Miss Representation Roundtable Discussion Topic #3: How Can We Do Better?

Hi, readers! Welcome to our third and final (for now) discussion about Miss Representation. Today we’re sharing our conversation on what we can do as an online media outlet for women to disrupt or challenge some of the problems with women’s representation in mainstream media.

Be sure to check out part one and part two of our discussion if you haven’t already.

Selena:  How can we use our position as independent media to provide alternatives to the status quo?

April: More diversity!!

Selena: We’re bringing on an official intern on Wednesday, and our first project is to do some recruiting. We definitely need more diversity in our leadership roles, as well as in writing, and maybe even tech (I could certainly use a teammate under the hood). But we also don’t want to check off boxes on a We’re So Diversity! Checklist.

April: OK, that’s pretty much what I was going to say, something about how hard it is for even an independent website to build up a staff of diverse writers without it coming across as sort of diversity checklist. So how do you do that? Put out a call for guest posts about a specific subject?

Liza: We could definitely stand to diversify and include more voices, but I don’t know how to do that without it seeming like tokenism.

Opifex: I actually feel like asking for people outside the mainstream to specifically talk about their experiences outside the mainstream and nothing else is a real problem as well. A Chat with Mikki Kendall and Flavia Dzodan About #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen ← That article sort of covers what I was thinking about this.

Moretta: We don’t need to see it as seeking out diversity per se as much as we are seeking out diverse first-person perspectives. If we read something that makes us see things a new way, we should ask these people to contribute to P-Mag. That might involve recruiting writers from the comments section of articles that have resonated with us.

Sara H.: I would also say that all existing staff members should continue to examine their perspectives and ask themselves:

  • Am I making generalizations?
  • What are the facts? How do I interpret those facts based on my own perspective/experiences?
  • Am I being fair?
  • What sort of effort am I making to improve myself?
  • Can I identify my own flaws? (As in, there’s nothing wrong with being a flawed human, since we’re all that way, but are we self-aware?)

All of these things will help us be better writers for the types of things we publish.

Juniper: Isn’t this already part of the P-Mag ethos? To give a person with a good pitch a chance to share? Perhaps I’m misinterpreting this (it’s been a long, long day so I suspect I am), but it was that principle that led me to be able to share my experience of being a caregiver which is something I had searched for in the ladyblogsphere and simply not found; women talking about their experiences of themselves having mental illness was “everywhere” but rarely did I see the other side of that, the experience of being a caregiver.

Sara H.: I think maybe the question is like, “We’ve got a great start. Now how can we do more?”

Zahra: I think that recruiting writers from comments sections is a good practice. (From Moretta’s suggestion)

Selena: I think that’s a great idea. When I’m spending less time under the hood, I like to do recruiting on tumblr. We’ve always had an open door for anyone who wants to write for us, but our recruiting drives (I think Project Staff Writer is the exception) usually yield a lot of white writers. (Wonderful writers! We want you all!) I think personal recruiting drives are the way to go. Very few people have said no when I asked them personally to write for us.

Savannah Nicole Logsdon-Breakstone: I like the idea of when we read something we like from someone to feel doubly impelled to invite when we realize it’s from diverse writers. It can be difficult to increase diversity, and more so when diverse populations weren’t there on the ground in the start. I know that a blogging project I may or may not get the contract for would involve taking over an existing thing that mainly had white, middle-to-upper class writers in the founding. So building up the diversity there is really an uphill battle. (In addition, since we are primarily looking for authors who are autistic and there’s a HUGE disparity diagnostically with the Hispanic and Black communities, there’s this little extra difficulty. UGH racism ruins everything.)

By Marena

Marena recently earned her Master of Arts degree in Social Justice & Human Rights & primarily explores social justice issues in the production & consumption of popular mass media. You may find her creating fanworks, testing her hand-eye coordination with beadweaving, flailing over her fictional faves, reading everything from fanfic to theory texts, or watching low budget sci-fi. You can find her writing on Marena ni yukyats.

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