Monday, June 12, 2006

Newsflash: This IS A Blawg!

(Quick plug before the verbal assault: Go to Ian Best's Open Invitation for Additions to Taxonomy to submit your comments about how the taxonomy should be structured and who else should be included)

Despite my bad track record at having the answers to my own questions refuted by my subsequent behavior (check out the answer to the question "Is This An Academic Blog?"), a while back, I asked the question "Is This A Blawg or a Blog?", answering, "this is not truly a blawg, and I am not yet a prawf." I reasoned that:

When I think of my favorite law blogs, (I am not going to use "blawg" anymore!) I feel like what I do is so amateurish by comparison. I feel qualified to give a few general thoughts and maybe cite a little precedent, but by no means am I performing legal analysis. I'm just not qualified to yet. I'm still in my "student" phase, with all the crippling student insecurity. I won't be posting many case summaries/commentaries, or predicting which direction the law is headed. Like I said, I don't feel very qualified yet. The heck if I know which direction the law is going! This is why I'm getting an LLM and JSD! I need some more disciplinary training! I need to write more scholarship!

My answer on March 13, 2006 was affirmed by Ian Best, the Emile Durkheim of the Blawgosphere. I was included in Ian's original taxonomy, but a few weeks later, I was taken off for not being "legal enough"--that is, this wasn't a blog by a practicing lawyer, law professor, or judge, and the subject matter of the blawg wasn't sufficiently legal. That was a whopping three months ago, when my blog was considerably less law oriented--and more about being a disgruntled student/scholar. I'm still disgruntled, but I've laid off merely chronicling my grad student ennui and despair at not being able to write a decent page a day. But guess what folks, I finally made it! This IS a blawg! And you know what? I'm pretty happy about this too. I like being a part of the legal community. It makes me feel validated after taking out $60,000 in loans and spending my days changing diapers. And I also like being a part of the wider academic blog community and being able to kvetch about being a poor grad student with other grad students. So I guess I get to have the best of both worlds!

At the time, I was not offended about the fact that I wasn't considered a legal blog--hell, I said I wasn't writing a legal blog. But whether consciously or unconsciously, not being included pushed me to try harder to become a "blawg." I dared to try my hand at the very thing I most feared--legal analysis without an authoritative degree. I realized, "heck, I have a JD from a Top 20 law school--why shouldn't I blog a little bit about the things I've learned? Why shouldn't I introduce the world to critical race theory?" And so the adventure began, inspired in part by the challenge created by Ian and his taxonomy. I became more adventurous in mixing legal analysis and personal reflection. I tried my hand at explaining some legal principles. The "blawgosphere" noticed, and I got some plugs by high profile law blogs. I even somehow got a guest blogging stint at my favorite law blog. So thank you Ian, for not including me the first time around

You know, I still feel insecure about my ability to blawg, but I'm trying not to let the lack of extra legal degrees stop me from blogging about my passion--anti-discrimination law. I don't write more than a layman's guide to certain anti-discrimination principles, but I believe it's been a useful service. But despite taking on such subjects as employment discrimination law, restrictive covenants, critical mass theory, and pregnancy discrimination, I haven't stopped blogging about the cognitive dissonance involved in being an Asian-American feminist raised in a strict, patriarchal family--in other words, The Vietnamese Yentl. In fact, this blog has given me the space to write about both, which is why I was glad to have it classified as a more "general" blog rather than as a "purely legal" blog. In fact, I tend to do both, legal analysis/distillation one day, a mix of legal and personal reflection the next--it's the type of writing I employed in my Feminist Law Prof posts, and I like that it's a different type of blawg. After all, if Dan Markel can openly say that one of his interests is "wriggling with his osita (his wife)," and Kevin Drum engages in almost weekly "cat blogging," why can't I admit that I am more than just a a law school robot? Actually, the persons I would most want to model this blog on (besides Ann Bartow) are Gowri Ramachandran, who in her all-too-brief guest stint at PrawfsBlawg wrote one of the most honest, sensitive and thought-provoking essays about being a bisexual law professor, or Michelle Anderson, who in her all-too-brief guest stint at Concurring Opinions wrote a great essay about her surprise at finding herself a happily married feminist.

The presence of personal/political (blah blah personal is political, let us all sing the (true) mantra of newly politically aware college students) female bloggers such as Ann, Gowri, and Michelle make me feel less like the stranger at the gates to the ivory tower blawgosphere. It makes what I do feel less like "non-serious blogging" that should be taken less seriously merely because it involves some personal reflection. I don't know why "cat blogging" or talking about "wriggling" can be done without detracting from the scholarly seriousness of a blogger, but intellectual ruminations on the intersection between identity and scholarship cannot--but whatever. The very presence of Ann, Gowri, and Michelle in the blawgosphere, and my validation as a "blawgger" by Ian and Professors Solum, Filler, Bartow, and Hoffman go to show that the blawgosphere can be as multi-dimensioned as the law professors who choose to participate in it.

Next week: goldfish blogging.