Dear Ms. March:
As a woman, writer and feminist, I’m compelled to address the unprofessional manner in which you, publisher of ROARfeminism, have dealt with the publication, promotion and management of my piece Feminism and the Conway Conundrum published on March 21, 2017.
I’ve had the great fortune of being published on a variety of online and print publications. Some are large and considered prestigious but my essays have also found homes on smaller sites where they were a much better fit. Working with many highly regarded and well-respected editors in the publishing industry has taught me many valuable lessons, the most important being: Respect. Respect for the words you choose to convey your story, respect for an editor’s suggestions and respect for the reader in allowing them to interpret and process your words their own way.
I’m not long experienced but I’m not a novice either. I’ve learned enough to know that handling this situation the way you did by adding your disingenuous and incredibly unprofessional statement to my piece, reflects poor judgment by you and lacks greatly of respect for me as the author.
There were far more professional avenues you could have chosen to correct what you felt was a mistake: Post a separate notation saying the writer’s views do not reflect the opinions of your site; write your own rebuttal essay, or reach out privately to the author to explain your concerns and together, decide on the best, mutually beneficial solution. This demonstrates respect for and trust in your writer and begins what sometimes is the first of many successful collaborations.
Instead, you chose to edit my already published piece, adding the following ‘Note from Roar Publisher’:
Note from the Roar Publisher: I think Roar missed the mark in publishing this piece. Kellyanne Conway rejects the label “feminist” – so I don’t see how this writer, or anyone, can call her such. That is, to my mind, both paternalistic and bizarre. Further, it is our position at Roar that if one is not pro-choice, one is not, by definition, a feminist. This author is correct that feminism is for everyone – all women (and men and gender non-conforming folkx.) That does not mean that everyone is a feminist. One’s resume does not make one a feminist. Their beliefs and actions and identification do.
A short time later and again, without my knowledge, you added more:
We chose not to take this piece down — though to have run it was a mistake — because we don’t want to hide our mistakes in the basement. We want to expose them for what they are. We blew it. I’m sorry we did. I think our record up to this point speaks for itself. I think our record moving forward will continue to do so. That said, I am sorry we ran this. Stay with us. — Anna March
I found it invasive and presumptuous you took this action without prior notification or consultation with me. You are the publisher of the site. You accepted this submission and contracted with me to publish. Professional courtesy dictates a certain level of decorum, and to add something so disdainful, not once but twice, with no prior notification to me is unfathomable.
Your Submission Guidelines clearly state: After the original publication at Roar, the rights immediately revert to the writer. (All subsequent uses of the piece by the writer shall, whenever possible, carry attribution of Roar’s publication of the work. In addition to the writer’s rights, Roar retains the rights to publish the original piece in any form in any future roar publication — print or digital. Roar will relinquish these reprint rights upon written request from the writer.
I emailed at 11:21 pm on March 21, 2017 requesting my piece be removed from your site and publishing rights restored to me and to date, have had no response.
Apologizing to your readers in such an arrogant and condescending manner presumes they lack the intelligence to process my words in their own way, form their own opinions, and engage in respectful discussion. Attacking me personally displays your blatant disregard for me as a writer.
“Further, it is our position at Roar that if one is not pro-choice, one is not, by definition, a feminist” as you state in your ‘Note From Publisher’.
Perhaps you should update your submission guidelines to include:
If you are pro-life do not submit here. We are a marginal-feminist site. We only publish work this publisher agrees with. Then, and only then, will we accept and publish your piece and not add a reprehensible disclaimer denouncing you and your published work on our site without notifying you.
Your actions unwittingly prove the core issue of my piece: Feminism is inclusive of all humans who believe women deserve the same rights as men. Period. Your statement: ‘if one is not pro-choice, one is not, by definition, a feminist’ instantly excludes anyone pro-life. Just considering the approximately 2.3 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims in the world whose core beliefs are pro-life, your brand of ‘feminism’ is not inclusive or tolerant. I believe it to be marginal feminism, which is an oxymoron and like you, contradictory.
You have lost the respect of many of your peers in this industry and I am already hearing harsh backlash among writers saying not only will they never submit to a site that would treat their writers this way (not to mention the editor you blamed) but will discourage others from doing so, especially after attacking me personally. It’s unethical and petty. Readers and writers deserve better.
On Tuesday, March 21, you chose to fully adopt the Trump administration’s practice of intimidating reporters, shaming and humiliating them publicly, excluding them from briefings, oppressing their journalistic rights, claiming anything they do report as fake news, and granting privilege and access only to those journalists and networks who agree to report that which supports and advances the administration’s policies and agenda.
Is this starting to sound familiar? Are you beginning to see the irony in the fact that you profess to be a feminist yet will not allow content that conflicts with your personal and political beliefs and only publish content that furthers your own personal agenda and will try to publicly discredit and humiliate any writer or content that does get published that directly opposes your viewpoints?
Shame on you!
Although I found your actions deplorable and believe your reputation badly damaged, I have no need, intention or feel any compulsion to defend my work. It stands on its own. I’m proud of my words and people like you cannot discredit or humiliate me; you just make me stronger in my convictions. I also fully understand and embrace the fact that many people will vehemently disagree with the content of my essay but feminism is inclusive and tolerant, we are all equal, even those who disagree. I welcome their opinions, comments and discussion even if they are in direct opposition to mine.
You, on the other hand, continue to defend your decision ad nauseam. You claim, as a publisher, you care nothing about reach, reads, shares, views, clicks and happily confess you have no idea what your numbers are. But anyone with the slightest knowledge of SEO techniques and tactics knows you have been continuing to share my piece on FB and Twitter including posting it on your personal FB page under the guise of ‘look how brave and transparent I am letting the world see my ‘mistake’ to maximize your reach. Your transparency is visible on far more than social media; I think we all see right through you.
I am a liberal. I endured a back-alley abortion when I was 13 and am a vocal pro-choice advocate. I’ve marched on Washington many times in my life: For civil rights, war, women’s rights and myriad other reasons. Those rights I march for include conservative, pro-life women. When you callously bandy the word feminism around as you do, it should include, sadly unbeknownst to you, ALL women, even those you completely disagree with. This includes me, a liberal who believes in everyone’s right to say and believe what they choose without fear of attack or retaliation.
You have willingly tried to disgrace me, a female contributor to your site while simultaneously taking advantage of my work which you published on your self-proclaimed ‘intersectional feminist site’ and then condemned it. As a feminist, I find this repugnant but I believe feminism is inclusive of ALL women, which includes you, so I will defend your right to your opinion even though I disagree with you and everything you stand for.
That’s how this works.
You were wrong, but not for publishing the piece. You were wrong to use bigotry and manipulation to benefit from my piece, a piece you openly declare as a ‘mistake’. On the grand scale of things, you look small to those of us who believe all women have rights, not just those who agree with you, your agenda and your website.
And while we’re on the subject of scale, let me share this fact with you since you compare yourself and your site to The New York Times no less than 7 times in the comments section on my piece:
NYT Facebook following: 13, 679, 940
ROARfeminist Facebook following: 635
You, Ms. March, are no New York Times.