I’m hoping to restart our Feminist Friday discussions this week. Rather than try and sell you on the idea or give you a strong call to action to convince you to show up, I’m going to review the history of this project, explain how it works and why I think it’s important, and give you a tentative schedule for the next round of discussions. You can find every discussion post we’ve written since March on this page. It’s been hosted on six blogs up to this point. If things go as planned, it will be hosted on several more before we take our next break.
This started as a conversation between Gretchen of Drifting Through My Open Mind, Diana, and myself in December of last year. That conversation generated ideas that eventually resulted in two Freshly-Pressed posts and convinced the three of us to keep up a regular conversation about gender inequality, even though we knew we couldn’t talk about it constantly. In March, I had the idea of inviting other bloggers to join in and turning it into a collaborative project. The idea got more support than any other idea I’ve floated so far. Needless to say, we ran with it. You can read a more complete version of the origin story in my first post from March 21. Along with Part Time Monster and Sourcerer, we’ve had discussions hosted at Science Fiction, Transmedia and Fandom, Drifting Through My Open Mind, Comparative Geeks, and The Lobster Dance. (I feel as though I’ve missed someone, but can’t figure out who, and if I have, my dates are off somehow. If I’ve missed you, do let me know and I’ll make the appropriate corrections.)
How it Works
Simple. Someone writes a Feminist Friday post, which hopefully serves as a conversation starter. Bloggers and readers who are interested in talking about gender inequality issues in a safe, civil environment are invited to join in on the thread. I spend time the week before getting out the word — I post announcements on a blog, send tweets to people who I think might be interested, keep a few of my Facebook friends informed, etc. Sometimes a lot of people comment. We have a few threads that have generated more than 100 comments and stayed active all weekend. We also have a few that have generated almost no comments. I don’t let those discourage me. When attendance is off, I look at what we did that week, do my best to figure out why, and keep on truckin’. Not everyone shows up every week; not everyone has something to say every week. But a lot of people show up and comment most of the time. As long as that keeps happening, I’ll consider this project a success.
Some things I’ve found that seem to work:
- It always works better when we have a venue for the post and a topic early in the week, so that I can announce them.
- Short-ish posts that end with a question or similar prompt work better than long posts, and posts that are loaded with detailed personal experiences don’t generate the same level of discussion as posts that focus on issues in a more general way. Those sorts of posts do get the reads, but they don’t get a lot of comments. I think this is because people are leery of commenting too much on personal stuff — especially when the experience is of the heart-wrenching variety. I know I am.
- Posts that require a lot of expertise to discuss don’t get much engagement, because the audience for this series seems to be largely a thoughtful group of people who don’t like to comment things if they feel they don’t know much about them.
- The audience for this series is a very small portion of the larger Part Time Monster/Sourcerer readership. The posts are unavoidably political, and unless we’re talking about some form of inequality, we keep our politics off these blogs. We’re pop culture bloggers, essayists, and stand-up comedians ninety percent of the time. So, a lot of our readers just aren’t interested in this one thing, and that’s fine. If you’re hosting for the first time during this round, don’t expect too much from my promotion, is my point.
- The point of these discussions is to keep a regular discussion about gender inequality going, and that’s it. I think that’s valuable, else I wouldn’t spend my time doing it, but it’s unlikely to turn into a larger project unless we can find a LOT more participants or send something viral. We’ve tried to brainstorm larger projects more than once with these, and invariably what happens is we come up with some pretty good ideas, but lack the resources to take the next step. So again, don’t expect too much. To the extent that it’s possible to take any sort of action beyond finding a few more people willing to join in and keeping a conversation alive, the moving from talk to action is very much a long-term proposition, and this project is young.
- This is not something that can be done every week of the year. It seems to work best when we do it for four to six weeks, then take a break, regroup, and do a formal restart for the next round.
Why This Project is Important
- I reject the criticism that talking about issues such as gender inequality on social media amounts to just complaining in the sense that it’s “all talk, no action.” Action is difficult. It must be carried out locally to be effective. It requires financial and organizational support. Talk is easy. These discussions allow us to share ideas and learn about the experiences of people we’d never get to have conversations with otherwise. As long as we keep it focused on the sharing of information and don’t allow it to degenerate into an internet debating society, the conversation is valuable in and of itself. All action starts with a few people talking.
- It fosters relationships among bloggers. “Community” is a bit of a buzz-word and it turns a lot of people off. So I’ll just note here that more than half the bloggers I talk to on a weekly basis are supporting this project, and it’s this project more than anything else that’s brought us together.
The Schedule for the Next Round
This is tentative. It’s based on a regrouping thread I posted at Just Gene’O on Sept. 2. My plan is to get it started this week and keep it going through the third week of October. I’m taking my first real vacation in four years the week of Halloween, so the weekend of Oct. 31 will be our next off-week. When I return the week after, we’ll see where we are and decide whether to pick it back up through November, or just take a long break for the holiday season and start it back up in January.
Sept. 19 and Sept. 26 — One of these weeks will be hosted by Sabina of Victim To Charm, who has a post on whether or not the Bechdel Test is a valuable way to represent women in film. The other will likely be written by me. Final details on this week’s post later in the week.
Oct. 3 — Hannah of Things Matter on strong female characters.
Oct. 10 — Hosted by Gretchen at Drifting Through; topic to be determined.
These are the four I’m most sure of, assuming the bloggers I’ve discussed these dates with confirm it. That leaves us two more weeks before the next break; I’ll either line something up or think about writing one of these posts myself, depending on how things go.
If you’re listed here, please confirm that we’re good to go. If I’ve discussed hosting a post for this round with you and you aren’t listed here please let me know and we’ll adjust accordingly. We have plenty of time to adjust this schedule if necessary.
Thanks to everyone for your support, and for you patience during this long break. I’m hoping this next round will generate conversations as good or better than the ones we’ve had so far; and that it will interest a few people in our discussions.
Have a great week!