I love Feministing, and I’ll tell you why.
It’s a convenient and obliging source of women’s news. It’s chock full of useful links. It’s a group blog with prodigious updates on current events (in contrast to, say, the gratuitously ornate theorizings of a stone lone crone with a moan-prone tone honing her funnybone on a lime green throne).
And it’s a feminist gateway drug.
The women of Feministing are young, yes, and not radical, no, but they are possessed of an engaging, optimistic vim that the avalanche of time has, perhaps, squashed out of many crumpled old spinster aunts. They know the hep lingo. They like sex. They post pictures. They’re intelligent-yet-accessible. They’re political. They can remember the last time they set foot on a college campus.
In other words, they’ve got their finger on the pulse of the zany youth culture of today!
It’s only natural that the nascent feminists of tomorrow, just beginning to explore a future separate from being unpopular in high school, would be attracted to Feministing. They’re 18. Their hormones are snap crackle poppin’. They want to be like the hip, self-actualized Feministingers. This is good, because Feministing gets a lot of the basic stuff right. They’re blamin’ the patriarchy left and right, and they’re doing it, not with a bunch of pie-in-the-sky inaccessible revolutionary theory that takes months, if not years, of committed intellectualizing to grasp, but with cogent, cut-to-the-chase commentary on current events. To wit:
Here is Jessica Valenti on a Wayout TV bit called “Abortionman” (Just eaten a nice lunch? And are now leaning back with your heels on your desk, basking in deep-fried satisfaction? Don’t watch the clip.): “When will people realize that violence against women isn’t fucking funny?”
Or this, on Tesco stores marketing padded bras to 1st-graders: “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If you need to cover up a six years-old’s non-breasts in order to feel like she’s being ‘discreet,’ there’s something wrong with the way you look at six year-old girls.”
Or this, on My Beautiful Mommy, a book written by a cosmetic surgeon purporting to explain to (female) children why Mum must get a nose job and a tummy tuck: “I’m certainly not going to sit in judgment of those who get plastic surgery – but do we really have to teach our kids that we need it to ‘feel better’ and be ‘beautiful’? Ugh.”
Here’s Samhita planting revolution-scented seeds of discontent on the subject of marriage: “[A]s long as marriage is pushed to maintain traditional gender roles, it is under the purview of patriarchy. Not allowing gay marriage is just another way to maintain male gender dominance in heteronormative marriage structures [...] It is going to take a lot more than a mainstream, middle class, gay marriage movement to dismantle the oppressive state-sanctioned, culturally mandated apparatus that heternormative marriage is.”
Quoth Ann on mandatory-ultrasound legislation that would compel abortion providers to force patients to view the fetus prior to receiving treatment (!): “What mandatory-ultrasound-viewing bills do is insult women by assuming they haven’t fully considered what they’re doing when they decide to opt for abortion. We don’t need the “help” of antichoice state legislators to understand what abortion is. We get it.”
If Feministing manages to suck in a few more of the fem-curious by alluding to misogynist heteronormative reality shows as “guilty pleasures,” what of it? If only I, as a teen idealist looking for something to blame, had had access to Feministing! It might have saved me years of counter-productive fumbling. When, for example, I first thought to dip a tentative toe into the steaming pool of feminist theory, my first move was to stumble into Left Bank Books and pick up a Mary Daly.
This move was ill-advised. Why? I’d had no basic blaming training. I wasn’t ready. Maybe it was different for you, but what I said was, “Damn, what is this incomprehensible shit?” I dropped the book into a dusty crevice and went out drinking with my boyfriend (yes, boyfriend; that’s how far gone I was), a guy who thought it was hilarious to introduce me around as “some red-headed whore I picked up in a bar.” I didn’t come home for like 12 years.
What I’m driving at is that no radical feminist springs from the womb a fully-formed revolutionary. Schooling future radfems may not be Feministing’s stated mission, but they’re performing a great service in that quarter, and it’s time they got props for it.