Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

media. music. feminism. food. city-dwelling. story-telling. and other things.

My Feminine Perspective

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I could say a lot about Helen Rittlemeyer ‘s Doublethink piece on women’s Web sites and blogs, but I’m going to focus on her relatively minor criticism of gender skeptics and their lady-blogging:

… liberal feminists like Kerry Howley, Amanda Marcotte, and Tracy Clark-Flory are gender skeptics who don’t believe that a “feminine perspective” exists. (Which raises the question: If their brand of feminism is right and gender differences are really as superficial as eye color, why have a gendered blog?)

This seems like a cheap shot, a deliberate conflating of ideas for the purpose of a ‘gotcha, silly liberal feminists’ that falls apart with any examination.

Not believing that an inherent “feminine perspective” exists (which is the position of most gender skeptics I’ve read) in no way means that a) a learned gender perspective does not exist, b) there are not topics of concern to women which some may feel don’t receive enough play in mainstream or non-gendered press/blogs, and therefore require their own separate outlet, or c) it’s not beneficial for readership/branding/intellectual/whatever purposes to gather a bunch of women together to talk about women’s topics. I fail to see how any of those three things negate a belief that we aren’t born with preferences on football or the color pink.

My other serious contention with the piece is that Helen seems to take Double X and Broadsheet as representative of all women’s blogs. I know for brevity’s sake it’s necessary for a writer to focus on a few examples. But using only these two, similarly-constructed women’s blogs leaves out some important contrasting types, and makes me think Helen was being this selective only to avoid having to delve deeper than her core argument that women’s blogs are lazy, chatty and unintellectual.

One of the most popular women’s blogs, Feministe, often offers a much more intellectual approach to and long-form critiques of feminist issues. This isn’t always great; Jill is the only writer currently there that can pull it off interestingly.  I’ve stopped reading Feministe, for the most part, because there are only so many intro to queer theory essays I can handle. But it is a women’s blog with a slightly different approach.

It’s also a for-love endeavor, versus a for-profit endeavor (as Broadsheet and Double X are). Whether you’re a women’s blog, a sports site or CNN, page views do, somewhat, dictate content, something which Helen’s essay fails to address entirely. I don’t read Marie Claire and expect that that “editorial” content about the best new brand of lipstick was completely and solely the brainchild of some enterprising, lipstick loving reporter. Economic reasons for the creation, tone and content of any publication, women’s blogs included, is a major aspect to overlook.

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Written by Elizabeth

December 1, 2009 at 9:48 am

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