A Feminist's Guide to Reddit

I’m a feminist, and I love Reddit.

You may not expect to hear these two statements together, and that’s because there’s a lot for feminists not to love about Reddit. This summer, the site that serves as a forum for every subculture imaginable had to ban five subreddits dedicated to fat-shaming, racism, and transphobia. On top of that, Redditors used the site to hurl sexist and racist insults at former CEO Ellen Pao for supposedly firing community manager Victoria Taylor, even though it wasn't her decision. If you’re looking a circle of hell, stop on by the men’s rights subreddits to r/MensRights or r/egalitarianism will show you exactly what misogynistic beliefs they hold.

However, a large community like Reddit, with over 700,000 subreddits at the moment, can’t be characterized in just one way. In fact, I’ve come to view certain corners of Reddit as relatively safe spaces to learn and talk about feminism (though the safety level of Reddit, like any public forum, depends on the vigilance of its participants and moderators). A lot of people get their news from Reddit, and as a writer, I can tell you a lot of writers use it to find stories and sometimes cover Reddit discussions themselves. Since Reddit is so critical in shaping Internet-wide conversations, we can’t cede it to misogynists.

If you’re a feminist looking to make the most of the content-sharing site, the best place to start is not the homepage. It’s usually innocuous, with a mix of world news, scientific discoveries, and fun polls. But occasional misogyny pops up, as it did during this summer’s attacks on Pao. Instead, the bulk of Reddit’s feminist resources and debates can be found in subreddits. Here are some pages to check out for a few important types of feminist discussions.  

For current news related to feminist issues:

r/Feminism: This 54,000-member subreddit gathers not only trending news stories pertaining to gender equality around the world (though with a U.S. focus) but also less widely circulated blog posts on issues ranging from what we teach girls about menstruation to the meaning of the word “chivalry.” Women can also use r/feminism to get advice on dealing with problems like workplace discrimination and street harassment. And if you’re looking to learn more about feminism, this subreddit also contains pages summarizing concepts like bodily integrity and autonomy, a Google doc chronicling the history of feminism, and a list of feminist blogs and websites.

r/twoxchromosomes: The largest women-focused subreddit, with nearly four million members, bills itself as “a subreddit for both serious and silly content, and intended for women's perspectives.” Despite the cissexist name, its rules prohibit transphobia and other forms of oppression, and its moderators and members regularly engage in discussions about inclusion. While the subreddit isn’t dedicated solely to feminist issues, with threads ranging from a woman grieving over her late boyfriend to the side effects of the Pill, it is a feminist space. You’ll see a lot of overlap between the articles posted here and on r/feminism.

r/allwomen: All the subreddits on this list make an effort to be inclusive, but this one defines itself by its intersectional approach to women’s issues. Accordingly, its discussions address the ways our society and often feminism itself marginalize LGBT women, women of color, and other groups that may be less frequently represented on other feminist subreddits.

For intersectional discussions of gender and race:

r/blackladies: This 9,000-member subreddit contains anything and everything (well, not everything — no NSFW material, please) related to Black women, including conversations about the media’s representations of black women and news about black women celebrities and politicians. It also provides links to helpful blogs, articles, and pages explaining derailing, concern trolling, and other behaviors that most black women are unfortunately no strangers to.

r/AsianTwoX: This subreddit gathers news and conversations about women of all types of Asian descent—South Asian, East Asian, etc— round the world. The topics range from racist catcalling to navigating dating with Asian parents to the word “exotic.” There’s also a smaller, newer group called r/asianfeminism that discusses similar topics with an explicitly feminist bend.

r/DosXXLatinas: As the name would suggest, this subreddit covers subjects of concern to Latin Americans, women, and especially those who fall into both categories. While serving as a source of news, it’s also a forum for Latinas to examine the varied forms of racism they’ve experienced as well as issues unique to their own cultures.

For feminist information about sexuality:

r/sexpositive: The standard sex subreddit, r/sex, is by no means a bad resource for advice on dealing with common sexual problems and reassurance that a wide range of behaviors and preferences is totally normal. It does, however, welcome the occasional rape apologist, and it doesn’t always look critically at how societal power dynamics sneak into our bedrooms. R/sexpositive is also accepting of different forms of sexual expression, delivering the criticism of sexist double-standards and slut-shaming you’d expect, but it’s simultaneously sex-critical, leaving room for debate on issues like whether porn viewership should be encouraged and the potential consequences of sex robots.

r/radicalqueers: This is a space for LGBT people who are wary of assimilationist politics and looking to explore queerness, gender, and sexuality in a radical space. Discussions topics range from intersex rights to allyship and express a healthy dose of skepticism of homonormative narratives.

For encouragement and support in the workplace:  

r/careerwomen: Just as a heads up, many subreddits that sound like they’re for helping women in the workplace are actually hubs of NSFW content depicting after-work fantasies, if you catch my drift. This one, however, is all about helping women attain confidence, break the glass ceiling, achieve work-life balance, and accomplish other major goals in their professional lives.

r/ladybusiness: This subreddit is similar to r/careerwomen but with a focus on women entrepreneurs and “the entrepreneurial spirit of all women,” as its description reads. It also includes “shameless self promotion threads” for women to share their own businesses, products, writing, and events—one of the few times you’ll ever see self-promotion accepted on Reddit.

For intellectual debates on the big feminist questions:

r/AskFeminists: If questions like “How can social justice movements include non-human animals?” and “Why are people disgusted by female bodily functions?” keep you up at night, this subreddit will give you something to do while you’re lying in bed. Another heads up: Some of these questions can be adversarial toward feminists, drawing from boring stereotypes about feminists being misandrists or feminism denying statistics. But the plus is that feminists get to tear down all these misconceptions as they respond. After all, this is “Ask Feminists,” not “Ask MRAs” (and thank God for that). You’ll also see a sidebar with links to FAQs about false rape accusations, why we say “feminism” and not “egalitarianism,” men’s role in feminism, and other topics every feminist is sick and tired of explaining by now. This a great starting place for people looking to learn about feminism as well as for feminists seeking a more nuanced understanding of their own movement. And if visitors walk away with a better idea of what feminism is and how to practice it, that’s one thing we can thank Reddit for.

by Suzannah Weiss
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Suzannah Weiss is a writer whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Village Voice, Vice, Salon, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, Seventeen, Bitch, Bust, Paper Magazine, and more. She holds degrees in Gender & Sexuality Studies, Modern Culture & Media, and Cognitive Neuroscience from Brown University, which she uses mainly to over-analyze trashy television and argue over semantics. You can read some of her work at www.suzannahweiss.com and follow her on Twitter at @suzannahweiss.

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