The Internet has become a place where women’s voices are often censored, marginalized, or silenced. It’s also a place where those voices can collectively rise above the noise and become their own force. What would a community platform for women look like outside the channels of social media?
Photo by Amber Gordon
The site is the latest project from Amber Gordon, an online strategist and the former creative force behind Denny’s millennial-focused social media campaign. She knows how to build—and reach—an audience.
Gordon told the Daily Dot that this idea has been swirling around for about two years, but in January, Gordon and some friends honed in on creating a space where women could talk to each other, and submit stories. A publishing platform by women, for women.
“I personally like building things for other people to enjoy,” Gordon said. “I built the framework for what it could be, this publishing platform. Then about two months ago, I was like, ‘I really need to do something. I’m feeling really inspired.’ So I started working on this idea of community for women, but I had no idea what I was going to call it.”
A friend jokingly asked her to “femsplain” something to him (a spin on popular Internet term “mansplain”), and Gordon knew she had the name. She commissioned Tumblr artist Cindy Suen to create a logo and a banner, and put out a call for any contributors who identify as women.
Image by Cindy Suen
Each month there will be a different theme, to keep it personal and relatable, and there will also be calls for submissions related to the themes. Gordon cites the Toast as one website doing ladyblogging right, and the monthly theme echoes Rookie‘s approach to content. But Femsplain is going bigger on the idea of a community where voices can be heard and ideas exchanged. Gordon has tapped Gabriela Barkho and Samantha Blinde as editors, and Christina Lu and Dianna McDougall as photo editors. Digg’s Veronica de Souza, BuzzFeed’s Lindsey Adler, and Poncho’s Annalise Domenighini are also set as featured contributors.
The site debuts Oct. 27, the same day, Gordon reminds me, as Taylor Swift’s new album. We asked her a few more questions about the Femsplain takeover.
Do you feel a site like this is missing from the online landscape?
It’s so necessary, and it just feels so right. If we’re not going to do it, then who else will? Even though this is a huge project and I have a full-time job, I’m so prepared to dedicate my after-work hours to it. I feel so strongly about it, and other women feel strongly too. I have the resources to do it, so I feel like I’m wasting my knowledge if I don’t do this somehow.
Are men allowed to contribute?
No, but they’re allowed to support. The idea isn’t to exclude, it’s just to… I’ve been having this conversation with all of my lady friends, where all the time, we’re having to explain to men and prove that all of these issues and problems that we deal with every day, we have to prove this is what we’re going through. … But it’s more than explaining; it’s about a conversation. These articles are meant to be put out there to start a discussion, which anyone can contribute to.
Since you’re very involved with social media, do you feel it’s elevated dialogue about feminism?
It’s really our tool, our weapon right now, to get our voice out there. When I was younger, I used to play video games, and I was constantly harassed and would get rape threats all the time. Being a 16-year-old on the Internet, I didn’t understand, and I would always think it was my fault. And now everything that’s happening with Gamergate, and finding out all this stuff that other women have dealt with, it’s a support. Women want to help each other because it’s not right, and we have voices now, whereas before, you didn’t know who to talk to. Your Internet friends are so different than friends you meet through school or work. These are people you’re curating to.
Why does the Internet need Femsplain right now?
There isn’t a completely female-powered content community for women. We’re not turning away anyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, as long as you have a story to tell or you feel strongly and want to become part of a community. There’s no oversaturation.
Illustration by Jason Reed