The Story of Blog

Or more accurately, the story of this blog and money, and how we make decisions about what is and what isn’t featured here. There has been a partial call for transparency recently that is causing some controversy, and after some smoky backroom decision-making that occurred in an undisclosed, underground location (right alongside Dick Cheney’s own undisclosed bunker), your humble bloggers agreed that being transparent about our processes will only lead to a greater understanding of how these things work. Most of it is boring and messy because we all have day jobs — but you ask, we answer!

Another issue cropped up in at the previous link that we will answer in the near future. Rest easy, we are going to discuss the issue of “tokenism” and representation in another post.

WHERE WE COME FROM
Feministe started off as my personal blog in late 1999 or early 2000 after having a series of websites hosted on Tripod and Geocities. At this time, my friends’ static websites were quickly beginning to resemble blogs as they currently exist, but without the publishing software behind it. When my friend Anne revealed that she’d started this blog thing hosted by Blogger, I jumped on board.

The thing with Feministe in particular is that it evolved from my personal blog, to a two-person, issue-oriented blog, to a group blog, to the massive octopus it is today. There was and is no end-goal for our work here other than expressing ourselves and having fun. Our traffic grew when I invited Jill to come on permanently, and the traffic exploded when we brought Zuzu and Piny on in my place. Feministe today, with its multiple writers from varying backgrounds and geographies, is the result of a hundred decisions big and small that were mitigated by the personalities contributing as readers and writers, our critics, and our offline lives.

Many other “big” feminist bloggers who came later had the opportunity to blog for a brick and mortar organization before breaking out on their own, or have the backing of a money generating organization behind them, or had the opportunity to take over or join a space that had been built up by the folks before them. You’ll notice, if you’ve been around awhile, that many of the “big” feminist solo blogs of the past are now group blogs, like Bitch Ph.D. and Alas. Generally speaking, most of us do not do this full-time and it takes a lot of brain energy and time to keep up with the incidentals of running and contributing to a large online community, not to mention having to come up with original content.

I chalk Feministe’s initial success up to timing. When Anne and I started as baby feminist bloggers, feminism wasn’t represented but by a few people, and I just happened to get in at the right time and get the links from progressive activists and academic women who were not necessarily feminist, to have a solid audience. My earliest Feministe blogroll consisted of meatspace friends and people I didn’t know who were generally liberal. The audience grew in part because when the old “Why Don’t Women Blog?” questions between male bloggers like Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias needed an answer, I, along with many others, stood up. I was also privately miffed that the most-trafficked feminist blog at that time was run by a man and I was determined to pass him in traffic. Over time, many of my comrades from that time have lost interest or investment with blogging in general or blogging feminism in particular.

Today, I believe Feministe’s successes are a result of good, daily writing over the better part of a decade by a diversity of voices that are unencumbered with input from editors or any centralized internal power.

MONETIZING THE BLOG
At no point until last year did we make any money worth writing about. We made enough through donations to pay the $120 annual hosting fees at Powweb and pay the S&H on a stick of gum from eBay. We’d kicked around the idea of putting ads on the blog but were unsure what kind of funds we’d bring in and whether the ad maintenance and ethical headaches were worth it. It wasn’t until Liza at Culture Kitchen told us we were out of our gourds for not enterprising this space that we really looked into it.

The ads are new and we’re still obviously trying to rectify our issues with advertising and the realities of maintaining a virtual space that operates using real-world dollars. We haven’t made anything at all from our Cafepress account or the Amazon widget in the sidebar (I insist on keeping the Amazon widget because I like promoting the media I like). We do not seek outwardly seek advertising and no one has ever promoted a product for money. In the end, we had to step up the advertising when we made the move to get hosted on a private server, and moreover, to hire a part-time tech goddess to run this server.

Our advertising revenue varies greatly by month, but here’s how we spend it:

  1. Hosting
    Hosting costs are always paid first. Using a private server like Media Temple is grossly expensive, but the shared server we used before could not handle the traffic.
  2. Paying the tech goddess
    Considering that this bloggy livelihood is dependent on the smooth runnings of its backend, keeping a happy tech goddess is of the utmost importance. She spends a few hours every month monitoring and tweaking the database and we ask for additional support if things start getting wonky. We pay her the standard hourly working time for a tech professional.
  3. Reserves
    We set aside some money every month just in case something, anything, pops up. We’re at the point now where, if necessary, we can subsidize some expenditures necessary to get someone to a conference or panel as a representative of the blog, such as paying entrance fees.
  4. Paying the writers.
    If there is money left over, we pay out on based on our own individual contributions to the blog, on the honor system, judged by hours reported. Every month we tally up the hours spent working on the backend or frontend of the blog and the remainder of the funds are divided between us according to the hours we individually report. After some discussion, we decided that research time or moderating time, even commenting time, for example, is definitely fair to report within reason, as opposed to clocking only writing time.

Obviously with this payment structure our payouts vary. One may self-report five hours one month and twenty the next, but the money paid out is dependent on the ad money actually generated. Some months we don’t get paid individually at all. To clarify, when we say we get paid, we’re talking about a couple hundred dollars a month. Some months, we bring in next to nothing. In a great month, like during election season, we make $800-$1,000. So even in a good month, if we have 10 guest bloggers, plus the six writers, plus two book reviewers, and the regular bloggers are putting in anywhere from 3 to 40 hours, everyone is literally paid next to nothing for their efforts.

So unlike HuffPo, who has tons of money and still does not pay contributors, we do not have the funds at this point in time to compensate our guest bloggers in a way that we feel is adequate and respectful of the work that they do, and we’re generally not sure how to handle the issue going forward. (“Here is $12 for your time! Thanks!”) Further, since we don’t know from one month to the next whether or not we will pull in enough revenue (especially with sometimes unpredictable costs) to pay ourselves, we can’t promise money to guest bloggers when we don’t know for certain that we would be able to live up to the obligation.

We do appreciate the work that they do, and if there ever comes a time where we make enough revenue through the blog to compensate them in a way that is fair and representative of their work, we will gladly and gratefully change our financial structure to accommodate that. We are still interested in hearing from guest bloggers past and future on this topic, especially since we have another stint coming up this season, so if you have any input please let us know by email or in the comments.

One other thing that became pretty clear as we were discussing this piece on administrative transparency (in our underground bunker), is how all of us agreed flatly we would be doing this even without the money. I think most bloggers feel the same way. All of us were blogging in some form or another before we began to generate revenue and none of us depend on the website as our sole source of income. We have an ongoing discussion about how to compensate guest bloggers that has yet to be resolved, but to date there have not been any internal conflicts generated by the ad revenue or how it is distributed.

DECISION-MAKING, AND HOW!
Most of our decision-making process is done by mass email. It is primarily administrative and revolves around issues of hosting costs, organizing guest bloggers, and moderation duties. The truth is, as disorganized as this is, the decisions get made by whoever decides to take on whatever responsibility or whoever answers the initial email. Because we all have outside duties and real-world responsibilities our process is very messy.

We tend to take on any guest blogger that approaches us with a timely piece, sometimes solicit others when we want to see an issue addressed that none of us have the expertise to comment on, and also have an official guest blogging “season” over the summer months that is primarily organized by Jill, based on suggestions from the other bloggers, wherein guests are invited to write over a 1-3 week period.

We strongly encourage the seasonal guest bloggers to bring their own perspective, promote their own work, and use their own discretion in moderating their own comment sections based on a really loose set of assumed community standards. Guest blogging and linking have always been used in the feminist blogosphere to spread the wealth, to expose an existing audience to the many other folks out there writing their asses off. Until we can figure out how to rectify the issues with compensation mentioned above, we have recommitted to making sure we are linking heavily to other bloggers and attempting to share the platform.

No guest writer is ever edited or censored in any way, and no work is submitted to us ahead of time for review unless it is unsolicited, and sometimes it isn’t reviewed then either. Even the regular contributors post at will and without any kind of review on whatever topics they choose. Each writer retains the rights to her own work and can redistribute and promote it in any way she chooses.

There has been a general impression by some that Jill acts as editing overlord, but we’re about as lassiez-faire as it gets. Whenever you’ve been recruited to write for Feministe, the process is basically, “Here’s your login! Go!”

Even the choice of who we invite as a regular contributor is messy. We have solicited many who have turned us down, and have taken on people who eventually decided that this space wasn’t their kind of venue. The primary motivating factor of who gets featured is this: we are huge fans of their work and are proud to have their contributions to the blog alongside our own. [Except for Jill (sorry, Jill, the truth hurts!), whose invitation to this blog was offered by me after a couple of recommendations even though I didn't really read her previous blog. Glad it worked out!] Piny and Zuzu were pulled from the comments because they were so active, engaged, resourceful, and funny. Kactus, Cara, Holly, Jack, and Rachel, and book reviewers Julia and Jennifer, were chosen because they too were fantastic and entertaining writers whose own sites were regular reads, or because of high recommendation from within the Feministe circle, or their active participation in the Feministe community.

It’s really that simple (or not). We’re not in it for the money, but we enjoy the recognition and the responses we get to our work, and the privilege of being able to spread the word about other great work, and activism, and music, and salient issues, that we believe others should pay attention to. There might be some room to criticize our decision-making processes, but our overarching goal is to make as inclusive a space for feminist and progressive views as possible and be as fair as we can while doing it. Given our resources I think we’ve done reasonably well, but we’re always open to suggestions.

Author: has written 1251 posts for this blog.

Lauren founded this blog in 2001.
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73 Responses

  1. Paulie
    Paulie February 19, 2009 at 4:55 pm |

    Can’t imagine the amount of time and effort that goes into this body of work!!

    But we who read it on a regular basis are glad you contribute your ideas, thoughts and anything else that you write—-although we may not always agree with the opinions expressed!!

    In other words, keep on writing (blogging).

  2. Renee
    Renee February 19, 2009 at 5:11 pm |

    Thanks for the explanation but I really don’t think that it was necessary to have answer the question of how much money this blog makes. It is more than readily apparent to anyone involved in blogging that this is not a lucrative business. Very few are running a blog that is able to function as a sole source of income across the blogosphere. Even Daren from Problogger who makes a living from blogging is only able to do so because of running multiple blogs, consulting, job boards, training sessions, affiliate promotion etc. People need to get real, blogging has never been about the money and if you got in it to get rich do you ever have a rude awakening coming to you.

    I would also like to point out that even if you earned 5k a month, everyone works hard for that money. Moderating, editing, writing takes time and the small amount of financial reward could never fully compensate for the time spent.

    I blog to raise awareness and to practice a craft that I love. I don’t see why greed has to be associated with this as though you’re only pure if you run your blog at an absolute loss. I call bullshit on that. I am currently trying to make upgrades to my site but I am not willing to take food from my childs mouth to support my hobby and when I have enough saved from blogging, then and only then will I will make the upgrades. This you’re only legitimate if your suffering is bullshit. I am not trying to belittle the struggles of others, I am just simply saying that profit as argued in this case is nothing more than an excuse to play holier than thou.

    I am sick and tired of watching as women pull each other the fuck down, we have patriarchy to do that. God damn, why is it so fucking hard to be happy to see another woman succeed? When I read Cara and Latoyas essays in Yes means yes, I didn’t think oh it shoulda been me. I thought thank Goddess someone is speaking truth to power. Are we ever going to take the time to celebrate each other? Yes there are going to be differences across race, class, gender, sexuality and ability but that does not mean we cannot celebrate each other as sisters in the struggle.

    I would also like to say that even though this environment hasn’t always been as inviting as I would like, I don’t see that as a function of the bloggers here and they have always been supportive of me both in comments and by e-mail. So there is some transparency for you.

    I am sorry that this was such a long comment. I usually try to be brief but in all honesty that post has made me so fucking mad that my head has not stopped spinning. Each time I read it or delve into the privilege laden comment section I just want to scream. OKay all done now I promise.

  3. Miranda
    Miranda February 19, 2009 at 5:37 pm |

    Was the mocking/dismissive bit about the smoky backroom really necessary?

  4. Lauren
    Lauren February 19, 2009 at 5:47 pm |

    Was the mocking/dismissive bit about the smoky backroom really necessary?

    Is the policing of tone really necessary?

  5. Miranda
    Miranda February 19, 2009 at 5:49 pm |

    I wasn’t policing your tone. A blog post that you linked to is talking about the bigger feminist blogs being dismissive/non-accepting of critical analysis (among other things) and you dismiss and mock. Pointing that out is relevant.

  6. Lauren
    Lauren February 19, 2009 at 6:06 pm |

    A blog post that you linked to is talking about the bigger feminist blogs being dismissive/non-accepting of critical analysis (among other things) and you dismiss and mock.

    I don’t think it’s dismissive to respond to a request for transparency by penning a pretty transparent 1000+ word post (and promising more in the near future). I think that’s being pretty responsive to critical analysis.

  7. Kristin
    Kristin February 19, 2009 at 6:13 pm |

    Lauren: There’s a reason that this is the only “big” feminist blog that I still read on a regular basis. There have been frustrating times, I will admit, that I stick around simply to read Holly’s posts. But, overall, I have a lot of respect for this project and for all of the people associated with it (This is not something I would say about the people who run the other “big feminist blogs”–not as a whole at least). Also, I think you all do a far better job of tackling intersecting oppressions than any of the other major blogs. Also, I have appreciated your responses to good faith criticisms. In particular, I think I’ve been harshly critical of you and Jill at times, and I think you’ve both responded with a lot of graciousness and willingness to hear my perspective. I don’t always agree with everything said here, and I do think the blog can be undermined by a somewhat narrow perspective. So, even though this blog isn’t perfect, it’s a hell of a lot better than…some others.

    Another thing that goes a long way: You and Jill have both been willing to be critical of people in your blogging circles when they’ve fucked up, and that goes a long way. I believe that the blog is operating in good faith because I’ve seen you take unpopular positions in order to do the right thing. That’s important.

    Finally, I think the most important things to talk about wrt this post is not *the content of the post itself,* but rather the dismissive way in which the writers are treating trans women and WOC in the name of “opposing colonialism.” The move to reduce guest posters (and POC who blog here) to mere “tokens” presumes that they don’t have the merit to be writing here in the first place. For the record…? Holly is my favorite of your bloggers. I think she’s your strongest and most incisive writer, and even in the times when I feel “meh” about the blog, I’ll come back just to read her posts. I like the rest of you as well, but just saying…

    In any case, there is a history of white women attempting to co-opt these kinds of struggles in order to make personal gains (I somehow suspect their traffic has grown exponentially over the last two days, I must say.), and whatever the motivation of these particular bloggers… The effect has been extremely silencing and patronizing. The word “trannie” is still included in the post despote the authors’ “apology,” and Black Amazon’s excellent criticisms continue to be ignored. I think this is probably the most important dynamic that people are seeing in this exchange. And I’d hate for it to go unmentioned in yet another big feminist blog.

    I know that you’ll write on “tokenism” in order to defend your guest bloggers, but well… I think there’s more to it than that. I think these authors are cynically colonizing this discussion in the name of “anti-colonialisim,” and if any major blog does take on what BA and little light have said in a respectful and substantive way…. Well, I know it will be this one.

  8. frau sally benz
    frau sally benz February 19, 2009 at 6:14 pm |

    I, for one, liked that the tone was kept true to the Feministe tone. They shouldn’t have to completely change who they are in order to be transparent, make room for others, etc. It’s possible to do both well at the same time. Also, I think what was asked for in the original post was an honest response, not a change in tone.

  9. Lauren
    Lauren February 19, 2009 at 6:16 pm |

    Kristen, I’m on my way out the door, but I can guarantee that I think you’ll be pleased with the next post. And thanks for the kind words too!

    Holly is indeed a total badass.

  10. Kristin
    Kristin February 19, 2009 at 6:26 pm |

    Oh, *and* now that I know that you have a tech goddess… Do you think she could fix the fact that your website almost always crashes my browser as soon as I pull it up? /a friendly request

  11. The Countess
    The Countess February 19, 2009 at 6:27 pm |

    Thanks for the link, Lauren. While I haven’t stopped blogging, I have stopped the work I used to do related to family law and the fathers’ rights movement. After ten years, it was time to stop and take care of myself for a change. I obviously don’t miss the hate mail and nasty commenters. Since the main focus of my blog up until quitting that work was family law and the fathers’ rights movement, and readers came to my blog because of those topics, I know I lost a lot of readers once I quit that line of work.

    I got into sex blogging because it makes money for me, and because I enjoy it. I know that lots of my former feminist friends don’t like the new direction my blog has gone in, but I’m not going to apologize for it. I know that sexuality can be discussed in a feminist manner, and that sex (and porn in particular) are hot-button and contentious feminist issues. I guess that means I don’t attract the feminist readers I used to attract. Even though I no longer do any feminist blogging – or not much that would interest anyone – I enjoy my blog, my sex writing, and my fiction writing. Right now I’m working on fiction writing more than anything, so I don’t have much time to blog anymore.

    I enjoyed your post very much. I haven’t kept up much with the feminist blogosphere – not the way I used to – but I think you did a fine job explaining the money trail. I make money from my blog and my writings now in ways I never was able to support myself when doing feminist writing, and I’m glad for the change.

  12. Hot Tramp
    Hot Tramp February 19, 2009 at 6:34 pm |

    I have to agree with Miranda. This post on the whole is not dismissive, but the comments about the underground bunker and smokey backroom are. It caricatures the very interesting analysis that sparked this disclosure/apologia.

  13. AshKW
    AshKW February 19, 2009 at 6:42 pm |

    I just want to take a moment to tell all you awesome Feministe bloggers how very, very much I appreciate all your hard work and dedication. I’m new to the feminist blogging scene, though I’ve self-identified for years, and the discussion here and at other blogs gives me much food for thought and support. Thank you all!

  14. Kristin
    Kristin February 19, 2009 at 6:54 pm |

    Hey, so, I have long had a question about how the ads work. Do you all control the ads that show up here, or does it work more like a slide show without a lot of administration? I have had some questions about specific ads I’ve seen in the past. There was an American Apparel ad a while back even as feministe bloggers had been writing posts that were extremely critical of the company. Do you accept ad revenue from just anyone, or do you adhere to some kind of standard?

  15. Lauren O
    Lauren O February 19, 2009 at 9:18 pm |

    I read that digital colonialism piece a couple days ago, and though it made some very valid points, the economic analysis seemed way off to me. Blogging is not a business. No one does it to make money. The vast majority of feminist blogs make $0, and the big ones make practically nothing.

    I don’t see why you should feel you’re being insulting to pay guest bloggers a small piece of your small pie, or nothing at all. For most of them, it’s an opportunity to bring their words to a wider audience (the primary purpose of blogging) and generate more traffic to their own blogs, where they can try (probably in vain) to make a profit of their own if they so desire.

  16. flip flopping joy » Blog Archive » The latest blow up.

    [...] so many women of color about the YMY book, and have women of color *believe* them. In particular: Renee–who said: I am sick and tired of watching as women pull each other the fuck down, we have patriarchy to do [...]

  17. Karate Bearfighter
    Karate Bearfighter February 19, 2009 at 11:30 pm |

    It caricatures the very interesting analysis that sparked this disclosure/apologia.

    As a longtime reader/lurker, I appreciate the snark. What else is Lauren supposed to say to someone who accuses her of ethnocentrism for not posting and moderating in the middle of the night for the benefit of non-Western Hemisphere readers? Every element of that critique was offered in bad faith.

  18. drakyn
    drakyn February 19, 2009 at 11:48 pm |

    I thought your jokes about the bunker were hilarious.
    But then, I didn’t see what was so great about the what if post; been reading about and thinking on most of the same issues for a while now. Actually… their post really reminded me of the journalists/bloggers who “discover” this strange and unexplored world of fandom/fanfiction and have to write on their totally unique and new thoughts on yaoi.

  19. octogalore
    octogalore February 20, 2009 at 12:51 am |

    I’m with Drakyn — I thought the jokes were great too. Mocking and dismissive, sure — but while the article as a whole doesn’t deserve that, the particular comparisons which are the target of the sarcasm do. I like a little wit with my feminism.

  20. Marked Hoosier
    Marked Hoosier February 20, 2009 at 1:00 am |

    So that is how the modern Feministe is run now… cool. I have been reading and lurking since… well a long time. Great place then, and great place now. I do miss the quiz links, but hey how can you top that quiz “which David Hasselhoff are you.”

    Vive Feministe! :)

  21. Lauren
    Lauren February 20, 2009 at 1:15 am |

    It caricatures the very interesting analysis that sparked this disclosure/apologia.

    Yes! It does. I find the caricatures of a feminist cabal sitting in a back room twisting our mustaches somewhat amusing, myself.

  22. Feminist Review
    Feminist Review February 20, 2009 at 1:53 am |

    As I said to LaToya when she made her process known, thank you for this transparency of process about Feministe’s financial and guest blogging practices.

    Since people are asking for solutions here’s a question that occurred to me while reading this post: Why don’t you pay the month’s guest bloggers from the revenue generated that month with a per hour rate that is calculated from the monthly average of your own annual earnings for the previous 12 months or on a page-hit basis or with a flat rate per contribution like many magazines (Bitch, for example) do?

  23. RacyT
    RacyT February 20, 2009 at 1:57 am |

    I’m not really in a position to judge anyone and I am aware that I speak from a place that is detached from the hard realities of the situation. I will say, however, that the people actively dismissing both Latoya’s and Renee’s opinions seem to be dismissing some points that seem valid to me. I hope people can come to some kind of consensus. We should, despite all our differences, try to at least work together when it’s possible.

  24. La Lubu
    La Lubu February 20, 2009 at 3:03 am |

    Lauren, I’ve been reading Feministe practically since you started it. I’ve enjoyed watching it grow, and thank you (and Jill, Zuzu, piny, etc.) for my opportunities at guest blogging here. I haven’t been blogging lately (time issues, computer issues, lack of tech knowledge issues), but I find the idea of trying to make a living off of blogging almost laughable—-hell, statistically, you’ve got a better chance of winning an Academy Award or the Lottery! I felt very fortunate just to have gotten the chance to guest blog here, because it got me an audience I never would have had otherwise, and dammit, the opportunities I have to speak and have someone both (a)take me seriously and (b)not think I’m “too radical” are few and far between. I sure the hell couldn’t have gotten folks to read “A Worker’s Memorial” or “What Color Are the Holes in Your Parachute?” on my blog. The opportunity to be listened to and have my voice respected—damn, that means the world.

    This is the only “big” feminist blog I can think of that values multiple voices/different perspectives. There is a cross-section here that isn’t found elsewhere, and the moderating policy here is unabashedly pro-feminist, in that there is low toleration for the perennial problem of antifeminist thread drift. I also dig the generally lower level of snark here—snark is overrated, and most of the time isn’t very funny.

  25. Veracity
    Veracity February 20, 2009 at 8:17 am |

    There’s a reason that this is the only “big” feminist blog that I still read on a regular basis.

    I read Feministe when it was just run by you, and I’ve continued to read (although it’s been a while since I commented) and love this blog throughout the line-up changes. Feministe has stayed true, in my opinion, to the goals of independent, intelligent feminist critique – and that can’t be said of some of the other feminist blogs I have read for the same period of time. Keep on doing what you guys do.

  26. Cara
    Cara February 20, 2009 at 9:42 am |

    Why don’t you pay the month’s guest bloggers from the revenue generated that month with a per hour rate that is calculated from the monthly average of your own annual earnings for the previous 12 months or on a page-hit basis or with a flat rate per contribution like many magazines (Bitch, for example) do?

    Because of this:

    In a great month, like during election season, we make $800-$1,000. So even in a good month, if we have 10 guest bloggers, plus the six writers, plus two book reviewers, and the regular bloggers are putting in anywhere from 3 to 40 hours, everyone is literally paid next to nothing for their efforts.

    I did the math just now. That’s 18 people, divided up among $1,0000 — if we’re really lucky and have a month of high hits and great ads with no server or tech issues (a big if). If we divided that exactly evenly, we’ve got $55 per person — or, based on how we normally do things, $55 for each person if each person only put in one hour. And most of us regulars put in more than one hour. Several of us put in a lot more than one hour. The vast majority of our guest-bloggers put in more than one hour!

    So unless I’m misunderstanding something fundamental about the question (and that’s entirely possible), I’m not sure why kind of hourly rate or flat fee per post or per stint offering we could possibly give.

    I mean, again, as we said in the post we’re open to thoughts and suggestions. But the fact that we couldn’t figure out a way to make it work is precisely why we decided to have things the way they are.

  27. marjorierodrigues
    marjorierodrigues February 20, 2009 at 10:23 am |

    Speaking aboutads, I’m seeing one for Barbie here right now… And it’s funny xuz that totally relates to the post. I wanna know what do you guys do to make sure that the ads are not the exact opposite of what we defend on feministe?

  28. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 20, 2009 at 11:49 am |

    “I’m seeing one for Barbie here right now”

    Actually, assuming the ad is non-triggering, I prefer all the anti-feminist ads to be placed in a feminist space. It’s like this weird global warming denial ad the SO and I saw during Countdown. (1) You’re not going to convince anyone watching Countdown to believe there isn’t global warming, (2) You’re paying the salary of the guy who has specifically made fun of idiots who don’t think there’s such a thing as global warming, and (3) I’d rather you waste your money trying to convince me (the unconvincable) than spend it on Fox where you might do some actual harm. Same thing here…if Matel wants to pay Feministe when Feministe has specifically called out Matel…then wooo…you get to bash them AND take their money. Double bonus points.

  29. Kai
    Kai February 20, 2009 at 11:53 am |

    Lauren, let me join Kristin and La Lubu in saying this is the only “big” blog in my regular reading orbit. Yes, things still get said around here which make me cringe and fume, and yes I sometimes retreat to only reading Holly, but on the whole I have a sense of, well, not exactly safe space but I suppose less dangerous than most white-dominated spaces and certainly more open to critical perspectives than most. That may sound like faint praise but it’s more of a compliment than it may seem.

    I think you did the right thing by going for maximum transparency here. It’s a (mostly) non-defensive response which shows you have nothing to hide and there’s nothing too sketchy going down in those smoky bunkers. (By the way, why are backrooms always smoky? I mean, indoor tobacco smoking is pretty much banned these days, right? Are you making salmon or ribs back there or something?)

    I must say, though nobody asked me, that this whole incident has me kinda confused and perturbed. There are many threads of thought to follow, many of them appear to be getting intertwined, and probably the same people will end up getting hurt. Once again we see detrimental impacts of whiteness on discourse within communities of color, even when it is well-intentioned, because the very discursive tools of whiteness are tools of colonization which are designed to destabilize people of color, exert power, assert a cultural assemblage point, and prevent communities of color from establishing footholds on social legitimacy and autonomy. Of course not all white people are individually nefarious, and many women of color find ways to overcome or circumvent or subvert such dynamics, but these are the societal constructions upon which we are interacting and we can’t escape that, we can only do our best to negotiate the least harmful path.

    I agree that the assertion “blogging is a business” is off the mark. Yet I also believe that there’s much more to “business” than dollars and cents, so I also find outcries of “oh please there’s no money in blogging!” to be slightly off the mark as well. Currency is not the only form of value or capital which can be transacted. There are economies of reputation and ideas and culture, there is a commerce of socio-political initiatives and agendas, there are ecosystems of thought and energy, which may or may not be reflected by formal transactions of currency but which have stakeholders and real-world effects. The financial mono-dimensionality of capitalism sometimes blinds us to the rich complexity of human economics, but there’s always a lot more going on when a group of human beings gets together than is reflected in balance sheets. Admittedly, in our capitalist society we largely lack intellectual tools to grapple with these realities, which is surely one of many reasons why analysis of the blogosphere can be so damn confusing.

  30. Julie
    Julie February 20, 2009 at 11:56 am |

    So unless I’m misunderstanding something fundamental about the question (and that’s entirely possible), I’m not sure why kind of hourly rate or flat fee per post or per stint offering we could possibly give.

    I could see some sort of honorarium system working: “We know this $10 isn’t anything close to representative of the time you put in during your two weeks, but it’s a symbol of our appreciation.”

  31. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 20, 2009 at 11:58 am |

    Oops…should have mentioned sorry to derail on the prior post…

    On the more specific issue:

    1) You work hard…if you make money then awesome, if you don’t that sucks. I’m pretty sure most of your readers are aware that you could make more money picking up cans to recycle than you can blogging
    2) (The only valuable bit from this debacle) If you do at some point start raking in the mystical internet dollars, then I *hope* (and I absolutely give you the benefit of the doubt on this) that you will share the wealth with your guest bloggers.

    I also want to say a bit about having a voice, our own experience of oppression, privilege and guilt, but the dog needs walked and the SO needs picked up…so I’m going to ponder a bit more and come back to it tonight.

  32. octogalore
    octogalore February 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm |

    I agree with Kristen J about the idea of paying guest bloggers. Based on the math you share, it doesn’t make sense. Currently, you are offering guest bloggers something that is valuable in itself: a larger audience. Those who wish to can try to monetize that if/when that audience comes to their blogs. I know I’ve discovered several guest bloggers this way, whose blogs I visit and to whom I donate afterwards, and I imagine I’m not alone in this regard.

  33. Anna
    Anna February 20, 2009 at 1:49 pm |

    I appreciate you wanting to promote the media you like–and I admire your selections!–but consider promoting them through INDIEBOUND (www.indiebound.org) rather than Amazon.

    Indiebound is an outstanding collective of independent bookstores (and bike shops!) around the country. Linking through them guides book-buyers to order online through a local or other “favorite” shop.

    I make great use of it and highly recommend its online services. Certainly as an alternative to the massive corporation that donates to the Republican party.

  34. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery February 20, 2009 at 3:01 pm |

    I make great use of it and highly recommend its online services. Certainly as an alternative to the massive corporation that donates to the Republican party.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?strID=C00360354

    Amazon’s PAC donates 62% of its money to Democrats — that’s fairly left-leaning.

  35. Kristjan Wager
    Kristjan Wager February 20, 2009 at 3:50 pm |

    Indiebound is an outstanding collective of independent bookstores (and bike shops!) around the country.

    Anna, I understand your sentiment, but for us international readers of Feministe, it’s not a good alternative.

  36. Emily
    Emily February 20, 2009 at 3:53 pm |

    I really appriate what the Feministe “staff” as it were has done with this. As with any discussion of privilege, it’s important to be able to use the critique to re-evaluate what you are doing, and assess the degree to which the criticism applies to you.

    I stopped reading Pandagon after the YMY debacle (following the Marcotte book cover debacle) because of the way that those criticisms were handled. However, I saw a different attitude and actions/reactions coming from the bloggers on this site, and I think the response to this critique follows in the same vein.

    It seems to me that the bloggers here are often, if not always, able and willing to take the time to analyze a critique and apply it to this blog in a way that improves the quality of the blog and responds respectfully to the critique. It may not be enough to make it a “safe space” but I am really glad to see that it is able to keep some people who might otherwise leave engaged in interacting with this community.

  37. Holly
    Holly February 20, 2009 at 4:40 pm |

    As far as I understand our conversations in recent months (the only time when we’ve actually made enough money to even consider it) we would be open to paying guest bloggers if and when we actually started raking in enough money that it made sense. As it is, I could see us able to swing a token honorarium, but only if it seems like people who guest blog for us (or who we invite to guest blog) are actually interested in getting a token payment of $5 or $10 or something like that. (I would almost rather give people little gift certificates for the holidays, or something…)

    The issue is that there are marginal costs in trying to keep track of how much work each person does and handing out payments via PayPal or something like that. These costs would expand if guest bloggers were included, making the small margins earned by everyone tinier and tinier. Heck, even as it is, I often don’t tally my hours for a month if they seem negligible to me — this is partly because I don’t have time, but also because it feels weird to ask Jill (who does a lion’s share of a lot of the administrative work) to tally up hours and pay me for a small amount of hours. So most months, I just forego getting paid, because that’s not why I blog here. I think I took my share for only one month so far, and it was the one month that I really felt like I did enough posting to be worth asking for a share. Of course, I don’t expect everyone to feel the same way or forego payment like me — it’s not as if it’s noble or anything, just practical. Which is why we are asking for more input from our guest bloggers, and why I want to know how they feel. (And guest bloggers, in particular — not just people who purport to be represent the interests of guest bloggers — I hope we are all clear on the distinction.)

    As for coming here for my posts — I am really flattered, you guys, but please don’t! I am not the best writer here, not by a long shot. Here are a bunch of reasons:

    • I’m really just not. Cara, Jill, Lauren, Jack, Rachel and Piny all have an equally good command of the language.
    • I hardly ever post. I don’t have the time and energy. This is part of what makes a good writer: you have to want to write and be driven to write. I am, but only occasionally, like when I am not buried under a mountain of other work I do for $$. Jill, Cara, Lauren, and Rachel all post more than me. Jack and Piny and I just have not been active that much recently.
    • There are tons of important, important stories and issues and topics that I miss completely, or read about and then just don’t post about.
    • I often lack the emotional fortitude to post about things that I feel are important to talk about, including race issues (I certainly count myself in the “nation of cowards”), trans issues, and the oppression of women on an international level.
    • As a result I post too much fluffy crap about pop culture, video games, and bad science reporting. Seriously, don’t come to Feminste JUST for that stuff, please.

    Ok, self-deprecation party over — but I hope you will all stick around and discuss some more when we get to “part 2″ of these posts.

  38. Amber Rhea
    Amber Rhea February 20, 2009 at 4:43 pm |

    I am sick and tired of watching as women pull each other the fuck down, we have patriarchy to do that. God damn, why is it so fucking hard to be happy to see another woman succeed? When I read Cara and Latoyas essays in Yes means yes, I didn’t think oh it shoulda been me. I thought thank Goddess someone is speaking truth to power. Are we ever going to take the time to celebrate each other? Yes there are going to be differences across race, class, gender, sexuality and ability but that does not mean we cannot celebrate each other as sisters in the struggle.

    Yes, yes, yes!

  39. Amber Rhea
    Amber Rhea February 20, 2009 at 4:45 pm |

    Oh and just for what it’s worth, Trish, if you are reading comments… I love your blog!!

  40. Hugo
    Hugo February 20, 2009 at 5:00 pm |

    Great post, Lauren; as someone who has benefitted enormously from your professional services and as someone who has been reading Feministe since it was just you, I am grateful for this remarkable insight into how a single site makes its way over the course of a decade. That so many readers across a very broad spectrum of feminists are such loyal readers is a tribute to what you have created, and to what is now a large team of bloggers maintain. Hurrah.

  41. Ron O.
    Ron O. February 20, 2009 at 5:35 pm |

    This was the second or third blog I started reading way back when in 2000 or so and I have to credit Lauren, Jill and the rest of the writers and commenters, past and present for creating a thoughtful and challenging community. I’m a better person for it and I thank you.

  42. Ron O.
    Ron O. February 20, 2009 at 5:36 pm |

    Also, thanks for the transparency. And here I thought all your big advertising bucks were being siphoned off by Jill to pay for all her fancy vacations.

  43. Thomas
    Thomas February 20, 2009 at 6:03 pm |

    Holly, I’ve been around here since it was Lauren’s solo blog, and while I’d never be able to pick a favorite Feministe contributor, some of your long, well-crafted posts are my favorite Feministe posts of all time. You have a right to your own opinion of your abilities; but we have a right to ours, and a lot of us think you’re better than you are willing to take credit for.

  44. Kristin
    Kristin February 20, 2009 at 6:32 pm |

    “As a result I post too much fluffy crap about pop culture, video games, and bad science reporting. Seriously, don’t come to Feminste JUST for that stuff, please.”

    Well, those aren’t the ones I’m talking about. You’ve held down the fort ’round here in a lot of ways. I particularly appreciated your post about Amanda’s book. I’d have probably quit reading around that time if not for that post.

  45. The Countess
    The Countess February 20, 2009 at 9:06 pm |

    Amber Rhea, thank you so much. You’re so sweet! I didn’t think any feminist bloggers still read my blog now that I’ve switched over to sex writing. It pays most of my bills, and I’m enjoying it. Interestingly, the strongest support and attention I’ve received has come from liberal male bloggers. I guess guys like their sex. LOL!

    I suppose I could be considered on the outside of all this, since I am no longer as active in feminist blogging as I could have been since switching gears. I really don’t see a problem with any blogger – feminist or otherwise – accepting money for blogging. I’m not sure how you could police ads, though. You don’t have much control over what kinds of ads come up on your blog. If there is a way to have more control of ads, I’d like to know how. I saw the comments about the Barbie ads and the American Apparel ads. Someone made a comment that made sense to me. When those companies with whom you don’t agree are able to post ads on your blog, that gives you carte blanche to criticize them to your heart’s content. Yes, it’s doubtful that anyone at feministe would buy anything from Barbie or American Apparel, so those ads are wasted here. BUT you can criticize from a position of strength, with or without those ads.

    I link mostly to sex toys shoppes on my blog, and those shops I link to are woman friendly, in my opinion. I’m still working out how to blog in a feminist fashion about sex and the sex industry. Right now it’s mainstream. Sex is such a contentious issue in the feminist blogosphere that I haven’t figured out how to write about it in a feminist fashion yet. Once I do figure that out, I’d like to to bring it to the attention of the feministe readers.

    As far as privilege goes, I really can’t say much, since I haven’t kept up much. Privilege amongst feminist bloggers has been a problem for as long as I can remember though. Bloggers of colour have talked about white European female privilege for a long time. So, that’s nothing new. I’m one of the older feminists, so there is the older/younger divide that I have seen lately on the blogs. I figure as long as everyone airs their concerns, they can work together so that no one feels left out of the feminist discourse in the blogosphere. Speaking as an outsider, mind you.

    I have always like feministe, and I will continue to read it. Thanks for a great post.

  46. Feminist Review
    Feminist Review February 21, 2009 at 1:42 am |

    Cara- My perspective on egalitarian payment is that if one person gets paid for what they contribute, everyone should get paid. This doesn’t mean that it’s entirely possible all of the time, just that it’s the goal I strive for. And, again this is simply speaking for my own actions, I am not comfortable paying myself before I pay those with whom I work if their work directly compensates me.

  47. Ravenmn
    Ravenmn February 21, 2009 at 8:14 am |

    Looking forward to your second part, Lauren. This part is fascinating. I am one of those people who doesn’t have a clue how a blog like this is run and how many people it takes to keep it going.

    Big props on paying for a tech goddess. I’ve been an activist for years, It is a difficult process deciding who gets paid and whose work is a donation. Paying for a good sound system at a rally and a tech person to run it is one of the expenses we accept, even though the work of dozens of other skilled volunteers is accepted gratis. Paying for a tech goddess makes sense, even though good writing is worthy of renumeration.

    Could you and your co-bloggers also include information about how you foster this community? That is something that I am sure you put a lot of time into although it is fairly invisible to the readers. I’ve been a part of several different on-line groups, and the successful ones have moderators who intervene when necessary, and allow the commenters to work things out when possible. I’m not asking for an explanation of your comment policy, per se. I’m more interested in hearing your philosophy of how and when to use the power (whatever that is) of the moderator and how to foster a feeling of community among your commenters.

  48. Non-fat Fat « Tiny Cat Pants
    Non-fat Fat « Tiny Cat Pants February 21, 2009 at 11:48 am |

    [...] Over at Feministe, Kai is talking about how hard it is for white people and people of color to have meaningful conversations about the interactions of white people and people of color– Once again we see detrimental impacts of whiteness on discourse within communities of color, even when it is well-intentioned, because the very discursive tools of whiteness are tools of colonization which are designed to destabilize people of color, exert power, assert a cultural assemblage point, and prevent communities of color from establishing footholds on social legitimacy and autonomy. [...]

  49. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead February 21, 2009 at 11:49 am |

    I agree totally with La Lubu, this is the most diverse feminist blog, and I felt the piece in question was not about this one. (And I wish the other blogs would respond as you have!)

    Then again, as Aunt B wrote, if you don’t name names, no one can be 100% sure of who you are talking about, can they?

  50. Cara
    Cara February 21, 2009 at 11:55 am |

    Then again, as Aunt B wrote, if you don’t name names, no one can be 100% sure of who you are talking about, can they?

    Very excellent point, IMHO.

  51. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 21, 2009 at 12:10 pm |

    My perspective on egalitarian payment is that if one person gets paid for what they contribute, everyone should get paid. This doesn’t mean that it’s entirely possible all of the time, just that it’s the goal I strive for. And, again this is simply speaking for my own actions, I am not comfortable paying myself before I pay those with whom I work if their work directly compensates me.

    Wow…that was remarkably condescending. Well, MY perspective on egalitarian payment is that if someone works there ass off for 10 years to put together a blog for which they receive no or little compensation then they get to set the terms of compensation for the other people who contribute since THEY HAVEN’T GOTTEN PAID FOR 10 GODDAMN YEARS.

    Since we’ve moved to a business model of analyzing blogs, try this one on. Many startup entrepreneurs pay themselves with “notes” making them both creditors of the company and equity stakeholders. Once a startup is experiencing a positive cash flow the entrepreneur may choose to pay off those salary notes or allow the extra cash flow to fund further development.

    So Lauren has a “note” on this blogs cash flow of somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 (assuming she only puts in a few hours a day for 10 years at the federal minimum wage). She (and the other bloggers) may choose to reinvest in the blog by providing an honorarium (which would be awesome) BUT NO ONE IS OWED A DAMN THING.

    Put another way…these bloggers have put in THOUSANDS of hours of work into this blog that have not been compensated…so if we divide the existing positive cash flows by the total number of uncompensated hours most guest bloggers would be “entitled”* to less than 100th of a penny.

    *Note in particular that I used the word “entitled” rather than deserve. I think the guest bloggers (and the regular bloggers here) deserve to be compensated for their work. I’ve enjoyed most of the guest bloggers and many of them have made their way on to my feed as a result of their exposure here. It’s the sense of entitlement that your post exudes that pisses me off. It hits at a complete lack of understanding about the amount of time, energy, and effort the “big blogs” you are so critical of have spent becoming “big blogs”.

  52. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 21, 2009 at 12:26 pm |

    Oy, my grammar sucks first thing in the morning….My apologies!

  53. Aunt B.
    Aunt B. February 21, 2009 at 12:32 pm |

    Daisy, thanks. And I stick by it. I think there’s something really wrong with saying “Oh, some people are exploiting these other people, but those other people are really screwing it up for everyone by letting themselves be exploited” but not saying who the same people are or who the other people are. I mean, frankly, there’s something really gross to me about practically forcing people like Renee and Shark-fu to defend themselves from these claims and then running around being all “Oh, isn’t it interesting the people that felt implicated by our post?” as if the post could have been about anyone in the whole wide world and the people who step forward to say “I know you mean me” are therefore admitting their guilt.

    There really aren’t that many feminist blogs. And wanting to talk theoretically about real people without naming those people seems to me cowardly. You want the benefit of everyone knowing who you mean with the ability to deny that you meant them if it hurts their feelings.

    I mean, good god, if you’re going to set yourself up as the feminist police, running around making sure that everyone is behaving properly, if you’re going to set yourself up as the authority and arbiter of how people should behave, name the people you’re policing.

    I completely understand why the women who have been around and around on this very topic might not care to ever hear or use certain names again. Fine. But this is not that.

    This is a whole “I want to tell you what to do, but I refuse to recognize you when I do it” thing that really makes me angry.

  54. Lauren
    Lauren February 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm |

    There really aren’t that many feminist blogs. And wanting to talk theoretically about real people without naming those people seems to me cowardly. You want the benefit of everyone knowing who you mean with the ability to deny that you meant them if it hurts their feelings.

    I’m with you right there.

  55. Kai
    Kai February 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm |

    Aunt B, I would actually argue that the essay at Prof What If does name names — of women of color. Even if you don’t follow through all the citations (and who’s really gonna cut-and-paste all those URLs), the list of WOC bloggers is right there in plain view at the end of the post. It is only white women who remain unnamed. And that, to me, is a big problem.

    However, I’d like to add that I also have a problem with some of the directions that this discussion is taking. There are obviously fundamental problems with Mandy Van Deven and Brittany Shoot’s piece, but I believe some folks are turning that into a wholesale dismissal of some valid and important ideas about race and power in the blogosphere. For example, commenter butterflywings at AngryBlackBitch piles on:

    Found your blog via Feministing (yeah, the nasty big blogs don’t link to WOC, sure…) and will be returning.

    LOLd at the bit about how comments are moderated and posts go out at ‘times convenient to people in the US’. OMG those inconsiderate racist bloggers not getting up at 4am! Nooooes!

    This same commenter recently railed against Lauren’s criticism of a post at Feministing with similar sarcasm.

    So rebuttals of certain aspects of Van Deven and Shoot’s work are being seen — by some — as a rebuttal of the very notion that racism and colonialism are noteworthy dynamics in the digital sphere.

    Now obviously Shark Fu’s “retort” is great. No white person has any business labeling POC as naive tokens. But let’s be clear: tokenism happens. Every POC has been a token. We all know it. We’ve all lived it. It’s not fun to talk about, but it’s a reality in racist society. This is not a condemnation of any person of color, nor a denial of any POC’s agency in negotiating their own decision-making; it’s a condemnation of the dynamics of racism which necessitate this reality.

    So as much as the post at Prof What If is kinda messed up, and as messed up as it is that the entire subject only blows up when white women bring it up but is routinely ignored when WOC make similar critiques except better, I’m kinda concerned with how the discussion is going. Van Deven and Shoot have stumbled somewhat incompetently into very complex and highly charged terrain, and they’ve offended and hurt some people in the process. But I’m hoping the takeaway doesn’t became, Let’s never explore that terrain again. In my view, it is terrain that deserves serious attention. Properly handled, this discussion could be an opportunity for self-interrogation and critical anti-racist analysis.

  56. Ico
    Ico February 21, 2009 at 2:01 pm |

    Thanks for this post, Lauren! :) I didn’t see anything wrong with your tone. I thought it was apt and funny.

    And I’m going to chime in my agreement with Aunt B.

  57. Lauren
    Lauren February 21, 2009 at 2:37 pm |

    I would actually argue that the essay at Prof What If does name names — of women of color. Even if you don’t follow through all the citations (and who’s really gonna cut-and-paste all those URLs), the list of WOC bloggers is right there in plain view at the end of the post. It is only white women who remain unnamed. And that, to me, is a big problem.

    Word. I hope that the original authors can step back and see how some of their bungling is problematic and hurtful.

    There are obviously fundamental problems with Mandy Van Deven and Brittany Shoot’s piece, but I believe some folks are turning that into a wholesale dismissal of some valid and important ideas about race and power in the blogosphere.

    My defense for paying sustained attention (and not just when the white ladies bring it up) is this: The easiest issues to critique are issues of style and expertise, and it’s easy to stop there and dismiss the rest as wrong-headed and trivial. It’s also very easy to write off the importance of this kind of criticism because it’s looking at blogging, and blogging is a) really kind of silly when you think about it, and b) because outside of bloggery we all have a pretty trivial amount of power and agency, so it can feel good to un-implicate yourself. I also have a feeling that Feministe wasn’t necessarily on the authors’ minds when they initially penned the piece, even if they find it “fascinating” that we’re responding now. But it’s not trivial, especially if you can step back enough to see the blogosphere as a microcosm for how real-world social interactions play out. If you have any respect for your blogging comrades as people, this will, at the very least, concern you, and hopefully urge you to do something about it, even if that only means speaking out or self-searching to see if you’re part of the problem. It’s also not trivial because behind all the digital conversations are real people who feel real feelings.

    My over-arching concern personally (because my real feelings keep me up at night) is how to address this without causing further hurt and division to the folks I really admire as writers and activists. They’ve all been very candid about their apprehensions with even dealing with bloggers like me (not necessarily me personally) for obvious reasons.

    We’re working collectively on our post over this weekend, so I hope we can flesh out some of these ideas officially, and productively, without contributing to any further division.

  58. Julie
    Julie February 21, 2009 at 2:38 pm |

    Van Deven and Shoot have stumbled somewhat incompetently into very complex and highly charged terrain, and they’ve offended and hurt some people in the process.

    Kai, that’s more or less how I feel about the essay. There were a lot of points that were important and thought-provoking, but overall it was framed so that the people they were criticizing had to way to respond without reinforcing the “types” (colonizer, colonized, money-grubber, token, etc.) that the authors were setting up.

    I’m keeping this short because it’s Saturday, but I’ll probably write more on it later.

  59. Cara
    Cara February 21, 2009 at 2:44 pm |

    Kai,

    Well I do personally think that the idea of it being a bad thing that we put up posts while we’re, you know, awake, is indeed worthy of mocking. But I get and agree with your overall point that it doesn’t mean there’s not a problem at all. I mean, the fact that the commenter who reads Feministing didn’t seem to know that Shark-Fu is a full on Feministing blogger really just goes to show that problem, in my opinion. And if we were going to have this conversation (and I think it’s one worthy of having), it’s a huge shame that it ended up happening due to a post with so many huge flaws that only served to take the focus off of the valid points that were made.

  60. Kai
    Kai February 21, 2009 at 3:26 pm |

    Lauren, agreed, across the board. That whole “fascinating to observe!” vibe actually really annoys me, but I’m trying to be cool about it because I want to stay focused on the broader issues and discussion. For what it’s worth, I think you do a very nice job at handling these situations. But you know that I’m a fan of yours so I’ll be quiet now.

    Cara, yeah that little tangent about time zones was kinda weird, wasn’t it? I was reading it and thinking to myself, Hunh I have lots of family and business associates in Asia and the Middle East and this whole asynchronous internet communication thing works really well for us, this is kind of a strange angle of attack. Like you say, it is really unfortunate that such a flawed piece is the jumping off point for such a worthy discussion. But here we are, I guess, kind of. *sigh*

    Julie, true, the discursive framework is very constricting. And hey nice looking blog there, I love the word “tikkuning”! I think it’s time for me to update my blogroll.

  61. Lauren
    Lauren February 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm |

    So I’m avoiding real work today, surfing the internet and periodically checking Feministe, and realized one reason I don’t think about our ads much is that I don’t see them. Ha! Wocka wocka wocka.

  62. piny
    piny February 21, 2009 at 10:41 pm |

    (Sorry I missed the Sooper-Seekrit Feministe Cabal meeting about the position paper, Lauren. But that thing we talked about? It’s, uh, all taken care of. Put to bed, as it were. Permanently.)

    I think that Kai makes a really, really good point about the many not-directly-monetary perks of blogging. I am here partly because reading argument after argument helps me sharpen my writing and rhetorical skills. These interlinked commentaries have been invaluable to me in that regard. (I also like all my inernet friends, of course, and love reading you.) And if I ever do write a book, it’ll be because I’ve been writing to all of you.

    A blogosphere that shuts certain people out of all that conversation is shutting them out of the commerce of ideas. It’s not just about the moon-shot book deal or the wee scraps of traffic remuneration. It’s also about long talks with an inexhaustible community of active, responsive minds. If the blogosphere offered me nothing but disrespect and silence, I would rightly feel cheated.

    So I think that it’s fair to use the corporate/worker/management language; I just think that this part of the analysis can’t stop with the money. That really would amount to saying that blogs are trivial.

  63. Beat Of A Different Drum | nanettekelley.com

    [...] I’m tired of this. As Kai points out here (and others, elsewhere) there are some legitimate issues that should be addressed and, hopefully, [...]

  64. Being Amber Rhea » Blog Archive » Private school and diversity in snark quotes

    [...] treat me the way they treated Courtney, I’d say kindly fuck off and be done with it. I love this post by Lauren at Feministe but I don’t think she should have to explain anything. See, most feminist blogs that are now [...]

  65. Aunt B.
    Aunt B. February 23, 2009 at 8:33 am |

    Kai, I’m sorry that I didn’t get back to this discussion earlier, because you’ve givven me a lot to think about. One being that yes, they did do that weird footnote thing, which seems like name-naming, but ends up being, in my opinion, instead some weird sleight of hand. It’s like “we’re not going to be specific, but we’ll lead you to these other folks who will, and since we’ve rhetorically established that naming names is not what we do, you can be assured that these people who are naming names are not us.”

    And believe me, I as a white woman, get that. I get that motion because I’ve been taught it my whole life–be general, don’t be too critical, because it would be hurtful, try to assure the people that you’re talking about that you understand them through the use of slang, etc. etc. And it sucks when all the ways you’ve been socialized to be able to speak without making waves get thrown back in your face because they do make waves, just not in the direction you’ve been socialized to look.

    I’ve been there. And it sucks. And it’s hard because, while people of color certainly get how white women are trained to place ourselves in front of people of color, because we white women barely know how to understand ourselves as “white” instead of as just women, we don’t automatically or always clearly see it. That’s not an excuse. I’m just saying that wrapping your mind around the idea that the way you’ve been taught is the least hurtful way to move though the world is actually just designed to make life easier for the people in front of you is hard. And so I do have sympathy for what Van Devan and Shoot were trying to attempt and where it ended up.

    But I would challenge them to consider why and how this backfired and what it means for what and why they’ve been taught to communicate in the ways they have.

    As for one of the points they tried to raise and to which Lauren and Piny have alluded–there’s stuff that happens in the feminist blogosphere that, when it happens, stinks get raised. If you try to pass off something you clearly learned from someone else as an idea you came up with on your own, you always run the risk of someone calling you on it. And we’re talking about this happening at a level beyond most people’s understanding of plagiarism.

    When people who participate in the feminist blogosphere and who have learned from the people here move into the wider media world, there’s not that same mechanism for saying “He, you got that idea from me!” and so I think obviously we’re moving into a space where we are going to see people’s ideas and work co-opted in ways that we at least have mechanisms for dealing with here–we can at least name that that’s what happened (as unsatisfying as that may be).

    But what happens when you’re a blogger without a book deal who writes about, say, feminist socks and a blogger with a book deal who had no interest in feminist socks while online devotes a chapter or a book to how cool feminist socks are?

  66. On the Money « Off Our Pedestals
    On the Money « Off Our Pedestals February 23, 2009 at 8:47 am |

    [...] And yet, there really IS no money in blogging, or at least not so very much that your average feminist is moving to a deluxe apartment in the sky, or even paying for a load of laundry down at the coin-op. This is pretty well-documented. [...]

  67. Lyndsay
    Lyndsay February 24, 2009 at 11:50 pm |

    If you feel like answering, I’m wondering how many hits and different readers you have per week or month. This is purely curiosity.

  68. Julie
    Julie February 26, 2009 at 6:31 pm |

    Kai, I just saw your comment. Thank you! I’m flattered!

  69. amandaw
    amandaw February 26, 2009 at 8:04 pm |

    K, Cara, I love you, but:

    And if we were going to have this conversation (and I think it’s one worthy of having), it’s a huge shame that it ended up happening due to a post with so many huge flaws that only served to take the focus off of the valid points that were made.

    … and isn’t that just the thing?

    Doesn’t a person have a right to be messy when pointing out the very real mistakes of others and how it affects them? Are we required ensure our arguments are neat and perfect before we can criticize the actions of those who hold privilege over us?

    Because that, to me, is what this argument comes down to. Yes, some parts of that post were questionable, weren’t perfect criticisms. But it’s not unfortunate, then, that the post wasn’t perfect. Because what that does is put the responsibility on the unprivileged to keep the privileged from taking their arguments the wrong way. And that just shouldn’t be their responsibility. That’s fundamentally antithetical to the work that we are doing as feminists.

    I say this from a place of love. I was just going to comment to say that Feministe is my favorite Major Feminist Blog because it engages these issues in the most satisfying way, to me. (Imperfectly, messily, but most in line with my own views.) And I loved guestblogging here because the community is large, and messy, but smart and thoughtful as well, and there is nothing I enjoy more than watching, and participating in, the commerce of ideas that results when you bring together a group of people like that.

    But that quote caught my eye and dammit, I can’t keep my mouth shut :)

  70. amandaw
    amandaw February 26, 2009 at 8:28 pm |

    Ok, I was mistaken in assuming that the PWI post was written by women of color — I still feel it is an important point to make, because it *IS* a dismissive tactic I see used fairly often when a very uncomfortable issue is raised: “So unfortunate that we cannot engage it on an honest level, because it was not tailored perfectly to our preferences. Oh well!”

    I do not think this is what Cara meant to do. But I do think it is something we should be watching ourselves for when these things come up.

    <3

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