There is, in fact, such a thing as a free lunch. Capitalism helps itself to your pudding cup every day.
It's not a secret that many sites, regardless of content, intentions, or political identity rely on free or under-compensated labor. Even the best writers I know are underpaid, not only for their talent as workers but for the totality of emotional labor that goes into writing, whether it's research, promoting yourself, or the expectation that you'll always be on call. In the parlance of my pre-teen self dueling dark elf pirates on the backs of dragons: there are no free actions in this business.
I really detest this reliance on un or underpaid labor–when Anna and I started HARLOT, we did so in part to offer an alternative to an industry that lives off un-reciprocation. We believe in paying people as close to what their labor is worth as possible. Admittedly, this isn't unique: I trust every new website sets this as one of their goals.
This desire manifests into competitiveness; you need to grow as big as the sites that don't match your ethics so you can offset the supposed bad they're doing.
If you don't want to actively, intentionally profit from underpaid labor, then you have to lay on the ropes, taking as many blows as you can, until you have the strength to start punching back. In our case, specifically, that second wind to last us to the bell of the 12th round was always meant to be community support. From the beginning, we had intended this to be a community-funded, community-accountable project, albeit at the size and scale of larger, less collectivist publications.
We're not throwing in the towel, but we are choosing to fight in a smaller venue. And maybe changing sports from boxing to rugby or dodgeball.
Effective immediately, our CEO Anna will be transferring the site's ownership to me, with a little seed money to carry the site forward, and withdrawing her funding. In the month we've been up and running (and all the time we've been operating–since September 2015), we've done really important, incredible, necessary things with the funding Anna has provided.
We have the tools we need to take our mission forward. But for now, the mission, which is to create unapologetic intersectional content that empowers, gratifies, and in some cases arouses you, must come before the desire for an abstinence from free or underpaid labor.
The seed money I'll receive won't be enough to pay our staff writers. It will take additional fundraising to be able to pay for any content at all. The priority for that money is to keep the site up and maintained.
I will need some help from you. I really, really hate that I need your help. But I believe in this enough, and in you enough, to swallow my pride and ask for help to build this out further.
If any of the articles we've put up have resonated with you, educated you, or given you some reprieve from a dull or bad day, please consider:
1. Donating To Us (Which Can Be Done Here)
Specifically, we have a Patreon, so you can get a monthly subscription here!
Also we have a snazzy shirt that says "Damn the Man, Save the Femmepire!" with our name on the back that you can buy here!
If you would prefer a more anonymous, discreet means to fund our work, you can email me at jetta dot robertson at gmail
2. Volunteer Your Time
Whether it be writing, proofreading the occasional article, making art/graphic assets, or doing some tech work. I promise to create and maintain an environment where any work you bring in will be emphatically welcome and thanked. Write us at dirtiestwellknownsecret at gmail
3. Let Us Know If You Have A Rich Auntie Who Thinks Feminism Is Just The Cat's Meow
All of this is very sudden. This decision is barely 12 hours old. There is still a lot of information that needs to be parsed through.
What I Will Be Doing For The Next Two Weeks To Ensure The Livelihood Of The Site
Kitty, our Social Media Mistress, will be remaining with us until the end of the month to help me set some of these plans in action. After that, whether or not she remains a core member of the team depends on the funding we can generate.
Kitty and I will be launching a crowdfunding campaign in the next few days to generate the funding needed to run the site for at least 3 months without additional investment.
I will be meeting with all staff one-on-one to discuss ways to keep them onboard, creating a more collectivist organization rather than the more hierarchal previous incarnation.
We will be meeting with investors and consultants to find other sources of revenue.
We will be focusing a lot on merchandise, which will help us create sustainable profit-sharing practices.
The next few days will be a lot of planning, strategizing, and no small amount of drinking.
I will fight, in the air and on the beaches, to preserve the dream and create something that speaks and supports our communities.
Thank you, Anna, for believing in and funding this dream.
Thank you Lynn, Alyssa, Dani, Dante, Bri, Ben, Kiva, and everyone else who helped make the site and its offerings look fucking tasteful.
Thank you Andre, Neve, Rani, Zoé, and Aaminah for all the work you've done and for giving me the most treasured and formative experiences of my writing/editorial career.
Thank you Kitty, for sticking by me to try and steer this ship onward.
Thank you to everyone who's written for us, wants to write for us, and will continue to write for us. I will try very very hard to give back what I know deep down I owe you all.
I will be in touch.
Don't forget to tip your servers.