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Why I decided not to apply to be a Feministing blogger

August 23, 2012

For quite some time, I’ve wanted to write for one of the high-profile feminist blogs. Over the last year, I’ve submitted pitches to various publications and all were unsuccessful. So when I saw that Feministing was looking for new bloggers, I was immediately excited. I even wrote my first post within hours of seeing the call. But as I looked at the current editors and contributors, I was struck by how many of them looked like me. I stopped to reconsider my voice.

Yes, there is a decent mix of race and sexuality and possibly religion and socioeconomic background, but it’s still an incredibly Western website. In fact, nearly all the writers live in New York.  And all of them identify as young women. Even the site’s founder, Jessica Valenti, said she stepped down because she felt too old. And not that Feministing is ageist, they just want to keep it a space for the younger generation. I appreciate that. Their selective exclusivity is not necessarily entirely unwarranted or unwelcome, but I do think the site could benefit from more non-Western voices.

But I am, of course, conflicted. Even as I decided not to apply, I thought to myself: Am I only bypassing this incredible opportunity because I’m scared? Because I would want it too badly if I were selected to be a finalist? Because I would be heartbroken if I wasn’t even a finalist? Is this message of inclusivity a mask for fear? And would writing about these feelings and this decision on my own blog be ostentatious and self-indulgent, like, “Look at how inclusive my definition of feminism is”?

Oh, so many thoughts. And to a degree, the first concern is warranted. Yes, I would want it too badly if I were to apply. Feministing means the world to me. It’s the very first blog I ever read. It has shaped me as a woman, a writer, and an activist. I’m indebted to that little space of the web so of course I would be shattered if they didn’t choose me. But then again, I can’t say I would blame them for not choosing me. I’m just another straight, middle-class white girl.

Writing about these reservations and my decision not to apply may be self-indulgent. But I also think it brings up a valid criticism of Feministing, one they have likely heard before: That its scope is incredibly limited in terms of its representation of voices. Therefore, I hope my critique of Feministing offers another facet of feminism to my readers. Feminism is not just about white women or Western women. It’s not just birth control and wage discrimination and cat calls on the street. It’s about everyone, of all genders and colors and backgrounds and creeds and nations. And I’d like to see Feministing do a better job of reflecting that.

I’ve written a bit lately on my definition of feminism, so let me add this: My definition of feminism is self-reflexive. It is not pompous. It is always up for debate. It is always looking for a different angle. It is always open to criticism. And it is also inclusive. My feminism cares just as deeply about women’s struggles in Saudi Arabia as it does Slut Walks. I may not be half as knowledgeable about non-Western feminisms, but I’d like to see Feministing do a better job of educating me on them. And I believe that requires including non-Western writers.

I do wish anyone who is attempting to become the next Feministing blogger all the best luck. And if they do choose a white, middle-class, Catholic, heterosexual, Midwestern gal, then I will be a bit bummed… for a couple reasons.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2012 8:57 am

    I don’t think it’s self-indulgent at all to write about this… and while I think you’d have made an incredible Feministing writer, at least I get to read what you have to say here 🙂

    Also, I’ve been thinking so much about about other voices that I want to hear from, and at the top of my list is MEN. I want to hear from a man who identifies as a feminist and see what these issues look like from his perspective.

    I feel like we as women are beating our heads against a wall with the constant barrage of sexist comments and we cannot do it all by ourselves. I wish more men who privately express outrage at these idiotic politicians would do so more publicly.

    • August 23, 2012 12:25 pm

      Jenn, I couldn’t have said it better! Feminist issues are not just women’s issues, they affect everyone, and Renee, I hope that feministing and other feminist blogs take note of what you’re saying and amp up their efforts to include a more diverse viewpoint. Great post!

    • August 27, 2012 4:44 am

      I recommend http://www.hugoschwyzer.net/blog/ (in case you haven’t heard of him already) for a good male feminist blog. I’d also be interested in the experiences of intersex and trans people. I definitely agree with the post – I find recently that I’ve been trying to educate myself on global feminism more and more voices would be great (though the voices are out there, you can easily go beyond Feministing!)

  2. August 23, 2012 10:45 am

    YES! This!
    I just went through the same emotional journey when choosing whether or not to try to apply. I love feministing. I’ve been reading that blog since before I blogged myself, but really what more could I bring to the conversation? I felt like my middle class white hetero liberal university taught experience is already well representated, what value would I bring to my favorite website? Is my contribution really what I wanted to see more of? Those questions answered themselves quickly.

  3. August 26, 2012 12:10 pm

    I think it is incredibly mature and self reflective for you to not apply. Not that you wouldn’t have been great, because I know you’d be awesome, but recognizing that the voices on Feministing are very similar to yours is very insightful. Personally, I think that the voices of feminism tend to be similar because it is that demographic that is most often “allowed” to be feminist. It is encouraged and expected of women from that demographic, while others are shunned for their beliefs. That doesn’t mean that your views and your voice are any less important though! I think everyone deserves a voice.

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