As feminist thought leaders head to Occupy Wall Street (watch them here) to denounce capitalism, feminist online communities are struggling to create viable (and just) economic models for long-term sustainability. This week’s New York Magazine feature illustrates how online communities of young women are addressing race, abortion, sexual health and harassment, on a fraction of a news outlets budget. So feminism isn’t dead, we’re just struggling to stay a float financially.
But it’s not uncommon for women to believe feminism has died, or worse, that it’s not needed anymore. Have you been to a college classroom lately? Many young women refuse to identify as feminists for fear of being labeled a man-hating lesbian. It doesn’t help that feminist issues are played down in the media if addressed at all. In fact, it wasn’t until Sunday that New York Magazine began to cover our vibrant 5 year old community.
On Monday I spoke with a philanthropist who was certain that today’s young women were merely riding on the tails of second wave feminists, failing to make traction of their own. That’s a firmly held belief that can be consistently supported if one continues to look in all the old places for signs of life. But we’ve moved. (The rent was too damn high.)
Feminist communities are now online and they consist of women writing smart and snarky responses to the low-calorie liberation found in glossy women’s magazines, RomComs and in the mainstream media. Feminist online communities are generating massive amounts of written work. I emphasize written because the talk-back occurs mostly in blog form on sites like Feministing, Tiger Beatdown and Racialicious. There is so much participation in these communities that posts are retweeted, Facebook Liked, posted to Tumblr, commented on and re-posted all over the web within minutes.
Freed from the boundaries of print, writers could blur the lines between formal and casual writing; between a call to arms, a confession, and a stand-up routine—and this new looseness of form in turn emboldened readers to join in, to take risks in the safety of the shared spotlight.
I came to this community with more video remix experience than blogging (I was no Tavi). I didn’t know how to participate but knew I had to. My solution was to use what I had on hand: combine the remix technique, instead of words, to respond to pop-culture. I wanted to show, not just tell. I’m a firm believe in “you can’t be what you can’t see.”
The written work emerging from feminist online communities heavily informs and influences my remixes. More importantly, it contributes to the larger, ongoing process of consuming, critiquing, and creating that’s vital to sustaining the ecosystem of feminist web content. You can’t have one without the other. It’s about time we all get some props.