Feminist Blog Review

Because there’s never enough time in the day to read everything we want to read.

Feministe

Active since 2005, Feministe does an excellent job of posting feminist news of note, and keeping readers up to the minutes on issues like reproductive rights. Feministe also give a good dose of pop culture– if you missed the latest feminist fun from the Daily Show or SLN you can find it here. Also, they have caturday, where bloggers post pictures of their cats (mostly kittens). So I have a problem watching pet videos on youtube– admit it– you do too. Now I satisfy it on a feminist blog, and am no longer alone.

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Finally a Feminism 101 Blog

A blog-shaped repository of FAQs for anyone who is not already a feminist initiate, produced by a founding editor and two contributors. The site is ‘targeted particularly towards answers to those typically disruptive questions that recur on feminist blogs’, thereby leaving blogs for the already initiated free to get down to real feminist business. It’s a great idea, and welcome enough for many of us to be echoing the ‘Finally!’ of the title. The tone is calm, measured and informative—like an old-school reference librarian who is determined to keep her temper no matter what.

Unfortunately, the navigation of the site is a bit counterintuitive—the actual blog is more designed for initiates and frequent readers, while the basic introductory information is in a set of FAQs, a distinction that was not immediately obvious. In fact, it took me about 10 minutes to figure out where someone new to feminism was supposed to find answers to questions like ‘What is sexism?’ To be fair, it’s clear they’ve already tried different ways of organizing the information and links to try to get people where they need to be, so they are aware of the issue. (I would suggest making the link to the main list of FAQs part of the main text on the front page.) And once you get to the FAQs the information is well organized and makes great use of links to enable readers to find more resources or related information. Although there’s more reliance on Wikipedia than I’d probably like (since I spend so much time trying to ween students off it) there are lots of other sources used as well, from elite feminist theory journals to the Guardian to other blogs.

It would be good to see the main list of FAQs have more overt attention to issues of race and ethnicity within and around feminism. For example, the FAQs are in large part about addressing common misconceptions, and I can think of several off the top of my head directly related to the interaction between race and gender—such as the idea that feminism is really a white thing or the idea that sexism is especially virulent in non-white cultures. In general, though this is a welcome addition to the feminist blogosphere that is clearly the result of a lot of effort. Does what it says on the tin.

jke

I Blame the Patriarchy

The name (and what a name) says it all. With archives going back to February 2005, this is a self-defined radical feminist blog by one Twisty Faster, ‘gentleman farmer and spinster aunt’–and she does mean radical feminist in the classic sense: seeing the oppression of women as the organizing principle of society and seeing the sexualization of women as the key means of that oppression. There is none of your grrl-power kinderwhore third-wave business here. Nor is there much attention to different modes of oppression that charactertize different periods or places or racial/ethnic context; instead, everything from Russian vodka ads to would-be bride burials in Pakistan are gathered under the same umbrella of patriarchal violence. Clearly is this not a blog for new initiates: it’s strictly for those who already know who is at fault and are ready to let the blaming begin.

The blog is polished and well written, with an consistent tone of witty head-shaking at the awfulness of it all (and lots of Austin/hipster grace notes thrown in). In general, posts are frequent but Twisty took a significant break while moving over the past month. The traffic is heavy, with many posts getting hundreds of comments, so it offers a nice sense of radical feminist community. This is definitely the place to go after some asshole yells sexual comments at you while you’re walking down the street minding your own business; it’s not the place to go after yet another (usually reactionary) young woman asks you why you wear makeup if you’re a feminist. (Twisty would probably ask you the same.)

jke

Pam’s House Blend

Reading Pam’s House Blend comes with some sensory overload: a number of columns and lots of flashing ads compete with blog posts, and it can be headache inducing. But Pam’s, a Webby winner for best LGBT blog in 2005 and 2006, started by Pam Spaulding, an African American out lesbian based in North Carolina, is worth risking the eye trouble. An excellent aggregate source of news relevant to LGBTs and the progressive community generally, as well as some smart commentary from progressive bloggers

LeftWorld

A syndicate site that also features original content, Left World Blog offers a good overview of the progressive blogging community. They syndicate us here at Across the Pond, so maybe I’m biased, but I find their blog roll to be impressive. I just spend several minutes, for example, at African American Opinion, where the blogger collected video from Nov. 5 in Washington DC. Sorting through the muck of the blogosphere can be hard work, so I’m a fan of progressive aggregates like LeftWorld.

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Racialicious

Like most blogs, I can’t remember how or when I stumbled upon Racialicious, but there it is on my Netvibes page getting updated and making me feel guilty about not keeping up. But, in fact, staying tuned to the latest developments on this blog isn’t a chore since they are all up in the face of racism in popular and political culture. I especially enjoy LaToya Peterson’s analyses of film and television programs, which are duly noted with EW-esque “spoiler alerts.”

At minimum, there’s one new post per day and that’s dang good for a blog that’s been around since 2006. Sometimes Racialicious sources material from other blogs, such as Angry Asian Man, but better still is the invitation to guest bloggers to post new material. If we include the copious comments the articles inspire, then we truly have some discourse happening.

Racialicious is an arm of New Demographics, which runs diversity training. I’m over diversity training (the 1990s called: it wants its money-spinner back). However, I also have an aversion to racism, so I overlook the infrequent New Demographic plugs, and take in the lessons the blog offers. For example, I don’t know a whole lot more than the general public about Islam and Muslims, so Racialicious’ consistent take down of Islamophobia is more than trendy and carries forward third wave feminism.

It’s easy to become apoplectic about racialized sexism, so Racialicious gets thumbs up for a measured perspective that’s not too hysterical and just indignant enough on a number of fronts.

RaceWire

“Vigilance is Power.” Or at least that’s what I would propose as RaceWire’s tagline. Straight up? This blog can be a buzzkill, but so is racism. Instead of a pessimistic view though, I take heart in the consistent and skillful analysis RaceWire offers. The blog is published as a current events companion to the Applied Research Center’s magazine Colorlines. Rather than having content that duplicates the print magazine’s incisive coverage of politics and culture, RaceWire is like a rapid response team tackling international affairs, domestic situations, health care issues, and excellent takes on both rural and urban issues. I’d say the blog’s strength lies in its approach to immigration issues, which may be due to its West Coast HQ.

RaceWire is holistic in that it’s very good writing usually starts from the basis of a personal story and then uses that story to magnify the historical and political context as relevant to all Americans no matter what color. For example, a favorite piece on contemporary white populism looks at the limits of comedians, such as Jon Stewart and Bill Maher, in seriously tackling what ails U.S. culture. The author David Leonard manages to tease out the class, race, and power politics. Notably, he’s weak on gender analysis (men have gender, too!), but the RaceWire comments sections are equally cogent.

Dealing with so many issues of intersecting identity means RaceWire risks speaking to the choir, but the daily posts come across as well-balanced discussion or food for thought. One criticism is that the blog can be a bit too heavy on the California politics. That said, it’s worth looking at California issues, such as the 2008 Proposition 8 repealing same-sex marriage, as a barometer for changes that might roll across the U.S.

U.K. readers will find RaceWire helpful for a realistic perspective on identity in the U.S. and as a useful comparison point when it comes to issues such as immigration, sexual exploitation, education reform, and economic issues. Multi-ethnic, multi-racial feminist praxis at work!

Reappropriate

A single-author site, self-described as ‘a personal & political blog written by an angry Asian American woman’ named Jenn. Although the site has in recent weeks (like most political blogs) been devoted almost entirely to election coverage, with lots of information on anti-Obama racism and Asian-Americans for Obama coverage, it’s also heavily focused on feminism and gender issues, with a welcome slant toward the scientist/geek end of the spectrum—info on comic books, games, etc. Although (and because) I’m not part of the Nintendo generation it’s great to know there are informed feminists out there producing analyses of Grand Theft Auto and the like, and to read about things like the Gaming Glass Ceiling.

Comments tend to be in the 5-10 range, and there are lots of links to friends’ blogs, so this blog has a certain intimacy and insider-feel, though it’s also pretty welcoming to the casual visitor—fun to read, politically sharp and often funny as well. (In one post, Jenn described Survivor participant Ken Hoang as follows: ‘Hoang couldn’t get any more stereotypical if he ran around the campsite screaming “Yatta” and brandishing a samurai sword made of banana leaves.’) Definitely worth a visit, and worthy of more traffic than it’s currently getting.

jke

Sepia Mutiny

I’m sick of the word “diversity,” so I’m going to use replacements. Herewith: I love Sepia Mutiny because it demonstrates the…resplenditude of South Asian culture. Desi is the name and South Asian culture and politics has been the game since 2004. Technically, I think this blog is more of an “insider blog” in that it’s directed toward South Asian hipsters (I mean that in a good way), but I like to eavesdrop on what’s happening for the prism effect one gets on local, national, and global culture that I might see only from my own perspective.

Among Sepia Mutiny’s many categories for blog entries there isn’t one for “women” or “feminism,” so for a regular gender fix, one must use the site’s search engine. Once you do that, though, there’s a wealth of interesting perspectives on marriage (arranged and otherwise), caste, color, and whether desi have a place in the feminist movement (comments overwhelmingly lean toward yes!). I’m also appreciating the viewpoints on the Global Economic Fuckup, on which I need as many different takes as possible. There are, however, internal tensions over feminism that play out in both Sepia Mutiny’s posts and comments, but I think that’s healthy particularly when it comes to how women and men of color negotiate gender politics.

New posts at least once a day—a mutiny a day keeps the white, capitalist patriarchy away.

Shut Up, Sit Down

UK feminist bloggers face a bit of a dilemma: the Interwebs allows us to keep up with feminist issues and activism worldwide, but also we can be so distracted by events abroad (particularly in the US) that we neglect the complete and utter wackness happening on our side of the bog (as in swampy marshland, not toilet). Thus, a number of the U.K. feminist blogs I came across were dormant, defunct or focused on U.S. events.

Nonetheless, there are a few that soldier on and remind me that I need to do more to uphold my responsibility as a U.K.-based feminist blogger. A good starting place is Anji’s Shut Up, Sit Down, a radical feminist U.K. blog. It’s a mix of links, video posts, and justifiable rants that focus mostly on absurd sexism in the news and public policy. Health issues (including abortion rights), mommy issues, and social welfare are the order of the day.

SUSD is a nice, minimalist stop for checking out the headlines and I like the sometimes non-existent commentary. It’s like a U.K. Associated Press wire for feminism, so in that respect there’s not a lot of back-and-forth dialogue via comments.

Anji is also in charge of the blog Mothers for Women’s Lib (MWL). Honestly, I usually avoid mommy blogs for reasons that might need a separate entry and time for debate. However, I find MWL’s postings adept at telling me why mothers’ and children’s issues are more generalizable to society-at-large and the childfree.

The F Word

I was immediately struck by the fact that this site is subtitled ‘Contemporary UK Feminism.’ None of the American sites I reviewed identified themselves as American, which probably says something about how many feminist blogs are American—they don’t have to say so, because that’s already our assumption. And it’s true that it’s not easy to find the UK equivalent of many of the US feminist blogs.

So how does the F Word do as the major representative of UK feminism? For one thing, it’s more of a webzine with a blog feature, so it offers longer articles that give more in-depth analysis of various contemporary issues. In the blog and the features sections, there is a good range of engagement with both British and American media, from the Independent to the Rachel Maddow show. Reviews of various feminist and women-centered events are offered as well. The longer articles are welcome—especially after reading a bunch of the drive-by style analyses that the blog format encourages—and the webzine format also helps a large range of contributors (200 in total) to have a say.

There’s also quite a bit less DIY scrappiness in evidence here than in blogs like I Blame the Patriarchy, and quite a bit more desire to claim a sort of real-grown-up-media legitimacy; I can’t imagine Twisty Faster of IBTP pointing out that she was one of the Guardian’s ‘Women to Watch Out For’ (at least not unironically). Which now that I think of it is another major characteristic of this blog: a surprisingly low wit quotient for a bunch of Brits–the tone is pretty consistently serious.

jke

What About Our Daughters

WAOD is where I go when I wanna get my righteous indignation freak on. If I recall correctly, WAOD emerged in response to the lack of concern when black women go missing—as opposed to the nationwide Becky Alert that sounds when a white woman (particularly a middle class one) goes missing. It appears to be a one-woman show, but has quickly gained a legion of followers. While WAOD doesn’t, or can’t claim to, speak on behalf of all black women in the whole of black womandom, I’d say this blog does a pretty good job of responding to news and popular culture slights. There’s no explicit claims of black feminism as a political position, but it is evident in the concern for those at the intersection of Race Boulevard/Gender Avenue/Class Access Road. To question whether the author(s) demand feminist allegiance may be an age-old distraction from the crucial issues raised.

While strong emotion is starting point, it’s no place to rest. WAOD also demands action. For example, WAOD launched a jihad against Black Entertainment Television (BET; recently spreading their US-style Chicken George bullshit to the UK). I say “jihad” because anything that takes down that bastion of crimes against blackness is both holy and justified. Notably, critique is both internal and external: wack whiteness and wack blackness both fall under the microscope. Boycotts, phone calls, letter writing and networking all feature as tactics to combat black women’s negative representation in popular culture. Since WAOD possibly cost BET millions of dollars when it encouraged readers to protest yet another jigaboo-fest on the channel, I’d say WAOD is enacting some pretty effective activism. I may not always agree with the analysis, but I never leave this blog feeling complacent (except around the typos, which distract from my rush to action).


Want us to add your blog? Drop us a note in the comments section.

3 responses to “Feminist Blog Review

  1. Pingback: Reviewing the Feminist Blogosphere « Across the Pond: A Feminist Blog

  2. jessmccabe

    I am the editor of The F-Word. Just wanted to say thanks for the mention, and a quick correction. We have about 18 contributors to the blog, you’re right, but the list of feature and review contributors is much longer. You can see a full listing here, it’s more than 200 different people.

    In terms of the rationale for specifying it’s a UK site, you’re absolutely right, most English-language feminist blogs are written by US feminists, or at least North American feminists. Although there’s a lot of cross-over issues, things are a bit different in the UK…

  3. jke4

    Thanks, and sorry about the error–I have made the correction!

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