BlogHer.com – feminist, ready for “civil disagreement,” & totally unwilling to talk about porn

So a while back my dear and lovely friend Ms. Fanciful NWC suggested I explore BlogHer.com as a potential distribution venue for PVV, so I did.

BlogHer.com – which touts the tag “Life Well Said” – is basically a collection of blogs for, by, and about women. According to their front page: “BlogHer creates opportunities for more than 20 million women who blog and their readers to gain exposure, education, community, and economic empowerment.”  Blog topics include career, entertainment, family, feminism, food, health, home & garden, life, love & sex, and news & politics among others.  Most topics have several sub-categorical topics listed as well.

On BlogHer’s front page at this very moment you can see articles, photos, and/or features about queer youth at risk, Lady Gaga (luv <3), breast cancer, food, the challenges faced by “‘neurotypical’ (not autistic)” kids, hair woes, and feminism & balance. A little poking around the site will eventually take you to their “community guidelines.”  Statements on this page include:

“The BlogHer Network is a community for adult women (ages 18 and older) and their friends…

We have just two rules: We embrace the spirit of civil disagreement, and we decline to publish unacceptable content. Specifically:

BlogHer embraces the spirit of civil disagreement.

As a Web site devoted to creating an opportunity for all kinds of women bloggers and their friends to seek greater exposure, education and community, we agree to agree and to disagree-as strongly as need be-without crossing the boundaries into unacceptable content (see below).

BlogHer declines to publish unacceptable content.

Everything published on the BlogHer Network is content: Your posts, comments, forum messages, poll responses, audio, video, text, images, you name it. We embrace your diversity of opinions and values(see above) but we insist that your content may not include anything unacceptable.

We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked that is:

– Being used to abuse, harass, stalk or threaten a person or persons

– Libelous, defamatory, knowingly false or misrepresents another person

– Infringes upon any copyright, trademark, trade secret or patent of any third party…

– Violates any obligation of confidentiality

– Violates the privacy, publicity, moral or any other right of any third party

– Contains editorial content that has been commissioned and paid for by a third party, (either cash or goods in barter), and/or contains paid advertising links and/or SPAM…”

(sic; truncated at points for brevity; emphases mine; for full text, click here)

I read all this and thought: “Sweeeeeet!! What a perfect venue to get PVV out there!!”  So I decided to submit my site for inclusion. These are the guidelines BlogHer has set forth to join their waiting list (I guess they’re pretty backed up):

Your blog must be –

– Updated at least once per week for the last 3 months (PVV – check!)

– Open to comments (PVV – check!  well, minus that one post that kept getting spammed)

– Written in English (PVV – check!)

– Hosted on a service that allows ads (PVV – check!  although my dumb ass should have gotten a clue here)

– NOT about coupons, sales, deals, or celebrity news (PVV – ummm… total check!)

So if your blog is all those things, which PVV is, then you can add yourself to a waiting list. I was super-excited and submitted Porn Valley Vantage right away.  There was/is nothing like my brilliant critical commentary on the adult film industry on BlogHer (hell, there is nothing like this anywhere), and I thought my work would be an excellent fit given BlogHer’s whole feminism and commitment to civil disagreement thing.

…but I didn’t hear back for a while, so I thought that I would just go ahead and try again (just in case). I resubmitted PVV to BlogHer yesterday (9/30/10), and I received this email today (10/1/10):

“Hi there,

I’m XXX, an editor with the BlogHer Publishing Network.  Thanks for signing up again on the waiting list.  Given your comments on your most recent entry, I wanted to touch base with you.  Unfortunately, so many of the sponsors we have are conservative in their advertising strategies, we would not be able to accept your blog into the network.

Best wishes,

XXX”

To which I sent this pleading reply:

“Hi XXX,

I ask that you please take a look at the blog before you reject it.  I think it is a very important dimension that needs to be discussed in the women’s virtual community and blogosphere.

First off – I am an academic.  I have a PhD in sociology and women’s and gender studies from XXX, and I am a professor at XXX.  I am the author of numerous academic articles.  My writing is rigorous and informed.  My area of research is sex work, specifically the adult film industry – I have spent years studying this overlooked population that has a hugely significant impact on women and our culture.

Second – the blog is in no way pornographic. It is ABOUT porn and considers it as an important culturally relevant dimension of our society.  Ignoring this industry and/or pretending it doesn’t exist is extremely problematic and limiting – I hope to reveal some of the more complicated aspects of this industry with my work – something that I think the BlogHer readers need (along with the rest of the world).

I ask you to please reconsider.  This blog is extremely unique, feminist and academically informed, and working to address a segment of our social world that is extremely misunderstood, overlooked, and marginalized.  It is also written in a light-hearted and entertaining way, which makes the topic more accessible. In the spirit of social justice, I do believe this is something you all would want to add to your roster.

Please take a moment to look through the content (again, there is nothing pornographic on the site), read the interviews and editorials, and consider the possibilities.

thanks for taking the time!  I look forward to hearing from you (again :)

sincerely,

chauntelle tibbals”

To which I promptly received this message:

“Hi Chauntelle,

I have looked at the blog both times you signed up, I promise.  Whether or not a blog is a good fit for our advertising network is not a reflection on its quality, the importance of the topic, or how BlogHer Publishing Network staff personally feel about the blog.  We welcome your participation on BlogHer.com, our community site, but we cannot accept your blog into the ad network.

Best wishes,

XXX”

To which I replied:

“Hi again XXX,

well thanks for taking the time to look and respond – I hope you enjoyed it …or at least found it informative!! (any thoughts or feedback?!)

I can’t say that I’m not disappointed with the stance of your advertisers, et al. It speaks to the limitations of ad-based publications, information etc though, and honestly I am not surprised – I have been dealing with peoples’ unwillingness to engage this topic since I was in graduate school, and I suppose it will continue indefinitely!!

With every marginalized population, someone has to take the initial stand against oppression, marginalization, and general misunderstanding. It had to happen for queer persons, persons of color, and even women – all of who’s experiences I see addressed rather well on BlogHer.

Perhaps one day people will be willing to address the human experience of sex workers in adult.  until then, I will keep pushing!!

have a great day :)

chauntelle”

meh + tear + rage!!  To this series of exchanges, all I can diplomatically say is… Really?  I mean, really?

I am so very angry and so very sad, and yet –as I said to XXX- not really all that surprised. I love how an entity can describe itself as welcoming civil disagreement and as being situated in feminist epistemology and then take this stance.

I love how it is somehow ok to continue to push the adult industry into a corner, to pretend like it has no effect on our culture, like it’s insignificant… to pretend that there are not women and men and people of color and queer persons and socio-economically marginalized persons and trans persons and clever persons and mean people and nice people and spiritual people and sexually un/aware people and good girls trying to make a buck and bad boys trying to make art and spoiled rotten trainwrecks who need their mommies and mothers and fathers and grandparents and every other “kind” of person you can imagine (and then some!) working in this industry…all of whom are trying to grow and live and embrace life in their own way.

The adult industry is made up of people just like you, just like me, and just like the awesome visionaries (emphasis: sarcastic) of BlogHer.com. Call me naive, but the unwillingness of persons and entities to learn, explore, and grow is absolutely mind-blowing.

I have already received some encouraging words regarding this cluster-ness and DH has already sent me some excellent advice, but I just had to get this off my chest – sorry for the rant!!  And since I know that you luuuv PVV, help a sister out – contact BlogHer and tell them you want some hott, dirty, and oh-so-critically smart Porn Valley Vantage action!! (not that I would let those radical-poseurs connect to my work at this point anyway, but that’s not the point)

Here are some emails:

elaine.wu@blogher.com

blogheradsteam@blogher.com

sales@blogher.com

monique@blogher.com

skye@blogher.com

…and you can always email me too <3

You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.pornvalleyvantage.com).”

Porn Valley Vantage – Critical Commentary on the Adult Film Industry

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