Kendall’s chapter left me thinking about methodological issues I had not considered before, specifically locating oneself sexually in one’s research. This is mainly because I am not currently interested in looking at explicit sexuality in my subjects for my project and am not sure I see the point of addressing one’s own sexuality if this is not part of the research project’s focus.
I agree with Kendall that revealing one’s sexuality may establish a slightly more equal sharing of power between subject and researcher, and obviously agree with her that this is also professionally risky. Also, I appreciate her analysis that achkowldeing one’s sexuality and erotic feelings during research may provide a clearer analysis of the research, especially during the writing phase of the research.
However, there were times when I wanted Kendall to extend her analysis and provide further illustrations when she brought up examples from her own online fieldwork, specifically with the primary case study she uses in her chapter. For example, when she discusses how the majority of the women in her online group act like “one of the guys” and rarely bonded or reacted to sexist comments from the men in the group, she states that this demonstrated “complexities of gender identities, especially as expressed in relationships, as well as considering sexuality in conjunction with gender (108).” She does go on to say that the “of of the guys” women draw distinctions between “traditional,” or feminine women, and themselves, and that this portrays gender as a spectrum instead as a duality. To my reading, though, this does appear to be a duality, not a spectrum. It is a presentation of a binary: traditional/feminine women and nontraditional/”masculine” women.
I wanted her to elaborate on how sexual aspects of identity affect gender notions and interactions between people. She alludes to one of her subjects attempting to flirt with her by first trying to establish her “true” gender identity, but then jumps to her next topic, which is about the researcher establishing their gender/sexual identity. I would have loved to see her draw mosrre direct lines between this argument and other examples, from her research or anyone else’s.
There are other arguments I wish she would advance and complicate, such as when she discusses how female attractiveness is established in her online field site (though I like how she writes that fat women who view themselves as attractive are placed opposite of masculine identity and are therefore “denigrated” (113)), but I realize, too, that this book is probably not the forum to complicate all these issues as it is primarily about online inquiry and not specifically about gender/sexuality (which, while not particularly relevant to my current project, an overall scholarly interest of mine).
To conclude, I was able to find some of the examples/complicated analyses I was looking for in Campbell’s response to Kendall’s essay.