She Should Write

old movie still with caption that reads, She's everything a woman could dare to be!

Over the course of my 6 years (whaaaaat?!) writing for Feministing, I have met a lot of readers of the site. They are almost always young women who are super intelligent, engaged in talking about gender, and excited about making change in the world. Every single burned-out Feministing editor has said it at some point: there is nothing more energizing than meeting, in person, the feminists who read our site.

One time when I was representing Feministing at an event with Miriam, I confessed to her that even though I love meeting readers, I’m never quite sure what to say to them. She replied that she always asks them to write. To post on Feministing’s community site, to start their own blogs, just to put their words out there in the world. She tells them, you can do what we do. Be your own feminist-blog hero.

So of course I stole this idea (thanks, Miriam!), and now I never have an interaction with a Feministing reader without asking her to write.

I’ve written a lot about how I don’t think we can close the byline gap in journalism simply by broadly (ha ha!) encouraging women to write and pitch more. If we want more diversity in media, editors have to actively reach out to non-whitedudes in specific ways. But this solution can feel pretty narrow — after all, most of us are not editors. I’m here to tell you that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.

Ask a woman you know to write something today. Ask her to write a short essay instead of just reblogging some pretty photos on her tumblr. Ask her to spend 20 minutes journaling instead of watching DVR’d episodes of Jersey Shore after work. When she sends you a link to a great article, and it’s something she totally could have written herself, tell her that.

There’s a campaign to fix the gender gap in politics called She Should Run. I like call this personal crusade She Should Write.

Asking women to write is easy for me because I’m an editor. But I think awesome things would happen if we all started thinking like editors (just a little bit! no career changes necessary, people) and asked to hear women’s perspectives on things. This is 2011. You don’t need an anyone’s permission to write something that a lot of people can read. You just need a little encouragement.

I’m thinking about all of this because today I say goodbye Feministing. This site was the first major platform I had for my writing, and my co-editors were the first people to really support me as an opinionated writer. I have since gone on to make my writing a core part of my career.

I’m leaving this warm womb of feminist love because I’ve accepted a new job: I’m now the editor of GOOD, a magazine and website for people who give a damn. People like feminists! You should all add it to your RSS readers, follow on Twitter, and subscribe to the mag. It’s really good now, and it’s about to get a whole lot better.

And so Samhita, Vanessa, Courtney, Perez, Jess — and all of you who read and contribute to Feministing — thanks for pushing me to write. Now go ask another woman to do the same.

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