In this week’s Blogger Roundtable, we talked to Emily Heroy, executive editor and founder of Gender Across Borders, a blog that covers anything from Japanese marriage to incest to the gender implications of Lady Gaga. Its writing is passionate in the way that reminds you of those rare days in college when the entire class is rising off their seats to contribute to the discussion.
They also host a pretty sweet series every few months about specific topics like hip-hop, art, and even circumcision, all through the lens of globalized gender. Many of the contributors aren’t trained bloggers—although I’m not sure those really exist anyways—they’re people with backgrounds in social work, travel, and literature. (Oh, and for the record, they’re not all women.)
We here at GMPM have only begun dipping our toes in the waters of gender-writing, so we want to thank Emily and all the folks over at GAB for the work they’re doing and for being willing to talk to us this week.
I think blogging is a great platform to express ideas, discuss current events, and spark change.
How did you come up with the idea for Gender Across Borders?
It wasn’t just my idea—GAB initially started off with 10 editors, all of them are gone except for Carrie Polansky, and we discovered that there was no major blog committed to international feminism. Given my interest with women’s rights and experience in international work, we thought it would be a great idea.
With so many voices in the blogosphere, what sets GAB apart?
Many major blogs focus on U.S. issues, while GAB strives to focus on issues outside of the U.S. We also tend to host a few “series” throughout the year where a group of articles are published on the same subject (for instance: Women, Art & War; Global Feminism). We also have a large editorial process where we ask other feminists to submit their work (for writers here; for artists here).
Is there a specific post you’re most proud of? Or one that best represents what GAB is all about?
There are a few, if you don’t mind:
One that represents what GAB is about as a whole—was a live chat that the GAB editorial board did with GAB readers/global feminists for our global feminism series. This series was based off of defining our tagline “a global feminist blog.” “Global feminism” evokes a lot of meaning and definitions, which is why we had the live chat.
A post written by myself that I’m particularly proud of is about Ida B. Wells and remembering how history is important, whether in feminism or any other social-justice movement.
What’s been the biggest challenge of running the blog?
Hmm, that’s a good question. There are a lot of challenges in running a blog with 10 or so editors at a time—coordination and organization is key. Everyone who writes and edits for GAB (including myself) does this as a side job, so it takes a lot of commitment on all of our parts. But I think what’s really difficult about running a blog are the “unsaid” challenges that no one ever talks about when feminist blogging—the amount of anti-feminist, misogynist, sexist, and/or ignorant people surfing around the web and commenting on the blog. It’s difficult to get used to, but eventually you do.
GAB editors and I are shying away from sharing personal experiences and stories that relate to feminism in our lives (for example, this post). I am a huge advocate of feminism and feminists, and I also believe that the personal is political. But honestly I think why many feminist bloggers choose not to tell their stories is to avoid being labeled “not feminist.” I think that may be the biggest challenge of all, avoiding those labels.
“Feminist bloggers choose not to tell their stories is to avoid being labeled ‘not feminist.’” Can you elaborate?
Many feminists seem to think that there is only one definition of feminism, and if you go off of that path, you will forever be banned by the feminist community. While this is not entirely true, I’ve seen it played out in various platforms. For example, this happened to Sarah Palin, who is heavily criticized by feminists when she re-claimed the word feminism. I am no fan of Palin, but since when did we establish the feminist police?
Policing feminism, I think, scares people away from feminism itself. Additionally, this idea of “policing” other feminists has made me re-think my own feminism and to chill out before I criticize someone’s “unfeminist” choices. Let’s be honest: you can’t live in the ideal world of feminism because unfortunately we in fact do still live in a patriarchy. But that doesn’t mean you have to compromise anything or change your definition of feminism. By consciously making choices and understanding the implications of your choices, I believe that is living feminism.
Likewise, if feminists declare that they are changing their name after marriage, they are declared an “appendage to a man.” I loved Melissa McEwan’s response to why feminist women change their last names once they get married (from Shakesville).
Going forward, what goals do you have for GAB?
I’m hoping that we become a more active community in writing about people’s stories from across the globe. I’m also hoping to get more non-Western points of view on GAB so that we can not just represent a more diverse audience but tell other people’s stories of feminism and women’s rights.
What do you see in the future of blogging in general?
I’m not really sure—I think that as time goes on more and more people will blog because they’ve made it so easy to set up. I think that’s vitally important in blogging—to make sure everyone’s voice is out there. I just hope that it continues to be more and more accessible to the biggest audience possible.
Honestly, how do you view our blog? What and who do you think we represent?
I think that the Good Man Project Magazine is a healthy projection of what masculinity should be. Part of the issue of gender inequities between men and women, which we talk about on GAB frequently, should not just be invested in educating women, but also should include educating men. I think your blog represents that education and is important in steering men to a healthy masculinity.