- Girls' Feminist Blogging in a Postfeminist Age by Jessalynn Keller
What does it mean for the personal to be political? This question has been repeatedly raised by feminist scholars in relation to the potential of journal-writing, culture-making, and other forms of everyday production by girls and women that have often been trivialized as being purely part of the "private sphere" or domestic activity. In Jessalynn Keller's book, Girls' Feminist Blogging in a Postfeminist Age, girls' blogging is understood for its political significance in the ways it carries on the legacy of feminism in punk, girls' "bedroom" cultures (McRobbie and Garber 186), and other creative, self-representative cultural activities. What comes through very clearly is a critique of the repeated devaluation of girls' activism through implicit or explicit recourse to arguments about girls' lack of sophistication, immaturity, and lack of life experience. Keller positions the blogging of the girls she interviews as well as more well-known girl feminists like Julie Zeilinger (The F-Bomb) and Tavi Gevinson (Rookie) as part of the continuing work of not simply embodying the "future" of feminism but maintaining links to the past that determine how the present plays out.
Keller's account emphasizes the online activity of feminist girls as both personal and public, future-oriented and drawing on past activism, rendering lived experience visible and as politically potent. Keller responds to the omission of girls' activism, agency, and practices of citizenship within feminism and to how they have been silenced more generally. Keller suggests that this dismissal occurs due to a matrix of factors. In mainstream media culture that has been deemed "postfeminist," girls in particular are understood to repudiate the legacy of feminism in an age in which feminism is considered "no longer necessary." In dominant literature on women's media culture, girls are presumed to be uninvested in feminism as a movement for adults. Girls are also made highly visible in media discourses as both targeted consumers and as objects of mass consumption in advertising and commercial culture. Such visibility shapes the way girls are positioned as compliant or unresisting subjects, connected, additionally, to discourses of protection and danger that tend to erase their voices. And yet, in this study of girls' engagement with feminism through use of the blogosphere, Keller powerfully attests to their lasting commitment and impact. [End Page 427]
Girls' Feminist Blogging in a Postfeminist Age draws attention to the sustenance of feminist activism by storytelling that simultaneously conveys personal experience and represents broader themes. For example, in reading about the lives of feminist women preceding them, such as Shulamith Firestone and Alice Paul, feminist girls see themselves as part of that same history—"I, too, am feminist." In chapter one, Keller documents how girls "come out" as feminists online. The personal act of naming themselves as feminist online is considered a means of living a feminist life publically, a part of transformative identity work. Such transformation is tied to affective "feel good" processes; the girl feminists of Keller's investigation report an increased sense of confidence, self-assuredness, and authenticity through this claiming of identity. Feminism, then, is not just an activity but a personal form of identification, a lens through which to understand one's life as connected to others.
In chapter two, Keller tackles the subject of activism, critiquing adult-centered and sometimes masculinist understandings of blogging as activismlite, or not "real" feminism. Keller positions activism as a broad spectrum of practices to refocus adult-centered notions of physical protest and the taking up of public space, a practice that historically has been less open to women and particularly to girls. Blogging, Keller argues, is girl-centered activism; it is relatively accessible and practical and allows girls to work for change, producing stories that connect to broader audiences. Keller does note, however, that this accessibility is not universal, and inequalities of access may more strikingly play out for girls as opposed to women. While fostering access for some girls on the basis of cultural capital as well as racial...