The past two months have been absolutely crazy since starting #TheGirlGang – especially as I only expect about five people to join! As I type this, there are over 1500 members, …woah.
During this short time I’ve had the pleasure of bringing some lovely opportunities to members, set up a newsletter, form a positive, encouraging community and talk to some amazing people. Very recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with Amber; the founder of Femsplain. Femsplain is a community that publishes stories and shares ideas, with a strong focus on women’s issues. Though both our communities are open to absolutely anyone, Femsplain is US based, and The Girl Gang is UK based – which I think is cool.
We thought we’d talk about some of our thoughts on these communities (questions asked by the lovely Emma, one of the Femsplain babes!), and share them here for you guys. I hope you enjoy 🙂
Tell us a bit about the communities you’ve set up.
A: Femsplain is an online storytelling community, founded in October of 2014. We publish mostly personal stories, sometimes articles that lean more towards women’s issues at large. We also publish photo essays, poetry, illustrations, comics, videos, etc. Our content follows a monthly theme, which is chosen to be broad enough that anyone can find a way to relate their experiences. We accept submissions from female-identified people as well as non binary, agender and other gender nonconforming individuals. Last year we had three large events in New York City at Livestream Public as well as two smaller workshops hosted by Vox Media.
J: The Girl Gang was just this small I idea I had, where I wanted to spread a little positivity and good vibes. I hoped to create a little ‘gang’ of people who were focused on doing nice things for others, helping within the blogging community particularly. We’re now at over 1500 members, and it’s been incredible! Everyone is welcome women/men, any age, location, etc. The only requirement is to try spread some joy.
Both of your communities are very inclusive, but chiefly aimed towards women and female-identified people. Why do you think it’s so important to have spaces like this on the Internet for supporting women?
A: The main reason it’s important is because the extreme lack of these spaces on the Internet to begin with. Before we launched Femsplain, we couldn’t seem to find a large publication that was publishing personal stories like ours and on top of that, from mostly people who identified as women. The Internet is a scary place if you’re not a cis straight man and I wanted to do my part to help change that.
J: I think Amber is doing something truly powerful, by sharing important and interesting stories. My focus is much less ‘fascinating’ I’d say! I think it’s important to have a community focused on doing good, as even the nicest of people can have trouble staying positive in negative situations. That’s normal. However I think the reminder of #TheGirlGang helps encourage people to go out of their way for others. I’ve seen a definite boost in morale and friendship within the community – all down to The Girl Gang members! It’s important for girls to have a place like this they can feel truly positive about. Having female friendships and talking to other girls all over the world can open people’s minds and build better relationships.
What so far has been the moment that made you feel most proud of what you’ve created?
A: At our one-year party I was able to announce to all of our supporters that we were now able to pay all of our writers. It had always been an important goal of ours so that was probably my most proud moment. There have been a lot!
J: Within 8 weeks getting such an incredible amount of members, support and love within the community felt amazing! Seeing our chats trend multiple times on Twitter, getting support from brands and having people make new friendships – it’s all been astounding to be a part of!
Why do you think people are so quick to criticize positive communities like this?
A: I believe the main thing people are worried about is diversity which is surely something to be critical about. Usually the people starting communities are people who have the privilege to be able to afford to do so. The people building these communities must include and amplify the voices of POC. Some other criticisms of building a positive space include “well why don’t you publish men? that’s exclusionary.” No. We don’t publish men but we want them to join the conversation, not start the dialogue.
J: This is a hard one for me to answer… I don’t understand the negativity that’s brought upon communities like this sometimes. People seem to have judgements about WHY they are set up, rather than looking into it. I don’t know. I do struggle with this.
How do you deal with negativity? A: I’ve dealt with internet harassment and trolls since I started using the computer. For me it’s a mixture of having friends you trust to vent to, and reminding myself that I can’t please everyone but to remember I’m doing my best. Trolls will be trolls.
J: With some trouble at first! I totally couldn’t understand people being negative towards The Girl Gang. One of the strangest things said about it was that it was ‘cliquey’ and ‘not inclusive of all’. I have made it clear absolutely ANYONE is welcome to join, it’s simply a place to focus on spreading positivity. There’s always going to be someone negative though, and it’s made me realise I can’t please everyone! This is hard for me. I really am a people pleaser, but it’s helping me to learn to focus on the good, and ignore the bad.
What are your next goals for Femsplain and GirlGang?
A: Femsplain 2016 is going to be real exciting. Events, our community platform, and more! I’m really excited for the future.
J: The sky’s the limit! There will be an event this year, an award for a special member, exclusive content and collaborations in the newsletter, and so much more! YAY!
*Any items sent for review are written about 100% honestly and in my own words. Sometimes collaborative content and partnerships with brands will appear on this blog. Affiliates links are used throughout this blog.
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