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An Open Letter to the Feminist Blogosphere

Dear Feminist Bloggers,

I have to confess, when the Weblog Awards come around, I am usually overwhelmed with the number of how many blogs I DON'T read even though, during the other 364 days of the year, I usually feel like I spend too much time reading other blogs and not working on my own.

Well, this year is no exception.  Plenty of great writing and creating going on among the nominees.

I read The Bilerico Project, which is up for Best LBGT Blog.  There's not just one thing that I admire about this place, it's just a great group of folks; incisive, provocative, smart.  Serve me up some Bilerico anytime.

I'm a fan of Bitch, PhD which is under Best Very Large Blog.  I mean, besides this being Bitch Magazine and all, Bitch, PhD is a terrific corner of the internet.  Bold, fierce, kind of like watching a rocket first thing in the morning.  That's how I feel about this site.

Under Best Hidden Gem, I am hands down for Zuky.  Kai Chang is a great supporter of many women of color bloggers and he is ALL about quality writing, quality editing, quality everything.  In my mind, Zuky is the blog I give a tender hug every time I read it.  It ranges from sobering to free flowing music to jack in the box howling laughter.

Black Women, Blow the Trumpet is up under Best Small Blog and I gotta hand it to BWBTT, it deserves every vote.  I began reading a few short months ago and am impressed with the overall energy of the writing.  Not to mention, BWBTT is a community builder kind of blog.  I often spot her leaving encouraging comments around the internets.

Not that Dooce needs any more press, but under Best Diarist, Dooce took my vote purely because I've read her off and on and watched her make her jump into internet fame and make a bucket of money along the way.  She's probably the only mainstream-ish blog I read.  What I appreciate most is that she makes me honestly laugh out loud and not LOL kind of fake way, but in a LAUGH OUT LOUD kind of way.

Feministe has a nice round-up of pointing out the "feminist" blogs and offers a guide as to whom may want to throw your weight behind and, of course, it always begs the questions, "What makes a blog feminist?"  Out of the blogs out there, what criteria makes a blog feminist?  What separates a "feminist" blog from a gender-centered "liberal" blog?  What criteria do you have for what makes a writer a "feminist?"

Then, I got thinking about the larger blogosphere and the power of the internet.  Is the feminist blogosphere any different than other blogosphere?  Do we have any joined purpose or any points of unity?  

As soon as I asked myself that, horrid memories of past blog wars and division came to memory.  For sanity's and this post's sake, I shirked them off quickly and got back to the questions filling my brain:

Is there any linear organization among feminist blogs other than category, which typically functions more for division and ease of surfing?  Do we, feminist bloggers, agree on ANYTHING?  Or are we in existence the same way, say, culinary blogs are - informative for their audiences, community building for those seeking alliances, challenging those who want to learn?  Those are all fine purposes, but, I can't help but feel more responsibility than that.  Am I alone?  As a feminist BLOGOSPHERE, do we hold any form of higher purpose for women's lives? Or do we get wrapped up in our individually wrapped fem-brands and remain set in our preferred ways of blogging?  As a collective, can and should the feminist blogosphere strive to serve a unified deeper purpose than others?  Is that even possible?

Is this a balanced comparison?

Feminisms = Improving Women's Lives                 

AS

Feminist Blogosphere = Improving Women's Lives

Is the feminist blogosphere a functioning arm of feminism?  I'd say YES.  How many educators are using the feminist blogosphere in the classroom, community discussions, printing off unknown feminist poets, forwarding the pseudonym-ed writers for the purpose of learning and activism?  Countless.

How many lives are improved because of the feminist blogosphere?  My life has certainly been enriched by hundreds of writers and philosophers ranging in topic from feminist jurisprudence to feminist disability rights to recipes for financially restricted women and their families.  I've found a community of writers offline because of the feminist blogosphere.

How many lives OUTSIDE the feminist blogosphere, outside internet circles, are improved by our writing and work?  We could insert the "seed" argument here. ("You never know how many seeds you have planted and how they've grown to influence someone's actions and how that action spurred another and..."  AKA - the silent and rarely witnessed domino effect.)  And I'm not proposing that we start a cyber crusade, bathed in US colonialism, of "helping" those we deem marginalized.  I'm simply asking a question:  Is the feminist blogosphere improving, or striving to improve, ALL women's lives? 

How easy it is to forget the priviliege of writing, reading, and keeping a blog.  It comes with time, access, and security.  How might the feminist blogosphere be informed if we could find a way to make media available to the women of Gaza right now? Or if we could read about the best diarist of incarcerated feminists?  Would those win any awards?  Maybe "Most Courageous," or how about "Largest Risk Takers?" or "Most Needed?"  I'd love to see the feminist blogosphere identify not just the worthy blogs that deserve recognition, but actually work together on just one thing.  We're bloggers.  We create a form of media.  Where is our collective media justice?  Is that too tall of an order?

The feminist blogosphere remains immeasurable in its richness and it is a privilege to be a part of a community of bloggers who are informed by feminism and write for therapeutic, educational, and activist reasons. However, I contend that we, as a messy, loveable, crazy community, can always do better.  And should.

I remain, blogfully yours,

Lisa 

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Comments

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should is not a feminist word, imo

I've read this question enough lately that I think it's the zeitgeist question: here we all are, we're so big & so talented that we might have way more leverage than we're exercising...so what should we be doing with all this clout?

These are good questions and I have my answers, which I've been throwing around here and there, lately in reply to posts on Fem2.0 and also in my development of Feminist Advisory Board for Obama.

I'd write more here, but I'm supposed to go to Costco with my husband! And I've been seriously neglecting our marriage since I started living online almost a year ago. But, I appreciate the invitation to discuss this, so lemme see if I can state where I'm coming from...

1. Should is not a feminist word, imo. You don't help women in Gaza or in Darfur or in Congo or in the factories of China or on welfare in NYC by telling other women what they should do. Patriarchy has been telling women what they should do since forever and imo women individually & collectively must chart their own courses & discover their true selves.

2. As visible as feminists are online, we are not visible to women who don't identify as feminist. There are gigantic populations of women who are on the same page as feminists but really have no clue what feminism is all about.

3. I want to see groups of women discussing their lives online, no experts. I want this to be accessible to all women. I'm working on it.

MadamaAmbi, Thanks for your

MadamaAmbi,

Thanks for your good, strong words.

I agree with your points, especially the parts that should-ing all over other women - regardless of location - is not on the feminist agenda.

I meant that the larger blogosophere, with the privileges that come with it, have a larger responsibility AND opportunity.  I believe that with "power" (or privilege, or access, or ease) comes responsibility.  However that action is taken - homes, Costco, the Hill, jobs, online - the "should" is rooted in recognizing that we certainly have an avenue for forming collective action. So, let's.

It is a call to collective action, not an order.