Oh, my goodness! Are you aware that it has been one entire month since our last Tiger Beatdown Pledge Drive? It’s true! And here is what happened, in this month of ours:
- We finally got over Freddie’s [BONERS].
- We played you some of our records.
- We unloosed the demon spirit of Geddy Lee upon the comment section.
- We got Garland! And B. Michael! And Silvana!
- We came down with a case of the Weezer Fever.
- Which sounds disgusting.
- We compared your junk to the lily-white hands of Kyle McLachlan.
- I was apparently part of a conference? On Rethinking Virginity!
- We learned How the Caged Miley Sings.
- We fixed your relationship with Beyonce.
- We got Annaham! And Chloe Angyal!
- And we got ads! And made the template slightly less disgusting!
- And my mom came to visit!
And, best of all, almost no-one died. Except for actress Helen Wagner, best known for her role as Nancy Hughes on As the World Turns! (It’s true, my mom told me.) (Also, TOO SOON.)
So, here’s the thing: None of this would have been possible, had you not donated last time. Which sounds very NPR, but is totally true! So, I am going to put the donate button here, where you can see it. And then I am going to go on at length about why donations matter.
I’ve said this before, but I feel compelled to say it again: As far as paying feminist media outlets go, there are… not that many of them, actually. Print outlets, in particular, are rare as hell. How many feminist magazines can you name? How many feminist presses? Okay, now: How many great feminist writers can you name? Because I’m guessing it’s a substantially higher number. Most of the feminist work you read, I’m guessing, is online, where ad rates are notoriously way lower than they are in print (I’ve checked around: Some widely read and commented on and linked-to blogs generate a few thousand dollars per year from ad sales) and where nobody has to buy a copy of your blog to see what you have to say. And I’m furthermore guessing that a ton of what you read was written on a volunteer basis, or for necessarily low pay, for that very reason. That volunteer work matters, and is necessary. But it also edges feminist voices out of the market — makes them dependent on other jobs, prohibits them from dedicating time to it, puts way too many people who are talented and vital and necessary to feminist thought into positions where, sure, this feminism stuff is your hobby. But something else has to be what you really do.
It’s fucked-up. It devalues the importance of writing and thinking and conversing about the issues that affect us as women. And it silences people, in the long or short term. It’s especially fucked-up if you consider that anti-feminism, or backlash pieces, or manufactured catfights between women, are often considered way more “marketable,” or at least easier to get noticed for (get lady, get lady to attack other lady, wait for reactions from first lady and/or angry letters from readers about unfairness of attack on lady, REPEAT) than women actually, you know, talking about woman stuff. Like oppression. “It feels so ’80s or early ’90s to be political,” in the words of Le Tigre. Even when we are given platforms to talk about the issues that affect us — when we are sought out, quoted, called upon as “expert sources” on the stuff that matters to us and which we spend our lives studying — there’s always the chance that we’ll be cut down into a more manageable, predictable package, one that fits what people want or expect to hear from “feminists,” even if it distorts our message beyond recognition. As the lovely Jaclyn Friedman wrote, of her appearances on CNN:
I could tell the producer wanted me to say something harsh about the young woman in question, to accuse her of making things worse for “real” victims. But I refused, taking the time to explain that we have no way of knowing whether or not she was a victim, just that she no longer wanted to press charges. As the cameraman packed up, I beamed with pride: I’d just given a thoughtful, thorough, articulate 20-minute interview to CNN, an interview that had the power to shape American opinions about sexual violence. I called my mom, blasted the info via Facebook and Twitter, and waited eagerly to see the clip.
And then, there it was. I was on-screen for the span of exactly one sentence — a sentence used so entirely out of context it sounded like I had done the exact thing I had spent 20 minutes refusing to do: criticize the young woman at the center of the story. I blamed myself. How could I have been sloppy enough to give them a quote they could use that way?
It wasn’t her fault. Not even remotely. And it’s not an unfamiliar scenario, either. Recently, Rebecca Traister, of whom I have always been a fairly huge fan, published an article in which she somewhat disagreed with me on the ever-important feminist issue of Tina Fey. There was a mistake when the story first went up — a misattributed quote — so I e-mailed the editor, with whom I’d worked before, to send her the correction, and was like, “we sort of disagree, but I liked the piece a lot and Rebecca Traister is so great,” as a side note. Such were my opinions on Rebecca Traister’s piece, on the day of its publication! And I tell you these things now, because someone from a “media blog,” who I will not name, called me up and “interviewed” me about it. And, by “interviewed,” I mean that he tried to bait me into saying something mean about Rebecca Traister. “[X] said this unflattering thing about Rebecca Traister. Would you agree with that, or expand upon it?” These were the kind of questions I was getting. “Didn’t you disagree with her piece, and if so, how?” Finally, I snapped at him.
“I. Really. Like. Rebecca Traister,” I said, “And I. Really. Like. Tina Fey. I hope you’re going to run that statement, because I will be VERY DISAPPOINTED if you don’t.” Then I sent up a defensive Tweet, about having been interviewed about media catfights and hoping that I would not be quoted to look as if I were in a catfight. Because I’m just really uninterested in creating deadly feminist blood enmities, on the whole, and I didn’t want to end up in one with one of my favorite writers, just because some dude thought that women being able to handle disagreement like reasonable human beings wasn’t an interesting story. And, you know, apparently it wasn’t! Because I kept in touch with his blog, somewhat, to see how he shaped the interview, and as far as I can tell that story didn’t run.
This is not just my personal Livejournalism. This is a story about why we need specifically feminist media outlets in the first place: We exist in a world where our actual messages are often distorted or unheard, and we need — need need need — spaces where our voices are promoted, valued, and allowed to get the message out undistorted and without concession to what people want or expect to hear. And, honestly, we can’t have them if our labor is uncompensated or undercompensated. It puts us in a position where our work in creating an international feminist conversation is always on the back burner, always secondary, always under-funded and struggling and not a feasible thing to do with our lives.
And, I mean, the thing is, if the huge and passionate commenting communities on sites like Jezebel or Shakesville or Feministe or Feministing are any indication — if my own Google analytics or e-mails are any indication, in fact, and I think they are! — people really do value this work. They need it, they want it, they seek it out. People, women, want media that speaks to them about the messy and complex and infuriating and vital realities of their own lives. They don’t think Ke$ha advocating “irresponsible drinking behavior,” or some lady somewhere filing one false rape accusation, or feminists just not understanding how overpowering and hot the heterosexual male boner is in its natural state and how cruel it is to restrict the boners from doing anything (or anyone) they like, or even the terrible fact that two different women exist in the world and have two different opinions on Tina Fey, are the most important problems facing women today. So the most reliable and important and necessary way to keep those media outlets open is, and always has been, reaching out directly to readers. Asking them exactly how much they want the site, and if they have an extra $15 or $20 that could be spent on some popcorn and a ticket to Iron Man 2 (I hear it’s TERRIBLE! Don’t go!) and whether they’d be willing to send that $15 or $20 along, instead, to keep someone at the computer and making the work that they enjoy.
There is no way to say this and not sound NPR! I KNOWWWWW. But, look: This is an independently run blog. It started on Blogspot, it moved to WordPress, it was written by one person for the majority of its existence, and it STILL has like the most generic template in the world because I don’t actually know how computers work, sorry. It has ads now, and YAY for ads, but that’s not enough to keep it running at this level of involvement. When I’m not writing something, I’m doing something behind the scenes — catching up with e-mails, reaching out to new potential contributors, looking at and editing pieces, moderating comments, looking for ways to expand the site and make it better. It was a full-time job when I opened the site for donations; it’s a more-than-full-time job now. I would like to believe that it’s worth it, to you: that there’s like $10 worth of need for this website to exist in your heart. Or, seriously, whatever you can afford! It all matters. Because if there weren’t, there probably wouldn’t be as much of a website.
And, honestly, I think that making this blog’s funding dependent exactly and primarily on the people who read it, the people it’s meant to help or entertain or educate or serve, is the most ethical way to keep it going. It makes the blog’s value dependent on being a good blog, and not on anything else. It means that questions of “marketability” are determined by our readership, and not by anyone else. It keeps us honest, and it allows us to be brave. It allows us to publish unpopular opinions, confrontational pieces, and controversial points, and to stand by them in the face of challenge, because what matters is that this is what people want to read, not whether it is going to launch anyone into anything else or endear us to the world at large (or, for that matter, the people we write about). This is an independently run blog, but most importantly, it is an independent blog, and that is crucially important.
Oh, look, another donate button! How did that get here, you guys?!
Wily donate buttons. Always popping up when you least expect them!
Because, like, also, there’s the question of WHOSE feminism is valued: Who is considered “marketable” enough to be heard, to be given a wide platform. When C.L. Minou and I joke about putting “Tina Fey” in the headline of all her pieces so that people will pay attention to her writing about trans issues, it’s not really a joke. That shit just doesn’t get out there very much, and when it does manage to make it out into the public eye, it’s often attacked or ignored. I’ve been really, really lucky, I’ve received a ton of support, and I don’t want you to think for a second that I am not wowed and supremely grateful for that luck and that support. My work does get published, in places like Salon and Bitch, and also in places that aren’t specifically For Feminists — places like the Atlantic Culture Channel, where I’m paid, and places like The Awl, where I would write anything for free just because I love them so much. I don’t really know why people put up with me! But they do! But my primary commitment is to Tiger Beatdown, and to keeping it alive and well and hopefully in improving condition; and my privilege is such that I think the only reasonable thing I can do is to make this website a platform for other voices, less privileged voices, voices that are not mine.
So, like, wouldn’t it be fun to make enough that I could not only fund my own full-time work, but pay them? Haha, YEAH. YEAH I THINK IT WOULD BE. We have established, through scientific tools such as Math and Calculators, exactly how much we need to be making in order to make that happen. It’s slightly more than what we raised last time around, for the record, but not so very much more. Not an unfeasible number, certainly! I think, with regularly scheduled pledge drives and ads, and also merch (UGH, MERCH: We have to raise enough money to pay people for the raw materials, and we have to get a graphic designer or at least someone who knows Photoshop to design it, because too many people want it for the lady we were working with to manufacture sufficient numbers by hand as we had planned initially, and THAT is why we do not have it STILL, for the record; so sorry), we could meet it really soon! Which is why we have the ads now, in addition to this very sexy and attractive donate button! Which you can click on, to get that whole “here is some money for your post” mechanism running.
Seriously. I like you. I complain about the Internet so much, because I am a whiner, but I never actually do forget that you — the Internet! Or, at least, the fun and exciting parts of it — gave me the opportunity to do all this. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much. We got so much done this month, because you helped out last time. I really want to be able to do more.