The folding of Gender Across Borders one year ago brought home the challenges of online feminism. Like, the fact that it’s (more often than not) unpaid. Piled on top of paid jobs and activism, plus (for me at least) raising children and working on longer writing projects. (Or at least talking about them.)
Fortunately some folks who are a heck of a lot smarter than I am have been thinking about the need for sustainability in the online feminist ecosystem. And while they don’t have all the answers, they’ve started a public conversation to generate exchange, debate, and new directions.
Tonight at the Barnard Center for Research on Women, I heard Courtney Martin and Vanessa Valenti (along with some amazing bloggers from Feministing, Crunk Feminist Collective, SPARK Movement, F-Bomb, Feminist Teacher, and Feminist.com) present a report, #FemFuture: Online Revolution, about where online feminism needs to go. Their inspiring and thought-provoking report can be found here. It reminded me of the HUGE amount of amazing feminist work happening online… and I also learned about amazing folks and projects that I’d missed (such as the successful crowdfunding undertaken by queer Nigerian Afrofeminist blogger/online activist Spectra for social media and communications training for African women’s and LGBT organizations).
Martin and Valenti propose a range of strategies under the category of “more”… more collaboration, reciprocity, infrastructure, coordination, strategic thinking, and sustainable business models (both non-profit and for-profit). Because, as they put it, “An unfunded movement further privileges the privileged.”
They have some (preliminary) ideas about how to strategize long-term, though mainly they’ve started a conversation for feminists who are online. And ones who aren’t, too. The conversation turned global with the presence of organizations like WEDO and Digital Democracy, my new favorite org that’s empowering marginalized communities to use technology to fight for human rights in a handful locations, including Haiti. DD’s insight? Think mobile.