How Feministing moves feminism and the media forward

Feministing was founded to uplift young feminist’s voices and issues into the mainstream. We’ve been very successful in this work, fundamentally changing the media landscape; Feministing alums are talking heads on the news, run major publications, are best selling authors and popular columnists. But I’ve been reminded recently that this work is nowhere near done.

I’ve been at Feministing for seven years now, first as a writer, then Editor, and now Executive Director. Recently, the focus of my work at the site hasn’t been on writing or editing as I’ve taken on running the organization side of things. But I’ve gotten to take on some writing and editing work again, which has reinforced for me the importance of this publication.

Simply put, editors at other publications are generally not open to pitches making arguments that are both outside there experience and put forward ideas that are new to them. This means that, if marginalized folks have something to say that hasn’t already been accepted as an argument in the mainstream, they will have a hard time getting access to a platform.

This is where Feministing comes in. Our young writers are constantly moving feminist thought forward, advancing ideas that may be popular among marginalized groups but haven’t yet been groked by the mainstream, or that are unique and new to their particular perspective.

While trans women have been questioning the value of “visibility” for a marginalized population that is often hyper-visible and targeted with violence, this argument couldn’t get traction in the mainstream for a long time. After writing pieces questioning the value of Hollywood’s version of trans visibility here at Feministing, I was finally able to get pieces making this argument placed elsewhere. Now, we’re even seeing cisgender writers in the mainstream ape these arguments.

Feministing’s team is very deliberate about using our position to push new frames and conversations into the mainstream. Last year, the leadership team decided to focus on the way young feminist discourse about sex was getting stuck at consent. We knew we needed to go forward, to talk about actually good sex, not just sex that was consensual, and to think critically about sex that’s consensual but bad. We knew these were difficult conversations to have, because consent is fucking important but it’s only the first step. Writers at our site worked to craft arguments about good and bad sex that didn’t get stuck before they could go anywhere. When a few months later the New Yorker published an article on bad sex, it cited three Feministing writers.

When I first started at Feministing, any writing on immigration was met with incredibly racist backlash. So we brought on writers who are engaged in the immigrants rights movement and focused on addressing these issues with a feminist lens. Media narratives about immigration increasingly include stories of women – cis and trans – and young people and the horrible things our immigration system does to them.

This work is ongoing. I’m regularly being reminded when I pitch pieces to editors elsewhere that I should only be bringing them arguments they can find published already. After all, a lot of these issues are outside their areas of expertise, and they don’t know if the arguments make sense. They need to see those points made somewhere in media already to see a pitch as worthwhile. At Feministing, though, we prioritize paying attention to conversations among marginalized groups, trusting our young writers to speak to their own experiences, and supporting them in making their points as best as possible. It’s an added challenge, editing pieces with information and arguments that might be new to you, and can require leaning on our diverse team or going back and forth with a writer to make sure their arguments will convince others because they’ve convinced us. And no, we don’t all agree with everything published on the site. But we know there are tons of brilliant young people from marginalized groups whose views and voices still aren’t represented in the mainstream, and we will continue working to change that.

This isn’t the kind of work that attracts major VC funders, though. That’s why we need your help and support. As Feministing celebrates 12 years of moving the movement and media forward, we need funding to keep lifting up young feminist voices and issues. Frankly, we haven’t raised the money we need right now to continue our work – we need to bring in another $5000 during this current round of fundraising so we can keep publishing this important work. Support from our readers means we can keep developing new generations of thought leaders who bring new ideas and ways of thinking into the mainstream. Can you donate so this work can continue?

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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