This Is What a Ladyblog Looks Like

Friday, February 1, 2013

Jane Morris Blogging, after Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Image by Mike Licht via Flickr/Creative Commons

Exactly a year ago today Salon published an article by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano that made me want to leap from the sofa and start clapping. The article is titled "In Defense of Ladyblogs" and is in response to a piece by Molly Fischer that was quite critical of such sites.

A ladyblog is a website that is, obviously, written for women, by women. These sites not only discuss traditional women's issues but give them signature treatment . They're often considered an alternative to (and sometimes even a watchdog of) women's glossy publications as they tackle serious and controversial topics that many mainstream magazines tend to avoid and cover these topics with a distinct voice.

Fischer, in her article, argues that as these ladyblogs become more popular they also become more trite as they make room for too much fluff and lose the focus on the serious content found in other alternative women's media, such as explicitly feminist spaces. She believes many of these sites have gone sort or even absurd over time. Fischer says that essentially ladyblogs have become an adult online slumber party. “The Internet, it turned out, was a place to make people like you: the world’s biggest slumber party, and the best place to trade tokens of slumber party intimacy—makeup tips, girl crushes, endless inside jokes,” Fischer writes. 

But Whitefield-Madrano argues that these virtual sleepovers are a good thing and I completely agree.

Whitefield-Madrano believes that ladyblogs can and often do foster sisterhood and reminds us that oftentimes friendships are forged in the fluff.

Think about your best friend. Sure, you've cried together while talking about your dysfunctional family, your failed relationships, and your broken dreams. Perhaps you've even gone through a serious health crisis together. But you've also shared clothes and makeup tips, confessed crushes to each other, and sat side-by-side while watching ridiculous movies.

Furthermore, some of the explicitly feminist blogs, even those that I love, can feel alienating. As a feminist who is also a woman of faith, I sometimes wonder if my religious beliefs would be ridiculed.  Also, as Whitefield-Madrano says, "if explicitly feminist blogs are the only acceptable online outlet for feminists to inhabit, we’d get exhausted mighty quickly." 

This is partly why I've struggled with the idea of really working to establish myself as a feminist blogger in the first place. The idea of constantly writing about gender equality made feel like I needed a nap. 

I'm not implying that ladyblogs are perfect or above reproach. I've read plenty of articles on the ladyblogs mentioned in Fischer's piece that have caused me to strain my eye-rolling muscles. And in a follow-up piece Fischer brings up a great point about the notion of sisterhood stating that "second-wave sisterhood was always suspect, especially to the many women it ignored: women who weren't white, women who weren't straight, women who weren't comfortably bourgeois."

But this is exactly why I believe (and have even been told by my feminist friends) that I need to continue work on my blog. My goal is to create a blog that is feminist and fun, insightful and inclusive.

So today, on the anniversary of the publication of Whitefield-Madrano's piece, I am here to declare that The Writeous Babe Project is a ladyblog.

This means you can expect plenty of discussions about feminism and gender equality issues. You can also expect posts about writing, not only because I'm a writer, but because I see writing as a feminist act. But sometimes I may also post a picture of what I wore to a party, my workout regimen for the week, or my latest girl crush. And I want you to share the same in the comments, on my Facebook page, and with me via Twitter.

I'm throwing an online slumber party here and you are all invited.

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