From “How the Blogosphere Has Transformed the Feminist Conversation” by Emily Nussbaum in New York Magazine:
“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…
“Then, during the 2008 presidential campaign, the Net exploded with debate about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, not to mention Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama. At the time, the website Jezebel—the flamboyant ‘Girlie Gawker’ founded by Anna Holmes—got the biggest numbers it had seen since its launch.
“As the volume of posts increased, subjects recurred from early feminism, including outrage at sexual violence. But there were also striking differences: While seventies feminists had little truck with matrimony, feminist bloggers lobbied for gay marriage. There were deconstructions of modern media sexism, including skeptical responses to the ‘concern-trolling’ of older women who made a living denouncing the ‘hookup epidemic.’ There was new terminology: ‘slut-shaming,’ ‘body-snarking,’ ‘cisgender.’ And there were other cultural shifts as well: an acceptance (and sometimes a celebration) of porn, an interest in fashion, and the rise of the transgendered-rights movement, once seen as a threat, now viewed as a crucial part of sexual diversity.
“Perhaps most strikingly, there was a freewheeling fascination with celebrity culture and reality television, even on the most radical sites. Instead of viewing pop culture as toxic propaganda, bloggers embraced it as a shared language, a complex code to be solved together, and not coincidentally, something fun. In an age of search engines, it was a powerful magnet: Again and again, bloggers described popculture posts to me as a ‘gateway drug’ for young women—an isolated teenager in rural Mississippi would Google ‘Beyoncé’ or ‘Real Housewives,’ then get drawn into threads about abortion. Some of the best memes out there are the least categorisable, like Feminist Ryan Gosling, a blog that features the adorable star of Drive ‘citing’ poststructuralist philosopher Judith Butler. Is it a joke? A turn-on? A sly carrier for theory? It doesn’t really matter, because it’s the perfect viral pass-around.”