Reader Survey + One Year of Other Feminisms
Taking stock of a year of advocating for women and the dignity of dependence
If you read only one part of today’s post, please know that I’m doing a reader survey for Other Feminisms’s first birthday. Whether you’re a regular commenter or an occasional reader, I’d love to hear from you.
Other Feminisms launched on October 18th, 2020 with 131 members.
Today, we’re a community of 1,248 readers and commenters—just a little shy of growing 10x over the course of the year.
One in twenty of you have become paid subscribers—and I’m very grateful. Everything written on Other Feminisms is available without a paywall, but paid subscribers help me turn down some paid freelance work in order to say yes to working on this project.
A feminism by another name
Other Feminisms began because my social media was (briefly!) full of discussion of who and what felt left out of modern, mainstream feminism. Amy Coney Barrett had just been nominated to the Supreme Court, and authors like Erika Bachiochi and Serena Sigillito were making their case for how the jurist and mother of seven might represent a different model of what feminism could look like.
NYT columnist Ross Douthat termed this “conservative feminism” and characterized it as follows:
It takes for granted that much of what Ginsburg fought for was necessary and just; that the old order suppressed female talent and ambition; that sexism and misogyny are more potent forces than many anti-feminists allowed. It agrees that the accomplishments of Barrett’s career — in academia and now on the federal bench — could have been denied to her in 1950, and it hails that change as good.
But then it also argues that feminism’s victories were somewhat unbalanced, that they were kinder to professional ambition than to other human aspirations, and that the society they forged has lost its equilibrium not just in work-life balance but also in other areas — sex and romance and marriage and child rearing, with the sexes increasingly alienated from one another and too many children desired but never born.
I didn’t like the term “conservative feminisms”—I think there are plenty of you here who don’t feel particularly “conservative.” I put it more like this:
For most people, what drew them to this group was wanting to advocate for women as women. Often, our equality is premised on remaking ourselves to be more like the median man, whether that means changing our style of speaking to exclude apologies, changing our breastfeeding plans to keep up with work’s minimal accommodations, or changing our bodies to suppress fertility and destroy our children.
We say no, and that, instead, the world must remake itself to be hospitable to women, not the other way around. That means valuing interdependence and vulnerability, rather than idealizing autonomy.
I asked the folks who were here at the beginning for alternate names than “conservative feminism,” and, as you can guess from the name I went with, none seemed like a perfect fit. But here were some of my favorites:
My own (terrible) ideas included “Final Wave Feminism” and “Undertow Feminism.”
I like that we have a name that points to the messiness of the community that gathers here. There are topics where I’d expect to find substantial common ground, and ones where I’d expect Other Feminisms readers to see each other across a police cordon at opposite sides of a protest.
Taking our measure after a year
I’ve put together a reader survey which I’d love for you to take. There’s a short first page on demographics, and then a longer (optional) second part, where you can answer questions about what drew you here, and where you find it easiest and hardest to fit into “mainstream” feminism.
I’ll be doing a little more special programming this week for Other Feminisms’s anniversary, but thank you all so much for making this space such a rewarding place to write, think, and converse.
And, if you’re up for it, here are two bonus questions I’d love to hear your thoughts on.