Hello, friends of the Lilith blog, and welcome to The Spin Cycle! This is Sonia, your friendly neighborhood moderator. I’ll be posting regularly about my thoughts on the media and (post-?)modernity from a Jewish feminist perspective. Can’t wait to hear your feedback!
The blogosphere lit up this week in a small flurry of virtual feminist theorizing, when blogger and Brooklynite Emily Gould denounced (though not for the first time) a subsidiary of Gawker Media, the (debatably) feminist website, Jezebel.
In a vaguely Ouroborosian twist (I thought my Google-Reader might implode from an overload of self-referentiality), Gould writes provocatively about “How feminist blogs like Jezebel gin up page views by exploiting women’s worst tendencies:”
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.
In other words, if we’re living in a post-modern, post-feminist, tech-based media universe, one that glorifies and rewards the instant gratification of the meme-mob-mentality, does feminism become just another exploitable commodity? Or is crowdsourced feminism one more indicator of how far we’ve come in integrating feminist ideas into the mainstream media?
I guess it’s kind of analogous to the age-old (and, for me, eternally if embarrassingly relevant) question, “Is it good or bad for the Jews?” Except this time it’s about women (or feminism), and not really about Jews (or Judaism) at all—it’s just that our shared anxieties about the meta-media look an awful lot alike.
And the kugel-baking, Jewcy-contributing Gould seems to think it’s actually pretty bad for women and feminism. And mostly I’m with her—embracing the profit-motive doesn’t sound like my kind of feminism. But I’m still ambivalent—it’s hard to balance the desire for mass appeal (read: pageviews) with the desire for undiluted ideological purity. And that doesn’t seem like a post-modern problem at all—it seems pretty eternally relevant to me.