New York Magazine takes the time to notice all them ladies typing
Update: I should have noted earlier, but there's a cool slideshow to go with the article. I like how my eyeballs look.
In the world of Lady Issues, most of the bandwidth this week is going to be taken up by the sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain. I may have some thoughts on those later—I mean, who doesn't?—but first I want to highlight an article that just came out in the online and print edition of New York Magazine about the feminist blogosphere. This is really exciting for me, because most media coverage of other media tends to be in one of two categories: 1) A profile of someone specific who has done something above and beyond what the rest of us do and 2) A generalized profile of a bunch of Young Turks who have energy and new ideas. The latter tends to get people's ire up, not because they have anything against Young Turks, but because women are ignored, over and over again, for that sort of treatment. Women are seen in the media world as the worker bees (which is why they have a stronger presence in the editorial staff than in the front pages), which means that we're not looked to as innovative thinkers, even if we are. In fact, one of the early concerns when I was first blogging—which is discussed in the article—was how men, especially white men, were sucking up all the oxygen when it came to the liberal blogosphere. Those of you who were around then probably remember this:
Left-wing blogging was on the rise, a phenomenon that was strikingly male. As writer Amanda Marcotte says, laughing in recollection, “We had a running joke about how every three months, another guy would publish a post about ‘Why don’t women blog?’ And we would all comment, ‘We’re out here; fuck you!’ ”
That doesn't happen anymore, thank god. It points to why I have so much faith in the blogosphere and in internet media in general: I think it has demonstrated more flexibility and the people involved are more willing to change. Part of the reason is that the constant output of material makes it easier to portray your changes as evolution; in stale mainstream media, changing your mind or outlook is easier to see as some kind of waffling. Therefore, some of the men who were gave us pains in the early days are now some of our best allies. But mainstream media isn't so quick to change. They have a model of what an innovative writer looks like, it that model doesn't include a vagina. When women are innovative, we're generally seen more as silly and hysterical, but mostly we're not allowed to be seen as innovative. I won't belabor the point any further. You can just go read Ann Friedman's delightful satire of the problem here.
So I'm thrilled to see feminist blogging get the Young Turks treatment. Granted, it's by New York Magazine, which is one of my favorite magazines because they are willing to reject media norms and do their own thing. Hopefully, they're opening a door for women to be considered eligible for this sort of treatment.
Mainly, I wanted to highlight this because the writer, Emily Nussbaum, did a good job of making this piece about you. Instead of concentrating on a handful of blogs that get the most traffic, she sees the feminist blogosphere in its entireity, and includes the LiveJournal confessionals and Tumblr satires and all the other various forms of feminist discourse that are happening in the broad world of blogging. One of the major problems of media coverage of feminism is it rarely captures how much of it is about dialogue. Nussbaum understands feminist history really well, and how the archives of the second wave show a lively and diverse movement that had a lot more women in it than Gloria Steinem. She sees the blogosphere the same way: as a jungle of voices, and one where digging in the stacks instead of sticking to the chart toppers can often produce some truly fascinating reading. There's a reading list of blogs and a portrait slideshow that focuses on some of the most prominent voices, but the actual article itself is about the vastness of the discourse. Which is important, because it's a remarkable counter to the same tedious storyline about how feminism is dead. That so many people are online writing about feminism, and that it's not just a few prominent voices, demonstrates how much feminism is not dead, but is in fact undergoing a 21st century revival.
On a personal note, I have to say it's been amazing watching all this happen. There was no "feminist blogosphere" when I started, which is part of the reason I write largely about politics and pop culture and not just about feminism. (The other reason is: I want to.) But that anyone was writing about feminism at all in the early days turned out to be more inspiring and expansive than those of us typing in our kitchens and living rooms years ago could have imagined. Except maybe Jessica Valenti—I think she had ambitions for Feministing, but the rest of us were just doing our thing for the hell of it. And so much has come from it, for ourselves and for the larger internet community. Now you see feminist discourse normalized in all sorts of unexpected online spaces. And hopefully this article suggests that next on the list is the real world.