Public Service

Who We Are: P-mag Census Results

We ran a survey this past weekend to collect some feedback on how we’re doing, and demographic data on our readership. We got lots of responses, and a ton of fantastic feedback, and I’ve thrown it all together into this post. Big thanks to everyone who contributed! You’re going to help us make P-mag even better in 2012.

We’ll start with some pretty charts about our demographics, then I’ll respond to a handful of some of the write-in comments.

How Many Birthdays Have You Had?

Graph showing the age ranges of survey respondents.
You are a bunch of fresh-faced whippersnappers.

The largest slices of pie belong to P’neers who are 18-34. We’ve shown a moderate jump in the 25-34s and a little jump in the 35-44s (Team Green Pie Segment FTW!), but we’d like to attract more women with a few miles on our odometers.

How Do You Define Your Sex?

Graph showing the sex of survey respondents.
Ladies love P*mag.

We’re not attracting a lot of fellas, at least not fellas who fill in surveys. I know of several of my own dudepals who read us fairly regularly, and I hear stories of other men who read us. I don’t think we’re doing anything to actively make them unwelcome, but I think all of us would be intimidated joining a community that was 98% not our sex.

Mea culpa: One of the comments called me out for not knowing the difference between sex and gender. You are totally right, anonymous survey respondent, so I did my homework. This question should have been phrased “How do you describe your sex?” and I promise I will remember that on future surveys.

How Do You Define Your Race?

Graph of racial demographics of survey respondents.
We should work on this.

While I’m only slightly concerned we’re a little man-shy around here, we need to actively work to better represent all women.  We don’t want to fall in the trap of becoming yet another community for women where everyone’s white, straight, married, has 2.2 kids and expendable income. That ladymarket is more than saturated, and worse, it’s boring. I don’t think we’re boring or cookie cutter now, but it’s going to take active effort on the part of the head bitches in charge to make sure it doesn’t become that way.

*Another mea culpa: I left out Native Aboriginal, per the comments. There is definitely an article in our future on how to construct a demographic survey that allows everyone to participate and be represented.

Who Are You Attracted To?

Graph of sexual identity demographics of survey respondents.
This pie is a little more evenly spaced.

We’re doing a little better about attracting women who don’t identify as straight. The comments on the survey included several enthusiastic pleas for more coverage on LGBT issues, and we totally agree, so we’re making it a priority.

How Much Formal Education Do You Have?

Graph of education attained by survey respondents.
We've got a lot of schoolin'.

We represent a pretty broad spectrum of education levels, although we’ve got a lot of degrees between us.

Where Do You Live?

Graph showing where survey respondents live.
Lots of city dwellers.

P’neers love cities. Our Google Analytic magic told us that we were pretty popular in the major metro areas in the US. I was somewhat surprised so many live in the ‘burbs. A respondent asked why I didn’t ask if readers were from outside the US. I already have a pretty good grasp on those data from Google. The biggest chunk of our audience is in the US, but we’re pretty hot in Canada, Australia, the UK, and NZ. We’ve got growing numbers in France, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and China. We’ve maintained a small but loyal group of readers from the Scandinavian countries. Neat, huh? Maybe it’s because I’m a Midwestern hayseed, but I get a little excited when I think of women in China and Brazil reading our little magazine.

What’s Your Relationship Status?

Graph showing relationship status of survey respondents.
There are a lot of Persephepartners out there.

Most of our respondents are partnered up, but we have a lot of singles, too.

How Many Hours Per Week Do You Work?

Graph showing number of hours worked per week by survey respondents.
We work hard for the money, and for no money.

Fuck this economy, seriously. This is pure speculation, but I bet this chart would have looked a lot different in 2007.

 Are You Religious?

Graph showing survey responses to question "are you religious?"
That's us in the corner, that's us in the spotlight, losing our religion.

This turned out pretty much like I expected.

Do You Feel Welcome in the Persephone Community?

Graph showing survey responses to question "Do you feel welcome in the Persephone community??
We're working on the orange sections. : )

Overall, I think this means we’re doing a pretty good job of making you feel welcome here. There’s always room to improve, so we’re taking all your comments and suggestions to heart as we keep P-mag growing and staying fresh through 2012.

Individual Comments

What We’re Doing Right

I put all of these into a wordle, and it turned out pretty!

Click for life sized version.

And we got a limerick. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that one of you took the time to write us a freaking limerick.

They will write of things economical

While informing on anatomical

And there’s no place I’ve seen

That can easily careen

From serious to really quite comical

Here a unique community thrives

One of the contemptuous and of the snide

And while I may be young

I don’t have to hold my tongue

And can quite enjoy running with knives

It hones my unknowing mind

There’s nothing quite of its kind

Where we all get a say

Be you straight, bi or gay

Here where we draw (and cross) lines

Oh internet, you complete me

You have knowledge that teachers don’t teach

Save me from despair

Give me my own lair

My dear, dear Persephone

Your Favorite Features

Again with the wordle. I like word clouds, okay?

Word cloud made from responses to favorite articles question on site survey.
Click for bigger!

You like the Ladyguides, Perspectives, rants/takedowns, humor, feminism/activism, politics/current events and food the most, which is pretty on par with last year’s survey.

Where We Need to Improve

Hold on, I’m going to need another cup of coffee. FYI, I’m leaving out anything that called out specific writers, because this isn’t the space for individual feedback. I’ll filter and pass on the stuff that I think will be constructive. If you were just an asshole, I shitcanned your reply. (Honestly, I was surprised that there were only a couple jerks, tops. Our readers are the best readers.)

Umbrella Topics

Tech stuff – I’m right there with you. I’m the chief technical unicorn as well as being the EIC/writer, and I’m only about half as smart as I need to be about some of our issues. Most of the time, my limited knowledge is sufficient to deduce and solve most of the everyday issues on the site. That other little bit can be a real stickler.  Chances are about 90% that whatever issue you’re having is:

1. A caching problem – We use a third-party caching service that serves up cached versions of all our static resources, which saves strain on the server we pay for, and speeds up the site in general. Part of the responsibility of having a caching service is purging their cached files periodically so they fetch a new version. When I forget to do this with the diligence it requires, things go all wonky. I’m more on it.

2. A problem with commenting. I called in the big guns, our old friend Platy, and she’s taken the problem to Platypus Labs for fixing.

More Pictures!

On it! We’ve stepped it up a lot in the past few weeks.

Better searching!

Done! Look in the sidebar, there’s a new drop down that will take you to the individual category archive pages. If you want to read all the Morbid Curiosities back to back one day, that’s your ticket to paradise.

More Articles! 

Hahahaha! Right now, we’re working at maximum capacity for our current resources. This is code for: as soon as your P-mag staff can quit our day jobs, your wish is our command.

Specific Responses

More candy sparkles!

I’m pretty sure this is one of the editors.

the idea of a “must join and sign up to comment” is really alienating. I just don’t join in.

While I’m sad you feel alienated, there’s no way in hell we’re doing anonymous commenting. It’s not the assholes I fear, it’s the spambots.

more voices of women of color (not that they are not represented, they’re just underrepresented everywhere, so this is a global opportunity, not just here at Pmag)

Agree, totally.

Holding my interest for an entire article

Aw, someone needs a unicorn hug!

Maybe releasing the articles in a more spaced manner, as opposed to all at once.

Are you using a feeder? We post over a ten hour period every day, on the hour and some of the half-hours. The feeders will sometimes do a dump of an entire day’s worth of content, which is on my list of things to fix.

While I love it here A LOT, I’ve heard from other people that Persephone can feel a bit cliquey – that it’s all friends writing for friends, and you’re either a part of it or you’re not. I don’t know if this was the unique opinion of the two people I spoke to about it (both of whom were active on Tumblr, former Jez commenters, and follow some writers here), or a common sentiment, but I think it’s something worth keeping an eye on.

That’s always a risk for any Internet community. We do try to avoid it, but I can see how all the unicorn, glitter and David Tennant jokes could make us look a little insulated. We certainly want everyone to feel welcome here, and to use all our shiny whatchamabobs and thingamahoodles. The staff is all pretty friendly, but most all of them were staff before they were friends. When I go on a recruiting bender, I try to reach out to people I don’t already know. I agree, though, it’s good to know that we can be perceived as cliquish, so we can do a better job of making newbies feel as at home here as the regular crowd.

Getting the distinction between sex and gender on surveys!

I’m really sorry, I totally hosed that. It won’t happen again!

My #1 pet peeve here: when talking about alterna-health/food options, referring to a product/substance as “chemical-free” or using similar language.  As a chemist, it’s hard to see that and not write off something that might not have been a bad piece if it didn’t stray into “fear of chemicals” territory.  (p.s. – everyone should drink 8-10 glasses of the chemical dihydrogen monoxide every day. It is 100% chemicals.)

That’s a pretty good point.

Nothing!  It is so perfect that my heart explodes into multicolored ribbons when I think about it, blinding me so that I’m unable to go on the site until the debris clears.  Thankfully, I still have an intact heart to explode since the real life readers I know do indeed run with scissors.  A lot. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Persephone is my Prometheus’s eagle.  ‘Cause, y’know, my heart grows back and stuff…..

I fucking love you people.

Maybe more feature writers with a bit more variety.  I am a first-time mother so I love the baby articles and would love more.  Maybe from different voices.

Good idea!

More people in the Open Threads.


Fostering a better back and forth between the writers and people who comment on their articles.  Good dialog builds great communities. I wish there was a better comment notification system.

We all need to do a better job of commenting on our own and our peers’ posts. We’ve kicked it up a bit recently, and the points have really helped. I am working on the comment notification thing. I put out a couple of requests for bids (they were ignored, assholes.) with pros, and when that didn’t go anywhere, I started taking classes in the stuff I’d need to know to build it my damn self. It’s on the horizon, but I’m not ready to commit to a deadline.

Possible reconsideration of the “all voices deserved to be heard” position. While great in theory, it doesn’t always lead to the best content, most thought out positions, or decent writing. I think that’s just a mission consideration: are we solely a platform for any voice that wants to speak, or are we crafting a “persona?”  If it’s the later, we may need to consider what we want that persona to look’like. (Are we a feminism 101 blog? A general issues blog? A feminist-oriented general issues blog?)

I stand by my decision to give anybody a chance who wants one. (Within reason, we have rejected several pieces.)  Not every writer is going to appeal to every reader, and not every first-time writer is going to actually like writing for a vocal audience. Many, many of our newbies have gone on to become fantastic (and sweet CJ, dependable) writers, and in the end, I’m almost always glad I choose to publish someone. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s made a pretty big group of people better writers than they were before they hooked up with us.

As for the “face” of Persephone, I’m hesitant to pigeonhole us. Labeling ourselves as a feminist blog is like hanging a sign on the door telling Women of Color, gay women, women with disabilities, trans women, etc. that they’d be on the fringes here, and that’s not at all what we want for P-mag. General interest sounds a little bland, but it’s probably more apt than a feminist label.

I wonder how many of your readers don’t fit in the 20s-30s single girl in the city demographic?  As a 46-year old woman with adult kids (and grandkids), there isn’t much here on my demographic.

Co-signed. Tell your friends about us! MOAR OLDS IN 2012! (I’m 40)

Stick with a layout long enough for me to get used to it, please (though I do like that you’re constantly improving as you go)!

There’ll always be little tweaks, but we’re never moving themes again. Ever. I swear on whatever you might find sacred.

Keep broadening the scope of inclusivity.


Reach out to various other lady-focused websites in order to increase traffic, commenting population (The Mary Sue, anyone?)

I do this quite a bit. The Mary Sue wasn’t on my radar, but they’re awesome!

Be more active on Twitter! Consistently tweet stories in case I forget to come to the site! Also, author links should be live in the bios to take you to author blogs and pages!

We’ve got a pretty kick-ass Twitter team, I’ll let them know you want more. : ) The second part is a little more complicated. Each of the writers has two pages, their archive page, which lists all of the things they’ve written; and their member page, which is where you can do all the normal user-user interactions.  The author bios at the end of each post links to both pages for the author, but I haven’t figured out how to automagically add author archive links to user pages.

I really enjoy the articles relating to history (Badass Ladies from History, etc.) and would love to see more of those.

Me too! We’ll try to do more of those.

I miss the old groups (and the Garamond!).

The groups are back! I’m not sure Garamond works with this theme, although I’m a big fan, too.

Be recognized by everyone else as the awesome site it is!

Hell yeah!

Could use a bit more snark/acerbic wit. Maybe try to streamline things a little more, or organize more concisely according to type or subject.

Heh, noted. And this comment inspired me to completely unfuck our archives. The categories have all been made to make sense, and every post in the archive was put in the proper category.

Even though I love the mix of content, there are A LOT of articles every day. I want to read all of them but if I miss a day or two, there is no way I’m catching up.

We don’t have any current plans to change the number of posts published every day.

Be more encouraging/tolerant of debate and discussion in comment, as sometimes comments which aren’t agreeing with the article get shut down.

I think we do a pretty good job of relying on our guidelines instead of personal feelings. We’ve got a lot of people with mod powers, but we rarely do any modding. I’ve seen a couple pile-ons, which aren’t cool,  and I talked about it with those who were piling on.  The hard and fast rule is that we step in when people go from lively debate to calling each other names. We’re learning, too, though, so if we make a moderating mistake, we’ll try to fix it.

One thing I’d suggest for future surveys is adding options for asexuality (not interested in sex) and pansexuality (interested in people of all genders, not just same-sex and opposite, includes trans* people and non-binaries). In fact, more articles by and about sexual/gender minorities would be fab.

Noted, and agreed.

The content is great, but the site doesn’t look as lovely as it could. I loved the site back in February/March of 2011 (I think?) when there were all of these profiles of women that you could scroll through at the top of the page. It looked sophisticated and interesting whereas now it’s lacking just a bit.

There were people who HATED that banner. They hated it a whole bunch. It did slow down the load time ( a constant issue for us), but I was really sad to take it down. There were enough people who didn’t like it (and told me so) that it made sense to switch to a more typical blog style.

When I first started reading Persephone Magazine there were more thought provoking articles that dealt with serious issues.  I really enjoyed reading then.  But these past few months there have been more “fluff'” articles (food, style, tv recaps) than articles about serious issues.  It takes away from the “”Clever”” in the “”Clever and Bookish”” bit.

Hmm, looking back through the last few weeks’ schedules, I think we’ve put out a pretty good mix of serious v. fun. As much as the surveys request more serious content, the stuff that gets the most interaction is the lighter stuff.

Also, Persephone consistently states that it strives to be a platform that welcomes the voice of every woman.  I haven’t always seen that to be the case.  There is definitely a liberal shading to some of the commentary, which is fine since everyone’s opinions should be welcomed.  But it seems to me that when someone offers a comment that contradicts popular opinion, they are not given equal consideration and dialogue or worse they are criticized for not going with the flow.  I’m not talking about trolls looking to be nasty or pick a fight, or those commenters that are just being rude.  But if Persephone truly were a place where everyone’s voice is welcome, then everyone’s comments would be given consideration: liberal and conservative, popular and unpopular alike.

Yeah, we’re pretty liberal, I’ll give you that.  You’re always welcome to write a piece of your own to submit, if you think your viewpoints aren’t as represented here as they should be. I’ll keep a better eye on the comments, I’m sorry if you’ve felt shut down.

I’d like to see more features covering current news. Kind of like the “Get to Know a Country: Libya” story you did way back when. I found those informative and helped me put current events into perspective in ways that Wikipedia never could.

Good idea!

Sometimes I feel that articles are written that make me feel a little excluded for my political/economic feelings.  I am very socially liberal and fiscally conservative but I have read a few articles on here that seem to take the position of “a liberal view is the only way to think about all things.”  I enjoy reading about other beliefs than mine and keeping an open mind, but I also would appreciate the same courtesy.  I wish I had a specific example to point to but I can’t think of any exact articles right now.  I think there could be a little effort put into trying to write articles that express a belief with evidence and employ some tact in acknowledging the validity of other viewpoints, but at the same time maintain the spirit of P-mag.

Well, our writers are pretty passionate. There’s no requirement that you agree with them, I don’t always agree with them. I’m not sure I can ask them to quantify their passion on opinion pieces, though. Like I said above, I’d love to read anything you’d like to submit from a different perspective than we usually cover.

The layout isn’t my favorite.

It’s actually not mine, either, but it’s the only one that gives us 90% or more of the features we need to bring you the magic every day. We’re tweaking it bit by bit to make it our own.

Thanks everyone for your great and thoughtful responses! Keep us on our toes with the areas we need to improve, don’t be afraid to let us know when we slip up.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

98 replies on “Who We Are: P-mag Census Results”

I missed the survey, too (mostly, I’m sure, because I don’t check in every day). I am 46, LTR, no kids, and I really enjoy this site. I love the food articles and the recaps (I loved the Buffy recaps). I think the mix of articles is spot-on. I don’t feel old(er), but wonder what life has in store down the road. I’m happy to know that some of you are around my age. Looking forward to growing together.

I’m a newbie and I can say that I feel welcome.  Oh and, I’m American and I live in Germany and I’m black so… just saying. :)  Also, I haven’t been here long so I may not have the most educated opinion on this but, a friend of mine recently described himself as politically liberal but a social conservative and I can see the distinction.  ‘Conservative’ points of view don’t have to equate with the rabble rousing we tend to hear through the media.

I’m thrilled that my comment made it into the post! (I was the one who referenced the Mary Sue- at least, I think I was, it’s been a little bit.)

P-Mag is doing a great job listening and working with its reader base and commentariat and so INTERNET HUGS FOR SOME, CELEBRATORY LOLLIPOPS FOR OTHERS.

The person who wrote that limerick wants you to know that, although she loves all of you dearly, she probably wouldn’t have written a four verse poem if she wasn’t filling out the survey while procrastinating on her English essay. She also still sees Persephone as her Prometheus eagle.

I also agree with the annoyance of the search bar drop-down order and think maybe more conservative (not super, but more moderate) articles every once and a while might be a good idea.  At least from my point of view, I’m still establishing my opinions and I’d much prefer to come here for alternate ideas than watch Fox News, considering that the first time I did that, I only got 30 seconds into it before a woman began her tirade on (Trigger warning) how “the gays” are more of a threat to America than terrorists, bisexuals don’t exist and “trannies” are a product of the liberal agenda.

Yeah. It was bad. I had to change to Degrassi to counteract the bigotry.

Oh, and I don’t really appreciate the person who included food as “fluff.” The food articles I’ve written have all taken a fair bit of work. Many were recipe adaptations, which involved the time and effort to try things a couple of times (yay, trial and error), plus ingredients paid for out of my own pocket because, you know, Persephone doesn’t give us expense accounts. And the others were pretty research-intensive.

Of course, if you want to start giving you writers expense accounts, I won’t complain. :) A company car would be nice, too. Or, since there are so many urban dwellers, some company subway fare. I kid. Sorta.

the only food that is fluff? Marshmallow Fluff.  (which is delicious when you mix it with a little peanut butter, roll it in a ball, dip it in some melted semi-sweet chocolate, and stick it in the freezer to harden. Seriously. Try that ish.)

Anyway, one reason I love Persephone is that it’s for the whole person.  It take into account all parts of life, and even stuff I’m not totally into – but hey that’s ok, cuz it’s not the jen* Mag.  And there are folks around here who wanna know about stuff I’m not into, and there’s stuff I wanna know that other folks aren’t into.  It’s almost like real life up in this place! =)

I have this weird thing where I know I am never, ever going to try an aspic because the word makes me throw up in my mouth a little, but I am totally fascinated when I read about other people trying them/making them.  I don’t know what it is.  Anyway, I’ve gotten some cool recipes here, and it’s the only place I’ve been able to fully share my love of cheese.  Who knew I had so many cheese loving sisters??

TV Recaps take a decent chunk of time, too… it’s one thing to watch a show and make a quick tumblr post about it. It’s another to watch, take notes, edit those notes into something comprehensible, and proofread before posting.

In seriousness, though, I don’t think the person who called those categories fluff meant that they took any less effort… just that people who comes here for politics and science might think they’re a bit lighter.

I come here for the Points.

Selena’s heard me moan about this before, but I’ll just throw in my two cents about how time consuming the recaps are. I’m sure people have noticed I haven’t started Buffy season 3 yet — and its just because I needed to wait until the holidays had passed before I had the hours per week needed to do the writing.  I keep thinking it’ll get faster, but after a year, its still a major time sink.

When I helped recap shows over at the R, we did roundtables (snark-tables, actually) and tried to get them up before the next episode.  Took some of the pressure off.  But yeah – the re-cap is challenging.  But so worth it.  I love reading them!  Keep up the good work!

Somehow I managed to completely miss this survey. But I’d like to say that the only thing that bugs me about the layout is how the title bumps into the search bar. I don’t know if you can control the font size, but if you can it should be a tiny bit smaller so there’s some red between the words and the search thingy.


I think the “all voices should be heard” = post more conservative articles is not actually an equivalency. It is my understanding that Persephone is a feminist (or at least pro-woman*) website. As a feminist myself, I feel that 90%+ of traditional conservative viewpoints do not align well with most feminist values. The basic one being: women are human beings and should be treated as such. By it’s very definition, conservativism is against progress: anti-choice, anti-affirmative action, anti-goverment assistance, anti-regulation etc. I don’t want to cast a huge net. I am not saying all conservatives have these beliefs but if you self-identify as conservative you probably agree with some of them. And I’m not saying you can’t believe in these things and call yourself a feminist. Label yourself however you feel. However, what I take issue with is someone who is anti-choice or anti-government assistance claiming that they are decidedly for the advancement of women. Anti-choice laws are about controlling women and treating them as objects. And without government assistance like WIC and EBT, many women would not be able to survive or take care of their children. I think on some level, you have to be at least a bit liberal to believe in the autonomy, advancement, and importance of women.

It is a hard pill for me to swallow that we need conservative representation around here. There’s plenty of conservative websites all over the internet. Why don’t you go to them and ask them to post more feminist pieces?

*=woman being anyone who self-identifies as a woman, not just cis-women.

Well, it’s supposed to be the site for clever, bookish women. To me the feminism in that is implied, and while there’s some wiggle room on specific politics there are some conservative viewpoints that won’t be appropriate, ever. Like I’d be really pissed if I saw an anti-choice or anti-queer post. Not that I think one would go up, but it’s an example. But I’m less bothered by there being disagreements about Occupy Wall Street.

I guess I mean, pro the advancement of women. You can give a voice to a woman but if that woman is Michelle Bachmann, it’s hardly going to do anything to help other women.

I certainly didn’t mean to imply the site was anti-woman and I’m sorry if it came across that way.

I apologize if my use of hyperbole did not go over well but that’s what it was, hyperbole. I wasn’t making the leap literally, I was using hyperbole to illustrate a point. If it was hurtful, I am truly sorry. It wasn’t even a direct response to you telling readers to submit something! It was a response to the idea that giving all women a voice = pro woman. What I was trying to get at is that there are plenty of women you can give a voice to who will express anti woman sentiments. There are absolutely women out there who do not believe in the advancement of women. So when you tell me that your About section saying the site is to give a voice to all women is implicitly pro woman, I disagree.

And I’m not worried about *your* position on the advancement of women. I never questioned *your* position on anything. I wasn’t directing anything I said at YOU. I’m worried about the site not staying true to the idea. And although I know you are our fearless leader/supreme unicorn, I was not meaning to direct my original comment at you at all.

 I was really struggling to find a kind, non-inflammatory way to say something similar. I do feel that P-Mag is immensely pro woman and it would make me really, really uncomfortable to see conservative articles here. Obviously, the site isn’t about me and maybe I need to be a little more open minded, but that’s just my two cents.

One of the things I pose as a question (as someone who identifies as a liberal meanie 4 eva) is what  does conservative mean? I ask because it is an umbrella term that can contain multiple belief systems (most of which terrify me-BUT still have to ask). We have had writers identify with being conservative whether because they considered themselves religious or because of their political stances, yet that conservativeness goes unnoticed on the site because it fits with the general vibe of P-Mag.

So I agree- personally speaking, I’d be incredibly uncomfortable seeing a piece on here that lobbys for shooting all aetheists to the moon or something of that nature. However, our editorial team is pretty jam tastic and does a great job filtering out the all out crap with the stuff that some of us dont agree with. So as much as it makes my liberal meanie spine shiver, I’m taking a good faith policy that we dont recruit baby Michelle Bachman up in here to hurt all the awesome folks who hang at Persephone.

I want to go to the moon too!!

And on a more gravitational note, I think having a few posts about conservative topics would be healthy. It would be a way to see all sides to a story, a situation or a culture. We can’t just go around saying all conservative beliefs are wrong until we nail down what those beliefs are, how they came to be and why they hold them so closely. Then, after a healthy amount of research, we can with confidence and support say they are wrong.

The unexamined life and all…

I’ve stewed over how I want to reply to this, but I want to start by saying I’m genuinely curious, and I’m not trying to call anyone out.

Why would you be uncomfortable? I think it’s pretty obvious we’re not going to be running anything with an anti-women message. I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to assume a conservative writer isn’t capable of writing something thoughtful, interesting and worth listening to, even if you don’t agree with it.

Interestingly enough, this issue has come up before, and there was a similar back and forth. A conservative reader asks for more stuff from her perspective, I offer a chance to write from the other side, a handful of passionate liberal commenters chime in that they’re very, very opposed to the idea, the original commenter/reader never takes me up on my offer.

I’m sorry. Persephone is just one of my little corners of the internet that I cherish. And I consider it a liberal space because to me, it always has been. There are plenty of conservative spaces on the internet. If that’s what I wanted that’s where I’d go. If you are saying that we should be more inclusive of conservatives, that’s just not what I’m here for and I probably wouldn’t continue to visit.

Which, considering how you’ve spoken to me, I’m pretty sure you’re not too sad about.

I dont think theres a general consensus that the editors want to make sure that Newt Gingrich and his buddies are to feel welcome here. Frankly, they arent. But if someone wants to write a piece that explains, say,  christian feminism (which I look at as conservative) in a way that isnt anti-woman, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, than I am willing to listen. I might not agree, but I do think that differences can be broached.

I’d like to think that the content of Persephone speaks for itself and that what we have put our efforts into showcasing the fact that we arent itching to bring on someone who wants to argue why mental illness is just not pulling one self up by their bootstraps or that white jesus will smite all who do not believe in X,Y, or Z.

So, we would hope you would stick around.



“But if someone wants to write a piece that explains, say,  christian feminism (which I look at as conservative) in a way that isnt anti-woman, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, than I am willing to listen. I might not agree, but I do think that differences can be broached.”

See, I can get down with this. I just have a knee-jerk reaction with the word “conservative” because in our current political climate, the most vocal members of that group seem hell-bent on limiting the rights of those who aren’t straight, cis, and male. If there were more prominent moderate conservatives on the scene, I probably wouldn’t feel so squeamish about Persephone having a conservative column.

I think you can trust us to not let people who think abortions are evil have a space here. We expect well-examined, thoughtful pieces out of our writers, and I can’t say P-Mag has published anything to point to the contrary. We have published things, as a person, I don’t agree with, but as an editor, I believe the point was articulated well enough that it deserved to be heard.

I have the same knee jerk reaction as well- all I can think of is tiny, angry, little white Men running around screaming about why Ron Paul should be king of the world (quelle horreur!).

Which, not that I am a huge expert on Republican ethics, but I do think thats one of the larger issues thats currently dividing the party into fractures. Its like reality television- the more extreme thing you do, the more people are likely to talk about it and the more likely it is to appeal to a group of voters / party who are scared about losing power on the structure they have set up for themselves (white, cis, dude, straight, rich), so being a GOP member is now like having a race to see who can bring us back to 1865 the quickest.

The lack of a voice of “moderate” republicans compared to Dems/progressives/tever is strange, but I guess reactionary politics has been a bit too popular since Reagan. As for “moderate” conservatives, PBS’s newshour’s David Brooks (moderate conservative) and Mark Shields (conservative Dem)  are two folks that are worth watching who aren’t shouting over each other to make the other one look foolish (and also, seemingly on the same page), who are socially liberal (pro-choice, anti-war) but fiscally conservative (some of his methods I disagree with).

Either way, it will be over my dead writer body, as well as the other writers, before this place ever became the Sarah Palin hour.




I think your point is valid, and I’m sure you’re not the only one thinking it.  I do trust the editors to keep the pro-woman atmosphere around here – and I am hopeful that “conservative voices” is something that is carefully looked at in terms of feminism.  I think it will be.  I think it’s important to be inclusive of voices that have different viewpoints, provided they are in keeping with the general philosophy of the site.  Does that even make sense?  I have a friend who is quite religious but very liberal.  She wouldn’t consider herself to be a conservative, but her viewpoint is often lost amongst liberals, because so many of us (see chart above) are not religious.  Or are at least uncomfortable with religion.

My point is, I also get a little worried at the idea of conservative viewpoints being raised, but I am hopeful (and believing) that the editors can reconcile the philosophy of the site with conservative voices, which don’t always have to be at odds.  There are some fiscal conservatives, for example, with whom I agree.

I’m very glad you made this comment, because when things go unsaid is when things can go unexamined.

Originally, when Sally J. and I were plotting this thing out, our age group (the gen xers) was our target demographic. Once we started, the younglings became our biggest group and we ran with it, because our younglings are particularly awesome. I’m still always actively looking for more old ladies like ourselves to liven the joint up.

Will you write a post about how best to keep hooligans off my lawn? I’m nearing the age where I plan on spending my afternoons sitting on the porch and shaking my fist, and I want to do it right. :P

Feel free to let me know when my smartassness has crossed the line ;)

Not an old’un (obviously) but I read some articles about the use of internet by older adults? Top three things were something like sex, relationships (sexual and non), and. . . Actually, I’m blanking on the third. Maybe we could encourage older Persephoneers to submit questions to the Vagina Doctor? Thoughts?

I’m trying to think of what my grandmothers would read. . . Well, they’d probably like LGBTQ content honestly, but geared towards older adults? That sort of content seems hard to come by in general. (My grandmother would also love Joan Baez and Bob Dylan related stuff, but uh. . . IDK how that would work. ;)


I love all of this feedback! Definitely taking a lot of it to heart. :)

This actually  inspired me to write more about the Asian American experience. I’m a Filipina who is dedicated to anti-racism, and issues of race and ethnic diversity are SUPER important to me. I’m pretty sure that the past few articles I have written made no reference whatsoever to my ethnicity, when it is actually a huge part of my identity. I feel like there is a lot of potential to write about racial issues, especially when it comes to relating my owned lived experience combined with my obsession with pop culture, and I would love to share all of that  with other Persephoneers!

To clarify, I was aware of the overwhelming amount of white contributors and readers here at Persephone, but, in my short time here, I have never felt excluded from the conversation because of it. You are all doing a tremendous job of being friendly and welcoming. I’m proud to be a part of this community and thank you all for being so wonderful! UNICORN HUGS FOR ALL OF YOU.

You know, I’m on the Persephone staff as a writer and copyeditor, and I am also an evangelical Christian and political moderate. If there’s a craving for some more conservative articles, I can get on that bandwagon. I was just scurred to write them because I’m sort of a little political moderate newborn still finding her way through the polarization of ideas in this nation.

Sounds like I may not be alone on that score, however, so maybe I do have something to contribute in this area after all.

I would like to make a request of the chemist, or any of our other readers who are passionate about chemistry: Would any of you be willing to write a post about the terms, other than chemical, that best describe what we are trying to say when we say “chemical”? Like a short glossary or something.

Like I said in my henna post, it bothers me when I know I am using inaccurate terminology, but my last chemistry class was over 20 years ago. If water is a chemical, then I’m assuming that vinegar is also a chemical, so then how do I differentiate between vinegar and Clorox CleanUp and the like, without naming every cleaner I am comparing vinegar to? These things nag me.

I think this would be a good idea, definitely. Am not a chemist, though, perhaps someone in the Science group is or knows someone who is and would be willing to write?

On that note, personally I’d like to see more pieces that are sourced or curated. The existing writing pool is pretty wide, and I bet if the eds sent an email every so often saying ‘hey, who can write a piece on X topic?’ that could work.

Seconding the sourced articles! Some of us who are in a facebook group together occasionally throw out ideas based on conversations we’re having and then one of us volunteers, but if there are specific topics people want to see addressed more, it would be great to know about it.
And while I write a bunch on science, my high school chemistry class was abysmal (and in 1993-4, argh) so I don’t really know much about better terminology. I agree with the sentiment that chemicals shouldn’t be demonized – some are good, some are bad, and there’s a lot of paranoia that springs up around the topic when there really doesn’t need to be. A lot of the “natural” cleaning products I’ve tried give me breathing problems, whereas the “bad” ones don’t.

If there was a more centralised way of doing it, or doing it on-site, that’d be great. Having just some writers in a Facebook group seems cliquey. (would love other eds/writers to weigh in?)

My manfriend is a chemist (academic not retail), so I could ask him if he’d be willling… hmmm.

I’m an editor on the site and have no idea what facebook group Hillary’s talking about, so I don’t think this is a P-mag sponsored/promoted way of doing things, just a few independent writers or readers who happen to be friends and are brainstorming together.

Generally we communicate with contributors through email and the schedule, where we make broad topic suggestions (like: science!) but try to leave the specifics up to contributors. If anyone is interested in contributing as a writer, on ANY topic, please! PLEASE! Contact us. We love new blood. More about contributing is up there in the menu under About>Contact.

That’s actually on my master list of Evil Tricks – when the writers get the schedule for next week, you’ll see it doesn’t have very many “wild card” slots open. I started doing the wild cards b/c the schedule wasn’t filling up, and people always grab those before they grab the slots with a suggested category. (Except food, we’ve managed to make 19:00 EST food time all the time.)

Since we’ve just brought on a very large batch of Noobs who are eager to please, and since the schedule usually fills up within half an hour after I send the email, I started adding more categories.

What I can do is add a list of suggested topics to the schedule each week, on the Googles, and you guys can claim them on the same page as the schedule.

It’s harder than you might think to coordinate 250 people from all over the world. (A lot of those are inactive writers, but once a P-mag Writer, always a P-mag writer.)’m the chemist who wrote that.  (waves chemistry hands)

If you would like to refer to materials such as bleaches and ammonia-based cleansers in differentiating terms from vinegar, lemon juice, or something similar, you may use the terms caustic and acidic, or may refer to the entire group as corrosives.

Since vinegar and lemon juice are weaker acids, they would generally be preferable to the more strongly corrosive caustic solutions of bleach and ammonia based cleansers.  However, this is not due to the fact that lemon juice and vinegar are naturally occurring, but simply due to pH ranges which are less corrosive.  Vinegar must often be diluted, though, because though it doesn’t fit the classical definition of a strong acid, higher concentrations can still be corrosive.

One tiny thing I’ve noticed since the new theme was implemented is that the search bar in the header defaults to searching for members instead of posts, and I forget every bloody time. I think people probably search for articles most often, so it would be great if we could tweak the order of the options. (Or, I could just pay more attention!)

I didn’t do the survey – I think I missed it? But can I underline and circle and cover with hearts the request for more “Get To Know A Country” type articles? There was an article way back when that was along these lines and explained the history of Saudi Arabia and the influence of the Muslim religion. It was INCREDIBLY informative – covered an area I NEVER learned about in school.

Maybe, as an idea, we could learn more about how Iran came to be how it is now?

Anyway, stay awesome. :)

That was an Olivia piece! She got super busy so she doesn’t write for us very often these days, but I’m sending her a link to this thread in a shameless attempt to get her to come back and do more.

That being said, non-US Persephoneers, if you’d like to write a piece about a country you know a lot about, or US P’neers, if you’d like to write about your city/state, we’d be more than happy to look at it and consider running it.

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