But What About The Rest Of Us?

Earlier today, everyone on Twitter was sharing an article that recently came out in New York Magazine. The Rebirth of the Feminist Manifesto is a positive look at how the feminist discussion has moved to the ‘net and it profiles various feminist websites and blogs .

I should be happy. Rarely do feminists get a positive plug in the media (unless it’s from their own hand, i.e. Ms., Bitch, Bust, etc…). Some articles are negative, others infuse an eye-rolling tone, and others play up stereotypes and falsehoods. So, when a well written article that extolls the virtues of various feminist websites and blogs pops up, especially in a mainstream publication like New York Magazine, I should be happy, right?

And I am.

To a point.

Because the article just seems to pay lip service to the idea of feminist writing. Despite being complimentary, it only begins to skim the surface of the rich and diverse writings within the feminist blogosphere.

The sites mentioned within the article itself, and the list of ones at the end seem to be the big hitters that everyone already knows about. That’s not to say that these websites aren’t great. Many of them are ones that I read daily. Hell, Jezebel is my go to site when I’m hanging out at procrastination station avoiding actual work. I’ll sit there and click refresh over and over again to see if they have any new content.

The article also does a great job of providing a racially diverse list of websites…something that is usually overlooked when posting feminist resources or links. So kudos.

But… (and you just knew there was a but coming)…

What about the rest of us?

While I understand not being able to list every feminist blogger out there, what about at least talking about the other conversations that are occurring within the feminist blogosphere? For me, the biggest gaping hole I found in the article was parents. Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know – parents aren’t hip. But we’re here and we’re part of the feminist conversation.

I know I’m talking about myself here…but I think the conversation feminist parents are having is an important one. Not only are we raising future feminists, but we’re also actively working to ensure that the world they grow up in is an accepting, egalitarian one.

Blogs like blue milk, The Feminist Breeder, Raising My Boychick, Mamalicious, Viva LaFeminista and more add another rich level to the conversation, and are vital to creating a more inclusive dialogue.

I already sometimes feel that there’s enough division within the feminist sphere to begin with (breeders vs. child free, etc…) that neglecting to even mention the existence of feminist parenting bloggers feels like a slight (no matter how unintentional I’m sure it was).

While I’m thrilled that feminist writers and bloggers are getting some mainstream coverage, I just wish that other parts of this important sphere also got a nod.

What do you think? Am I being too critical? Should I just be thankful that the feminist blogosphere is at least getting some positive coverage, or is there justification in feeling slighted that large portions of the community were overlooked?

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29 thoughts on “But What About The Rest Of Us?

  1. No, you’re not being too critical. Feminist mothers have long been left out of the conversation. We’re marginalized by the same women who insist on being taken out of the margins. It’s a major problem, and one I thank you for considering.

  2. Your points are valid. Very valid. I am a SAHM by choice & that does not mean I’m not a feminist. The voices of feminist mothers are too often overshadowed &/or dismissed by others within feminism & outside of it.

    • Yes! Mothers already deal with plenty outside the feminist sphere, that it boggles my mind that there are pockets of exclusivity within it. I think the whole SAHM aspect is a dicey one even within the feminist mom sphere. I have such trouble understanding why we can all be a part of this larger conversation, and why some get relegated to the side :/

      • So say we all!

        Just because not every single post on my blog is about feminism does not mean I am not a feminist. Just because I am a mother does not mean I am not a feminist. Just because I will never have a daughter does not mean I am not a feminist. Just because I am a cis-gendered, heterosexual-identified traditionally married woman does not mean I am not a feminist.

        I absolutely think you are not being too critical. If we don’t speak up for ourselves, who will?

    • Completely. I understand it to a degree, but it doesn’t make it any less acceptable. I myself had an internal struggle when I 1st became a mom…so many conflicting identities, and sure, it took a while for them all to meld. I wish there was a way to make the conversation more inclusive, rather than exclusive.

  3. You’re absolutely right!

    I’m often frustrated, too, by what I feel are false dichotomies that sprout up in the feminist blogosphere (and very few other places in feminist theory or activism) between parents and non-parents. So much of feminist activism is rooted in motherhood and parenting that it’s not a superficial oversight to leave that type of blogging off the list — it’s a misrepresentation of a critical element of the movement.

  4. The feminist parent’s voice is not only largely dismissed and discounted…it is essential and incredibly challenging. My views as a feminist were much more simple and easy to enact as a young single woman and later as a young married woman. But as a mother? And not only a mother but a stay-at-home, bed-sharing, extended breastfeeding mother? It is far more complicated. The ghosts of second-wave feminism haunt me, telling me that the life I have chosen is not only devaluing me but sending a harmful message to the world at large. The voices fairly scream, “You have seconded yourself and your needs! We vote you out of the sisterhood!!” Add in my husband trying to raise two daughters to become affirmed, self-assured women in a princess-obsessed, Bratz-doll-buying culture…being a feminist parent is damned hard and has a strong, important message to send.

    • Amen. It *is* hard being a feminist parenting, especially in the face of everything you mentioned. And that’s why it feels a little like not being invited to the party when this segment of the population gets left out of the feminist conversation!

  5. I wholeheartedly agree. There seems to be a pervading belief that to be a feminist one must be a) ideally childfree, if she has children that is okay- as long as she is unmarried (a woman who is married with children cannot be defined as a feminist) b) if married must keep her maiden name or at minimum hyphenate c)a devoted career woman.

    I am none of the above- but I am a dedicated feminist- in the sense that I believe that the genders are equal (and if the truth be told women are tougher than men). Feminism means that I have choices. I do not have to conform to anyone’s model.

    No person will marginalize me, male or female.

      • I don’t think anyone is saying that there is anything wrong with being A-C. What is being said is that those who fit under A-C are (for the most part) the “face” of the feminist movement and that’s not entirely accurate. They’re also perceived as the most vocal or active members as well – which, again – not entirely accurate. That can be discouraging and frustrating, especially if you do not find yourself in categories A-C.

        It’s not wrong. It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different. And, ideally – we’d all figure out how to keep progressing amidst these differences imo.

  6. “Just being grateful” for what’s handed down to us = the opposite of feminism. I am all about gratitude, but I don’t think gratitude conflicts with thoughtful criticism. Women have been told for ages (literally) that being grateful means keeping our mouths shut about whatever we don’t like. “Have a job title above secretary? Then stop complaining that your male coworker makes more money; he has a family to support!” Yes, it was awesome to have jobs, but first-wave feminists were not about to settle for better jobs with unequal pay. I don’t think we should settle for seeing feminism included in the conversation if it’s not being properly represented. Yes, it’s awesome that feminist bloggers are being included. But we’d also like people to pay attention to the diversity of writers in the feminist blogosphere. That doesn’t sound like too much to ask to me!

  7. Hiya Mamafesto. Emily Nussbaum here. Thanks for the critique: I definitely get what you’re saying and will think about it.

    I’m a mother myself, for what it’s worth, with two small kids. And I do read plenty of parent blogs and communities, although I fully acknowledge that they’re not in this particular piece (among other things, I wrote a big New York Magazine story about Urbanbaby a few years back.) Part of the reason parents weren’t represented here was due to my specific focus on young feminism, especially the college/20something-centric Slutwalk movement. There was originally a line in the article about the presence of bloggers with kids, specifically about how for some prominent young bloggers/activists, having kids changes their POV and often shifts the way they write online—but it was cut for space, as several other things were. No excuse, but just to let you know I was thinking about it. And I can certainly see how leaving that sentence out made young feminism sound like a phenomenon solely for the childless.

    I do wish I’d put a representative Feminist Parenting site into the sidebar. The phenomenon of parents online is so complex: in addition to feminist parents, there are plenty of overtly anti-feminist parent-bloggers, there’s the whole issue of mothers who blog being co-opted by advertisers, and obviously there’s a hugely condescending attitude in the mainstream media toward “mommy-blogging” as a trend. Basically, it deserves an article of its own! In any case, thanks for the feedback and I’m eager to hear what other people have to say.

    • Hi Emily – thanks for stopping by and reading my response. I really do appreciate your article in the sense that it at least got the feminist conversation out there in the mainstream in a positive light – we definitely need more of that.

      I think my frustration is rooted in the fact that feminist parents seem relegated to the side or often ignored. I understand the desire to focus on young feminism, but even within that realm, there are still plenty of parents (in fact, I just had a guest post from a [former] teen mother and the research she’s doing on teen pregnancy/birth).

      “Mommy Bloggers” get mainstream coverage all of the time, yet hardly any of them are from the feminist community. If they are, it’s most likely for a token soundbite because of the latest “scandal.”

      I just feel like feminist bloggers who write about parenting contribute a good chunk to the overall discussion, and it just sucks when they’re overlooked. It feels as if we (as women, mothers, feminists, etc…) get placed in the corner enough by mainstream society that when “our own” does the same, it hurts.

      I also understand needing to edit for space, but it definitely would have been great to see at least one feminist parenting blog linked at the end, or including the line you omitted about parenting.

    • Emily, Thank you for coming by here and offering your perspective. I really appreciate that.

      Unfortunately, knowing that feminist parents were considered, and then left on the cutting room floor, leaves me with a worse taste in my mouth than if one were just ignorant of their existence on the radar to begin with. Also, there are many feminist parenting bloggers who are quite vocal in the SlutWalk movement. Shannon Drury from The Radical Housewife has been covering it almost nonstop. She marched in SlutWalk Minneapolis. Jake Aryeh Marcus from Sustainable Mothering has also been quite vocal about the movement, specifically on her facebook page.

      And what constitutes a “young” feminist blogger? Does young only mean childfree? I’m 33 – maybe that’s not considered young anymore, but there are other feminist parenting bloggers in their twenties who could have been considered for the sidebar. I understand that the piece focused on “young” bloggers and the SlutWalk movement, but it conveniently left out all of the young feminist SlutWalk bloggers who also happen to be parents.

      …something to consider.

      • Yes – I also meant to mention that in the article, Emily references the Northampton, MA Slutwalk (that they renamed to Stomp & Holler) – this is my hometown, and had I not been hopelessly flailing and thinking I was dying (nah, just the flu) I would have certainly been there, with my son in tow. In fact, I’m planning a post as part of my Bitch blog series on Not Losing Your Activism as a parent. My son was right there with me when we Occupied Main St in Northampton.

        I definitely feel that parents (especially mothers) get marginalized b/c many think “oh, well they’re not interested in that” or “they’re only interested in their kids” and that line of thinking can be very dangerous. Not only does it end up alienating an entire group of people who could potentially be helping a cause, but it also prevents real change from happening.

    • Really? Are you really saying that a piece on young feminism was crafted to leave out mothers?

      You not only missed Feminist Breeder at an old young 33, but the Evil Slut Clique has moms in it. AND they embrace the word slut. http://evilslutopia.com/ You could have also acknowledged that Feminste was started by Lauren Bruce who always acknowledged that she was a teenaged mom.

      Oddly the definition of young is up for debate. I was recently on “NBC Nightly News” as the young feminist mom at the ripe old age of 36. That was compared to the other women featured who are in their 60s. There has to be a way to use the term “young feminism” and acknowledge that not only do we have high profile teens (Tavi), early 20s (Shelby), but also late 20s, early 30s feminists. We bemoan it when the media shames women like Kim Kardashian for being unwed at 30 and labeling her an old maid, yet piece after piece we see young feminism getting younger and younger. Yes, I am thrilled that we have high profile teen feminists, but that doesn’t mean that we should cut off young feminist at 25.

      What I’m also saddened about is that the piece is also another example of East Coast feminism. If the power of the blog and internet is that awesome, let’s hear from some fly-over feminists.

      Don’t take this critique to mean I didn’t appreciate the piece. It was good. But the exclusion of mothers and non-East Coasters (outside of the sidebar list) is predictable, but still disappointing.

      • One more thought…The am hugely disappointed that Nussbaum failed to mention that the explosion of feminist blogs in 2004 (her analysis, not mine) coincided with the 2004 March for Women’s Lives. I was blogging back then and had a blog to try to drum up buzz in our scattered feminist blogging world. I believe that the buzz the march created (not my blog, the actual march) helped fuel the feminist blogosphere.

        OK, I’m done…for now.

  8. You raise a really good point here about the lack of feminist parent bloggers. It seems like Nussbaum left a lot out of the conversation here. There were no international feminist bloggers (ahem, Gender Across Borders). It seemed like all of the bloggers were U.S. and New York-based.

    • For sure, Emily! I meant to touch on the others that got looked over as well (especially global feminist bloggers b/c of my involvement with GAB!). But, as soon as I got started on the exclusion of feminist parents I just kept going down that path, and my focus shifted. But yes, there was a lot that wasn’t taken into consideration. On one hand I understand that you can’t talk about *everything* but on the other hand there were a lot of big gaps as well.

      • But Nussbaum made a point to point out that Slut Walk was an international phenomena. It was not US-born and had expanded past Canada-USA. Inclusion of GAB would had been totally appropriate without expanding the story one bit.

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  10. Emily Nussbaum, if you’re still reading, I urge you to pitch a piece on feminist (for lack of a better word) mommybloggers to your editors. You’ve got some incredibly smart and thoughtful sources in The MamaFesto’s comments section alone, including yours truly,a 40-year-old SlutWalking mom of two!

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