On feminist blogging, community and privilege

All of us at Feministing have been following the heated discussion happening in the feminist blogosphere right now about issues of race and privilege. (We’re not going to summarize, but here is some suggested reading. ) We want to say up front that Brownfemipower’s voice will be greatly missed. We also want to say that, yes, there is a history of white women (and white feminists) appropriating the ideas of women of color. It’s a problem that persists today. That doesn’t make Amanda a plagiarist, and we don’t believe she is.
And that’s all were gonna say about the specifics. Not only because we don’t want this to get too blog-insidery, but also because many brave bloggers have forayed into this territory before, and the discussion doesn’t seem to be getting any more constructive. Here, we hope to have a larger conversation about feminism and privilege and community. And how Feministing, as a website and as individual bloggers, can find ways to contribute to a blogosphere that is vibrant, accountable, forward-thinking and just.

We are all aware of the privilege we enjoy because of our large base of readers, and we’re aware of ways in which we could be better bloggers. Being part of a feminist online (and offline) community is a big part of our mission, and we don’t want to neglect the huge number of smaller feminist sites that make up that community. We’ve heard from some bloggers (particularly those who write a lot about race) that sometimes the traffic they get from our site fundamentally changes their commenting community, so they’d rather if we didn’t link. We’re cool with that. But if you run a smaller blog — particularly if you’re a woman of color — and you think we do a shitty job at link-loving sites like yours, please let us know. We are making a concerted effort to be better about this.
We’re actually going to take this opportunity to pledge to do better. With every post we write, we’ll do a search to see if another feminist blogger has covered the issue. And when it comes to linking, we will privilege blogs with smaller audiences and those with greater expertise than our own in the given subject area. We’ll also continue to make alliances with grassroots and other organizations who are doing antiracist, and community-building work on the ground, and highlight the work of those people here on the site, with posts like our Voices Of… series. We also hope that with our soon-to-be-launched community site, we can continue to do good work — and maybe even great work — with the direction of our readers, allies, and friends. So if there are specific things you think we can do better, we want to hear about it.
Given the history of Western feminism and its often problematic relationship with the feminisms of women of color, working class and queer women, it is easy to reproduce those same inequities, online and off. This history in many ways has set the parameters of the debate around the way difference functions within the feminist movement, and it is a difficult history to move past. However, in order to move forward — to lead with race, to lead with gender, to create feminisms that work for all of us — we need to look hard at where we stand and how it relates to those around us (and in our case, to those who read us or are influenced by us). None of us is perfect, we all have our blind-spots and we have to keep each other accountable. To move forward is painful, awkward, often uncomfortable, but it is the only way to create the community we want here at Feministing. It is because we value this kind of community that our editorial make-up will continue to be and work towards being diverse, defined in the broadest way possible. We’ve got writers who grew up immersed in Evangelical Christianity, Buddhism, and Catholicism, writers who land on various places on the sex and gender spectrum, writers from contrasting class and cultural strata, and writers from a range of ethnic backgrounds. We don’t always agree, but we are committed to the necessary beauty of that complex diversity.
Feminist blogging is a labor of love. Most of us do it for no money, with jobs and school and lives and kids vying for our attention — but we do it anyway. So we write this with nothing but love for the feminist blogosphere and all the hard work that so many put into it. Even though we don’t always agree.
~Ann, Celina, Courtney, Jen, Jessica, Miriam, Samhita, Vanessa
*Note: We ask that the comments section to this post contain no attacks on Brownfemipower or Amanda. Please use this space to have a larger conversation. (There are many other forums in the feminist blogosphere where the events have been rehashed.) We’d like the conversation to be a forward-thinking and constructive, or as constructive as possible. We are going to take a heavy hand in moderating this post in order to ensure that this kind of safe, and progressive, space happens.

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