and its derivatives like creativity is also an important notation in reducing poverty; women's empowerment is also an important factor to increase the presence of their activities in social and economic development. The network of knowledge and information can help women to share their experiences freely with each other in their fields of interest. To be a part of this chain of information, women also need to gain some kind of access to the outside world and that will put the idea of work and participation in the activities in social and economic fields. (ea.wenet.ir).
Using cyberspace has made women very active in society. This has made women aware and it has lead to the creation a social movement.
Considering the restraints and limitations in social, economic sphere for women in Afghanistan, cyberspace is providing the best opportunity for them. As Hamelink
pointed out Considering the importance of education and spread of knowledge for women in variety of fields to enable them for the production of personal income and growth of scientific level, it seems that the importance of artworks virtual increases day to day and can be the most rapid and cheap method of the exchanging information, that would bring the great potential to help the women in solving problems and in education and reforming of the traditional culture. Women today can have access to research centers and organizations, therefor they can gather and reshape this information and use them. They remodel and redesign the data of varied size and create the different form of knowledge to be used (Hamelink 2000: 176).
Technology of information can create new forms of communication which enable the women to develop social status which they often confined to. It also may create new opportunities for the employment of women and help them in entering new career and learning new skills. The technology of information and communication can also enable women who have the responsibility of taking care of the children or those who are living far from the city to their advantage, which will give them an opportunity to work from home. (Hamelink1999: 23-45).
Social communications for women can be facilitated with the use of the public relations and it is possible once they create a network for social help. Sharing experiences and publishing information is the driving motor and the essence of social network. Identity is also considered as the main features of social network. In making an emails and weblog one can use an unreal identity but they gain their identity once placed in the network of social society. Society in social network leads men to a life in which they can be active and creative as an individual and share it with others. In addition, they can be in connection with others as well as being them self in the process of being with community.
According to Habermas media has the most important role in the atmosphere of the public. Internet among all is a tool to share all knowledge and ideas in which everyone can express freely and nobody is better than others. We can analyze what Habermas believes is that in these media, people can be their best form in all fields‘ of information exchanging their ideas and is the full justification of ―Theory of communicative action‖ (Habermas & McCarthy 1985: 210-250).
He reveals that a field or public field may be formed in a space which includes sharing and discussion of public affairs. Habermas believes that an ideal communication condition only can form in a public field. The most important point in this process is that the behavior of individuals in this process of negotiation and dialog must be free of any pressure and dominance and the conditions must be fair, free, conscious and equal. The combination of these conditions will create a space that provides the most desirable result which is unfolding communicative action.
Habermas made an attempt with the expansion of the theory of communicative action to revival of the public domain. To Habermas theory, the communicative action can be used as the basis of other general principles of expression (Habermas & McCarthy 1985: 210-250).
Communicative action has social status. In Communicative action, an individual agent has no weapon but logic and persuasion for understanding and agreement.
People can be freer and more comfortable in achieving their solidarity aim without any direct concern and problems of material issues. The aim of this type of social action is the universal acceptance. This field is indeed a social ideal. The answer is not prepared but they will be ready through the exchange of views and opinions (Habermas1981: 115-130).
In the network society, the audiences are not merely passive consumers of information but influential persons who create a mutual relationship. So perhaps the new media cannot be marked as the traditional word in which the limited numbers of news are allocated to a multitude of homogeneous audience. In fact because of the high number of infantry and the resources and publishing them, this is now the audience who has the power of selection. Users communicate from the safe environment of their home with all around the world. Communication in computers with ability of responding to individuals, and increasing their selection of desired choices has created the most vital revolution in all fields of culture, entertainment, training and education and has created a type of a stimulating social and individual. In this network of communication, every day the number of active audience increases and number of passive audiences declines (Castells 1996: 382-392).
In concluding the general result from this topic we can state that in Afghanistan, internet and blogging in specific had raised the presence of women by allocating a
personal space to them. It also has increased the sense of confidence, independence, presence of women in social activities, and the level of awareness and knowledge as well as decrease in the sense of social isolation, and change of traditional beliefs.
Cyberspace created the public space for women‘s society, blogging reflected their personal life in society and most importantly it made it available for women with similar institution. With the presence in the cyberspace, they could discuss their interests and share their views without any concern (Harcourt 1999:124). Other advantages of blogging is finding friends across the globe, nurturing mind from sociological and other research areas based on consumer views. And to find out about situations that a person (was) never aware of them before (See Appendix, Table 9, page 269).