Jillian Meehan ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
At the time of writing, Femsplain’s footer reads, “Supporting all women for 327 days and counting.” For almost a year, co-founders Amber Gordon, Gabriela Barkho, Jeanette Fabre, and Jacqueline Mirell, along with editors Jess Goodwin and Sammy Nickalls, have been working hard to make the world a better place.
Femsplain is a female-powered community built on the personal essays and shared experiences of a diverse group of women. “Think of us as a casual Internet support group you don’t need to pay for and can visit whenever in the comfort of your home,” it reads on their website.
Every month, the site updates with a new theme—”desire,” “lies,” “comfort,” etc.—and readers are encouraged to send in story pitches that fit the theme. The website publishes new content from contributors every day. Most contributed content is personal essays, but Femsplain has also seen some videos, playlists, and art.
There are a handful of featured contributors that get paid to write every month, but for the most part, the website is fueled by about one hundred fifty contributors, eager to share their stories and support each other.
“They are specifically trying to make it accessible for woen to tell their stories,” said Laura Tormos, a sophomore visual and media arts major and Femsplain contributor, “that’s not something that every outlet or publication does.” While publications like Cosmo or Nylon are clearly aimed toward women, she said, they are more concerned with selling a product than with telling women’s stories. That’s what makes Femsplain so refreshing.
The stories featured on Femsplain range from serious topics like sexual harassment and eating disorders to more lighthearted pieces meant to make the reader laugh—an earlier theme, “embarrassing moments,” has plenty of those. Because there is such a wide range of stories, it’s easy for readers to find something they relate to.
Writing isn’t the only way to contribute to the Femsplain community; readers play an important role too. Any time a contributor’s work goes up, it’s the readers who latch onto it, tweeting and retweeting it, sharing it on Facebook, posting the link on their blogs to let everyone know they found something great. The comments section on any other website is usually a den of hatred to be avoided at all costs, but on Femsplain, it is brimming with love and support from the readers.
Writing and sharing words is a big part of what the Femsplain community does, but the website needs support in other ways as well. Last spring, they funded thirty thousand dollars on Kickstarter to keep their website up and running and to pay their featured contributors. Recently, they launched a Patreon page for supporters to donate a few dollars every month. They also have an online shop where they sell shirts, stickers, mugs, art, and more. And, of course, anyone can donate via PayPal.
Femsplain’s goal is simple: “to highlight all the amazing diversity of women on the Internet who might not have another outlet to share their experiences.” Here’s hoping they continue to succeed.
Check out Femsplain’s latest video explaining what feminism really is!