Is There Enough Awareness About Feminism?

Did you know that between 2000 and 2011 Internet use increased by 480% around the world?  Feminist bloggers are well aware of the fact that we are becoming more and more dependent on the Internet.

Just recently, I attended a conference at the Barnard Center for Research on Women to celebrate its 40th anniversary.  While the whole conference was informative, the panel on Writing, New Media & Feminist Activism, was very relevant to today.  The panel consisted of Mandy Van Deven, co-author of Hey Shorty!, Ileana Jiménez, blogger and youth feminism teacher, Veronica Pinto of Hollaback!, Susanna Horng of Girls Write Now, and was moderated by Courtney Martin, a former editor at feministing.com.

With a panel made up women dedicated to feminist blogging, it seems like feminism is trying to speak out on the Internet, but what good is that if blogs aren’t being used effectively?

Blogs such as Girls Write Now encourage young feminist bloggers to share their opinions.  Susanna Horng’s goal is “empowering [girls] to become strong women.” Her blog gives young girls a voice by giving them the opportunity to share their stories.  The girls often feel a lot of pressure in blogging.  They have a fear of being judged, but really, the blog is a way to find relief and get support. Veronica Pinto says blogging gives people power by letting them talk and it gives young people action; a chance to start something HUGE.  A significant amount of youth up until college are not being educated about feminism so if they are interested they are forced to learn on their own terms.

Veronica also says that with blogging, “we all have the mic.”  Many of the other panelists would agree, but is this statement limited to the person writing the blog or also the people reading the blog?  The blogger can write about whatever they wish, but the audience is what gives the blogger power to make a statement.

When the pro-life ad went up in SoHo up stating that “the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb,” there were countless articles written about the controversy.  I, myself, never saw the poster in person, but I saw someone post a picture of it on Facebook.  A movement started because people were not quiet about it.  There was protesting online in the form of blogging until the billboard was taken down.  While New York won that fight, an audience member at the conference brought up the fact that the same poster is still up today in California.

Ileana Jiménez sums up the idea that “isolated circles need to overlap.”  If the circles were overlapped during the movement in SoHo, there would have been rallies in every other location that the billboard was present.  Working together is the most important thing; change speaks in numbers.  For those who have seen Planet of the Apes, “Apes alone weak. Apes together strong.”  The more people who believe in the cause, the more voice and power they will hold.

I am on the computer constantly, but I have never spent my time looking at feminist blogs.  I appreciate sites like Feministing trying to reach out through Twitter and Facebook, but I would have never known about it if I weren’t taking a three-month feminism course.  There should be information on upcoming feminism conferences and controversies available so that everyone is in on the conversation.  Not just the feminists, but people who care about current events and equality.

One issue with the feminism movement taking place on the Internet, is the digital divide.  Although America is becoming more and more dependent on the Internet, there are still people who choose not to use the Internet and/or like me, do not participate in feminist blogging. Focusing on the Internet only allows blogs to reach a very limited audience.

Therefore the goal is “not how do I bring feminism to the world, but bringing the world to feminism,” says Van Deven.  You can’t force someone to want to learn something, but make them want to learn about it.

Using the Internet is an attempt to reach out to people, but oftentimes people have no prior knowledge of feminism and feminist blogs. The blogs are making some noise, but not enough to make any real change outside of the feminism world.  There is an idea in some minds that only women are feminists and that the blogs will be about strictly female problems, but in actuality, it is a social justice blog, bringing to light the issues of today.

Get active in the feminism world.  The way to begin a movement is by being a follower. For those of you who don’t follow any feminists blogs, try looking into some of the blogs recommended by the panelists:

The Feminist WireWomen’s International Perspective JezebelThe Crunk Feminist Collective, and Hugo Schwyzer.

6 thoughts on “Is There Enough Awareness About Feminism?

  1. Thanks for posting Ileana Jiménez’s quote “isolated circles need to overlap.” I did not catch that at the conference, but I completely agree with you that it really sums up why internet activism was so powerful in getting the billboard in SoHo removed and how this overlapping is how internet activism will continue to do influential work on the ground. It was really interesting to hear that you did not see the billboard in person, but you heard about it through facebook, through internet activism. It just shows how we may not have been fully aware that internet activism was out there, but we were still being affected by it.

  2. “We all have a mic” that’s so true and no one can take it from us. I loved that you brought the idea that it is not because us teenagers are always on the internet that we will access feminist blogs if we don’t know them. I still feel that the people who work at the blog, should improve their publicity, because the blogs are interesting and they should be shared!!

  3. You hear a lot about how blogs are the future of activism, but you definitely don’t see many people think about that as critically and in depth as you have. I think your points are also really true and relevant. Is there too much pressure being put on the young women who are going to be the future of feminism? How can blogging one’s own opinion be an effective political action? Feminist blogs are great, but are they going to reach people who aren’t looking for feminist blogs?

  4. The fact that you said that you hadn’t seen the ad in person but had seen it on a post through Facebook perfectly shows how essential the internet is in, not just this movement, but all movements striving for change. The information is flowing through all parts of the population and getting a reaction from people as well. This is what creates CHANGE, which is always our goal. I think you do a great job of capturing this idea in your post (love the Planet of the Apes reference just by the way).

  5. I think that you have made very interesting points throughout your post about things that I agree with but never necessarily put the right words in correspondence. When you said, “The blogger can write about whatever they wish, but the audience is what gives the blogger power to make a statement” I was very intrigued by the idea. I do agree with it as well. I also like that you mention “strength in numbers.” I definitely agree with that notion as well as making “isolated circles overlap.”

  6. I agree with Carina’s observation that the fact that you had seen the SoHo ad on Facebook but not in person shows just how much the Internet is used to capture the attention and activism of people who would care enough to respond to such an ad if they had seen it live.

    I also think your point about feminist blogs not being read or heard about by a larger public is one to continue considering as we move forward in our own feminist blogging in this class. You mention in your post that you do not “participate in feminist blogging,” but the fact that you are taking a course on feminism and are blogging on this site, already makes you a participant in feminist blogging. This blog has actually been mentioned on the very sites that you are beginning to learn about: Feministing and the Crunk Feminist Collective and others. So, you have certainly entered the world of feminist blogging in a very exciting and dynamic way! It’s now time to use this platform as a way to make greater change both as a writer, activist, and visionary. Onward!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s