Together, We Are Strong: A Letter from the Editor

Updated April 04, 2016 1:04pm PDT
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We were once a machine. 

And the slick of that machine was money–not a lot to some of the larger sites, but a lot to you and me, and to the writers who busted their asses to get 1500 word thinkpieces to me during the 4-6 hour window when I sorta sometimes slept. The money ensured we had a steady flow of content, good and fierce and prolific. It also penned a dire agenda: this money had to be used to create more money. 

We didn't take a single day off in the initial 7 months of the company. We talked shop at Christmas, and I had to start leaving my phone in the car when I went on dates to keep me from being reeled in. Every hiccup, every miscommunication, every typo became a threat to that agenda, to that potential for the money to replicate itself. 

As the funds were spent and the money got tighter, so did the pressure to transmogrify the elbow grease into gold. At times it felt like I was being tied to a chair over and over, with the knots digging deeper into me each time until I basically lived and breathed our content management, and would sometimes move around the squares of our editorial calendar on the steam of a shower. 

When the funding ran out, I could leave my room again. We could share a lunch or drink together as a team. There was still an agenda, for sure–save the company, keep people funded–but that's the difference between turning a dollar into 5 and turning a dollar into slightly more than a dollar. But it's also meant we needed to reacquaint ourselves with the interpersonal hustle of politics. We can't just cold call writers and offer them a competitive wage. I can't call writers at 1130 and leverage the money into a cold fierce callout of toxic masculinity by 9 the next morning. 

In this way, in our un-practice of generating an organic solidarity and loyalty to the company, we, like a lot of other sites that are bigger than us and have bigger wallets, operated in what gaming calls a "fog of war". Some who are less conscientious of their everyday ableism might call it "blind spots". 

In any case: more eyes are needed. We've run out of the fuel for this machine. Rather than risk selling out to get a replacement of that type of fuel, or find a relatively equivalent fuel that's not as ethical to acquire, we are repurposing the machine to be operated by multiple people with an equal investment in the future of the site. 

I am letting go of sole control of editorial oversight of HARLOT. 

HARLOT Magazine now has three new subsections: 

A Poetry Section run by new Poetry Editor Colette Arrand, which will publish new and original poetry from (paid) poets every Sunday.

A Fiction Section run by new Fiction Editors Michon Neal and Benjanun Sriduangkaew, which will publish queer and politically radical fiction every Saturday.

Postmodern Parent, edited by Louisa Leontiades, will focus on intersectional parenting with an emphasis on inclusivity and allyship. 

We will also be producing a printed zine of choice articles, curated by our Volunteer Coordinator Rani Baker, to make the work we're doing more actionably accessible to those who need it. 

Each of these departments will have autonomy with coordinating submissions and articles, with me serving as EiC for the purpose of maintaing editorial consistency and ensuring that such content has an opportunity to be sponsored by advertisers. 

In the wake of HARLOT LLC's dissolution, there has been magnanimous support from the community. Advertisers, community resources, and those with means have really stepped up to help keep us afloat. There's also been the opposite of that–harassment, requests to give an "expiration date" of when the site will be officially dead; one of our "sister sites" has already taken to basically rewriting our own content, in their voice, undermining the work of sex workers and PoC. 

It's worth noting that some of our most popular articles, the ones we display to potential investors and advertisers, were published after we announced the loss of our CEO and funding. 

We will fight, in the air and on the beaches, to preserve this space, to ensure that those who are overlooked, spoken over, and shrugged off have space to create the content that services the needs of their communities. 

Female competition sought to strike us down. Other sites paid what they knew we couldn't afford, they poached our staff, they stole our content and our style. 

We got knocked down, but we got back up, and this time we are stronger, and in greater numbers.

I don't see an intrinsic insult in saying HARLOT was created as an alternative to sites like Cosmopolitan, Everyday Feminism, and The Establishment. 

To realize this intent, we must embody it. And this means an active rejection of a monolithic organizational model. 

I consider our new tangents, not as subservient dependents, but as equal collaborators in a struggle for a better, kinder, more equitable world for those we're trying to do right by. 

At the moment, to ensure that PoC, queer folk, and disabled folk are prioritized, our fiction and poetry imprints will be solicit-only, but move on to open submissions. A submissions policy for Postmodern Parent will be forthcoming. 

We don't fear the reaper.

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Jetta Rae co-founded HARLOT Magazine in August September. She serves as Editor-in-Chief as she assists in restructuring the magazine into a worker-owned collective.