I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of veteran feminists in Santa Fe while I was visiting my parents. Many of them had heard of Feministing, and had minimal familiarity with the blogosphere in general, but few of them really understood the ways in which our blog and others function to analyze the news-of-the-day through a young feminist lens, make news that has been neglected by mainstream outlets, mobilize readers for various actions (corporate responsibility, legislation, and other kinds of advocacy), and learn about and support grassroots organizations. When I described some of our successes and challenges, there was a palpable sense of relief in the room. Imagine fighting for the feminist movement for decades and truly not realizing that there was a whole new generation coming up behind you, innovating new ways to take on old issues, and identifying new issues to take on borrowing old strategies. I was waxing poetic about our work and then one woman asked, “So what’s your economic model?”
It’s not the first time I’ve thought about the fact that what we do here is essentially unsustainable. All of us have either full time work formally, or the equivalence of it in freelance terms. All of us struggle to make a living to various degrees. All of us stretch ourselves pretty thin to keep this blog populated, radical, and running. And I know we’re not alone in this lack of sustainability. We’ve had lots of ideas about how to attempt to solve this, but mostly we’re too busy keeping the blog going to actually step back and make a plan (I’m not convinced we could actually succeed with any for-profit model anyway.)
So I’m sitting here, mindful of my own legacy and very struck that what one might reasonable argue is the most robust, powerful medium for feminism today is being created in a truly unsustainable way. I start to daydream about all of the amazing things we might be able to do if we actually had the funding, space, and time to do more than keep our heads above water. We could be more proactive rather than reactive. We could make sure that our bloggers don’t naturally gravitate towards an economic class that can sustain unsustainable work. We could be more intentional about collaborating with grassroots organizations all over the country. The possibilities seem endless.
So as I plot new ways to bridge this divide–the older feminists who need the optimistic jolt that comes from realizing the next generation is kickin’ and screamin’, the young women who are working our arses off without enough resources and support–please weigh in. Do you have ideas for a more economically sustainable feminist blogosphere? What would the benefits be of a funded feminist blogosphere? What would the risks be (and let me be clear, I’m aware that there are some real risks to funding what we or other feminist blogs do)?
I just can’t shake the feeling that one of the biggest mistake my own generation is making is accepting the status quo of an unsupported blogosphere and losing the opportunity to make an even larger impact.