Tomorrow, our beloved website AfterEllen.com , is, for all intents and purposes, ceasing its operations.
The site that we have come to think of as an essential part of our lives, the site that has celebrated our community, served as our voice and champion in the media, provided us with a space to exchange ideas and learn about our culture and make friends. The site that was more than just a webpage, but a cultural statement, an affirmation of the validity of our stories, our desires, our needs. The site that was a place where queer women got together and supported one another.
That space, that very important space, is being effectively shut down by straight men. Bury your gays much?
So, let’s learn a bit more about the straight guy who manages AfterEllen and claims the reason for firing its editor-in-chief, Trish Bendix (and then punishing her for speaking out by refusing her severance. If he were a woman, I guess we’d be calling him a bitch, right?) was strictly a financial one , shall we?
According to his Linkedin profile and company website, Emrah Kovacoqlu is the founder, president and CEO of Total Beauty Media, a “new media beauty company” whose mission is to “inspire all women to live a beautiful life.” What the company does is build websites to provide women with fashion, beauty and “wellness” information (men have learned by now that they have a better chance at selling women crap they don’t need if they claim it’s not just to make them more attractive to men but because it’s better for their own “well being.”) The company says it reaches all kinds of women because “all women want to look and feel beautiful.”
And so, according to Kovacoglu, who is also the general manager of “TotallyHer Media” (I’m sure the irony is not lost on you) and obviously thinks of himself as the man who has finally figured out what women want, lesbians (a strange variety of “woman” he probably had never encountered before and who, as it turns out, might want different things!) are not a big enough draw for advertisers (I could take it as a compliment and deduce that they think our community is just far too smart to buy into their stupid marketing strategies, which try to tell women they’re not good enough/pretty enough/hygienic enough/smooth enough and so they have to buy their products. But the truth is, they are probably just too lazy to try to come up with a new strategy that doesn’t have to do with telling women that if they bought their product they’d be more appealing to men).
But there is more to this than just the bottom line. This is what happens when men run women’s spaces, and when straight men run queer women’s spaces.
When men are exclusively running “women’s health” panels and committees is how abortion and birth control are still a contentious issue rather than a fundamental right a woman has to her own body.
When male executives control almost all the top positions in the media, film and television industry, is how year after year, women are relegated to the roles of “girlfriend” (usually sexually objectified) or “mom” (usually culturally invisible), whose identities are defined strictly by their relation to the men in their lives.
When men make up 80% of our legislature is how we still have to fight (unsuccessfully, for the most part) to pass common sense legislation to combat domestic violence and end the gender pay gap.
Women’s spaces, lives and bodies have been ruled by men for far too long. And who is the most threatening woman? The one who doesn’t need men to validate her existence at all. The one who is not interested in men or needs them. The one who will not buy a product because it will help her get noticed by them, the one who will not dumb herself down so that they like her, the one who will not shut up about them killing her surrogates on television.
So I say, let’s make our own spaces. Let’s eliminate the male managers and the ignorant advertisers, and let’s do it by and for ourselves. To the fabulous women of AfterEllen.com , the women we have come to love as some of the most wonderful voices of our community, I call upon you to start a new website, subscription based. And to the audiences out there, the queer women who have loved AfterEllen for years, you who have decried that #LGBTfansdeservebetter , I call upon you to support one another and our community and BUY a subscription.. Make this into a statement so big that we prove to all of them out there who we are, what we want and what we are capable of.
Listen to our queer sister Jill Soloway and let’s Topple the fucking patriarchy!