I really try not to weigh in on the myriad manifestations of Internet feminism, as a general rule, both because I’m not a feminist and because I don’t feel like tangling with it. But on rare occasions, I feel compelled to speak, and this is one of them.
As many of you are no doubt aware, the new hit feminist site is ‘Flyover Feminism,’ which got substantial traffic and attention almost immediately after launch. Ostensibly intended to amplify the voices of people who often aren’t heard in US feminism [eta: and around the world, as per their mission statement], it appears to be much more of the same; as I and many others have remarked, does the Internet really need another white-run feminist site featuring very familiar voices who already occupy positions of authority and dominance?
Here’s the thing: When you have four months to plan a website, you have plenty of time to recruit diverse writers and editors. Including people of colour, trans people, people living in rural areas, people living outside the US, nonwhite people, active advocates for disability rights, and many others. Plenty of time. There’s no excuse for launching with a crew of three white people. Absolutely no excuse.
Especially when you already have an established online audience, lots of venues to write in, and an intimate knowledge of how these things work on the Internet.
Cover-your-ass maneuvers after the fact don’t cover up the fact that you thought so little of the audience you were supposedly ‘including’ that you didn’t bother to make them an integral part of your planning. As my colleague Flavia puts it, ‘The onus should not be on those who are always left out to reach out and request a plate on the table when everyone else is done eating the main course.’
And don’t tell people that you ‘wanted to launch in time to get into the SXSW panel picker,’ reminding them of the position of relative privilege you occupy. You tell people you want to organise with them, and then you talk about how you really wanted to publicise yourselves at a major and expensive conference? That doesn’t look good.
There’s a sea of commentary about this issue. Often I feel hesitant to comment because I don’t want to add to a pileon, but it seems clear to me that those involved haven’t learned from their past experiences, nor are they interested in applying that learning to future projects. And I feel like legitimate criticism is being dismissed and run under the carpet here, which is not something I’m going to stand for. And given the fact that Garland Grey is my colleague, I feel that it’s especially imperative for me to make it clear that even colleagues can (and should) criticise each other.
As someone who is fairly well-known in this community, I cannot remain silent in the face of a project that is clearly rife with problems and smacks of cronyism and insider culture.