We’ve resisted the idea of having a mission statement for many years, but we’ve finally decided that we do need one.
Firstly, we never thought we would ever need a mission statement. It seemed rather self-aggrandizing for what has always been just a multi-author personal blog which prioritises women’s voices, where the bloggers express opinions on whatever is currently engaging their interest. We thought that our seat-of-the-pants attitude was obvious enough that we didn’t need to make it explicit that there was no mission other than being openly opinionated women. The freedom to be openly opinionated in a space of one’s own was an uplifting experience, and that was enough for us. We thought it would be mission enough for our readers too.
However, over the years since Feministe started in 2001, as our readership and commentariat has grown, there have been many assumptions made by newer readers that this large audience is what Feministe always wanted and planned and strove to achieve via a distinct or clearly articulated editorial/managerial policy. This could not be farther from the truth. What was initially simply a gratifying level of attention to our initial co-bloggers’ opinions in the first few years of the 21st century became a juggernaut with which the Feministe collective has had to scramble to keep pace, not just in terms of managing the many comments (and learning the art of moderating threads) and finding ways to cover the costs of keeping the server ticking over, but especially in terms of living up to the varied and often conflicting expectations which our readership has projected onto Feministe.
Secondly, there have been several calls over the years for us to make our mission clear, so some thoughts on what Feministe is, and what Feministe is not, follow below. The points describing what Feministe is are deliberately broad, because limiting ourselves to any one view or goal seems unacceptably confining. The points describing what Feministe is not are more specific, because some reader expectations are becoming a burden, and we are standing up for ourselves by asserting which parts of that burden are unacceptably heavy.
The mission statement consists of an overview statement and a number of subsequent specific statements describing corollaries/clarifications of the overview in terms of what we the Feministe collective want for ourselves as bloggers and what we aim to provide for you as readers:
In response to detailed and robust constructive criticism of our original draft for the mission statement in comments below, the Mission Statement has been updated and simplified to summarise our positive aspirations without the distractions of “Not” statements. The current overview statement now reads:
Our mission is to foster a dynamic, robust, progressive, and inclusive feminist community.
and is followed by a list of ways and means to further this goal.
The original draft is now appended below for the purposes of transparency in order that criticisms in comments to this post have context.
Feministe is a blogging collective which prioritises women’s voices. This blog is where we share our opinions on anything and everything, as the mood takes us. Each of us speaks only for our individual selves unless otherwise specified.
The Feministe collective shares a broad social justice worldview: the personal is political because personal interactions and prejudices perpetuate systemic injustices in varied interdependent and intersecting ways. We aim to highlight oppression and to be effective allies for marginalized voices, especially supporting our co-authors and contributors sharing perspectives from their own lived experiences of marginalization. We know that sometimes we will get it wrong. When that happens, we pledge to listen and reflect so that we can do better in future.
The Feministe collective appreciates the value of trivial diversions that brighten our days. Without occasional bouts of silliness/squee/geeking-out/cathartic-snark etc, blogging gets all grim and discouraging and the will to blog dims.
The Feministe collective is committed to sharing our space with diverse guest bloggers who share a broad social justice worldview. Guest bloggers are welcome to be serious or trivial as best suits them.
The Feministe collective aims to provide a space where readers feel comments are productive and not bigoted nor erasing of non-normative points of view. We recognise that it is impossible to be a safe space according to every person’s definition. We will strive to balance everyone’s safety as best we can, and we encourage the Feministe commentariat to play their part by sending moderator alerts regarding unacceptable content in comments.
Feministe is not a journal of record – there are many topical news items which no member of the collective will have either the available time or the specific expertise to address substantively. The Feministe collective encourages the commentariat to discuss issues/incidents which we have not blogged about on the Open or Spillover threads as appropriate, or to submit a Guest Post of their own to prompt focussed discussion.
Feministe authors are determined to resist pressures (both external and internalized) pushing us to be either Magic Mommas or Trembling Sisters. As noted above, we speak only for ourselves unless otherwise specified.
This Mission Statement will remain a work in progress.