The Femisphere: Welcome to a New Series

All too often, when mainstream media turns its attention toward anything related to feminism, one of two things happens.

The first is a heavy-handed criticism of feminism, either for being too radical or too obsolete in “this day and age.” The second is that contemporary feminism is given due credit for its incredible energy and influence. However, when this occurs, it’s usually only the “big names” that are referenced. For instance, in Emily Nussbaum’s New York magazine piece “The Rebirth of the Feminist Manifesto,“ Nussbaum does a good job of profiling the heavy hitters out there in the feminist online space (Amanda Marcotte, Irin Carmon, Molly Lambert, Feministing, Racialicious), but misses an opportunity to feature some of the great resources, blogs and writers who don’t get as much lip service.

A few months ago I wrote about my disappointment with the way the media skims the surface of the feminist blogosphere and what it has to offer. Many people seemed to agree with me. From Facebook to Twitter to my own site, fellow feminists voiced similar frustration over being left out of the larger conversation.

My feelings only solidified last month when I participated in Ms.’s “Future of Feminism” series in honor of Women’s History Month. I wrote a short, less-than-500-word blurb on feminist parenting bloggers. Again, I got a resounding response of “Yes! Thank you!” and then, “But we want more!”

And so this series was born. I figured that instead of waiting for mainstream media or anybody else to sit up and take notice of the hundreds of other strong, passionate and interesting feminist voices online, I’d do it myself.

There is a richness and depth within the feminist blogosphere that deserves exploring. There are feminists writing about parenting, geek culture, reproductive rights, class issues, sex, disability, race, gender, youth and so much more.

Each future post in the series will take on a different sub-genre within the “femisphere.” Sometimes one or two different sites will be highlighted and profiled; other times a number may participate in a roundtable discussion. Either way, we’ll take a closer look at the various feminist sites out there and find out how they started, what makes them tick and what we can look forward to from them. I will also always do my best to include a resource list of related sites within each post.

The first post of this series will start where my “Future of Feminism” piece left off and devote some more words and attention to feminist “mommy bloggers”–so stay tuned!

After that? The sky’s the limit. I have some sites and sub-genres in mind, but even with all the time I manage to spend online, I’ve hardly made a dent on what feminist cyberspace has to offer. That’s where you come in. I know you have your favorite feminist blogs, vlogs, or Tumblrs, or are attached to a particular sub-genre within the movement. Please leave any and all suggestions in the comments below, and join me soon for the first post in this new and exciting series!

Photo from Flickr user Mike Licht, Notions Capital under Creative Commons 3.0

Comments

  1. Woo hoo! Hooray for Ms. for hosting this series. Can’t wait to read it!

  2. So excited about this! Fabulous!

    One thing that is really interesting to me is the way in which the blogosphere may over lap with other topics – like the Mommy Bloggers. Or, for me, I started out blogging about dating and sex. It really is a place we can branch out, show overlap, and exemplify how women (and men!) are multifaceted beings. Moreover, it makes clear the overlap in movements – the fact that we can talk about racism and homophobia and sexism.

    Another aspect that’s interesting to me (interesting? is that the word?) is the backlash of MRAs against feminism – ESPECIALLY within the blogosphere. That boundary can be so hateful and vehement, I wonder often how to engage instead of fight. I think of myself as very pro-men, but find myself becoming more confrontational when I try to engage certain groups or people. In addition, when the MRAs talk about feminists, I often wonder WHAT feminist are they talking about?? None that I know – and I’m curious to understand how they have actually engaged with feminists. If that even happened, or they made assumptions… I don’t know!

    Looking forward to this!

    • Yeah, that’s one of the interesting hurdles in this series, is that a lot of bloggers are totally multifaceted, so it will be fun to see where *they* see themselves? I’m not trying to pigeon-hole anyone more than they already are, but for organizational sake, I’ll be working within loose sub-genres. In fact, in the mommy blogger profile coming up, we talked about how many of our blogs are more than *just* “mommy blogs.”

  3. Stephanie says:

    Bitch Flicks!!!! — a feminist film blog that explores “the radical notion that women like good movies” [http://www.btchflcks.com]

  4. I love this idea and am very excited to follow this series.

    A thought: it would be really cool to have a post dedicated to the younger faces (blogs…) of the feminist family. Maybe some college-aged feminists? I think feminism is still a dirty word on campuses a lot of the time (definitely true on mine for the most part, sadly). I can’t think of anyone specifically at the moment but I am sure they are out there.

  5. Heather says:

    I’ve learned to ignore articles like the one in New York magazine. Not read them and ignore them, just ignore them flat out. They rarely note the women working on issues I care about. That’s not a slap to Amanda or any of the other women, it’s just that the non-designated press favorites are usually where the action is. The only big press favorite (and she’s not that big when you consider press coverage) I read would be Melissa of Shakesville.
    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/
    I couldn’t make it through the morning without two sites. C.I.’s brave coverage of Iraq and the US Congress
    http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/
    and Jill and company’s look at the world
    http://www.feministe.us/blog/

    Those are the two sites that regularly astound, inform and nourish me. Saturday, for example, C.I. was writing about PTSD
    http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/2012/03/who-decided-domestic-violence-wasnt.html

    and a government study that found males suffering from PTSD didn’t resort to “outright violence.” But the government’s not classifying domestic abuse as “outright violence” and, instead, likening it to two male buddies getting drunk and getting into a fight.

    I love Jezebel

    http://jezebel.com/

    and The Third Estate Sunday Review

    http://thirdestatesundayreview.blogspot.com/

    for their cultural and entertainment coverage. Which reminds me of an issue I wish we’d all pay attention to. In 2008, Ava and C.I. (Third Estate Sunday Review) stood alone among TV critics in calling PBS out on their primary coverage. Women were the worker bees on PBS, they pointed out. But men got to give opinions. As they noted in this piece

    http://thirdestatesundayreview.blogspot.com/2008/09/tv-more-sexism-more-self-promotion.html

    You had an all male panel of ‘experts’ discussing women in politics for the Republican convention. That does not need to happen again. Last month, they posted screen snaps to remind everyone of how only men were ‘experts’

    http://thirdestatesundayreview.blogspot.com/2012/03/face-of-authority-on-pbs.html

    Surely, PBS can find political columnists and historians that are women to participate in these panels. Those men in the photos were on every night giving thoughts throughout. They were the ‘experts.’ PBS didn’t offer one female expert.

    And while I’m playing get the word out, another piece by Ava and C.I. last month addressed how a public radio station wants you to pay for their sexism.

    http://thirdestatesundayreview.blogspot.com/2012/03/would-you-pay-to-support-sexism-ava-and.html

    KXT out of Dallas (you can stream online) is an all music station. So how many women do they play an hour? Commercial free radio and a ‘good’ hour for women is 2 women in one hour. An average hour is only 1 woman and there are hours where they play no women. And this is a public radio station in the year 2012. That is appalling.

  6. What a great idea! I’m looking forward to it.

  7. We are a super new feminist mommy etc etc site. It’s strange to join this world. Thanks for the awesome series, I look forward to finding lots of awesome new reads.

  8. An excellent idea!, Ms.! I’m going to use this space to promote my Feminist blog: http://www.LulaBelleAuthor.com. I’m a newbie to the scene and I’ve written a book called EXPECTING. My book is a nuanced approach to Feminism targeting young women who are either new to the movement, or on the fence. The protagonist is a teenager impregnated by rape–a hot-button issue–and not happy about it!

  9. Great idea!

  10. Is self-promotion acceptable, if the “self” is actually a group of amazing feminist sex-writers? My partner, Lanae St. John, and I have been busily building a web site full of female sex writers to help women identify and embrace their own sexuality – free from the negative messages and expectations of mainstream media. Our growing collection of writers, with varying backgrounds and sexual expressions (with more joining us every day,) seeks to validate and empower women. http://notsosecret.com

    On the same theme, Lanae and I host Sexxx Talk Radio, http://www.SexxxTalkRadio.com on The Progressive Radio Network, where we take a feminist and sex-positive approach to unpacking sexual bias. Our goal there is similar, but we look more at the news of the day, interview an expert and approach sexuality as a basic human right, no matter your orientation or gender.

    We have a very large reach, but seem to still fly under the radar, and sometimes I think it’s because we don’t choose, for the most part, to complain about other people, as much as we seek to provide positive examples and truly celebrate the diversity and potential of freedom.

  11. SO glad you’ve decided to take on this project!

    I’d love to hear from some feminist/social-justice book bloggers – both those that focus on reviewing books on these topics, and those that focus on books/the publishing industry in general from these perspectives. I do a lot of this at my own blog, The Book Cricket, but the blogroll there is pretty lonely. :)

  12. I’m really excited about Avital Norman Nathman’s new series and especially if it continues to prompt such fascinating comments. I’m in Dallas and Heather’s comments contained so many great links but especially on the KXT issue. Our news public radio station is KERA and KXT is their sister station (‘brother’ station?). I have no idea why KXT exists. I turned them off after two weeks last summer because they play so few women. In an hour, you’ll get about 12 songs and they will never play more than 2 women on their own locally produced shows and usually it is just the one woman. I called in to complain twice. Once in the afternoon and was blown off so I made a point to call in and complain in the morning when the only woman dee jay hosts. Still blown off.
    I agree that it’s appalling and I thought I was the only one who felt that way. I don’t know how you can be public radio and play so few women or how you can raise money doing that.

  13. genfem.com focuses “First World feminism,” the idea being that the most liberal and progressive countries in the world still haven’t figured out how to achieve true gender equality.

  14. [Funny, I was just thinking the same thing, that the internet is awash with great feminist ideas in great blogs and on web sites and in social media !]

    I’d like to recommend that our http://www.2PassERA.org be one of your featured “visits” to see what’s going on out there. Let me know what I can do to sharpen that for you to write about or publish or whatever! Thanks a million!
    Cheers!’
    sandy oestreich, Founder-Pres., National Equal Rights Amendment Alliance;
    Fmr elected official; Co-author, internationally distributed pharmacology reference texts; nurse practitioner; profiled in Feminists Who Changed America; 2012 recipient, Susan B Anthony “Failure is Impossible” award; mom and windsurfer

  15. just in time for this bizarro anti-contraception rampage certain people are on– “Dr. Aa’s Pennyroyal Tabules” is a good literary read: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007JZ3614

    Blogs are everywhere, but don’t forget about longform (or novellas, in this case.)

  16. I enjoy Shannon at The Feminist Mystique (www.thefeministmystique.blogspot.com) for her nuanced, feminist critique of culture, politics, life, academia, and some eco-friendly beauty tips along the way!

  17. There are so many great feminist blogs! I’m excited about this series.

    In addition to some of the bigger ones, like Jezebel, Feministing, Feministe, RHRealityCheck, Racialicious, Crunk Feminist Collective, and Ms., my daily reads include Balancing Jane, The Radical Housewife, Action in Action (more broadly social justice, but still great), From Two to One, and Moms Rising. I also like Gender Across Borders and the National Women’s law Center blog. Although I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

  18. Margaux says:

    This is a great idea, it’s so important for smaller blogs to get this kind of attention. Thank you!

    I read jezebel.com (duh) but I also really love thefeministmystique.blogspot.com/

    Whenever I’m having trouble articulating the way I feel about a topical issue… I know I can go there and find the words I need!

    I also love hellogiggles.com, for women by women!

  19. I’ll put in a plug for my own blog, BroadBlogs (a broad blogs broadly on issues women face) http://BroadBlogs.com/

    I use “the sociological imagination” to gain insight into current events and common concerns among women. For instance, how the powerful (men, whites) have greater power over our ways of seeing since they have historically controlled communication, and our lives, through media, literature, politics, religion and business. Most of the rest of us don’t think to question it. And so, e.g., most Americans think that religious liberty only applies to organized religion, and not to women; hence, the argument over the religious liberty of Bishops v. women’s right to contraception. But shouldn’t women be free from the religious dictates of Bishops? Or, Libertarians worry about liberty but (perhaps don’t realize that) they’re actually concerned with freedom of the powerful, and not freedom of the powerless.

    Growing up Mormon I’ve also explored why women so often defended patriarchy. Or why so many feminists defend patriarchy when “isms” that affect men are involved.

    Seeing through the eyes of the powerful affects women’s personal lives too, making it more difficult for women to enjoy sexuality, for example. Relatedly, I look at how things that seem “real” or “biological” aren’t, as with the breast fetish.

    Some sample posts:

    Markets Must Be Free; Women Must Be Constrained
    http://broadblogs.com/2011/11/07/markets-must-be-free-women-must-be-constrained/

    Why Do The “Isms” That Affect Men Seem More Important?
    http://broadblogs.com/2011/02/25/why-do-the-%e2%80%9cisms%e2%80%9d-that-affect-men-seem-more-important/

    Sex: Who Gets Screwed?
    http://broadblogs.com/2010/11/11/sex-who-gets-screwed/

  20. Great idea. Another feminist mom blog is http://feministpigs.blogspot.com/

    The “first world” mention above reminds me of http://www.genderacrossborders.com/

    The endorsements (in comments) of Jezebel are a caution flag, though. See e.g. http://arewomenhuman.tumblr.com/tagged/NoJez for criticisms of that site. Avital, you may well find yourself in the middle of debates about what to promote and what to shun.

    Best of luck with the series. I will follow and retweet!

  21. This is awesome! Thanks so much for starting this! I’m really excited to see what comes next. I’ve also got a bit of a (biased) suggestion. There are a lot of great reproductive rights blogs out there (yay RH Reality Check) and we all cover a lot of choice/reproduction/women’s health and international issues at feministsforchoice.com.

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