As she announced earlier this week, Courtney has ended her time as an Editor here at Feministing. She will be missed by our readers and by the feminist blogosphere at large; as Jill at Feministe said on Wednesday, “Courtney is, basically, a big ol’ hippie with a heart of gold, who writes from a place of love — and so consistently putting love first is extremely difficult to do, especially in feminist spaces.”
I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Courtney. My Feministing origin story – my entire feminist writer origin story, in fact – starts with her.
In the spring of 2008, I was a college junior and the president of the Eating Concerns Advisers. One of our group members had heard about this book called Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, and we decided to bring its author to campus to speak. She agreed to come for the day and do a lunchtime workshop, and then a talk in the evening. I was assigned the task of introducing her before the talk, so a few days before she was scheduled to come to campus, I started reading her writing, both her book, and this blog where she was an Editor. And that is how I discovered Feministing. From that day on, I read the site every day.
After Courtney came to campus, I was disappointed that our college paper didn’t cover her talk. She was speaking about issues that were so relevant to our campus culture – perfectionism, disordered eating, sex – and I wanted every single person on campus to hear what she had to say. One thing that she said stood out more than the others: feminism was crucial to solving this problem. It was a vital piece of armour against the endless onslaught of perfectionism and body image problems. Feminism. It was a term I had avoided associating with for my first few years of college, once I realised how unpopular the “feminist” label was around those parts. Once Courtney came to campus, that changed.
I wrote an op-ed in the college paper, my first op-ed ever, about why young women should be and identify as feminists. I sent it to Courtney, who linked to it on Feministing. It was picked up by Skirt! Magazine, who published it a few months later (the editor who reached out to me said, “Oh my god, Courtney Martin called you fabulous and brilliant, that is so cool!”).
After this first taste of writing about gender and culture, and of igniting sometimes contentious conversations about those issues, I couldn’t stop. I spent the summer freelancing, and by the time I graduated I had decided – inspired in no small part by Courtney’s example – to try to make a go of writing as a career.
I have no poker face. I am very bad at hiding when I like or dislike a person. When I have a crush on someone, they (and everyone in a five mile radius) will know about it in under ten minutes. The same goes for lady brain crushes, and so I’m sure Courtney knew from the get-go that I was head-over-heels in brain-love with her and that I desperately wanted to be her mentee, and friend, and if possible to just be her.
These days, I am two of those things (I can’t achieve the third without committing some creepy Talented-Mr.-Ripley-style crimes). I have the distinct pleasure and honour of being Courtney E. Martin’s friend and mentee, and until recently, her colleague, and for that I feel more gratitude than I can possibly express.
Court is a woman who walks the walk when it comes to feminism and sisterhood. She makes a conscious effort to pay opportunities forward and to open doors for other women. She’s generous with advice, expertise and support. She employs the power of networking not just for personal gain, but with the express purpose of building community and fostering relationships between likeminded people. She is, I have believed for some time, a professional Generous Person, who uses writing as her outlet to express that generosity.
When Courtney announced that the time had come for her to leave Feministing, I let out a loud, heartfelt “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo” so long that I only just finished saying it a few minutes before I sat down to write this blog post. Court is pretty fond of the Friday Feminist Fuck Yeah (and the Friday Feminist Fuck You), so it only seemed fitting that she get her very own Fuck Yeah.
Fuck Yeah, Courtney E. Martin, writer, speaker, teacher, philanthropist, mentor, professional Generous Person and total fucking bad-ass. Thank you, for everything you’ve done for feminism, for everything you’ve done for Feministing, and for everything you’ve done for me. I love you.