Links for Sexy Feminists: Pixar’s ‘Brave,’ ’1% wives,’ and more …

Pixar finally gives girls their due: Salon reviews Brave.

Elizabeth Wurtzel baits debate by calling out “1% wives” in The Atlantic: We aren’t going to get on board with the whole mommyhood-is-a-pedicure-fest idea, but we do agree with this: “Who can possibly take feminism seriously when it allows everything, as long as women choose it? The whole point to begin with was that women were losing their minds pushing mops and strollers all day without a room or a salary of their own.” Feministe and The Frisky weigh in.

We heart Amy Poehler: And purple. So we like reading about her recent appearance at the 92nd Street Y in Capital New York, and her “purple-state feminism.”

Are you gay?: Match.com offers some advice for the curious-but-confused.

16 Excellent Retorts to “Why Are You Still Single?”: We’ve always gone with “Just lucky, I guess,” but we like HowAboutWe’s suggestions, too.

Sexy Feminists Read: Julie Zeilinger’s ‘A Little F’d Up’

JulieZeilingerBookHeadshot-199x300We’ve wanted to be Julie Zeilinger when we grow up ever since she launched the feminism-for-teens website TheFBomb.org. Never mind that she’s still under legal drinking age. The Barnard student and author of the new book A Little F’d Up talked to us about embracing your feminism, the Fourth Wave, and body image.

The subtitle of your book is “why feminism is not a dirty word.” We know why we think it’s a great word — but how about you? As a young feminist, why do you think it’s important not just to have feminism, but to call ourselves feminists?

I call myself a feminist not only because I identify with and support the movement, but as a teenager I found that my peers simply hadn’t been exposed to that many people who outwardly called themselves feminists. They hadn’t been exposed to or educated about feminism and therefore relied on negative stereotypes or just remained ignorant about it. By calling myself a feminist, I found that I was able to raise awareness about it and educate those who asked me about my identity. However, I have never felt that one has to label themselves a feminist to be involved in the feminist movement or to believe in and fight for feminist issues. I recognize that there are people who would rather not label themselves in any way and I think that’s fine as long as they’re educated about these issues and are willing to fight for their rights. Of course, I think that if somebody does label themself as feminist they’re much more likely to be invested in this movement and put themselves on the front lines of the issues we fight for, but at the same time I’m not sure fretting over the label is the most important thing we should be worried about right now as a movement.

There’s a lot of talk among feminists right now about what the “fourth wave” of feminism stands for, and whether there even is a fourth wave. What are your thoughts on that? What makes your generation of feminists different from previous generations?

I’m not really a huge fan of the “wave” model just because I think feminism is a continuous movement. It’s a movement that’s constantly evolving and our short-term goals may differ from those of feminists past, but our ultimate goal of equality is still the same. However, if there is a “fourth wave” I think it would probably be defined by our use of the internet, social media, and blogging. In the past decade or so, a lot of feminist activism and organizing has taken place largely online. We’ve created communities through blogs, have created social change through petitions and email campaigns targeting corporations, politicians, etc. and demanding change in huge numbers. The vastness of the internet has allowed us to connect to women all over the world – to share our experiences and ideas – and I think in a lot of ways it has democratized the feminist movement in that anybody with a compelling voice and message has the opportunity to be heard.

What do you see as the biggest problems facing young feminists today? What are the big issues we need to be tackling?

On the FBomb, we’re constantly talking about body image and the pressures young women feel to fit a certain ideal of beauty. It’s a very real and consuming issue for my generation and I fear it’s only getting worse due to the perpetuation of these images – ads surround us and our generation is consuming more media than any generation before us. However, I think especially considering the upcoming election and the political climate of the past year, reproductive rights is a really pressing issue my generation needs to focus on right now. It’s depressing to think that the same issue feminists in the ’60s and ’70s were fighting for is still very much relevant today, and that the rights that were won in the Second Wave are at stake but I think my generation is going to have to play an integral role in defending these rights. Politically, the majority of us are on the same page: a recent survey showed that 88% of us support comprehensive sex education and 64% support access to legal abortion. It’s just a matter of us really rallying behind and organizing around this issue.

Have you seen changes in the modern feminist landscape even just during your last few years of blogging? And how has running your blog affected your view of feminism?

I think because the FBomb is based on submissions from teen girls and boys from all over the world, I – as well as all readers of the FBomb – have been given a really comprehensive picture of my generation’s relationship with feminism in a way that isn’t quite replicated on any other site that only features the writing of one or a few people. I think a couple of broader themes have emerged from the vast array of content we’ve posted over the past couple of years, the most predominate being that feminism, for my generation, is about combating much more subtle issues today. Whereas feminists of years past were fighting for really concrete political and economic rights (and while, indeed, many of those fights still continue today), I believe the issues my generation deal with don’t always have a blinking arrow pointing them out as discrimination or inequality. Street harassment is a good example of this. There have been so many posts written on the FBomb about street harassment, and there are inevitably comments written on those posts that basically say they hadn’t even considered it to be a feminist issue – they just felt it was something annoying that made them feel uncomfortable, but something they also just largely considered an inevitability of being a woman. It didn’t occur to them that it was a feminist issue and was something they could rally to do something about. This has definitely impacted the way I approach feminism in that I think the key for continuing feminism in my generation is education. We can’t just assume young women understand feminism or have even heard of it, but I have faith that once young women are exposed to it in a comprehensive way, they’ll identify with it more often than not.

Are there one or two lessons in your book that stand out for you? What do you most want girls to take away from your book?

The last chapter of A Little F’d Up describes how feminism helped me – and how I believe it can help all of my peers – on a personal level, and more than anything else I really hope I can impart that to my peers. Young women often view feminism as something very broad and political, which it certainly can be, but I really want young women to understand that it’s much more individualized than that, too. I specifically focus on the positive way feminism helped me learn to love my body, to negotiate my relationships and stand up for my own needs and how it strengthened my female relationships and helped me understand why young women often compete with and tear down each other but also how overall it just made me a stronger, more confident and ultimately happier person. In the end, to me, that’s what feminism is all about.

How Not to Start Your Own Website

website-300x74Launching your own blog or online magazine provides one of the best venues for you to hone and showcase your own vision, voice, and views. (Like we do here!) In short, it’s a way to make an outspoken lady’s dreams come true, almost instantly, at very little cost (if you do it right). It might not make you rich, but it could make you a known rabble-rouser, promote your soapbox issue of choice, give you a chance to build a community of like-minded women, look cool on your resume, and even lead to a book deal. (Look for our book, Sexy Feminism, out next year.)

It did all of that for us when we started SexyFeminist.com together six years ago. But it also caused us a lot of headaches we didn’t anticipate. We want to stop you from going through what we did, so we’re sharing what we learned. Here are our top 10 things you shouldn’t do while starting a website—and remedies for making them right:

1. Don’t get ahead of yourselves. In the early stages of planning our launch, we spent more time than we’d like to admit envisioning the outfits we would wear on the Today show when they inevitably called us for an interview about our groundbreaking vision for an edgy women’s site. While we were right that we were a little ahead of our time, we were wrong to think it mattered where we bought our power suits. And to think any media outlet was going to magically show up at our door begging to cover us.

2. Don’t set unrealistic publishing goals that will discourage you and stress you out. Unless you’re independently wealthy or have financial backing, you probably have at least a day job, if not a day job plus other projects plus a personal life plus a basic human need to eat and sleep. At the beginning, we considered such absurd ideas as having at least a post a day; as things progressed we realized we couldn’t even handle a post a week at certain times in our lives. (Like when we were working full time while writing books, planning weddings, having babies, or running marathons.) Now that we’re freelancers, we can handle a few posts a week, but our disillusionment back in the early days almost made us quit. Just blog when you can blog!

3. Don’t think you have to do everything yourselves. The happy/sad truth (happy for you, sad for writers) is that a lot of writers will work for free under the right circumstances. Guilt your friends into writing. Give writers you know a chance to cover topics they don’t usually get to but feel passionate about. Hire “interns,” who are really just young people who will work for free, and give them a chance to do the kind of work they need to build their resumes. We love our interns.

4. Don’t set up your blog on unfamiliar software, particularly if it doesn’t have a tech support line. We’re on WordPress now and adore its user-friendliness. This was not the case on the first platform we used, and we paid for it. More than once, we actually “broke” our own site and spent days wondering if all our hard work would ever reappear online. There’s no excuse for this, especially with the software available now.

5. Don’t get too caught up in design. We hired a friend’s husband at a very reasonable price to design our now-gorgeous site. But if you don’t know someone who can do this, don’t worry too much. Pick one of the many great templates available online and start blogging. If you eventually make enough money on an ad service (think: Google ads, BlogHer), you can hire someone to make you a logo, but don’t go crazy. No one cares that much about your aesthetics if you’ve got great content.

6. Don’t think you know anything about tax law.

You’ve done your research; you’ve looked up every official IRS document applicable to starting a small business (which is what you’re doing if you plan to ever run an ad on your website) and think you’ve got it covered. Think again. Tax laws are multilayered, complex, confusing beasts filled with loopholes and special circumstances that could end up costing you thousands of dollars or triggering an audit. Starting your own website is hard enough without a visit from the IRS.

If funds for a proper tax attorney are unavailable (and let’s assume that), worry not. There are many resources for small businesses to get the expert input they need. A favorite—and savior—of ours isSCORE. The free, nonprofit service pairs newbies like you with mentors—attorneys, accountants, lawyers, CEOs, and scads of extremely knowledgeable and caring individuals who are, let’s face it, way smarter than you about this stuff. Say you have a question, such as, “Should I incorporate my two-person, content-based, non-retail, not-profitable website in the state of California?” They will kindly tell you it might cost you a fee of around $350 and an unexpected annual tax bill of around $800. We wish we’d talked to them before we found this out the hard way and went to them to fix it.

7. Don’t have a nebulous concept that can’t be articulated in a clear title.

We’re writers. We like interesting words. This is a great asset as you create the content for your new website, but it can be a liability when you complete the simple, essential task of naming it. Before you buy a domain, order 2,000 business cards and customize cute T-shirts with your new site’s name emblazoned on them, be certain that you’ve chosen wisely. And wisely means that the name of your website needs to explain what said website contains. Personal blogs can be nonsensical, but if you want people to find your site and remember its content, “simple, straightforward, and clear” is your mantra.

When we first launched our “women’s lifestyle with a feminist twist” website, we called it Sirens, inspired by strong, iconic female historical characters. Now it’s called The Sexy Feminist. Which of these actually says anything about the content of the site? It took us six years to get it right.

8. Master self-promotion—the right kind.

Many creative types—writers especially—are introverted, preferring to practice their craft without much fanfare. To put it frankly: We can suck at self-promotion. But it’s more necessary now than ever, especially if you’re running a site you hope other people will read. And you don’t need an elaborate ad campaign to do it. Here are just three steps that will guarantee spikes in traffic:

  • Make friends with other bloggers and offer to cross-post items.
  • Email relevant content links to bigger sites in your field suggesting they link to your story.
  • Tweet everything—not just your new content links, but 120-character quips about news and thoughts relevant to your website’s focus. Make Pinterest boards thematically linked to your content.

9. Know what your money is buying.

Startup money is scarce, especially for those of us not inventing the next Google. If you don’t plan to make a lot of money from your website (and most don’t), then you needn’t stress about raising seed money for startup. You won’t need much anyway. You have to buy a domain name and a hosting package, then just put the site up, which can be done using free software such as WordPress.

A note on web developers: Bless them, but some create more problems than they solve, especially if they are the only ones who can solve the problems they themselves create. Make sure you really,really need any service before investing in it.

10. Don’t make things harder on yourself than you need to. This is supposed to be at least a little fun, right?

Please see all of the above.