Bustle May Be Clueless, But It Testifies to Feminism's Reach

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Aug. 27 2013 12:00 PM

Why Bustle Is Great News for Women

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Real Housewives abortion politics whatever whatever

Photo by Patrick Lin/AFP/Getty Images

The controversy over the new women’s website Bustle continues with a claim from an ex-intern that her boss, Bleacher Report founder and vilified “bro” Bryan Goldberg, “requested fewer ‘smart’ writers” when he was staffing the site. To recap, Goldberg launched Bustle with an ignorant post in Pando Daily that made it sound like the site was the first women’s website ever created. Then, he apologized for the initial post, but the apology was still kind of clueless.  What’s lost in all this Internet hubbub over an entitled male founder is a glimmer of something that is actually heartening: Some dude thinks that feminism is so marketable right now that he’s appropriating it to make a bunch of money.

In that first blog post, where Goldberg was boasting about raising $6.5 million for Bustle, he full-throatedly called the site feminist, writing “You’re damn right this is a feminist publication.” Certainly his definition of feminism is rudimentary at best (something something interest in Real Housewives AND abortion politics), but when people are still regularly writing pearl-clutching articles about how young women won’t call themselves feminists, the fact that a bro wants to claim the term shows that it’s having a vibrant online moment.

And indeed, while Bryan Goldberg and Bustle are off doing…whatever it is they’re doing, the Internet is overflowing with shareable, passionate feminist acts. The hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen, started by Mikki Kendall, trended worldwide and spurred an ongoing discussion about race, intersectionality and feminism.  Almost 200,000 people streamed Texas Senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster over an abortion bill. So Bustle might be a terrible, insulting business move by a guy who doesn’t care about women. But as an indicator of feminism’s current reach, it’s thrilling.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.

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