An Open Letter to Feministing

Table of Contents:

The Backstory

The Letter

List of Cosigners

What Happened Next

Email Exchange with Courtney

Reposting of the Open Letter

The Chat

What I Would Like Feministing To Do

What You Can Do

Thank You

The Backstory:

Feministing is a major feminist website which has a long history of having a culture of problematic content in both posts and comment threads. Specifically, site administrators have been questioned and called out numerous times about ableist, transphobic, classist, and sizeist language used in posts on Feministing and tolerated in the comment threads.

This language and the silence on disability, trans, class, and size issues is a problem on a feminist website because these things are feminist issues which impact and hurt women all over the world. When called out, administrators have often responded dismissively, if at all, and have sometimes actively silenced the people calling them out. Readers reported repeatedly reporting abuse and sending emails complaining about ableist language and receiving no response, and pointed to examples in comment threads of situations in which a commenter requested that ableist language be addressed and was shut down, treated dismissively, or piled on by other commenters and administrators.

On 1 October 2009, a post went up including the use of the word “invalid.” This annoyed me. Having conversations with numerous disabled feminists about the issue, I decided to write Feministing, both privately and publicly. My goal was to discuss the specific post of concern, and to more generally ask Feministing to address the issue of ableism on their website.

Aware of the fact that people had tried before and failed, I didn’t have high hopes, but I felt it was worth another try. A highly public one. So I wrote a letter, and asked that people who felt that ableism does not belong in feminist discourse cosign it, republish it, distribute it, and generally make some noise. Numerous people joined me in doing this and also wrote open letters of their own.

I want to stress here that my goal was not to coopt the ongoing challenge to the staff at Feministing about the ableism on their site. My goal was to try and act as a tipping point, to push Feministing into action by mobilizing people who are upset about this, and by collecting everyone’s comments, thoughts and concerns in one place to present a clearly unified discussion about the issues. This has been tried before, to no effect, but I had some hopes that the Feministing staff might be more receptive to a discussion now than they had been in the past.

My goal here was to open up a dialogue which includes the staff at Feministing, disabled feminists, and allies, to get Feministing to address the ableism on its site and to change the culture at Feministing to make it more inclusive.

The Letter:

Dear Feministing,

I’ve been reading you guys for a while now. I haven’t always liked everything you do or say, but I think that you bring some important issues to my attention and sometimes some good conversations happen on your website.

But, you know, in recent months I’ve become increasingly disturbed by the exclusionary language and attitudes I see on your site, most particularly in reference to people with disabilities and people in lower social classes. You have a pretty poor track record on even covering disability issues, and the casual ableism which I see in your comment threads and sometimes in your very posts  is extremely grating. It is especially irritating to see dismissive responses from site administrators when this issue is brought up.

Today’s post on chivalry was the last straw. Courtney used the line “If having my car door opened makes me feel like lover man thinks I’m an invalid, not so feminist.” This is offensive.

I’d like to point you to a piece I wrote recently, “Why Inclusionary Language Matters,” because I think you need to read it. Using ableist language is not just offensive, it’s antifeminist. And I would really appreciate it if y’all would stop doing it and stop tolerating it in your comment threads. I would also love to see y’all including more posts talking about topics related to disability and disability issues.

Please address this. Feminism includes people with disabilities. Disability is a feminist issue. Please make Feministing more inclusionary.

Thank You,

s.e. smith/meloukhia (meloukhia at gmail dot com)

The Cosigners:

The following individuals have reposted/cosigned this letter on their websites. This list is in no particular order. Many of them have written their own open letters/comments, which should all be read, because they are all excellent:

Cara

Sawcebox

abby jean (more here)

Indie Goddess & Illegal Jesus

kaninchenzero

The Feminist Agenda

pharoah_katt

Laura

Pieces of String

Chally (who wrote at the same time I did and did not receive a response)

Anna (who has been writing for a very long time and has not gotten a response)

OuyangDan

Fangirl

Susan

Ashley

tekanji

Annaham (see also here)

The Red Queen

Kat

Anji

Isabel the Spy

Lauredhel

were_duck

gryphonsegg

Reconcile (who did get my name wrong, but that’s ok, it’s hard to spell!)

ithiliana

pgdudda

denelian

Wandering Lost

giandujakiss

niemaodpowiedzi

maevele

ekswitaj

bifemmefatale (who cosigned on the Feministing Community Site! Please see the comments thread here; I really want to thank Wildly Parenthetical and Alixana for being very on it in this thread and for trying to keep the discussion focused)

Lavender Lines

sasha_feather

chloelikedolivia

Champagne Candy

The Trouble Is

Amandaw (please note that she has posted an open letter of her own with specific concerns and issues she would like to see addressed!)

Anna at Trouble also started a roundup of posts related to ableism at Feministing; please comment to get your post added there. Or, if you came here from there, please comment so I can add your post to the list of cosigners/people with suggestions/etc. were_duck is also collecting links on the issue. sasha_feather has a more general collection of links on disabling language, including links discussing ableism at Feministing.

What Happened Next:

Nothing, for a while. Then Courtney published an apology on the post in question (after I had sent my letter, natch). The Feministing administrators left for the weekend while the numbers of cosigners grew here and people republished my open letter and wrote letters of their own.

At around 11:30 AM PST on Monday, 5 October 2009, Courtney sent me an email (CC’d to other Feministing staff):

Hi there,
Thanks very much for the thoughtful, constructive email.
I am, to be completely honest, new to disability studies and clearly guilty of some of the ignorant language reflexes that it fights against. I’ll definitely check out the article you sent and make a good faith effort to incorporate it into my writing here and elsewhere. I was really moved by the section in Examined Life where Astra Taylor films here sister and Judith Butler touching on some disability issues, but that’s as much exposure as I’ve really gotten.
I appreciate you taking the time to write.
-Courtney

*FYI, my response in comments was absolutely earnest. I meant the apology, not to be dismissive.

Just so we’re clear here, since there has been some confusion about this, Courtney did not go out of her way to respond to me privately. I posted this letter here first, and emailed Feministing’s general email account shortly after with a copy of the text and a link, with the idea that Feministing staffers would come here to see the comments. It didn’t occur to me that Courtney would choose to respond in email, and I suspect that she didn’t follow the link I sent her (evidenced by “I’ll definitely check out…”) to see the conversation happening here. So I don’t want anyone getting upset that Courtney responded to me privately; she responded via email because I sent an email first. And I debated whether or not to post her reply, given that it was in an email and that I protect emails sent to me by commenters, so thought I should extend the same courtesy to Courtney even though she’s not a commenter. When I felt like she wasn’t engaging and also felt very uncomfortable about corresponding only in private on a very public matter, I decided to go public with her email so that people would know what was going on, since I had told several people that I had heard from her.

I responded to her email shortly after I received it:

Hello Courtney,

Thank you very much for your thoughtful and considered reply; it’s important to me to know that you are paying attention to the issue of unconscious ableism in your own language. However, I think it’s important to note that I (and many others, many of whom are listed as cosigners at my website) are concerned about the trend of ableism on Feministing in general, and would like to see that addressed (and possibly help to address it). It’s definitely hard to effect change without the tools to do so, and we would like to get those tools into the hands of the Feministing crew; you can see some suggestions and requests from readers on my open letter, and I’m sure many would be eager to engage further, knowing that y’all are listening.

What can we do to get a productive dialogue going? Start an open thread to get people talking? Set up some sort of round table discussion between some folks with disabilities and the Feministing staff? Get a person with disabilities on the Feministing masthead? You guys are definitely one of the major feminist sites out there, and taking a strong stance against ableism and incorporating discussions about disability issues into your regular site offerings would make a huge difference for feminists with disabilities and feminists in general.

-s.e. smith/meloukhia

At 8:15  PST on Tuesday, 6 October, I received a response from Courtney:

Hi again meloukhia,
Thanks for your response. I love the idea of getting some content up, initially, and maybe figuring out some other innovative ways to address the intersections between disability rights and gender issues etc. in the future. Do you want to set up a g chat time that we could then publish as an interview? (I find this can be easier than doing a phone conversation and then having to write a transcript with this kind of thing.) I’m also planning on reading the piece you sent and writing a post on it once I’ve had time to be thoughtful about it (I’m a little crazed at the moment).
Again, just want to reiterate that I appreciate your energy, proactivity in bringing this to my attention, and willingness to help educate me and our readers. I do want to make clear that I can only speak for myself and my own shortcomings. Each editor at Feministing has her own interests/challenges/expertise. I hope you won’t lump everyone in with me. We also have trouble handling the huge amount of moderation that goes into having traffic like ours, so we can’t be responsible for reader comments, though we know it reflects on the site as a whole by the very nature of the beast.
In any case, I’m grateful to be in dialogue and eager to learn and provide an opportunity to educate our community. When is good for you to set up a g chat interview?
-Courtney

My response:

Hello Again!

If you don’t mind, I would like to invite other people to participate in any conversation we have, because this is an issue which is much larger than me. I know that Anna (email redacted) in particular is definitely interested in talking to you and the Feministing staff, and I suspect that several others may be as well. I also really want to stress that while talking to you is *great*, we really would like a chance to talk to the entire staff or to have some sort of communication with the rest of the staff (like a convo with you on GChat with a transcript which gets read by all staffers, a chat with multiple Feministing staffers, etc.), because we are concerned about the culture of ableism on Feministing, rather than trying to single out any one contributor for attention. Your post may have sparked this latest round of asking Feministing to address ableism, but there are much larger issues here. We would like Feministing to be a safe place for people with disabilities, and the only way to make that happen is to address everyone.

I think GChat is a terrific idea, but don’t want to set a specific time until I have had an opportunity to ask other people when would be good for them. Lots of people have some really great ideas and thoughts which they would really like an opportunity to share with you. Hopefully if everyone provides some time windows which are good for them, an obvious time will present itself. I will try to get back to you this evening with a list of potential chat times from our end so we can see which ones will work with you/other Feministing staffers who would like to participate.

Amandaw also asked me to pass on her open letter to the Feministing staff: http://threeriversblog.com/2009/10/open-letter-to-feministing.html She doesn’t feel up to engaging in chat/dialogue right now, so pulled her thoughts together in a post.

I’m also curious to note that you reference not being responsible for reader comments; you do have a “report abuse” button which would seem to indicate that the staff are concerned about abusive comments and will remove or address them. Maybe you can expand a little more on how the “report abuse” function works in our group chat.

Thank you,

-s.e. smith/meloukhia

In further private conversation with Courtney, I realized that she was not aware that I was speaking with multiple people, as opposed to just speaking for myself, and that we were concerned not about Courtney specifically, but about site-wide issues with ableism on Feministing. It seemed that there was a bit of miscommunication going on.

So, while I initially posted a public invite asking people to join a chat, it became evident that we needed to take a time out to coordinate a conversation between Feministing staffers and feminists with disabilities; I stressed that we wanted to have a conversation which will effect change on Feministing, not a conversation about Courtney in particular, and, understanding that, she obviously needed time to talk with other staffers and to sort out her own schedule, because committing to change ableism on Feministing is, you know, a pretty major time commitment. A time commitment we’d already made, but one which Courtney did not realize the scope of.

Courtney said, “Courtney is excited about having a dialogue between disabled feminists and Feministing, but needs some time to talk with Feministing staff and think about how to organize it in a way which will be productive.”

My hope was that Courtney or someone else on the Feministing staff would be able to act as our point person in a group dialogue with Feministing.

Reposting of the Open Letter on the Community Site

Then, someone went and posted a copy of my open letter to Feministing, and all heck broke loose. Several of the disabled feminists who  have been active in the ongoing discussion attempted to wade in, and Jessica Valenti also became involved. She also emailed me privately to bring up the post and the situation in the comments. Ultimately, she closed the thread at our request because we felt like a productive dialogue was not happening, and probably could not happen until we had an opportunity to meet with the Feministing staff and talk about how they would like to address ableism on their site.

Here’s what Jessica said when she closed the thread:

I’m closing comments on this thread (unless the OP emails me to request I open them back up) because the conversation has ceased to be productive. I’m leaving all comments up, because I don’t want to erase the ugliness – but rather leave it up as an example of how things can be extremely hostile in the community.
The Feministing staff is in talks with several disability rights bloggers, some of whom have been active on this thread, and will have more to say on the issue of abelism at Feministing in the near future. Thanks for your patience and participation, everyone.

I left this statement up while we worked out the details of the chat:

We are currently talking with Jessica about a group conversation with some representatives from the disabled feminist community and some Feministing staffers. Speaking for myself, I greatly appreciate that Jessica contacted me, and appears to be interested in a group dialogue with all of us. Hopefully between us, Jessica, and Courtney, we can have a productive discussion which will result in some changes at Feministing. I hope to be able to keep everyone updated about what is going on as things unfold, although there may be some radio silence while we work out the details of when/how we are going to have a conversation.

The Chat

The chat took place on 16 October, 2009. A copy of the transcript can be found here.

Since this time, no additional communication has taken place between us and Feministing (beyond Anna sending a booklist, as requested, and abby sending a followup email, which Feministing quoted without attribution on their website, making it appear as though they had written the suggestions abby had written, and refusing to apologize/address/correct this when it was brought up), and Feministing’s content/moderation have not changed at all. The site is still rife with ableism, from both contributors and commenters, and it’s clear that there is absolutely no interest in fixing this. Quixotess called for a boycott, suggesting that people stop reading/linking to Feministing until they addressed this issue. Given the success of the trans-led boycott…I think it’s safe to say that Feministing has no intent of changing the entrenched exclusionary culture.

What I Would Like Feministing To Do:

Here’s what I wrote when I initially published the open letter:

I would like Feministing to respond to this. Courtney’s apology, while nice, is not a sufficient response. It does not adequately address the problem. I would like Feministing to participate in a dialogue with the many people who have cosigned this letter to address the issue of ableist content on their website. (It sounds like this is in the works.)

I would like to see a front page post about ableism and disability issues. I would really like it if that post directly addressed the ableist tone on Feministing’s posts and comment threads, and indicated that ableism would no longer be tolerated in posts or in comments, including on the Community site. I would love it even more if a blogger with disabilities (not a temporarily able bodied blogger talking about disability issues)  joined their masthead to foster a more inclusive dialogue and start educating Feministing and their readership about disability and why disability is a feminist issue.

I would also like the Feministing staff to read the open letters from Amandaw and Annaham, in which specific issues and examples of problems are discussed, and suggestions for addressing the ableism on Feministing are made. I would like the Feministing staff to email Anna, who has repeatedly asked for communication from them (Anna is now part of the group of feminists corresponding with Feministing). I would like Feministing to explain why repeated emails in the past have not been answered, and why I was the only one who got a response in the latest round of emails. I would also like Feministing to explain why “report abuse” flags on ableist language were ignored.

What would I like them to do now? Well, I would like them to stop paying lip service, and to actually change the culture at their site. To crack down in moderation and make it clear that exclusionary language of any kind, whether directed at disabled persons, trans folk, lower class folk, people of colour…will not be tolerated. And I’m like the contributors to watch their words with more care, to not use exclusionary language in their posts, to not post links to things which contain offensive content. I would like Feministing to be more diverse, to center voices other than those of white, middle class, able bodied, cis, het feminists.

And, you know? Maybe that’s not something they can do. Which brings me to…

What You Can Do:

Cosign. You can cosign right here in the comments, if you like. You can also cosign on your website, by reprinting this letter, or writing one of your own and linking to this letter. If you cosign on your site, please let me know, so I can include you in the list of cosigners above. I am trying to link every cosigner I see on the Internet, but I am sure I am missing someone, and I may be getting names wrong, so it’s better if people just send me links (meloukhia at gmail dot com) or add a link to the comments. Cosigning this letter, obviously, does not mean that you are cosigning/endorsing this entire website, just the letter.

Spread the word. Tell your readers. Tell everyone. Make sure that people cosign here, cosign offsite and get linked here, or cosign on a post which links here. I’m stressing links back to this ain’t livin’ because I want Feministing to see a unified presentation, rather than having to hunt around the Internet for scattered posts and links.

Email Feministing. Tell them that you are no longer interested in tolerating ableism on a major feminist website. Be polite, but be firm. Provide constructive suggestions for improvement and stress the fact that disability is a feminist issue which you would like to see addressed. If you feel thus inclined, post your emails/any responses you get. Several people have told me that they have emailed Feministing and not received a reply, which troubles and upsets me.

Add your thoughts about what you would like Feministing to do. In the comments, on your own website, on the comments in another website, in an email to Feministing. Wherever you feel comfortable.

And, since this doesn’t appear to be working; promote the sites which do include people. Promote the sites which do center the voices of people living in marginalized bodies. If Feministing doesn’t want to cover these issues, to acknowledge that feminism needs to be bigger than this, then, fine, let’s leave them out of it. We don’t need them. And we don’t need to invest energy in trying to fix Feministing, when we could be using that energy to build something great, to make feminism inclusive of all women.

You do not have to be a person with disabilities to care about disability issues. You do not have to be a person with disabilities to think, specifically, that disability is a feminist issue. You do not have to be perfect in respect to the use of ableist language in your own life and the recognition and study of disability issues in your own life to recognize that a major feminist website should not be tolerating ableist dialogue. We are all works in progress, and none of us are perfect, but that lack of perfection does not mean that we cannot call others out on inappropriate behaviour.

Thank You:

To all the people who have cosigned here and elsewhere, to all the people who have linked this, emailed this, Tweeted this, etc. Thank you to all of the people who have posted letters of your own and/or emailed Feministing. Thank you to all of the feminist allies who have cosigned, even if you don’t necessarily call yourselves feminists. Thank you to all of the feminists with disabilities who have been asking Feministing to address this issue for years. Hopefully, this time, we can make a difference. If we can’t, the Internet may just break my heart.

Ableism is not feminism. Spread the word.

214 Replies to “An Open Letter to Feministing”

  1. Cosigned.

    I don’t have the spoons to do the huge riot, but I’ll do what I can. Shall post on my LJ and my rarely-used blog (It’s broke and I Don’t know how to fix it)

  2. Co-signed, planning to boost the signal via my Dreamwidth. Don’t make me drop my cane and pull out my little green lightsaber, Feministing.

  3. several days late… as usual.

    first off, yes, i cosign! erm, all i really have is an LJ, but that LJ is under the name Denelian (also) and i will be posting a link there very soon, back to here, to spread the word.

    i *USED* to go the feministing. even when it ignored and ignored and ignored disability issues, it DID have other good things – for instance, they try really hard to include no-white feminism (they are bad at it, for the most part [exception being Samhita, except i can’t spell her name AT ALL] but they TR^Y – they bring up Days and Thoughts and have interviews and guest posts… TRY)

    what drove me away was fairly recent, actually. there was [yet another] post about mass transportation. i don’t remember who blogged the original post, but i remember what happened when i jumped it. the post was about how *everyone* who had ANY access to public transportation should use it all the time, no matter what. the post itself was horribly pushy, just sort of wistful “i wish people would do this, or could do this” but the comments got *VERY* heated.

    i asked why they were almost demonizing people who drove. i was pounded by (metaphorical) bicycles and bus systems. i pointed out what (i thought) was a reasonable counter argument – the nearest bus stop to me is 5 blocks away – and *I* specifically am NOT ALLOWED TO WALK MORE THAN 50 FEET.
    guess what the answer was?
    “Bike!”

    dear gods, people – i cann’t f’ing *walk*, but i am somehow supposed to bike?
    i was actually sort of villified because i came back in and said “ya know, it’s not even that i don’t agree with you that people should drive a *lot* less, and that mass trans would be awsome if it were actually HERE [in Columbus Ohio: we have “mass transit” that is built to carry about a tenth of what it carries]. but A) there are ALWAYS people who aren’t going to be able to use it – people with small children who are shopping would have problems, people with specific time-tables would not be able to use it often, and disabled people would have to be fully accomodated. and i don’t know if anyone here has ridden a bus – but there are *steps into the bus*. I CAN’T GET IN THE BUS. not unless there is a “wheelchair” access. am i supposed to never ever leave my apartment, because public transportation around here won’t accomodate me? NO i can’t bike, NO walk, NO i can’t take the bus.
    i got a couple of replies along the lines of “oh, if you really re that disable, it excuses you”. EXCUSE ME?! if i “really am”? i also had SOME random jackass say to me “if you are as disabled as you say you are, why are you still alive? you are nothing but a burden to society”.

    the comment was erased. not when i asked; several other people protested, and then the WHOLE THREAD was gone, starting from my first comment. and, ya know, i get shit like that IRL; i don’t need it when i’m relaxing. so i stopped going to feministing, because it just wasn’t worth it anymore. even if they “fix” it, they can’t “fix” the commenters, and i truly doubt that they are ever going to do better moderation than they have now.

  4. Co-signed.

    I gave up on feministing long ago, but I’m very, very glad that others are prepared to take this on. In my experience, feministing is often the first feminist blog that new feminists (or feminists new to the internet) read and engage with. In my opinion, that adds to their responsibility to do better, and to attempt to do better in a way that is transparent and accountable – that is what feminist organizing looks like.

  5. Cosign.

    -Laura, who has mild, but permanent disabilities.

    Feministing frequently makes me sad – they seem to be trying, but so blinkered in their viewpoint. I am actually more appalled by the frequent transphobia I witness there – perhaps because I’ve numbed myself to the ableist language in order to stay sane.

  6. The transphobia that I’ve seen over there has been intense. I know they’ve been called on it and pledged to do better (the last time I talked to anyone there directly, via comments, was Miriam when they were talking about the fallout from the Boycott and she pledged then that they were going to put together a comments policy “soon”, IIRC), but I haven’t heard that it got a whole lot better.

  7. Co-signed!!!!

    I actually won’t go to Feministing and several other sites, because of one of my disabilities – mental illness. I get stressed really easily and so I made a decision several months ago not to go to sites, where the commenters were giving me stress that I don’t need. I created another site, called Femi-Nation to be sort of like what Feministing is not, in that I promise it will be a safe space-I have to! It doesn’t get much traffic, partly because it’s new, partly because I’m not the best at advertising, but I suspect also because it’s not filled with as much hateful drama.

  8. Chally, it makes me very sad, too. I was running a tutorial group as a teaching assistant for an intro to women and gender’s studies class, and I was making suggestions for feminist blogs. It was an intro course, most of the students were just coming to terms with feminism, and they were 17-19 years old. In my experience, the discussion on other big feminist blogs like feministe is more sophisticated (while also being fucked up sometimes), and would be intimidating. I recommended feministing (this was before the trans boycott went down), with mixed feelings. I also included blogs boy WOC, trans people and people with disabilities. But I know that feministing is where my young, overwhelmingly white, middle class, straight, and cisgender students who were new to feminism were going to feel comfortable.

    As someone who cares about education (and has tried the blogging thing – it didn’t really work), I want to be able to offer something better to young people who are new to feminism. And I don’t want to totally slam feministing – they do some good stuff, and the weight of introducing young people to feminism through blogs in an accessable and inclusive way should not fall on their shoulders alone. I love reading the blogs of radical women of colour, womanists, people with disabilities, and trans people. I have learned so much, and I want other people to have that opportunity. Linking is not enough, guest posts are not enough. These issues need to be centered.

    Debbie (who found the courage to begin identifying myself as a woman with a disability from reading the blogs of other women with disabilities)

  9. I’m an avid reader of feministing, and I too have seen the offensive language go on without regard. I support your letter/petition completely.

  10. Co-sign, I haven’t read that blog in years and found about this from Red Queens website. I am so glad I clicked the link, because I found this great blog.

    I am disabled, and frankly what she wrote was very offensive. A man opening a door on a date is quite diffrent from having my husband help me out of the bath tube or helping me shave my legs(because I couldn’t have surgery with hairy legs). Anyone that has been there understands how demeaning it is, that doing simple things can take hours and how very exhausting it can be. Its hard dealing with limitations and it has taken me years, I rather doubt she would be so blase about it if she had to live one day with the pain and limitations that most disable people live with.

  11. Co-signed!! I have commented upon this on feministing as well to mixed responses. That having been said, I think ablism is a wider social problem definitely not unique to feministing. I hear young feminists use ablist language frequently and continue to do so after I point out the hurtfulness of their words. I do not understand it. As feminists, we should be extra sensitive to hurtful, degrading, and discriminatory language. We should be educating the public on ablism, not reinforcing it.

  12. Co-signed, with the additional note that I suck at inclusionary language….but I recognize that I suck, and I’m working on it. Feministing can at least try to do the same.

  13. Fully Co-Signed.

    This blog brought up why I have always felt unwelcome not just at Feministing, but at many “mainstream” feminist sites: I’m older, not formally educated (because “the trenches” apparently are no place to earn an education), am the mom and caretaker to a disabled child (which has limited my ability to “work like everyone else”), and I’m poor to boot. Until you all began speaking loudly, I wondered if there would ever be a place for women like me within the general feminist community.

  14. Cosigned.

    Also I’m really appreciative of all of your disability posts the last week or so. I’m having a rotten depression episode, which means both that I’m having an awful time responding to the posts in the means they deserve, and that they’ve been of really immediate importance to me. Thanks so much.

  15. And let me co-sign on denelian also:

    [in Columbus Ohio: we have “mass transit” that is built to carry about a tenth of what it carries].

    I got caught in rush hour in Columbus during my horrific episode of “frozen shoulder”–5 years ago. There was no place even to sit on the bus, and every single jostle was like an icepick in my shoulder. And it took forever, with 12 million people on the bus, and 10 million stops to let them all off. And they get crowding them on–way passed capacity— too.

    So, personal experience talking. Nightmare. It seemed to take hours, but looking back, was only about 40 minutes from OSU to Livingston Ave and it nearly killed me. I actually remember popping a pill right on the bus.

    Yes, it was nice to get back to poor little ol Saturn back here in South Carolina.

    (((hugs for denelian))) (and go Buckeyes, beat Wisconsin!)

  16. Hey, better late than never, right? Seriously, anyone who is shy about cosigning/commenting because it’s “late”? Don’t worry.

  17. Cosigned. I read Feministing all the time, started when I worked at Planned Parenthood, and I am a woman with a disability, advocate, artist and am in struggle with this very issue with my sig other, who after a year is ONLY beginning to understand women and disability, tho he’s a proud lefty journalist.

  18. Cosigned and apologies for lateness. I was considering writing about it – but feel like I am entering strange waters. Although this was sparked by some epic fail – there is a silver lining, I believe. I know that for one feminist, this letter (and the many disabled women’s blogs linked here) have made me think about my own ableism.

  19. I just wanted to add my two cents. I am a widely published poet/writer. Two years ago, I approached Jessica about writing for Feministing to add a person with a disability’s point of view. Jessica showed little interest. If I recall correctly, she said she ‘might’ put something up in one of the side places. At the time, I thought it was strange that they were so disinterested in adding a new perspective. So, what has happened isn’t particularly shocking to me.

  20. I just found your letter through Womanist Musings. I found Feministing a year ago when I was looking to expand my knowledge of North American feminism, but stopped reading it soon after, disgusted at the way they handle race, the cisgender privilege, the blatant use of words like “lame” as derogatory, and the persistent exoticizing/othering of immigrant women… (did you ever see this post one of them wrote on the importance of “dating local”? Pretty awful, with some deeply xenophobic implications.)

    Co-signed, very much so. Thank you for bringing this to light, and for all the work you’re doing.

  21. Cosigning, belatedly. (And here via Body Impolitic). As a fat woman living with depression, I have been constantly frustrated by Feministing and, more often than not, I end up regretting having clicked there at all.

  22. Co-signed,
    Sarah

    I have noticed a lot of ableist language from editors and in comments. I’ve also reported a comment on feministing recently for ableist language (the comment remains and I’m not sure if any action was taken).

  23. Great post, great letter, great issue, and well done for bringing this to the feminist consciousness. Cosigned by posting over at my place (well, one of them!).

  24. Co-signed, with the admission that though I am a person with disability, I sometimes have used problematic language in the past.

    And will renew my efforts to stop it.

  25. Cosigned.

    Like The Czech, I’m still learning how to eliminate exclusionary language from my blog posts, and my everyday conversation, even though I’ve got my own (albeit invisible and off-and-on) disability. The thing is, there’s really no excuse; if someone calls you out, you need to make the change.

  26. I simply hate all exclusionary organisations and intolerant people who feel it is their right to treat minority people and groups as if they don’t exsist.
    I fully support the letter.

    Shirley Anne

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