By Meghan Murphy
Hey everyone. A few weeks ago, I received the following email from the company that facilitates the ads featured on Feminist Current, SheKnowsMedia:
“Dear Ms. Murphy:
After careful review, pursuant to the SheKnows Publishing Network Agreement, attached for your reference, we are terminating your account effective immediately due to Feminist Current’s failure to comply with the Agreement’s quality guidelines regarding content that attacks a group on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Specifically, this articles https://www.feministcurrent.com/…/must-trans-activists-sme…/ and https://www.feministcurrent.com/…/trans-activism-become-ce…/ as well as others of similar tone are in violation.
Please remove all ad code from your site as soon as possible…
We chose to have ads hosted by SheKnowsMedia (previously BlogHer) because these companies claim to aim to support and empower women AND because I was able to limit ad categories that showed up on Feminist Current, meaning that I was able to exclude ads for things like dieting, makeup, the oil industry, the meat industry, religious ads, “dating” ads, and a myriad of other categories of ads I didn’t want showing up on a feminist site. This, of course, limited the income we were able to access via ad revenue, but still allowed us a base revenue that could ensure we were guaranteed a certain level of sustainability, from month to month. We have had ads hosted on the site via BlogHer/SheKnows since 2012.Recently, I have had several issues with the ads popping up on Feminist Current, some of which were unsuitable (anti-ageing ads and makeup ads, for example), others which were outright racist and sexist. When I contacted SheKnows about this, which I did numerous times, the problem was not addressed and the company claimed not to be able to do anything about these ads, despite the fact they were showing up via *their* ad network. As a result, I had been planning to get rid of ads on the site entirely, but needed to make sure we were able to sustain ourselves after that loss, so had tried to do some fundraising over the past month, in order to make up for the loss. (Thank you to everyone who donated!)
Before I was able to do this, I received the above email, which referenced two posts, one of which challenges violent, misogynist threats against women and lesbians, the other that challenges the unethical and dishonest tactics trans activists use to shut down critical questions about the transitioning of children and around transgender ideology that reinforces sexist ideas about males and females more broadly.
Neither post “attacks a group on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.” Rather, one post directly opposes attacks and violent threats against a group of people based on sex and sexual orientation (women and lesbians), and the other defends journalism/journalistic ethics and good faith debate, and opposes censorship and attacks against journalism that challenges popular discourse and the status quo. Both posts, of course, support a feminist analysis that says gender is not innate, neither men nor women are stereotypes, and that women are oppressed under patriarchy on account of being born female, not on account of their feelings, clothing, or behaviour.
It is incredibly important, particularly now, that journalists are able to report on issues and trends independently and with integrity, no matter how it may upset certain groups. It is also incredibly important that women be allowed to defend their sex-based rights without being beat up, smeared, and threatened. These are fundamental ideas that *should* be supported by those who support democracy and human rights, as well as by those who oppose hate speech and fascism.
I responded to Christy Rosensteel at SheKnows Media, saying I was confused by her email, as the two posts in reference did not attack any group of people, and asked if she could please specify which aspects of the posts constituted an attack on “a group on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.” I told her that our mandate at Feminist Current is to advocate the liberation of women from patriarchy and male violence, and that I felt both posts fit this aim. I added:
“I find your claim to be quite a serious accusation, especially considering Feminist Current’s longstanding and dedicated work to opposing male violence against women and supporting the global feminist movement. If SheKnows is opposed to feminist analysis, that would be good to know, as I’d assumed your organization did not support male violence against women or sexism, in general.”
I received no response.
The good news is, we will no longer have to deal with a company that allows sexist, racist ads to pop up on the site, which I have no control over, and who refuses to be accountable for said ads, and will no longer be beholden to anti-feminist companies who revoke revenue because we publish articles opposing misogyny, male violence against women, and the shutting down of feminist debate/discourse. The bad news is that, more and more frequently, women who speak out against gender identity ideology, ask questions about the short and long term effects of transitioning children, and try to host discussions and debates about the impacts of gender identity legislation on women and girls are being systemically persecuted, slandered, silenced, threatened, fired, and rendered unemployable.
It is unacceptable to try to shut down feminist media, simply because feminist ideas offend the sensibilities of some. And this is exactly what has happened. It is clear that someone who opposes the work we do at Feminist Current, who has connections or power at SheKnows, complained, and demanded they cut ties with the site. Our content has not changed substantially in the past few weeks. We have been opposing violence against women and asking critical questions about transgender ideology for years now. We are under constant attack, as a result. This was a direct attack against us by one individual who wished to attempt to shut down the site, by rendering us unable to pay our bills and support ourselves.
Luckily, we have an enormously supportive readership around the world, are independent, and are part of a powerful, global women’s liberation movement that has more integrity and courage in its pinky finger than these self-interested, cowardly, dishonest, greedy, misogynist neoliberals.
Fuck SheKnowsMedia. Fuck these capitalist pigs, who care more about their income than their integrity. Fuck this disgusting cooptation of feminism that bends over for men while throwing women under the bus. If they think this bullying will shut down Feminist Current and the hundreds of thousands of people who support our work and contribute to the site, they underestimate the power, courage, and steadfastness of women.In the past year we have seen attacks on our sisters amped up, as warrior women like Max Dashu, Nina Paley, Thistle Pettersen, Kajsa Ekis Ekman, Yuly Chan, and countless more are being smeared and no-platformed because they dare stand in solidarity with women. Women are being beaten up in the streets because they wish to *speak* about gender identity legislation and an ideology that says there is no such thing as a woman or a female body. Women are being threatened at the Dyke March and at Pride because they stand up for lesbians. Women are receiving death threats for supporting women-only spaces.
These women are not wealthy, they are not powerful, they are not “privileged.” They are regular women and lesbians fighting to survive and to have a voice and to protect our and YOUR hard-fought-for rights.
We stand in solidarity with women and in defense of free speech and democracy. We oppose the misogynist, capitalist bullying that dictates the editorial content of the vast majority of publications in North America, including those publications that claim to be “feminist.” At Feminist Current, we have always been accountable only to the feminist movement, and that will never change, no matter how many try to shut us down. Solidarity with our sisters in the struggle. Until we win.
By Meghan Murphy