For many, the rise of feminist and female-oriented blogs brought a welcome corrective to traditional women's magazines. It had long been felt that glossies exploited insecurities with headlines like "What Guys Secretly Think of Your Hair and Makeup" or "What Guys Really Notice About Your Looks." At last, websites such as Salon's Broadsheet, Slate's Double X and Jezebel provided a progressive counterweight to the glossies. But have they really enriched the discussion?
Slate contributor Emily Gould thinks not. In her critique of "lady-blogs," she accuses them of practicing a kind of faux-feminism, where manufactured outrage and petty jealousy win the day:
Instead of mimicking the old directly anxiety-making model—for example, by posting weight-loss tips and photos of impossibly thin models like a traditional women's magazine—Jezebel and the Slate and Salon "lady-blogs" post a critique of a rail-thin model's physique, explaining how her attractiveness hurts women. The end result is the same as the old formula—women's insecurities sell ads. The only difference is the level of doublespeak and manipulation that it takes to produce that result...
They're ignited by writers who are pushing readers to feel what the writers claim is righteously indignant rage but which is actually just petty jealousy, cleverly marketed as feminism. These firestorms are great for page-view-pimping bloggy business. But they promote the exact opposite of progressive thought and rational discourse, and the comment wars they elicit almost inevitably devolve into didactic one-upsmanship and faux-feminist cliché. The vibe is less sisterhood-is-powerful than middle-school clique in-fight, with anyone who dares to step outside of chalk-drawn lines delimiting what's "empowering" and "anti-feminist" inevitably getting flamed and shamed to bits. Paradoxically, in the midst of all the deeply felt concern about women's sexual and professional freedom to look and be however they want, it's considered de rigueur to criticize anyone... who dares to seem to want to sexually attract men.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.