A Room of Our Own: A Feminist/ Womanist Network is a women-only multi-media platform created to share women’s writing, art, music, vlogs, campaigns and other creations. It was created both to combat cultural femicide – the term coined by feminist writer Bidisha to define the erasure of women from politics, art, and culture – and celebrate women’s creativity in a space without men.
Women only spaces are a fundamental part of the feminist movement and represent women’s right to self-determination and liberation. There are countless studies which evidence the silencing of women’s voices by men. Margaret Atwood wrote about this in the early 80’s and Dale Spender has written on it many times, notably in The Writing or the Sex in 1989 and in Man Made Language. A member of Ending Victimisation and Blame said this in a speech for the opening of the Lincolnshire Rape Crisis Centre on the importance of women-only services and women-only spaces:
“Men set the agenda. Men often talk over women, sometimes without any awareness that they’ve even done so. Women need space within which to discuss their oppression and manage their activism. That space does not need to include men. If men wish to talk about feminism and the oppression of women, they do not need to be in women’s spaces in order to do this – men can use the space they have in the rest of the world, and make it more feminist.”
Andrea Dworkin’s famous passage from her seminal text Intercourse is truer now than when she wrote it:
“Men often react to women’s words – speaking and writing – as if they were acts of violence; sometimes men react to women’s words with violence. So we lower our voices. Women whisper, Women apologize. Women shut up. Women trivialize what we know. Women shrink. Women pull back. Most women have experienced enough dominance from men – control, violence, insult, contempt – that no threat seems empty.”
I have been online for nearly 20 years and the abuse of women online has become worse. The misogynistic attacks on feminists like Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, Feminista Jones – and every single other feminist who dares to speak publicly about male violence, street harassment and video games is targeted to silence women. Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have done very little to deal with abusive behaviour, prioritising profits over the safety of their users.
In many ways, Dworkin’s words are an understatement of what occurs online. Men’s reactions to women’s words has become more violent, more hateful, in many ways, more socially acceptable. Women can’t hear one another when we’re forced to plough through thousands of threats of rape, torture and death in online spaces. We lock our twitter accounts, censor ourselves and hope we don’t become the next target. We don’t need a threat to be directed at us personally for it to act as a silencing tactic.
This is the reality in which A Room of Our Own was born. I wanted to create a space for feminists by feminists – a safe space where women can share their thoughts, their writing, their art and their lives without abusive comments and without men dictating the terms of the discussion. The need for this space is seen daily in the in the number of abusive comments I delete from men and the number I have to block on twitter. More importantly, the women involved have spoken about how significant the space is to them – that an online space where men’s entitlement to women’s time is simply not accepted makes a difference. A space which prioritises women’s voices over mens, that refuses to allow men to dictate the terms of the conversation and that gives a platform for all feminists to speak is essential to health and breadth of the feminist movement.
The only criteria we have for membership is that you self-define as a feminist or a womanist. It doesn’t matter what you blog about – hockey, parenting, donuts or feminist theory – as long as you are a feminist, you are welcome here. We expect that members will have fundamentally different definitions of feminism/ womanism. We believe these differences are worth exploring, debating and celebrating. We welcome links to blogs which haven’t been updated in a while, as well as brand new blogs. We include traditional ‘blogs’ as created on blogger or wordpress, as well as Tumblr, Facebook pages, Youtube pages etc. We also welcome links to feminist campaigns and campaigns which aren’t labelled feminist but whose origins are in feminist theory.
Do remember to tweet us every time you publish a new post so we can share it with our followers!
Please link your blog and enjoy exploring ones we are already linked to!
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences,” Lorde wrote in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches.