The very awesome Emily Nussbaum has an article in this week’s New York Magazine featuring feminist bloggers. The article is running in conjunction with a feature about the 40 year anniversary of Ms. Magazine and gives a brief history of the rise, importance, paradox and evolution of blogging. Similar to the conversations surrounding Ms. Magazine, blog conversations are diverse, sloppy and the very basis of current feminist activism.
Ms. magazine was a crucial publication, and I read every issue of it up until 1994, when its out-of-touch porn-debate issue irritated me sufficiently that I put it down forever. But as many women as Ms. spoke to and for, it rarely featured the kind of swashbuckling manifestos that supercharged so much of seventies feminism—the sort that were published in The Village Voice (Jill Johnston) and in small-press journals (Audre Lorde) and in slightly bananas but also kind of brilliant books like Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex and in writing I disagreed with entirely but found spellbinding. (Say what you will about Valerie Solanas, she was never boring.)
It’s the stuff that for many years you could find only in the file drawers of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, rarely in mainstream magazines, and certainly not in women’s magazines, which over time became blandly liberal-feminist by default, but never wild, let alone capable of pushing an argument so hard that everyone had to talk about it. For too long, it was the anti-feminists who owned that brand: Katie Roiphe, Camille Paglia, Caitlin Flanagan.
And this bold style might have been lost forever, if it weren’t for the web. Lacking editors (whose intolerance for insanity tends to sand off pointy edges), lacking balance (as any self-publishing platform tends to), laced with humor and fury (emotions intensified by the web’s spontaneity), the blogosphere has transformed feminist conversation, reviving in the process an older style of activism among young women. It’s a renaissance that began around 2004, when feminist blogs were rare. Left-wing blogging was on the rise, a phenomenon that was strikingly male. As writer Amanda Marcotte says, laughing in recollection, “We had a running joke about how every three months, another guy would publish a post about ‘Why don’t women blog?’ And we would all comment, ‘We’re out here; fuck you!’ ”