Funk seems to confirm my observation that Feministing uses breast imagery to attract an audience:
If Feministing is in fact using sex to attract readers, they aren't alone. From female celebrities sporting minidresses on the cover of Cosmopolitan, to risqué perfume ads, to commercials for tampons, many media outlets geared towards women (and many of which are intended to empower women) use women's sexuality to attract women readers. Sex sells... and women buy it.Yes, of course, but if you're going to be a feminist, you need to do a feminist analysis of that move! So you want to get your message across? But you have to ask yourself whether you've changed the message. This is such a glaring question that it's mindboggling that you think you'd escape this critique.
Sex is almost always needed to market to younger people. As young feminist interest seems to be dwindling in traditional women's organizations, Feministing lures readers with politics and social commentary-made palatable. Putting the term "subverting the dominant paradigm" as a blog post title would not draw Gen Y readers; "'Cause calling girls slut is always funny" relates the same message of gender equality, with more sparkle.
But feminists aren't what they used to be. They shrink from an intense debate with each other. Here's Matson's point in context:
"This controversy is a rehashing of a very old debate within the feminist community: is public sexuality empowering or harmful to women? It's a complex issue and it's good to keep the discussion going... some feminists may disagree with the stance taken by many of Feministing's writers, but let's reserve the word 'anti-feminist' for our real enemies. To slap the same label on Jessica Valenti and Anne [sic] Coulter is completely ridiculous.""Our real enemies"? Oh, yes, feminism has gotten rolled up into the conventional left-right of American politics. Ever since feminists chose to subordinate themselves to the interests of the Democratic party to help Bill Clinton with his problems, the feminist discourse in this country has been lame. It's a means to a political end, and so you always know who your "enemies" are. Fifteen years ago, feminists critiquing each other was an important part of feminism. Now, doggedly serving liberal partisan politics squelches everything that could become vital.
Maybe if feminists had the nerve to engage in real debate about feminism they could get some young people excited about real ideas. But go ahead, tart up your website with boobies for now. It's helpful that you make your desperation so clear.
UPDATE: Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for linking. If you're not familiar with the original controversy, here is my key post touching things off, and here and here are later posts responding to it.