So I thought I would keep a running blog entry about the WAM conference I am attending this weekend. At this point (4pm on Saturday), I am having an AMAZING time. See below for details!
Yesterday, I attended the pre-conference which included smaller workshops and more time for networking with fellow feministas. My first workshop, Starting and Running a Feminist Publication (presented by Rita Henley Jensen and Elaine Lafferty) was an informative workshop about funding, advertising, and other managerial details about starting a publication.
I had the distinct pleasure of a 15 minute session with author Liza Featherstone, who reviewed a few pieces of my writing and then gave me some excellent feedback. She really enjoyed my piece in Bitch about imaginary girlfriends; she said my writing was punchy and fresh in that particular article. She had more of an issue with my piece from Feminist Review. After reading it over with her, I do realize that I used very non-confrontational words and that I made assumptions about sexuality that I know not to be true (i.e. using the word “dating” is a weak word to encompass the entirety of sexuality). My biggest issue is that I struggle between being playful in my writing while using my real “voice” versus sticking to my journalism training (where it’s best to stick to AP format). Many of the publications that I wish to write for (Bitch, Bust, Venus, Off Our Backs, Make/Shift, etc.) encourage more informal and confrontational writing.
Thenmozhi Soundararjan, the co-founder of the Third World Majority, gave the keynote address this morning. She presented some sobering facts about big media and the struggle for marginalized people (especially women of color) to gain access to the mainstream media as a means to promote their agendas. I was very moved by her comments about the fight between program development and the need to raise cash for overall sustainability. She was particularly strong in her statements about quantifying her work—I wish I had a recording device because I can’t be nearly as articulate as her—but she pretty much said that there is no way to quantify training youth to be leaders.
Beyond “Catfighting”: Creating Strategic Collaborations within Feminist Media, which was presented by Andi Zeisler, Jessica Valenti, Nancy Goldstein, and Denisse Andrade. The panelists spoke about their respective blogs, how they increasingly network with other bloggers to spread the word about feminist issues, and how this model of collaboration may work with other forms of media. One woman had an excellent suggestion about how to write in a feminist frame of mind all of the time while also making sure that one gets published and paid all the time. She suggested that even if a feminist writer is writing a non-feminist article, she/he should use women as sources for that article. I do realize that my focus on feminism and media studies issues severely limits the number of publications who will feature my work and for some reason I never thought about this woman’s suggested method as a way to get paid while also promoting my causes.
As a woman who is constantly reading and researching about feminism and the media, I figured that I had a comprehensive view of the various organizations that represent these subjects. Wow, I was so wrong. I have met so many women this weekend who work for and/or created organizations/publications that I have never heard of—RH Reality Check, Third Wave Majority, Women’s eNews, etc.
Well that’s it for now….more tomorrow!