To all the responses regarding my last piece about feminism and appropriation
First of all, I want to thank everyone who was happy to see me write again. It was extremely touching and a bit emotional due to how unexpected the reactions were. That said, I won’t pass an opportunity for shameless self promotion so here are a few links to other stuff I’ve written recently that might have gone unnoticed:
- Clean eating and dirty women. A piece about, as Alex Bayley poignantly put it on Twitter “1950s femininity, cultural appropriation of hummus, and anal sex” (it’s still about clean eating but I couldn’t resist quoting this).
- Euthanasia as a Dutch neoliberal success story — Exactly what it says on the package: about the rhetoric of euthanasia as an individual right while in a permanent state of austerity patients, elderly people, the chronically ill and those with disabilities lose access to better healthcare.
I never expected these reactions, to be honest. I wasn’t angry when I wrote this piece. I was more perplexed than anything. I didn’t quite know how something like this could have happened with multiple people reaching the same conclusion: printing shit with my name and/or words on it is a perfectly legitimate way of making money.
A couple of the producers have reached out to me with apologies and saying they wanted to compensate me or donate to a charity. I do not wish either of these things. All I ever wanted with everything I’ve written was to challenge the capitalist notion that everything is up for grabs and/ or to commercialize at other people’s expense. This should be evident to anyone who read my stuff. I do not even want to create a fuzz for the people who created this merchandise (which is why I am not linking to any of their social media accounts). I just hope that my original piece leads to a reflection on how we make money, at whose expense and what is at stake when we take someone else’s words to sell a product. That this has been supposedly done in the name of feminism makes the whole situation even more absurd; that people sought to commercialize women’s empowerment by disempowering the very same woman who created those words to begin with. These are the discussions I hoped to generate with my piece. Certainly not contrite donations to charities or even angry attacks on the people who foolishly thought this was a good idea.
Now, several people have asked me if they could donate or send some Paypal or Patreon funds my way. I feel extremely awkward about this because it was never my intention to ask for money. I tried to be truthful to my reality in order to explain how I live while I come across my name printed on tote bags I cannot afford. I wasn’t, as someone callously suggested on a now removed comment “begging for money”. I certainly do not feel entitled to other people’s money either. I made a choice to write online for free. There was a time I could afford this choice without looking into the material consequences. I was healthy, had other sources of income, etc. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say this: the only reason I wrote what I wrote is because I was shocked that this merchandise exists while my situation is what it is. If the personal is political, I wanted to set myself as an example of how feminism on the internet can sometimes mean the exact opposite of empowering a woman (me, in this case).
I am looking into setting up a Patreon page. There are many things I have dreamed of doing but could never do: a podcast, edit my pieces with professional help so that I could eventually publish them in book format, write more, etc. These are things I would only be able to do if I have the peace of mind afforded by support, sponsors or a publisher. Maybe Patreon would be one way of getting there. That said, there is a downside to Patreon that I am unsure has been discussed: people can see contributions and if you do not raise enough funds, your “worth” as a creator is called into question while if you raise what others might perceive as too much (not that such would be my case) you’ll hear how you are making big money and should just shut up already. Women writing on the internet about unpopular topics are devalued enough, I am unsure having a public amount of money that proves this trope would be the way to move forward.
In the meantime, I do have a Paypal account people can use as a tip jar of sorts. It’s not something I am entirely proud of (yes, I wish I was more successful and had achieved financial security outside tote bag sloganeering) but I am sincerely grateful that people value what I have written and are moved to contribute or support me.
To close with a moment of unintentional humor, while I was searching for instructions on how to set up a PayPal link to receive money, I ended up on a site that served me this as a Google Ad:
I clicked (because I am a glutton for punishment) and was greeted by another poorly photoshopped #wokebae wearing my name on a t-shirt.
I thought “My feminism will be designed in vaguely floral motives”. But that wouldn’t make for a profitable slogan, would it?