An Open Letter to Jessica Valenti

Dear Jessica,

I realize that I am a little late on this. But I have been thinking about your post “Farwell, Feministing”. I have been thinking about it a lot. I am a fan of your writing, and have enjoyed your books. In addition to wishing you well, thanking you, and extending to you my continued support. I would also like to tell you respectfully, that as an academic, and a 31-year-old feminist, I am disappointed with one of the reasons you provide for your departure:

Today, almost 5,000 posts later, I’m a 32 year-old feminist with a voice that is listened to. Largely because of the work I’ve done with Feministing, I have a successful platform for my work – I’ve published books, written articles, and built a career as a speaker. Because I feel Feministing should remain a place for younger feminists to build their careers and platforms, I think it’s appropriate to our mission that I step back. (Valenti, 2011, Feministing,com).

Recently, I have been thinking about feminisms online, and feminist blogging communities as first, powerful alternatives to mainstream medias, offering important critical feminist perspectives challenging dominant patriarchal and racist accounts of current events. Additionally, writers such as you and the “Feministing” team also bring attention to important stories that might go overlooked by other news medias.  Second, I see sites like yours’ as an important means towards building feminist communities both online and offline. Third, these sites also contribute to feminist activism.  Fourth, I have started to think about how online feminism, and feminist blogging might complicate feminist epistemologies, and methodologies (in fact, this is the topic of my PhD dissertation). I have important questions about how feminists like you and your colleagues fit into to the larger feminist legacy, history and community. For example, I wonder to what degree sites like this might bring together the academic arm of feminism, with the greater feminist community.

I do not see forums such as these as simply, “a place for younger feminists to build their careers”. Certainly, they do fulfill this important purpose. However, I see them as being a significant medium that should exist alongside more conventional ways of disseminating knowledge and criticism (i.e. publishing books). In short, I think that you should consider that, although feministing,com might have started out with this particular intention, its purpose, and place in ‘Feminism’ (with a big “F”) has changed.  I do not believe that these forums are simply transitory spaces for young feminists. I feel that your post, perhaps inadvertently makes this suggestion.

Thank you, and best of luck!

Sincerely,

Julia Hemphill

. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. Posted February 18, 2011 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    Hi Julia, thanks for taking the time to write this (and for the kind words about my work). I hear your concern, but I think you may have misinterpreted my post. All of the things you mention – building online communities, filling the gaps in mainstream mediac and promoting activism – are issues that are inextricable from Feministing. (In fact your description sounds very much like a talk I give when discussing feminist blogging!)

    Feministing did not start with the intention of building feminist careers – though we were all happy that it did so eventually – it started as a way to prop up young feminist voices, to provide a feminist intervention to sexist media, to shine a spotlight on youth activism (and to push for it) and to make feminism more accessible. I dont believe that my wanting to make space for younger and newer voices changes any of those goals or diminishes the role that Feministing and blogging plays in the larger movement.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Subscribe

  • Subscribe

  • Meet Us

164 queries. 0.245 seconds