Shelf Life: Feminism 2.0

From patriarchy to pop culture, the blogosphere has it covered


| Mar.-Apr. 2008



Shelf Life 2.0

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.

michal
2/23/2008 12:00:00 AM

Great article! Caught my attention because I'm an undergrad, and just started a course, Amercia Through Womens Eyes. This is not my study that pertains to feminism or struggles of those discriminated against. I think theory, serious discussion and blogging views all have a place but it is always ome type of "action" to solve the problems that makes a difference. Just a brief opinion. Thanks for sharing. Michal


russell_1
2/23/2008 12:00:00 AM

"it won’t be difficult for them to find those perspectives that are often overlooked in the women’s studies classroom: those of people of color, people with disabilities, people who are not heterosexual." My intro women's studies class in undergrad covered each of those topics and the feminist theorists in my department (I'm a grad student in Political Science) certainly do as well. Thus I wonder if "often overlooked" might be too strong of wording, though my experience is of course far from exhaustive.


alice_3
2/22/2008 12:00:00 AM

This is a great introduction for folks who want to get started reading lots of the feminist blogs that are out there, and I appreciate that you looked consciously to find folks beyond the main sites most people would find on their own. However: ads for a site 'where Filipinas meet foreign men' on an Utne article on feminism? The Ann Coulter ad was just weird, the cebuanas.com ad was truly jarring and awful. I know it's horribly plebian of me to object to the ads when I'm reading for free, but it's why I won't be reading more.


andie east
2/20/2008 12:00:00 AM

Awesome article. Especially the fact that there is a wide variety of feminist blogs you present, allowing for a way to hear the many voices of women all talking about issues relevant to us. Thanks!