Bustle.com Conjures Every Terrible Feeling Women in Media Have About Women’s Media

There’s already been time for the launch, reception of, and backlash against the new women’s website Bustle.com and its founder, Bryan Goldberg.

Somewhere in some distant and undoubtedly frightening corner of the internet, there may already be a backlash against the backlash.

The basic premise is a simple, stupid, and unfortunately familiar one: a man decided to do something for women and finally do it RIGHT, dad gum it, ignoring that there were already women doing this thing, and despite his own total cluelessness about the topic at hand. The man in this case is Bryan Goldberg, founder of the also not-great media outlet Bleacher Report.

bryan goldberg

bryan goldberg knows how to save women’s media

Goldberg decided it was time for a “women’s publication that puts world news and politics alongside beauty tips.” He managed to raise $6.5 million in venture capital to do this. (Bustle’s editorial team is entirely female [UPDATE: There are at least two men writing regularly for Bustle], and Goldberg has indicated an alleged lack of interest in editorial decisions with the statement, “Knowing the difference between mascara, concealer, and eye-liner is not my job,” but the company is very clearly headed by a man.) Maybe the reason Goldberg didn’t realize he was years behind the curve on this idea is that he thinks Vogue and Glamour are the frontrunners of online women’s media, theorizing that since Vogue had “fewer than 1 million unique visitors in June,” there was an obvious void for Bustle to step into. (Jezebel had 2.1 million unique visitors per month three years ago, and now has 5.1 million monthly visitors.) (And Glamour does include politics with its beauty tips.) Ironically, one of the publications Goldberg identified as being “aimed at men,” Business Insider, has even posted a piece covering women’s frustration with this move. All in all, it’s quickly become abundantly clear that Goldberg decided to execute a bad idea without deciding to learn anything about it first. And still got financing for it.

In this unbelievably misguided launch piece, Goldberg dares to assert the following:

“Women’s publishers have completely lost sight of which decade their readers are living in. This is a country where women out-graduate men. They are also closing the “income gap” quickly, and in many cities, they out-earn their male counterparts. But magazines like UsWeekly talk to women as though they were children, and they fail to connect popular culture with any form of social commentary.”

The statement from Anna Holmes, Jezebel‘s founder, via NPR’s All Tech Considered addresses the major issues with what Goldberg has done pretty well:

“You imply that marrying pop culture and fashion with feminism and politics is something new, innovative and uniquely YOURS, which completely glosses over – even erases – the hard work and vision of dozens of (female) editors and writers who have been doing this exact thing for years, myself included. … It’s intellectually dishonest, bad faith bullsh*t, and you know it. Furthermore, your posts imply that if these aforementioned editors and writers – or their publishers – just wanted it enough, they too would be able to bring in tens of millions in revenue. That’s really patronizing.”

The idea that women in media (and specifically in women’s media) could be making millions of dollars if they just tried is a laughable one, and no one is more aware of it than the women in women’s media. The fact that someone with money, connections, clout and most importantly — white cis male privilege — can swoop into a space where women have been working sixty hours a week for years and declare that what they’re doing is either inadequate or not even there is rage-inducing.

some ladies who have been doing this for a long time (via the new york times)

some ladies who have been doing this for a long time (via the new york times)

The thing is, though, that this isn’t the first time it’s happened. For women who work in women’s media — especially if it’s media that includes content for “niche” readers or demographics like women of color, and especially if you don’t have men in some way backing or funding your company — it’s a regular fact of life to roll your eyes when other outlets are lauded for content that you’ve been publishing for a long time. It’s familiar to see something that you were doing first become popular, garnering millions of unique views and thousands in advertising dollars, because it happened on a website that was in some way backed by men, whether that means it was founded by them, funded by them, or is a women’s vertical of an already established site that was established by men.

Of course, this all comes down to money. A lot of the outrage at Goldberg’s website isn’t just because it exists; it’s because he was given $6.5 million, and it doesn’t even sound like it was that hard to get. (For comparison, Autostraddle’s start-up budget was $324.) Goldberg’s blithe comment that “a lot of very wealthy advertisers… care about reaching young women” caused enough eye rolls to see from space among women in media or who have tried to raise venture capital for any project ever. His follow-up, the idea that “if we can become the largest website in the Female 18 – 34 category, then we can become a billion dollar company,” made it even worse, implying that websites already catering to women had not had this thought occur to them. It seems safe to say that every woman who has ever been involved in online publishing would also like to be given $6.5 million and then use it to create a website that would become the largest website for young women and make a billion dollars, but they can’t, because they are well aware that no one is going to give them that kind of money. Often, no one is willing to give them any money at all. As Karen Schulman Dupuis put it at Medium:

“If a woman led initiative had come to any one of these VCs and pitched their business as piss-poorly as Goldberg obviously did, with this kind of tepid writing, and storify-ing stealing interface, they would’ve been laughed out of their offices. Soundly. And with good reason.”

As Dupuis points out, women are the recipients of only 4.2% of venture capital funding in the US. It becomes less likely with each added intersecting identity marker that a woman has, like “of color” or “queer.” We’ve yet to hear of any queer women’s online or print magazine garnering venture capital within the last ten years. Isn’t this just because marginalized women are reaching out to marginalized groups, who are less able to spend money, and therefore a less advisable group to spend investment money on? Sort of. But the fact that the story is so different when it’s a man reaching out to write content for women than a woman creating content for women is telling. It strongly suggests that the issue is not procuring funding for women’s media or projects aimed at women, it’s an inability to access funding for women themselves. Clutch‘s (which is targeted at “today’s young, hip, progressive Black woman”) founder, Deanna Sutton, talked to us about the differences in her experiences pursuing venture capital than those that Goldberg apparently had:

Naturally, it’s exciting when anyone can get venture capital funding for a web site. It gives you hope. But there’s something about Bryan Goldberg’s story that really dashed my hopes, rather than uplifted them. He made it seem as though sites like my own, Clutch, and others like The Hairpin, Autostraddle, XO Jane, Jezebel, The Frisky and many, many others didn’t exist (and to be frank, those are his real competitors, not Vogue), but he also made it seem as if women were not pursuing venture capital funding.

Clutch is a site that receives more than 800k unique visitors a month, yet in my own efforts to raise funding I am told my numbers need to be higher, my audience larger and that investors are not interested in “content.” Yet, in Bryan’s case they were interested, and interested in a site that hadn’t even been established yet and a content site at that. You want to be happy for him, yet his site lacks the diversity of other women sites. You want to be excited for another site that reflects women’s views and hires women writers, but it’s telling that a man could get VC funding for a woman’s website before a woman, let alone a woman of color, with an established brand. It is a sad truism of our society that there is inherent unfairness in the system, that it isn’t simply about working hard and proving your worth, but again, it is about who you know and how well connected you are. I hope Bryan listens to the feedback he’s received and checks out those sites I named above, his real competition, and actually learns some more about the market he’s entering with such a huge financial advantage. I wish him the best, but I also hope he realizes that his privilege is showing. Perhaps he should check that before he alienates the very audience he is trying to cultivate.

We had a similar experience looking for venture capital, advertising or angel investors, which brings us to the problem within the problem: even within this conversation about Bustle’s ignorance of similar websites, there is an ignorance of the full scope of these similar websites. “Niche” and/or women-founded sites — Clutch, Everyday Feminism, BlogHerThe ToastEssenceAfterEllen, Autostraddle, BitchBustCurve, Elixher — are rarely even mentioned in conversations about “women’s media,” and weren’t mentioned in the conversation about Bustle, even though they’ve been doing what Bustle purported to want to do — put discussions of celebrities, pop culture, and fashion alongside discussions of book reviews, analysis, and political, social and cultural issues. They aren’t even mentioned in criticism of women’s media, like Molly Fischer’s So Many Feelings on n+1, a piece which took issue with the sociolect of women’s media and the way in which communities of women interact within it while leaving out many strong examples of those communities who have those Many Feelings. A recent New York Magazine feature on the Feminist Blogosphere included a list of prominent feminist blogs on which Autostraddle was so egregiously excluded that we got several e-mails asking about it from readers. The further your “niche” market is from networks of cis white men, the harder time you’ll have being seen. We’ve explicitly billed ourselves as a site that covers both queer and feminist issues from day one, but like other intersectional sites, our queerness will trump even our feminism when it comes to industry recognition from mainstream publications.

Although it’s certainly not something to blame on the individual women’s publications garnering mainstream attention or their editors, the message seems to be that unless there’s a major male-owned media corporation or a singular male holding a briefcase of money behind the scenes, there’s an internet glass ceiling for how far your writing is going to reach and how much press it will be able to earn. It’s hard to drum up enthusiasm about the future of online media for women when it’s so blatantly clear that men are women’s publications’ best chance of financial backing and success (and therefore stability and longevity). It’s no comfort that, again, even those successful publications piloted by women are usually verticals of sites owned by men or otherwise supported by one. Jezebel is owned by Nick Denton’s Gawker Media, The Hairpin spun off from male-founded-and-led The Awl, xoJane belongs to male-founded Say Media, Rookie is another brand under the Say Media umbrella, and The Frisky is a product of male-owned Spin Media.

And although it may seem obvious, the fact that it’s indescribably difficult for women to get money to write words for other women (and therefore make money doing so, it takes money to make money, etc) is bad for the industry of women’s media as a whole. It hurts content, it hurts women editors, it hurts women publishers, it hurts women writers and it hurts women readers by giving them something much less amazing than they could be getting. Women editors and publishers who aren’t getting the venture capital that Bustle did aren’t able to send writers on trips to cover stories, pay photographers to create original visual content, pay members of their organization enough that they don’t have to juggle other jobs and deliver a less than totally engaged performance as writers or editors. They can’t afford to pay those writers who (fairly and understandably!) refuse to or can’t afford to write for free or next to nothing, which means readers of these publications are exposed to voices from a very specific socioeconomic class. And because they can’t necessarily publish the quality or quantity of content they have in mind, they can’t make the money they could be if they were a better website, the publication they know they can be.

already on it

already on it

Many women writers, on the other hand, would like to be writing for women-owned and/or feminist publications. But because they need to pay their bills, and more commercial publications that are owned by men are more likely to be able to pay, they end up writing for Bustle, or for someplace comparable. In what may be the only public comment on this controversy by one of Bustle’s all-female editorial staff, managing editor Kate Ward told Business Insider:

Of course we’re all fans and readers of those sites [like Jezebel and the Hairpin]…But [Bustle is] able to bring on so many different writers from so many different backgrounds and allow them to give a unique perspective to so many stories… we think more adding more female voices to the Internet is never a bad thing.

Ward is absolutely correct — but what she’s saying isn’t a defense of the criticisms of Goldberg and Bustle, it’s a confirmation of them. Bustle will indeed be able to bring on a lot of different women and different perspectives if that’s what they truly aim to do (although, as Sutton points out, that seems debatable) because Google Ventures, Rothernberg Ventures, Time Warner Investments, Social + Capital Partnership, and 500 Startups, among others, all decided that Goldberg deserved $6.5 million. It is, of course, possible that they would have made the same decision had Goldberg been a woman, but as Dupuis says, that seems unlikely.

Upsettingly and ironically, even when women make the choice to work for women’s publications funded by men like Bustle that have actual operating budgets, they’re not necessarily woman-empowering workplaces. Bustle boasts an entirely female editorial staff, but those editors have made virtually no comment about the last day’s online explosion and didn’t write the website’s press release, which begs questions about who the real decisionmakers are and who has real power at Bustle. Given that Goldberg made it all the way to his launch without seeming to be aware that other women’s websites have hit upon the idea of publishing book reviews, even though some of his editors have worked at those magazines, it also raises questions about how much input the female editorial staff has actually had in this project, and to what extent their ideas and feedback have been solicited and valued. The editorial staff at Bustle seems experienced and talented — their resumes include work for Glamour, Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood.com, Nerve, xoJane, Jezebel, Newsweek, The Daily Beast and Time Out New York. Senior editor Rachel Krantz spent eight years as a reporter for Youth Radio, a project for underserved youth. Senior editor Meredith Turis spearheaded 2012 election coverage for Glamour. All of these women seem experienced and informed about their fields, and are almost certainly much more able to talk intelligently about women’s media than Goldberg, yet Goldberg has intentionally made himself the center of this launch story. Needless to say, it wasn’t Nick Denton who wrote Jezebel’s launch post (it was the ladies of Jezebel), nor was it The Awl’s boys writing The Hairpin’s launch post (it was Edith Zimmerman).

Even worse, although Bustle committed to paying its women writers in its launch announcement, it was quickly made public that Bustle’s concept of compensating writers is nothing less than Dickensian. In a job posting that has since been deleted, Bustle offered writers “$100 a day, and will be expected to produce roughly 4-6 posts per day, 3 of which would be ready for edit by 10 AM, EST and the remainder produced throughout the rest of the day… A minimum commitment of 3 days per week is required, with the possibility for additional days should a writer prove themselves indispensable.” Producing a minimum of 12 articles each week for only $300, and necessarily holding down at least one other job because living on $1200 a month is virtually impossible for most people, is a jaw-droppingly ridiculous idea and speaks volumes about how much they actually value women journalists — and the quality of content they expect these journalists to produce. Especially given the astronomical amount of money Bustle has to work with, it’s difficult to know where to even begin with this knowledge. It’s become clear almost immediately that, as Bitch says, the amount Bustle thinks it can pay writers is “less than half of the rate paid by all the sites Goldberg thinks Bustle should be able to leave in the dust.”

Because this website is the best example we have to compare: it’s also less than one-fourth of the per-short-post rate we would be paying our writers, as per our 2009 business plan, had any investors actually cared to invest. Presently, 92% of our budget goes towards paying the seven people responsible for the day-to-day maintenance and growth of this community, and we rely on readers (A-Camp, merchandise sales and reader donations) to make that happen. I spoke to Riese Bernard, Autostraddle’s editor in chief, who is frustrated by what people with money choose to do with it:

Since Bustle’s announcement, I’ve been singing “If I had $6.5 million dollars” in my head on repeat, and the only thing stopping me from making a list of “What We Could Do With $6.5 Million Dollars” is my fear that somebody with 6.5 million dollars might steal our ideas. Unattractive amounts of jealousy towards well-financed websites with parent companies and ad salespeople is a day-to-day reality for me — despite nearly 700k monthly uniques and four years of hard work, we pull in $2,000 from ads and affiliates on a really good month — but this one cuts a little deeper than usual.

Our goal, and the goal of many similarly-minded websites, is to truly represent what women want and who they are, but achieving that quality and diversity is challenging and exhausting with such small budgets. With a budget like Bustle’s, I’m honestly surprised he hasn’t hired the women who are currently speaking out against him — there are so many gifted writers we’d love to hire if we had the money. We’d like to hire business/marketing professionals, launch new verticals, pay all our present writers, get an actual office, go on tour, produce investigative journalism, expand our video content, host international camps, diversify the team — the list goes on.

I think the world needs to see what sites like Autostraddle, Bitch and Clutch could do with $6.5 million dollars. I think it would look a lot like a revolution.

Just a few months ago, Mallory Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe founded The Toast, a publication not as explicitly packaged for women as Bustle but certainly one that treats women better. Even without $6.5 million in venture capital, they’ve still been able to pay writers more than Bustle has offered. Ortberg spoke with us and confirmed that, given the budget that Bustle is working with, it shouldn’t be difficult to eke out a little more.

Based on the headlines I’ve already seen on the homepage and that ridiculous PandoDaily press release, I think content is on the very bottom of the list of Bustle’s priorities. It’s a pageview mill, I think, and the fact that their (now deleted) jobs post was offering $100 for up to 3 days’ worth of work says a lot about how much they value people’s (read: women’s) time and expertise. Look, if you’re a scrappy upstart with a skeleton staff and next to no budget and you’re really upfront about not being able to pay writers right away, that’s one thing; but if you’ve got $6.5 million to spend, spend it on good writing.

What’s interesting is that so far, it doesn’t seem like Bustle has actually said very much about even wanting good writing. They’ve said (which really means Goldberg has said) a lot about innovative content, about audiences, and mostly about money. But even when talking about the website, good writing hasn’t come up much. In Goldberg’s overwhelmingly condescending non-apology to the backlash, he said:

“I should have recognized that there are many great female-focused and feminist websites out there. xojane, Jezebel, The Hairpin, Rookie… But what separates Bustle is that we are trying to reach a level of mainstream appeal and financial success that has not yet been achieved for a female-focused website with a strong feminist conviction. I believe it to be important that women’s publications, especially ones with a feminist voice, are able to achieve commercial success.”

In short, he thinks Jezebel and all that is nice, but have they tried making money? Well, they have: all the sites he mentioned do, in fact, turn profits. Jezebel in particular has done very well. What’s more is that in our experience, the women working for places like Jezebel, Bitch and Feministing have been incredibly supportive of us and, we assume, one another. There’s a lot of back-scratching, cross-posting and community-building happening within women’s media, and surely we’re not alone in our commitment to paying it forward whenever possible by giving smaller sites the exposure sites like Jezebel have given us.

Meanwhile, Bustle was never really conceived as a journalistic or community-building venture, but a purely capitalistic one. Which is why, as Sutton and many others have rightly called out, it doesn’t seem to cater to “women” so much as “white women with disposable income” — because that’s where they think the money is. Women’s stories and journalism don’t make money; publications that sell products to women that they don’t need are what make money, and the model of male-puppeteered women’s media that Bustle represents is all that’s really about. If you’re wondering what’s feminist about that, the answer is nothing.

Even Goldberg doesn’t think he can do what women’s websites do any better than they can, but he feels very confident that he can make more money at it than they can. And so far, he’s been proven right. Not only did Goldberg not realize or care that women have already realized his idea better than him, his investors didn’t either — and that’s what’s saddest and scariest about Bustle’s crawling out of the primordial soup of Goldberg’s head onto an unwelcoming shore. He’s unapologetically doing a half-assed version of what women have been doing for decades — but he’s succeeding at making money doing it, money that women’s media run by actual women desperately needs. And if it’s a slap in the face to spaces like Jezebel and The Hairpin, then what does it mean for places even lower on the ladder of funding, places that aren’t even being granted the consolation prize of angry commiseration because they’re too low-budget to make it into the big names of women’s media?

It chillingly confirms what we pretty much already knew: there isn’t much hope without money at the end of the tunnel, and without men around somewhere, that money is going to be hard or impossible to come by. We should be angry about Bustle using $6.5 million to post link bait about Anna Wintour’s thoughts on Kimye, yes, but we should be angrier about the fact that Bustle is really just a single crystallized example of what’s been true for years: women’s media is still defined by what men think it should be, and until women (especially women who aren’t white, cis, and straight) have equal access to economic resources and funding, it will continue to revolve around men.

ETA August 23rd – Check out our follow-up piece by Cara Giaimo: Underneath His Bustle: How Everyone’s Most Resented “Feminist” Website Actually Began.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. This is a “standing ovation” kind of article–the kind that has me nodding my head as I read along. Thank you for writing this–I am now going to share it with every person who throws that !*#$(#)@( argument “Well, if you want different media, why don’t you just MAKE it?”

    I make media all day every day, but–without fail–all of the bosses I’ve had who can pay me (so that I can do things like eat food, live places etc) have been white men. Are their ideas the best? Hell to the no. Do I try to poke and prod and mold their agendas to be more progressive? Absolutely.

    But it absolutely kills me when people say ignorant things like “Just branch off and make your own company, do your own things!” Because we never. Get. The funding. And later, some dude’s ham-handed shadow of the same idea gets this sort of attention.

    • Frog – Oh man do I hear that. Been there, done that, too. I can’t begin to explain how hard we worked to build a state-based media website just to meet with closed door after closed door for funding.

      It’s who you know, and who you know needs to be cis white dudes because you are also a cis white dude. Preferably one with some money already.

  2. I fucking hate Bleacher Report. They churn out snippets for search engines thinly veiled as journalism. I don’t expect Bustle to be any different if writers are expected to produce 4-6 articles a day. Besides the 1000 other reasons why I already dislike Bustle, do we really need more duplicate content/news rewrites on the internet?

    And seriously, if you need $6.5M to start a content website, you’re doing it wrong. Also who in their right fucking mind listens to this guy’s BS and gives him anything!? I’m so sick of men telling me what I like. Fuck you and your website Goldberg.

    It makes me so mad that a site like AS can’t get their hands on anywhere near that kind of capital. I mean the writers consistently produce excellent, original material; the readership consists of a huge percentage of regular readers that are completely fucking invested in the community that this site is, and I’m betting loyal to anyone that advertises here. Yet this dumbass with his slide shows and page view pandering is the one who investors think advertisers will go with. Just how.

    I’m having a lot of feelings.

  3. This is fucking fierce, Rachel. Thank you for finding the coherence to write down all the thoughts that have been swirling since I first read that ridiculous announcement on PandoDaily — and thank you for going beyond the sarcastic “I sure wish there were women-focused sites already” *links to Jezebel, the Hairpin, etc.* approach I’ve seen elsewhere. It’s easy to sarcastically brush this off, because we are used to it, and we know it will continue to happen, and we know there isn’t much we can currently do to stop it, but it’s important to explain exactly how and why the situation is so fucked up. Now to force everyone I know to read this and understand why I’m so frustrated by this whole debacle.

  4. Ugh, this whole situation is so frustrating and sickening. The more I learn about Bryan Goldberg the more I dislike him. I can only hope that all of the negative reactions do the exact opposite of what he hoped and instead of being a big launch for his own website, it brings new attention and readers to all of the women-founded websites (especially this one) that he thinks he is so much better than.

    • Wow… Well done retort to the whole outrageous affair. Rachel, this was truly an heroic labour. May it be shared hither and yon.

      Bustle (shiver, what a name) is emphatically remaining off my bookmarks. Yet another dissatisfied serf, financial elites take note.

  5. 1. I exclusively use o.b. tampons thanks to their support of Autostraddle. As in, I used other brands, but now I only use o.b. HEAR THAT, ADVERTISERS??

    2. I clicked on all of the links to other women’s sites, including the ones for “niches” that I don’t identify with, so that they’d get more page views. I might bookmark this article and do that every month. And/or from lots of computers.

    Anything else I should try?

    • Hi Audra! Thank you so much for supporting ob for supporting us — that campaign last year made an ENORMOUS difference for us financially and our readers’ support of it made Johnson & Johnson want to work with us again; we’ll be doing a series with Motrin starting this week, I think? Which is gonna be awesome! They give us a lot of creative freedom and trust that we know how to speak to our audience. And thank you for checking out all those other sites, too!

      Another huge thing that a lot of our readers do to support us (besides donating!), is to do their online shopping through our affiliate links. We actually make more money through affiliate advertisers than we do from straight-up advertising most months. There’s an amazon badge in the sidebar, and anything you buy from amazon after clicking through, we’ll get a percentage of your purchase. You can also just bookmark amazon in your browser with the AS code. Most of our posts with products are affiliate linked and you can see a post with a list of all our affiliate stores here. It includes travel booking sites like Hotwire and CheapOAir, too.

      And you know, just reading, clicking, spreading the word and saying nice things that make us happy.


      • Have you thought about doing a monthly fundraiser type thing? The cookies during the kickstarter/indiegogo fundraiser last time were a huge hit. Maybe you could do a bake sale one month, send out a postcard from a camp counselor to those that couldn’t go to camp one month and so on? It might be logistically unfeasible and require way too much manpower, but if not it’d probably be well received.

        • hello squirrel friends!!! i know the cookies were so popular! but WOMP WOMP — we gave out cookies for a $50 “donation,” of which $8 went to paypal & indiegogo fees, and then the cost of buying ingredients, packaging, and shipping all these batches of cookies all over the place ended up costing so much that we ended up netting about $17-$25 per $50 donation. there were oversights (like shipping from US-Canada), but those are sort of inherent in a business model where volunteer writers and a small team of mostly underpaid overworked editors are guiding the production and shipment of goods. we were all so busy in october making cards and cookies that the actual website end was harder to keep up on, too — it is a logistical manpower nightmare, that is true.

          although now that i’ve typed that all out, i realize that a $17-$25 profit margin isn’t bad, is it? not bad at all really. maybe we should do another bake sale!!!

          it just seemed bad at the time when everybody was like “autostraddle raised $116,000!!!” and we were like, um, not really? also ’cause we figured donors had expected a larger chunk to end up in our pockets. but also does this mean that you forgot about the part in the video where we said we’d never ask you for money again, because if everybody forgot that part then we are GOLDEN :-) eeeeeeee


        *sobs and throws money at Riese&Co.*

        • I will make sure to purchase all my flights through AS now. And every time I step onto the plane, I’ll whisper “This is for Riese.” because I’m creepily sentimental that way.

      • I don’t know if I’m just really failing at website navigation, but I can’t seem to find the amazon badge? I mean, the only things I buy are kindle books, but I’d still like to contribute that way, heh.

        • it’s in the sidebar, it’s the last graphic underneath the words with girls graphic. if you have ad-block on then you won’t see it, tho!

      • Ooh, I’m looking forward to using the affiliate links! Just clicked through the Amazon one to order my new yoga mat.

  6. I love this article, and everything is true… but, you are missing some basic fundamentals about marketing, and it’s the same problem that Bustle is going to face as they attempt to go after Vogue’s advertisers. It’s that aspirational brands just don’t want to market to feminism because of the democratic nature of feminism.

    And it’s not the brands fault – it’s human nature. And the secret rule of life is people don’t want to be equal and would instead would rather have more power over others.

    If you’re trying to buy a $2000 purse, you don’t want poor people to also have that purse.

    Brands trying to sell a $2000 purse have very limited options in what they can do because of that, so they target their marketing to the most aspirational venues.

    Use this knowledge wisely.

    • Here’s another secret rule of life : folks who make sweeping generalizations of humanity as a whole by saying “people secretly do this” or “deep down everyone think that” are actually talking about themselves.

      • good luck trying to get aspirational fashion brands to buy ads on any democratic media.

        sorry, but marketers already know the correct answer. nothing here is new, as it’s based on over a century of research.

        so, no, you aren’t presenting any novel idea. you have no idea how mechanical and predictable and soulless you are. you’re just a complete victim.

        here’s a tip: instead of being a ‘believer’, be analytical instead. do actual quantifiable research.

        show me the numbers behind your rage.

        • That saw cuts two ways, dude. Show your numbers, and with attention to actual causation and context, not the mystical correlations and myopic selectivity characteristic of the masturbatory sophistry popular with the MBA set.

          I find it hysterical, in an ass-slapping, homoerotic, male locker room kind of way, that the cliques of vicious parasites masquerading as the “masters of mankind” should send their propagandizing pawns here to lecture us all about “belief”. Now, I’m no fan of the human race these days. But I’m willing to bet blue chips that most folks in this “market” have human natures which mandate values above and beyond the profit motive. I know, it’s a scary proposition to contemplate for those inculcated in a purely piratical ethos, but not all of us can be cajoled with mephistophelian lures to give a flying kungfu turd about “aspirational brands”, let alone wish to socially emulate the pithed reptiles who shove that show. Try “moving the cheese” somewhere else, pal.

          Business works this way because, socially, business is done this way. Any anthropology 101 course could easily acquaint you with the cooperative bases of human societies the world over. As exemplified by the affair detailed in the above article, capital is an abstract gesture of authority based on the hindbrain emotional caprice of the oligarchs. It is allocated accordingly. With a whimsical noblesse oblige, they award virtual fiefs to phallus stroking knights from time to time. (Yo, Sir Bryan.) There is nothing richly human in this system of patronage, nothing inevitable. It is nothing rational, systematic. It has existed but a mere wink of humanity’s full tenure on the planet. Capitalism is pure cult from root to suggestively throbbing tip.

          That there are decent souls such as the AS crew who daily sweat buckets working to enable their labours of love within this nightmare of a “system” never ceases to amaze me. Given the manifestly misogynistic animosity of the cigar-sucking financial oligarchs, this is even stupifying. That they succeed in cultivating projects of real, life-giving community under these conditions is nothing less than a miraculous visitation in testimony of that very soul which you scorn.

  7. I am hugely honoured that you included my piece in this most excellent missive. Thank you for that, but mostly for your most excellent coverage of the appalling nature of the investment and why it matters to call it out.

  8. …excuse me while I go click on all Autostraddle’s ads.

    Thanks for the coherent explanation of my feelings, Rachel, as well as mentioning all those other women’s sites…I’d heard of some of them, through articles/links here and persistent exploration, but it’s so nice when they fall into your lap in a nice neat list:)

    • Be careful when clicking on ads. Sometimes the website can get in trouble with advertisers if people click on the ads just for the sack of the site getting money.

  9. In kenya, there is something called ” a merry-go-round.” Women have used it to literally pull themselves and whole communities out of poverty and start successful businesses.

    It usually starts with women who are close friends or relatives because of the trust that is involved. The women agree that at a time they have picked to be acceptable, say once a month, they give one designated member of the group a certain amount of money. Let’s say there are five women, on the fifth of every month, one woman in the group will be given $50 from the remaining women, that will equal $200 to do what ever she wants to do with the money.
    Wouldn’t it be awesome if jezebel, bitch, autostraddle came together to do this? Is it immature of me to think that you guys all know each other? You wouldn’t need donations from google, you would be able to fund yourselves at the end.

    • I’m confused. If four women gives me 50 dollars each then I would have 200 dollars. But if I then gave those four women each 50 dollars at different times wouldn’t I be out of 200 dollars? It seems like I would just brake even.

      • say you have a box, four women put in the box $50 once a month which will equal $200. The box with the $200 will be given to one woman since its her turn to receive she isn’t supposed to chip in that month. Every month a new woman in the group will be given the box with the money. Its in a rotation. You don’t pay each woman individually, when its her turn the designated woman will receive the money as a lump sum.

        The money is however much the group can afford to chip in, it can be $50 or $10, and it can be once a month, once every two weeks or every one week. but of course the more money you can chip in the more one can be able to get something accomplished in there life that they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do because they don’t have a lump sum of cash. There can be a group of however many women can chip in…. Thanks for asking me to clarify, does this make sense now?

  10. This is such a thorough, intelligent, well researched article that celebrates and defends the feminist sites that have been putting in work for a long time.

    Just RT what’s been said above. I was struck by the ignorance and arrogance of Goldberg.

  11. This incredibly articulate article (not easy to achieve when filled with fury, I’m sure) reminded me to finally set up that monthly subscription donation to one of, if not the best website around. AS consistently gives me food for thought and, so I believe, helps me grow as a person by seeing intersections of oppression of which I’ve been ignorant for too long. Mr Goldberg would be wise to set up his own monthly subscription and shut up until he has read everything AS has ever published.

  12. OMG. OMG. Best post everever/so many feelings/I’m trying to explain to my girlfriend why finishing this article is more important than making out.

  13. “and that’s what’s saddest and scariest about Bustle’s crawling out of the primordial soup of Goldberg’s head onto an unwelcoming shore.”

    get out of here you lyrical genius.

  14. I hadn’t heard of Bustle.com until reading this article, but now I’ll know to stay away b/c it’s gross and to support Autostraddle and the other women-owned sites linked here instead!

    (I did check it out just to see what it was but it didn’t even look interesting. Also it’s not exclusively women writers, one of the news articles on the front page right now was written by a guy.)

  15. BOOM. That was Rachel dropping the mike. I’m sitting here blown away by your words Rachel. A-fucking-plause.

  16. This. This this this.

    I’m a long-time lurker, emerging to say that Autostraddle has become my favorite site on the internet. It’s infuriating that a community of people who create meaningful, high-quality work can’t get funding and this buffoon can. Thank you for this thoughtful piece, and to the whole staff at Autostraddle for the work you do.

  17. Rachel, every motherfucking time, you write the best articles. Thank you for eloquently converting my feelings of insurmountable boiling rage into rational discussion. Most level-headed and sound battle-cry.

    (Also, my jaw dropped when I read in the initial announcement that Gawker is considered men’s media!?!?)

  18. Sometimes (and by sometimes I mean almost all the time), the way that business works makes me sooo mad.

    As I read this piece, I was reminded of another piece I recently read: http://jamellebouie.net/blog/2013/2/3/and-read-all-over

    That other piece touches upon the very thing of people believing that hard work is the only barrier preventing people of colour from entering tech journalism (or journalism in general). A couple key sentences from the piece are:

    “‘Minority students on campus — whom I’ve talked to about this — always claim that they simply can’t afford to not get paid for a whole summer,’ he says.”

    “But it’s important to recognize the barriers to entry that exist in the community, or put differently, the ways in which the obvious path doesn’t always work for people of color. To start, many writers of color lack an insider connection: They don’t necessarily have the social status or networks needed to break into tech journalism.”

    In that second quote, switch out “people of colour” with the words “women”, “queer people” or any other minority and it too would apply. Even more so, substitute the words “writers” and “tech journalism” with a role in almost any industry and it still very much applies for people of colour.

    Uber frustrating!

    • I just read this [http://bitchmagazine.org/post/why-solidarity-is-bullshit] as well which touches on those things within feminism – how the feminist media network tends to be white, cis, and uppper middle class.

      • Thanks for that link. Yeah, few things frustrate me more than when people say, “Create your own network. Hustle. Show a little backbone. Stop Whining. Do it yourself.”

        Also, as a wannabe entrepreneur, it is sometimes disheartening for me to read the success stories of the entrepreneurs of today – so many of them grew up in such a life of privilege. Their parents gave them many tools and resources when they were younger, they can afford to take that unpaid internship, they can use their personal networks to be introduced to the right people or get into that important event and, if they don’t get outside funding, they can beg money from friends and family to start their endeavour. That last one always gets me – because often advice from successful entrepreneurs includes tapping into your network to get that initial funding for your business. Many of them don’t seem to realize that that option often isn’t possible for people of color.

        Rachel’s article resonated with me as a person of color because it touches on stuff people of color (living in North America) find out very early on in life: You can work your ass off all you want but if you don’t have the right connections or if you aren’t exceptionally brilliant you will see little external/material rewards. And sometimes even when you are brilliant lack of access to things prevents you from realizing your full potential.

        Furthermore, the other thing that irks me is when people from upper middle class backgrounds (and yes, even middle class backgrounds) say that they do things themselves and would never ask their parents for money. That is admirable. But the fact is that if they are in a very big pickle and they really need money, their financially-stable and/or rich parents are there and often willing to help them out. So yeah it would suck to have to swallow their pride to go begging their parents but their parents ARE a resource. And just knowing that you have that last resource is a MASSIVE difference between those people and many POC. Because many of us people of color (and here I’m talking especially about Blacks, Latinos & Native-Americans/First Nations)…Many of us know that if we fuck up financially we are well and truly shit out of luck. There is no well of money that we could tap into in any of our networks to make things better. So the risk for us is MUCH greater.

        I could go on and on about race and class divides but I’ll stop because this article/thread is about gender and sexuality divides, which are also problems.

        I’ll just end by repeating that yeah, the lack of access to networks and resources is something that people of color do not have. And, yep, queer media, feminist media, media in general….ALL of them are dominated by white, cis and upper middle class people.

  19. Dear Rachel,

    You have adequately verbalized all the feelings I had since hearing about this atrocity. Thank you.



  20. This is genuinely the best thing I’ve read about this on the whole internet. Rachel, bra-fucking-vo.

  21. Rachel, you are so talented. This was a really informative and interesting and insightful read- thank you!!

  22. I’ve just changed my Amazon bookmark so it’ll go through the Autostraddle affiliate link every time.

  23. This is so infuriating, but your analysis was terrific! I just donated — sorry that I can’t give you $6.5 million!

  24. Fantastic article. (+I just upped my monthly subscription.)
    2nding the wish that I could give you 6.5 million. Next fundraiser goal?

  25. As soon as I heard the guy was the founder of Bleacher Report I knew it was going to be terrible.

    But this article was brilliant.

  26. “I think the world needs to see what sites like Autostraddle, Bitch and Clutch could do with $6.5 million dollars. I think it would look a lot like a revolution.”


    Dear CisHet White Men,

    We know better than you what we want in our media. We make our media better than you do. And this on a fraction of the budget. If you want to continue tossing around money aimed allegedly at serving us, please hand over some of these freely-written blank checks to some folks who are not in your boys club. Next, step away from your computer. Make room for womyn’s voices if you actually give a damn.

    You wanna go Gandhi on me and tell me to “be the change you wish to see in the world”? Sure thing. Give financial backing to publications like this one instead of to Mr. Mansplain Penisguy, and then you’ll see some changes. Then there WILL be a revolution.

    And until then we keep at it with the blogs and zines. With the wealthy womyn benefactors who are few and far betweens. With the $324 media-makers who are truly the awesomest of queens.

  27. This piece articulated all the angry thoughts I had about this and then lots more that I didn’t know I had. Thank you, Rachel, this was brilliant.

  28. Can I just say how annoyed I am by the fact that AS is not on Forbes’ list of 100 websites for women!? I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that AS which is a fucking awesome source of news and commentary on gay AND feminist issues and happenings isn’t on there.

    Actually there are 0 queer sites listed. Someone called them out about it in the comments, the reply from the women listed as the author of the list, Meghan Casserly: “We feel the 100 sites here are valuable (and entertaining) to women regardless of sexual orientation, whether they’re talking business, feminism or motherhood.”

    So basically they’re including sites covering business, feminism & motherhood despite the fact that not all women are in business, not all women are feminists and not all women are mothers. But because not all women are queer, they didn’t include any queer sites???!!! WTF. If I’m reading her response correctly, it’s pretty blatant discrimination and complete bullshit.

    • I feel like the whole situation with Bustle and the situation with Forbes you’ve described here combine into a very important, but difficult to articulate lesson. Something about making blanket lists of “women’s interests” being a really stupid thing to do, especially if you haven’t thought really REALLY hard about it before making the list public.

      Maybe? I dunno.

  29. here is only ONE reason Bustle has been successful…its because they have serious connections and are shown serious favoritism by Google. I was floored that this website kept showing up at the top for any search terms. The content was sub par to say the least. It made no sense until I looked up how it was started. it was started w/ Venture money from the giant search engines….first Google venture money then money from Time Warner…so hey a website OWNED by the billionaires who control your ranking.

    That is a recipe for success. I cannot even count how many times Bustle has taken a story from us and outranked us when we are the primary source. Basically Bustle can write anything and be moved to the top of the que regardless of how many other sites have much better content on the same subject.

    So Im sure Romper will be the same. it will be “successful” because its run by the search engines. Hope people wake up tp this and start crying foul…

Comments are closed.