Shelf Life: Feminism 2.0
From patriarchy to pop culture, the blogosphere has it covered
Image by Linda Zacks
For a long time, I was pretty sure that feminism was too shrill, too uncool, too irrelevant to bother with. Power. Patriarchy. Equality. All that would have to wait until college, when I was assigned books and articles on the subject.
That was just seven or so years ago, but inroads to feminist thought are already much more accessible. Magazines like Bitch and Bust have built young, loyal reader bases by tying feminism to popular culture. (If girls are interested in America’s Next Top Model, don’t disregard it—engage it.) More recently, the blogosphere, that sanctum of nonacademic discussions on all conceivable subjects, has created a wide-open forum. What better medium could feminists hope for?
After logging some serious lurk time on 40 blogs and paying shorter visits to about another 50, I found that there’s no monolithic feminist screed out there, nor any sort of united agenda. This is a huge part of feminism’s appeal online: Thousands of people are maintaining their own minifeminisms, writing about whatever they deem important. Some think that reproductive health is the day’s most crucial issue. Others write about pop culture, or parenting, or sexual violence, or science fiction. Moving from one voice, one subject, one discussion to another, it’s clear that today’s feminism is about everything. And it’s this appeal to the mainstream, this proliferation of different perspectives and dissenting opinions that has the potential to make the f-word acceptable again.
The Starter Sites
Feministing (www.feministing.com), Pandagon (pandagon.blogsome.com), Shakesville (shakespearessister.blogspot.com), and Feministe (www.feministe.us/blog) post short, sassy items several times a day. Anything is fair game to be called out and riffed upon, from demolition of public housing in New Orleans to a Christmas-tree ornament with a gun-toting fetus inside. Because they’re pretty well-trafficked and provide so much content, all four sites get interesting discussions going in comment threads.
Sites like these tend to act as watchdogs for a broad range of feminist issues (or for their bloggers’ pet causes). Flip remarks and long-ago decisions by Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton are magnified and dissected, sometimes to a painful degree. Consumer products that are deemed offensive are called out, their offensiveness then confirmed by dozens of commenters. (A pair of age-inappropriate girls’ underwear from Wal-Mart recently set off a tempest on Feministing.)
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