Skip to content

Tiger Beatdown Blogiversary Presents: What Is Tiger Beatdown?

Yes, it’s as true today as it was yesterday: Tiger Beatdown is three years old. Actually, Tiger Beatdown is slightly older than three today, which I personally find shocking. And, as is usual every few months, we are fundraising, which means that now is a special time where you can donate to Tiger Beatdown, or subscribe to it, to give it a little birthday present and invest in its future. Look, here are some buttons!

But here’s the thing: A lot can change in three years. A lot has changed, in fact. We’ve had different rosters, different schedules, different recurring features, different rates of posting and styles of posting. After so many changes, I would not blame anyone for being confused about this blog’s identity. In point of fact, after a while, I became fairly confused myself. And so, I took to the mighty Tiger Beatdown Back Channel — where Garland Grey, Emily Manuel, Flavia Dzodan, S.E. Smith and myself have undergone the process of transforming into what is clearly some form of Captain Planet — to discuss this. What is Tiger Beatdown? What do we do? How do we define ourselves; how are we different than other ladybusiness blogs, what are we best at, what, if anything, makes “Tiger Beatdown” more than just two words assigned to a random collection of posts?

And so, after lo many an e-mail, we have come up with this: Our statement on what Tiger Beatdown is, and what we believe it will be for the future. It is not completely complete. It is not finally final. But — for your benefit, dear Reader — it is the closest we can get to making a statement of Tiger Beatdownness. And we hope you will benefit from the brand-new lack of confusion.

(1) We do long-form. Oddly, all of our editors seem to agree that it’s this — more than any one stance on the lady politics, or the politics generally — that defines us. We all write ourselves some long-assed posts at the Tiger Beatdown. And we don’t write much else.

This isn’t the most conventional way to run a blog. It’s also not the decision that makes the most immediate sense, business-wise. Making frequent, short, incisive posts is a reliable, respected way to make a blog popular. It drives up pageviews, both because there are more posts to click on, and because all of those posts generate comment discussions, which means people coming back to the page over and over again. Those big pageview numbers make advertisers and investors happy. The old saw, when it comes to professional blogging, is that the more you do it, the more popular and profitable you become. But that’s not the choice we’ve made for Tiger Beatdown.

By putting these considerations up front, I don’t mean to denigrate that way of blogging, or to imply that it’s purely commercial. My Google Reader is full of blogs that follow the 12-post-a-day model, or that at least publish more than once a day; it’s filled with blogs that do short-form posts; frequently, the short-form posts are mixed with long-form posts. These are blogs I rely on and love. If something is happening right now, I know these blogs will tell me about it. If I need to get the issue wrapped up for me in a nutshell, I know these blogs will do that for me. And I also know these blogs are written and run by smart, passionate people who care about their subjects, and care about good writing, and who just so happen to be really, really good at writing short posts that are entertaining, insightful, and informative. I have much respect for these blogs. I think all our editors do.

But — again — it’s not the form we’ve chosen for Tiger Beatdown. I bring up these other models just to stress that we do know about them. And we know that they work. And we know that they can be excellent. We’re not just fucking around here, being unprofessional and breaking rules and going over word count because we don’t know any better; at this point, we’ve consciously chosen to be an exclusively long-form blog, and to sometimes make that long-form very long, because we believe that model has value.

Because here’s another thing about those awesome 12-post-a-day or short-form blogs: They already exist. There are lots of them. And, because most people have more business sense than we do, we can assure you that blogs like these will continue to exist. And will continue to frequently be excellent. What’s slightly more doubtful is that people will continue to place a priority on the long-form. It drives me, personally, up the wall when people define “good writing” as concise writing, or complain about something’s length without reading it (TL;DR — the WORST expression on the Internet? The Vengeful Ghost Of Marcel Proust says “oui”), or seem to believe that the only value of Internet writing is to convey information quickly. Here’s what’s going on with this news story, here’s what you should think of this record, here’s what Sean Bean did in a knife fight; yeah, fine. Great information to get quickly, if you want to stay up-to-date on these things! But I have also seen someone refer to an 800-word piece of mine as “long, but worth reading.” As more and more of us read the Internet to get our information, and come to internalize the standards of the short form, I’m worried that there are certain values and experiences we’ll lose. The experience of getting absorbed in a piece of writing, wanting to spend time with it, letting that piece take you on a little trip to wherever it’s going, with patience for the weird roadside stops and detours: I don’t want to lose that. The value of non-immediate, thoughtful, detailed writing, not done in the heat of the currently unfolding moment, but after the writer has had time to reflect upon and absorb her experience: I don’t want to lose that. Reading something not for its “relevance,” or because you need it to be “relevant,” but because you believe that what’s contained in this piece of writing could enrich your life or thinking in some way: That’s not something I’m willing to lose, either.

So, yes. Tiger Beatdown does long-form. We provide a space for long-form on the Internet. Unless something is an immediate action alert, odds are, it will take some time for you to read. We hope you read it anyway. We believe we provide a valuable alternative, and a necessary space (one of many necessary spaces, in fact) for long-assed posts upon the Internet.

“Many blogs put together plenty of short posts with links or videos, etc,” Flavia said, when we were discussing this, “but where are the long form feminist/gender/sexuality/politics blogs? There are plenty for mainstream issues, mostly male dominated, but where are the ones that center in ‘our’ issues? And I think we fill that gap and we do so with quality and with honesty.”

(2) We post long-form, so we post less often. It will take you some time to read a typical Tiger Beatdown post. But, I can assure you, it will have taken much more time to write that post. I can’t speak for all the other TBD editors, but I know that lately, I like to take a few days to sketch out, write, think over, and re-write my Tiger Beatdown posts. Because I can, and because I believe that makes them better. I enjoy living with something for a while before I publish it; that doesn’t guarantee that I’ll be right, but it means I will have had a lot of the necessary arguments with myself, and therefore I will be less wrong. The long-form, reflective approach doesn’t really lend itself to newsiness. Nor does it lend itself to putting up a ton of posts, one right after the other, especially since all of our editors are writing (and in Emily’s case, editing) for other publications, and have to maintain space and time to give those publications our full attention. We are giving some thought as to how to make sure we are not just ditching you or drastically under-posting, and you will hear about that later. But, in the meantime, think of us as one of those big, complicated meals that takes all day to prepare. Thanksgiving dinner, or really good chili, or gumbo, or what have you. I love those meals. I could not do without them. I also acknowledge that I live next to what is probably the best falafel stand in the entire universe, and sometimes, making chili seems like a ridiculous amount of time and effort, when the fact is that I could be putting some amazing falafel in my face right now. This is where we stand, in regard to blogs that post more often than we do.

S.E. summed it up: “Some weeks we have two posts. Some weeks there are ten. All of those posts are good.” This is what we’re aiming for.

(3) This is a space founded upon the diversity of its contributors. This is something that absolutely all of us stressed, in our enormous Editorial Standards E-Mail Chain O’Doom. Again, I refer you to S.E.: “Tiger Beatdown as originally conceived was Sady Doyle, and is not anymore. I happen to think that this is a good thing.”

As Sady Doyle, I agree with this statement! In this culture, there is one fairly popular image of The Feminist Blogger. That picture is of a person who is white, young, female, college-educated (at the very least), abled, middle-class, straight, and cis. That picture looks a lot like me. It’s missing a few of the complications in my history — around class, around health — but it’s undeniable that I am very, very easy to mistake for the woman in that picture. And part of my job, as I conceive of it, is to make it clear that this picture is NOT AN ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF THE LADY BUSINESS, nor is it an accurate representation of the people who do it. It is also part of my job to recognize that there are some subjects I simply can’t pronounce upon with authority, since I don’t have the lived experience that produces authority, and to provide a space for authoritative writing on those subjects. Here, I turn you to Flavia:

“Within the culture,” she wrote, “there is this ethos of ‘all feminist blogs are X’ (where X is white, cis, American dominated) and that is true for many (or even the majority of blogs), but it is certainly NOT the case for TB.”

Accordingly, whenever we have sought out new voices for the Tiger Beatdown, we have sought out people who come from different experiences of marginalization, and of life. And, huzzah! Such is the team we have today! We have team members who are women, we have team members who are not women. We have trans* editors, we have cis editors. We are not all white people. We are not all from the same continent, and we are not all located on the same continent currently. We come from all over the place on the glorious rainbow of human sexual and asexual orientation. Some of us say “feminism” every fourth breath, one of us doesn’t identify as feminist at all. We live in different places, we have different levels of ability and disability, we are married and single and Living In Sin, we have different cultural and religious backgrounds, we are just generally a group of unique and varied and multi-dimensional human beings. Because this is what Ladybusiness looks like, in reality. It connects to all the Businesses there are. It cannot ignore or isolate itself from the other various Businesses. Reflecting that fact is a key, foundational principle of this space. Oh, and also:

(4) This is a space founded upon diversity of opinion. There is never any guarantee on what you will find in a new Tiger Beatdown post. Some are about working in prisons. Some are about the Global South. Some are about books with wizards in ‘em. I myself am writing a post about that new Tori Amos album, which is possibly only relevant to myself and my embarrassing little inner twelve-year-old superfan. And this is how we like it.

There is, Flavia pointed out, an unspoken agreement among the editors of this site. We are not always going to agree with each other on everything. We are, however, going to respect each other and the work that we do. Hopefully, the key points of agreement — people are human, inclusion is important, let’s not perpetrate marginalizing bullshit upon each other — remain firmly in place. But the freedom to write and think, to bring differing takes and opinions into this space, is another key agreement that we share. And we would hope that we have this same agreement with the readers of the site. You are not always going to agree with every single thing that is published here. (In fact, I personally sort of hope that you do not. I am very uncomfortable in environments where everyone agrees on everything.) But we would hope that you’d respect the fact that so many opinions and perspectives are being published.

The Internet has given feminists and social-justice types more ways to communicate than ever, and we communicate faster than ever. And, accordingly, we produce consensus faster than ever. But the history of social justice movements, and maybe feminism especially, is not a history of achievement by consensus. Consensus is responsible for a lot of the achievement, and for our ability to unite and use our sheer numbers when necessary. But the history of social justice movements is also, perhaps even more importantly, a history of achievement by adventurous thinking. Which is, if anything, the opposite of agreement. Knock-down drag-out infighting, massively out-there theories, challenges to privilege, challenges to received wisdom, good and idealistic and dedicated social justice types being ass-nasty to each other and hating each other publicly and at length: All of this has been with The Women’s Movement for as long as the Women have been Moving. (In fact, I’ve been reading about some stuff that went on in the second wave, and it was, if possible, even more ruthless than today. Did you know that a radical feminist collective published an article declaring Gloria Steinem a CIA plant dedicated to RUINING FEMINISM FOREVER? Well, you do now! Also, she sued for libel.) We are not fans of ass-nastiness around here. But the environment that produces it is also an environment in which people feel free to make new statements, and try out new ways of envisioning the world and its problems. Too much consensus leads to stagnation. Lack of consensus leads to articles about how you are working for the CIA, but it also leads to the works of bell hooks.

We are a blog that tries to think new things,” quoth Emily. “And that sounds super obvious, but it’s really not in a world where people usually read to have what they already believe confirmed.”

The Ladybusiness, and its inherent connection with and responsibility to all forms of Businesses, has always been messy, it has always been contentious, it has always been ideologically diverse, and it has never had a sacred text or a set of rules or a single authority by which to define itself. That is one of the best things about it. And that is what we are dedicated to preserving through Tiger Beatdown.

(5) If we are missing something, you can write it. It’s true that we don’t publish massively often. And it’s also true that, even though we’re a fairly diverse team, we don’t and can’t represent every human experience and perspective. So if there is something you would like to see on the Tiger Beatdown, well: Consider that, through a recent technological miracle, it may be possible for you to get a post on this thing, written to your exact specifications, and written exactly the way you would write it, onto the Tiger Beatdown itself! This technological miracle is called “guest posting,” and it is something that we do. We encourage you, in fact, to pitch us guest posts! We don’t accept every pitch we receive, because no-one does, but if your take is interesting and your writing is good, we would love to have you. Love it. Send your pitching into Ye Olde TBD Mailbox any time of the day or night that it may suit you. This, you will note, also means more posts on the blog. Everybody wins, with guest posting!

And that, my friends, is the current statement. That is Tiger Beatdown. We are still working on smaller details — recurring features, schedules, policies for handling guest posts, etc.; again, you are free to speak to those things in our comment section — but generally, this is the vision that we share, and that we are committed to. And now you know about it! So we all, very much, hope it is a vision you enjoy. If you do, consider donating! Or, subscribing! If not, consider seeking out alternate visions, perhaps ones with Jon Hamm that are streaming on Netflix. I find those to be a great deal of fun.

14 Comments

  1. Lynne wrote:

    Sady, I’ve thought this before but have to say now, reading all your mentions of “ladybusiness” that it slays me that feminists now use “lady” the way you do, after my generation worked so hard to replace “lady” with “woman”. Really, “woman” was never used, even at workplaces: “lady” was considered more polite. It also carried a lot of condescending overtones. So we worked to replace it. With a lot of success, too! (Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room was written in that environment).

    And now your generation seems to have reclaimed the word lady, which still feels odd to me, but what the heck.

    I like your inclusiveness—I have not been reading for long so don’t know how this might be different from the earlier incarnation.

    I would like to know which of your writers aren’t women. Is this a secret?

    Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink
  2. Sady wrote:

    @Lynne: Well, I think the word “lady” disappeared from the vocabulary for my generation, pretty much. But then that made the word itself seem sort of inherently funny to my generation? “Lady” implied an outdated form of femininity (“be a lady”), it implied a title of respect (Our Lady of [X], Lord and Lady Kensington, whatever), and it also implied a sort of queasy, quasi-mocking attitude toward femininity — “lady things,” “lady talk” — that you’d expect an older man who was sort of uncomfortable with women to express, and which was sort of inherently funny in and of itself. It was also the counterpart to “gentleman,” which had already been debased as a word, due to its being made sort of an inadvertent self-mockery with “gentleman’s club” and the like. But “lady” also wasn’t “woman” or “girl,” both of which were tied up with ideas of being a specific age — “woman” was fully adult and intimidatingly serious, “girl” was young and trivializing — which made it easy for young women like me who didn’t fully identify with “girl” or “woman” to ironically appropriate. Anyway, it was funny for a few years; now it seems to have just slipped back into the language.

    Also, “ladybusiness” is a slang term for “genitalia,” which means I thought it was extra-funny to use it as a term for feminism.

    Oh, and the editors who aren’t women are Garland and S.E. Garland’s a dude, S.E. is genderqueer.

    Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink
  3. Lynne wrote:

    @Sady

    “Also, “ladybusiness” is a slang term for “genitalia,” which means I thought it was extra-funny to use it as a term for feminism. ”

    Really? I didn’t know that. :)

    Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink
  4. Garland wrote:

    ♂♂I’M♂♂♂UP♂♂♂♂IN♂♂♂♂♂♂♂YOUR♂♂♂♂FEMINISM,♂♂♂♂BEING♂♂♂A♂♂DUDE♂♂♂

    I’ve been terribly busy lately so I haven’t posted with any frequency for a while, but I make up part of the non-woman slice of the blogpie here at Zoo Punch.

    :D

    Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Permalink
  5. sbvds wrote:

    I absolutely love the posts that are non-US-centric, usually written by Flavia. I don’t think there are enough ladybusiness blogs out there that write about other places in the world, certainly not the Global South (and would appreciate recommendations if anyone cares to share).

    Friday, September 23, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink
  6. Will Wildman wrote:

    I discovered TBD at the start of this year when someone linked me to the brilliant article on Joan of Arc, and I subsequently blitzed through the archives at hazardous speeds. It was rather fascinating to see the evolution of the blog’s first two years at such a condensed rate. It has turned from one awesome thing into another, bigger, awesomer thing. That was the first thing I wanted to say.

    The second was to note that there’s an asterisk on ‘trans’ in this article that doesn’t appear to connect to a footnote – was it supposed to, or is it more of a wildcard to indicate something is More Complicated Than That?

    Friday, September 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink
  7. Emily Manuel wrote:

    @Will It’s supposed to indicate something’s more complicated, as far as I know. Some people take “trans” to mean strictly transsexual men and women, so the asterisk was added to indicate a broader umbrella inclusive of non-binaries.

    Friday, September 23, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink
  8. April Q. wrote:

    Yay! I love this and I love Tiger Beatdown and I love “[t]he experience of getting absorbed in a piece of writing, wanting to spend time with it, letting that piece take you on a little trip to wherever it’s going, with patience for the weird roadside stops and detours.”

    Thank you for being amazing and giving me a lot to think about, on a wonderfully regular basis.

    Love, Me

    ps: that Joan of Arc piece was fantastic!!!

    pps: Happy Blog-versery

    Saturday, September 24, 2011 at 3:13 am | Permalink
  9. Millicent wrote:

    SBVDS: I don’t think there are enough ladybusiness blogs out there that write about other places in the world, certainly not the Global South (and would appreciate recommendations if anyone cares to share).

    I sometimes write about NGO work and travels in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe on my blog. I’m a slow poster, so it’s infrequently updated, but there’s about a year or two’s worth of archives with some thoughts.

    Saturday, September 24, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Permalink
  10. Raemon wrote:

    I finally donated, and while I should have anyway (I’ve always gotten value out of this blog) I have been particularly appreciative of the articles focusing on issues outside of America.

    Also want to echoe that the Joan of Arc piece was fantastic, extremely inspiring stuff.

    Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink
  11. Joy wrote:

    I have loved this site for awhile now and believe it just keeps getting more dense and fulfilling. It’s also rather harder to read and often less funny. And I am TOTALLY OK WITH THAT. Because things are hard and not consistently funny. Not that I mind humor in any post, of course. :)

    This is a bit of a random: I was engaged by the first set of comments (Lynne and Sady) regarding the word Lady. Being raised in very much a self-defined feminist household where “lady” meant something along the lines of Lynne’s definition, I am startled that I refer to my very young daughter as “lady” and “ladygirl” in the barrage of nicknames I give her. There is something going on in my relationship to her, reclaiming that being feminine isn’t inherently bad, weak, or anything else. It just is being feminine. No harm in being any more than there is harm in being NOT. My toddler happens to be a fancy girl. She likes to talk about her pretty dress and shoes, then go skin up her knees, smear rice in her hair, etc.

    Words do not have their meanings shift in a vacuum. There is something in the way I was taught that Lady (and Sir to a degree) was a slur, thus I shunned elements of ladylike thoughts and actions in my own young life. In the swings and roundabouts, I delight in seeing my kid delight in her ladyness, as well as her toughness (the accepted/encouraged delight of a “feminist mother”), extreme in all things as toddlers tend to be.

    I know there are LadyBusiness parent blogs out there, though I admit that I don’t know many offhand. I suspect that some outline of how our language to our children has shifted is there, though hunting through all the dreck is beyond daunting. I have this blog to thank for updating my own language issues to be less the privileged image of Feminism (I appear white, middle-class, cis, etc.) but how we address and model for young kids is a different, trickier situation. Too often untangling the language is ugly business, full of more-feminist-than-thou and general non-inclusive unhelpful attitudes of the whole SuperMom flavor that just hurts anyone trying to do better because they aren’t perfect/doing enough.

    As I am not a TB-quality writer, this comment may be problematic. I’m searching myself for the way to talk to my kids every day that is inclusive without being over-their-heads nor preachy (which was sadly a lot of how I personally was modeled feminist parenting) and I am doing what I am able to untangle the mess.

    Monday, September 26, 2011 at 10:19 am | Permalink
  12. Lynne wrote:

    @Joy

    Ah, feminist parenting! We did it, with our two boys, who are now 19 and 22. I know what you mean about how competitive parenting can be, not just regarding feminism, but really on any topic where conscientious parents might do things differently.

    A couple of things stay with me from when my boys were young. I always used inclusive terms like “firefighter” instead of “fireman”, and these came up a lot in their picture books and their Duplo play. As soon as the older boy started kindergarten—like, within weeks—he was using “fireman” and so on. He absorbed the message that male was the norm in countless ways as soon as he reached school.

    For instance, there was a program where the kindergarten children could sign up to take a book-and-buddy home for the night: a book about Paddington Bear, for instance, with a stuffed P. Bear. There were about twenty of these stuffed animals and books. Guess how many were female? Two.

    A lot of this stuff was subtle, and I often contented myself with pointing it out. I guess that had some effect: When Son #2 was in grade 1, he wondered at dinner one night why all the stories at school were about boys.

    I’d love to think it’s different in school now…

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink
  13. Joy wrote:

    @Lynne

    As my son is only in his third week of Kindergarten, it’s not been long enough to know how the gender dynamic will play out, but overall, I’d say things are, if not different entirely, better generally. There’s just more available around to discuss, more outside-the-accepted-normative to play off of. For example, his pre-K, being a community-level place, not a fancy pre-K, was incredibly diverse racially. For some reason at this place, there were lots of foreign families and kids who spoke many flavors of non-English (Chinese, Turkish, etc.). While the school itself didn’t take advantage of this, but it was at least present. Physical and linguistic diversity was commonplace even while the school was (sometimes painfully) standard American-Christian-flavored. The expensive pre-Ks I’ve seen (and can’t afford) are all so whitey-white, and one classroom was so blond and blue-eyed that an attending parent and I joked it was Aryan Nation Room. Even though those are the classrooms actually talking about diversity, using inclusive language, etc. I’d wager there is real value in being around “different” kids over seeing them in a book and talking about “others” in language that has more to do with the parents than the children anyway.

    The highlight of a couple weeks’ back my boy was querying me about royal titles (ex: a prince can be a son of a king or queen) and after several expected rounds of questioning, he asks if a man married a King, would he be a prince? I told him it was unprecedented, but I guess so. I had explained a queen’s consort just ahead of this exchange and may even have babbled on after “unprecedented” that consort was likely, but I don’t remember as I was desperately trying to commit the first half to permanent memory.

    That was balanced by overhearing from another room the same boy asking his toddler sister if she wanted to be a princess or a ballerina when she grew up. I snerked later that she was going to be ninja, maybe a princess ninja, but figured that the recent watching of Angelina Ballerina Nutcracker Suite (chosen by the 5yr old) was likely to blame.

    Can’t win ‘em all. But clearly not failing entirely. At least it’s progress. Genuine as only a small child can be.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink
  14. Lynne wrote:

    @Joy

    “, he asks if a man married a King, would he be a prince?”

    Love it!

    Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink