Thursday, November 18, 2010

In support of feminist bloggers

I find that most of my favorite spaces online are feminist and anti-racist blogs, because I like to be in places where my basic humanity and equality is affirmed. That doesn't mean that all of my favorite blogs are about "women's issues" or sexism. They are not. My favorite feminist blogs are quite unique in content, personality and commentariat. And so, it is curious to me (not surprising, mind you) that feminist bloggers are often lumped into one pink, screechy, angry estrogen horde.

I was following a blog discussion in an open thread on a mainstream cultural magazine's website when two commenters began talking about their negative experiences with a specific feminist blog. That criticism soon was expanded to cover "the problem with feminist blogs" as if all feminist blogs are the same.

But how can all feminist blogs be the same? All feminists are not the same. We may agree that feminism is a movement to end sexist oppression. But we often disagree about what sexist oppression is and what gender equality might look like. We are passionate about a variety of feminist issues--reproductive rights, political power, preventing violence against women, workplace equality. Some of us are men. Many of us who blog don't write about feminist issues in the common sense; we write about politics or sex or film or fashion or history or sexuality or gaming or race with a feminist sensibility. Some of us don't even call ourselves feminists.

Worse, the criticism of feminist blogs in this discussion seemed so typically sexist, dismissive of feminist thought and reflective of stereotypes about certain types of women. Feminist blogs paint women as victims and men as predators. Mean ole feminist blogs won't educate folks on feminism 101. Feminist blogs are humorless and one-note. Moderators at feminist blogs are strident, aggressive, argumentative and quick to ban or shun commenters who won't follow the party line. Feminists look to take offense at everything. Feminists use annoying academic-y language like "heteronormative" and "patriarchy."

Here is the thing, some of these "criticisms" are true, but for good reason. One could argue that "movement speak" makes communication with those on the outside harder, but what's the problem with using words like "patriarchy" within a space devoted to feminism? Many feminist blogs reject having 101 discussions, because demanding to be educated is one way that privileged folks use to derail real conversation. Most of the other criticisms are indeed true of many feminist blogs only in that they are true of many blogs, period. But, I think the world we live in dictates that Gawker will never be read as strident, but Jezebel will.

Why am I so bothered by a fleeting blog discussion, which was, let's face it, not so surprising? It's because I was introduced to the blogosphere by feminist blogs. I was inspired to begin writing for myself again by feminist blogs. I have refined my political and social beliefs because of feminist blogs. I learned to embrace my natural hair (a huge turning point in my life) because of feminist blogs. I am smarter because of feminist blogs. I have made a bunch of really amazing, supportive and whip smart women friends because of feminist blogs. I know more about how other people live because of feminist blogs. I am a published writer because of feminist blogs. And I hate to think of people missing out on some really amazing writers and activists and online spaces, because of some played out stereotype about who feminists are and what they do.

Here are some kick-ass blogs you should be reading. The blogs are not all about women. Their owners don't necessarily call themselves "feminists." They don't always get it right. (I've been very critical of big blogs like Jezebel for flagrant race fail.) But they matter. They are important. They represent voices that often go unheard in mainstream media and share stories that regularly stay buried. Some of these blogs are written not just by my favorite women bloggers, but by my favorite bloggers, full stop. Best of all, I am honored to call several of them "friend."

I know that I probably forgot someone really important. I'm always looking for great new writers to follow. What blogs do you recommend that are feminist or that have a feminist sensibility?

Photo credit: petya k.


Kathy said...

The blogs are not all about women. Their owners don't necessarily call themselves "feminists." They don't always get it right. (I've been very critical of big blogs like Jezebel for flagrant race fail.) But they matter.

Thank you for saying this: They don't always get it right, but they matter. I'm not new to feminism, but I'm fairly new to the feminist blogosphere -- as a commenter and a blogger -- and the fear that I'm going to screw up big is always there. My favorite feminist blogs are those that do allow for their commentariat to be at different places in their thinking, even if that thinking is, at times, flawed. I spent a lot of time reading and listening to get a feel for the tenor of each site before I started commenting (even at Jezbel). I don't have an academic background, so I generally don't use academic language, but I understand not wanting to constantly explain words like "cisgender" and "heteronormative."

I read a lot of the blogs you've listed. Tiger Beatdown and Womanist Musings I like because of the mix of politics and pop culture. Lately Autostraddle (lesbian/bi girls) has become a new favorite, and I just discovered Tim Wise has a blog. Shakesville and FWD/Forward I've read for a while now.

k8dee said...

Thank you for this, Tami. I was on the "mainstream" blog, too. And I know how you feel. You took all the conflicting feelings I felt about the denigration of various feminist blogs in that discussion and dealt with it elegantly, as you so often do.

Now if we can only get some of those commentators over here to read it? Hmmmm...

Jha said...

I really enjoy FWD/Forward.

And everything you said!

Carolyn said...

Please peruse Feminist principles are evident in most of those posts.

Jill said...

Right back atcha, Tami! Great post. Thank you.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

I spend a lot of my online time at a blog whose contributors are mostly libertarian/conservative but whose commenters totally span the entire range of political thought. It gets rough sometimes. I don't think I could go there if I didn't have the unexpressible privilege of never having been assaulted or otherwise being made vulnerable to being triggered. Some of the marital rape threads, for instance, are eye-opening. I read Shakesville a lot; never comment there, but I've learned a whole lot and it's enabled me on that blog to (a) not be 100% shocked at what I see, maybe 90%; (b) have some context for what I read, and (c) hold up my end. Which is kind of funny, because if anything I self-identify as conservative.

As to blogs - it takes all kinds. Melissa maintains a safe space for people who want an online community but would not put themselves in the position of reading things that upset them. It irks some people that she controls her blog so tightly but she and the moderators have to, to do what they do. If you want vigorous debate, you can go elsewhere. It's a beautiful thing.

Julia said...

I'm happy to see this post, Tami, and happy to be introduced to some new blogs.

I also like Resist Racism and Sociological Images...

Renina said...


Thank you.

Honestly, I have been so busy this week that I haven't had the time to read the comments in that thread.

I have been blogging for 5 years and in many ways, I have fallen out one by one with many of the Black male "rap" bloggers over their gender politics. In fact tonight a conversation on twitter reminded me of that.

That being said, shit honey, What is a Black feminist to do.

The fact that arguably most Ta-Nehisi's readers don't challenge him reminds us that race and gender are NOT the same. An until we have a language to describe how both intersect, we wont be able to do a whole lot about it.

My silence has never protected me, it won't protect any of us.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting discussions re Black women empowerment.

Anonymous said...

Melissa McEwan said...

Great post, Tami.

Also: I'm flattered and honored to see Shakesville listed in such stellar company -- and by one of my favorite bloggers, no less. Thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the list! Many I read regularly, and new blogs to check out. My fingers are getting itchy in anticipation.

Here are my additions:

Happy reading!
Aunti Disestablishmentarian

snobographer said...

Does nobody like Pandagon anymore?
The Crimitism is also really good, but very infrequently updated.

NOW and Ms. have some good blogs too.

And the Curvature.
And Echidne of the Snakes.

Other Becky said...

Re: I Blame The Patriarchy --

There's some interesting stuff there, but read at your own risk. It's not a trans-friendly space. I'm actually still reading the Shapely Prose archives.

Jill said...

Wow, Tami - I echo Melissa - I am really flattered to be on this list. You know a lot of the struggles I've gone through in locating and finding my way in a few different sectors of the femisphere as some call it, and there are some really important, critical, beautiful places I'd never have gotten to if not for your blog and several of the ones you've mentioned. A couple I would add:

Viva La Feminista

My Ecydsis

Adele Nieves has had a blog but I believe it's private or offline for now - her site is

As you say, there are many more out there, for sure. Thanks again. And enjoy the holiday season.

Aliiii said...

Hey, just FYI, your womanist musings link is off, it should be .

Other one gets you to some random spammish splash page of I don't know.

Jennifer said...

So often your posts say the things I think (but say them in such an eloquent and articulate way)--as I read this post I just kept nodding my head and saying "yes, Yes, YES!"

Thank YOU for being a wonderful and kick-ass feminist blogger! (and thanks for adding my blog to your list--I blush!).

Anonymous said...

"But, I think the world we live in dictates that Gawker will never be read as strident, but Jezebel will."

Maybe I wouldn't use "strident," because it's such a loaded, sexist word, but in my almost six years as a reader and commenter on Gawker and Jezebel, the latter is not as well edited.

Jezebel is extremely inconsistent, it has allowed writers like Kate Harding to rant, instead of making proper arguments, and it frequently has a mean-girl high school vibe. And forget about discussing how things work in the real world if you want to do more than simply rant online to your juvenile and often ill-informed supporters.

I also don't consider it feminist. At least it's not coherent feminism. In some ways, Jezebel is typical of many young women today: they want the freedom of feminism with none of the accountability.

If I'm interested in reading intelligent, informative posts on feminism, I go to a blog like Feministing.


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