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.


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