Blog Review: Shakesville

August 30, 2009

Shakesville is the biggest of the feminist blogs. It’s kind of the Daily Kos of the feminist blogosphere (If the Daily Kos weren’t full of sanctimonious dudebros who can’t grasp the concept of identity-based oppression).

Shakesville, which started out as the individual blog of Melissa McEwan but has expanded to include a whole posse of writers, has somehow managed to avoid any major feminist deathmatches in its five years of existence. Sure, there are disagreements and whatnot, but no explosions that leave feminist intestines strewn about the blogosphere. If you know anything about feminists and/or bloggers, you know that this is one hell of an achievement.

Part of the reason for Shakesville’s success in this department is a heavy comment moderation hand and a clear and consistently articulated commitment to not having any oppressive bullshit in that space. I like being able to visit the space trusting that if someone says something hurtful, it’ll be taken seriously and dealt with. And over time, a lot of people have found a community at Shakesville because of that same trust.

The Shakesville crew also shows a general lack of interest in tearing down those who disagree with them. To be sure, if someone goes into that space throwing around slurs or oppressive tropes, they’ll get their ass handed to them. But debate between people with a shared commitment to ending oppression is just fine. Case in point: even though Melissa supported Clinton during the 2008 primaries, unlike some others on both sides, she maintained respect for those who disagreed with her. She never said that Obama supporters were brainwashed robots, or started in with the Oppression Olympics. As an Obama supporter, I still felt comfortable checking out Shakesville. There is room for respectful disagreement there.

As for content, Shakesville is basically an all-purpose progressive website that includes feminism in its vision of progressivism (unlike sites like Kos, HuffPo, TPM, etc., where so-called “women’s issues” are relegated to the occasional brief mention). General news and politics are discussed, along with commentary on various expressions of misogyny, racism, heterosexism, ableism, and fat hate. Shakesville also facilitates a community of commenters with regular open threads (in fact, the community has developed to the point where it has a culture all its own), and bubble gum intertubes entertainment like random pictures of cute cats grace the page daily.

Shakesville has an excellent set of 101 posts, which answer common annoying anti-feminist memes. I regularly direct people to it, and it saves me hours of tedium.

Since Shakesville is updated quite regularly, it’s my go-to website for procrastination and relief from work-related boredom. Overall, I highly recommend checking it out!

A few Shakesville classics:
Feminism 101: “Feminists Look for Stuff to Get Mad About”
Feminism 101: “Sexism is a Matter of Opinion”
The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck

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