Feminist blogging, a marketing ploy?

Image from Jezebel.com

Is feminist blogging legitimate or just another marketing tool? That seems to be a question getting tossed around the blogosphere.

 It all started because of a post by Emily Gould about Jezebel and similar sites. In her post Gould asserts that these sites are not helping women but are still perpetuating female insecurities to generate ad sells and page views. She also goes on to state that open and honest discussions about major female issues can’t happen online stating that:

 “It’s certainly important to have honest, open conversations about the issues that reliably rake in comments and page views—rape, underage sexuality, and the cruel tyranny of the impossible beauty standards promoted by most advertisers and magazines (except the ones canny enough to use gently lit, slightly rounder, older, or more ethnic examples of “true beauty”). But, it may just be that it’s not possible to have these conversations online.”

Reading through Gould’s piece, I couldn’t help but be frustrated that she was suggesting the very blogs that are trying to spread the word about women’s issues and the need for change are doing it for unseemly reasons.

 In my time here at the Women’s Center I have read my fair share of feminist blogs and news articles about women’s issues. I have to say that most of the time I find them informative, and sometimes I am relieved that someone else is talking about issues that I care about. I feel a little less alone and less like I am the only one who cares about the issues, in short it makes me feel like there is a whole big world of “crazy feminists” (sorry couldn’t resist) like me. That being said I am not immune to sometimes rolling my eyes at posts and thinking that they are making something out of nothing. But Gould took it to a whole other level by making it seem like the legitimacy of the sites is in question.

 Gould’s main point about sites just looking for views and comments was spurred on by the ruckus that Jezebel has made about The Daily Show and calling the show and Jon Stewart “sexist” and saying that Olivia Munn didn’t get hired for her political views and wit, but for her large male following. Many females who work at The Daily Show responded to all the hype in their own letter that basically said that they love it there and The Daily Show is a female friendly place to work, but who’s to say that Jezebel was completely off base with their piece? There have been only 2 female correspondents (including Munn) on the show in 7 years. In addition to the Daily Show conundrum, Gould references other posts on Jezebel about body image being like all the magazines out there that use female insecurities to get a following:          

 “Ergo, more provocative posts tend to generate far more page views, and the easiest way for Jezebel writers to be provocative is to stoke readers’ insecurities—just in a different way. Instead of mimicking the old directly anxiety-making model—for example, by posting weight-loss tips and photos of impossibly thin models like a traditional women’s magazine. Jezebel and the Slate and Salon “lady-blogs” post a critique of a rail-thin model’s physique, explaining how her attractiveness hurts women. The end result is the same as the old formula—women’s insecurities sell ads.”

For Gould to assert that the writers of Jezebel and other feminist blogs are just looking for anything that will get them page views and comments and aren’t actually trying to promote female equality and are just playing off women’s insecurities is a bit of a stretch.

 The feminist blog Feministe fired back at Gould’s piece saying that online communities and blogs that are feminist driven are a great way for women to experience “sisterhood” and to stay informed about issues and get involved in progressing women’s equality.

The feminist blogosphere is growing all the time with blogs that range from teenage feminists to moms blogging about women’s issues to bigger sites like Feministing. Some might even call this blog a “feminist driven” blog. I think that Gould is way off base in her piece. Blogs and feminist sites are a great way to spread awareness and to inform people of ongoing issues and a way to connect people and provide a sense of community. And to say that these sites are reinforcing women’s insecurities or are simply posting things even if they are way off base just to get hits is ridiculous. Sure some of the comments can get out of hand and sometimes Jezebel and the like post things that even a feminist like me rolls my eyes at, but that’s just a part of having people with different points of view contributing to the sites. We all have different opinions and put varying levels of importance on issues, it all depends on where you are coming from.

I would say that like any information you take in, you have decide for yourself what is important and what is sensationalized but to say that feminist sites are playing off women’s insecurities and that they don’t help open up discussions is far from true. The important thing is that these blogs get us talking about and aware of the issues out there.

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