On the evening of February 13, several editors and writers for “The Feminist Wire” came to Scripps for a discussion on the website, its founding, its mission, and its structure. The round table featured Tamura A. Lomax, co-founder and managing editor; Monica J. Casper, managing editor; Aishah Shahidah Simmons, associate editor; and Sikivu Hutchinson, contributing editor.
“The Feminist Wire” was born from a moment where racism, sexism, and the media collided. Lomax described feeling a “need to intervene,” because no one was interested in the black feminist side of the story. “We set out to create a space for that other side of the story,” she continued.
Casper would go on to detail the “invisible labor” involved in creating that space. “We all get very, very tired,” she said. All writers for “The Feminist Wire” are volunteers—they contribute to the website in their free time (many of them work in academia or have families), and are not compensated for their work. Casper described the website as a “collective.” “Nobody owns The Feminist Wire,” she said. “It just lives.” This collective structure does require what Casper described as a “tremendous amount of trust,” as well as “love and collaboration.” With no one person in charge, everyone must rely on one another to have work completed on time that fulfills the standards of the website.
“We have each other’s back,” Simmons continued, “even when we don’t agree.” She elaborated on the “invisible labor” necessary for The Feminist Wire to remain online. Although the editors are constantly in touch, they rarely, if ever, meet in person. Instead, they hash out all details of the website via email and chat. Some of the editors at the roundtable met for the first time that night, a fact that inspired laughter from both the round table and the audience.
Simmons sobered quickly, though. She explained that what made the Wire unique was that they were willing to “pull out and tease various issues” in a way particular to the website. This often involves the creation of forums, where several people will look at an issue from different perspectives. This process often requires many people, but the collective is incredibly thoughtful when it comes to adding new members. This is true whether they are writers or editors— after all, Simmons said, they “try to embody the work we produce on the site.”
This work includes not only work from collective-approved writers but also pieces from college, high school, and middle school students. Hutchinson is an especially strong force behind getting young voices on the site— she is incredibly interested in the issues of young women of color in the LA area, whose voices are systematically silenced. Because of this, these voices that aren’t normally given a chance to speak are often presented on The Feminist Wire. The round table ended with a Q&A session before the editors and the audience dispersed.
The Scripps Voice would like to credit the Scripps FGSS Department, particularly Piya Chatterjee, Kayon James, and Emily Johnson, for the organization and facilitation of this event.
We would also like to emphasize the intersectional, anti-imperialist, and anti-elitist focus and missions of both The Feminist Wire and the FGSS Departments, and we hope to focus on that more in future coverage and articles regarding FGSS and their events. In particular, we would like to push questions of what it means to be a feminist at Scripps, a private, liberal arts institution that costs $60,000 to attend?
We also hope to continue to generate discussion, and to ensure that all voices have a space to speak within the pages of The Scripps Voice.