June 2017 was a quieter month as I struggled once again to keep on top of everything I’d committed to. I made one good decision though: starting the watchalong podcasts with SHIROBAKO and special guest Miles.
In May, we put out five features, including the post I personally have probably linked to the most this year.
Another season, another round of premiere reviews—and this time I accepted help. After falling four days behind.
In March 2017 we covered moe, fanservice, and magical girls—and survived.
In February, I realised for the first time how important LGBTQ+ women are to Anime Feminist. Anything we put out relating to Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid got a huge, enthusiastic and nuanced response from a range of queer women and femmes.
It’s hard to remember now, but at that time I was still in the mindset of defusing potential tension with would-be critics. The team had consistently reminded me that we should be focusing our efforts on the people we wanted to be in our community, not those we didn’t want anywhere near it. This was my first time really getting a taste of how rewarding that could be.
Over the past 12 months, Anime Feminist has achieved a lot. 292 posts, a regular podcast, a patron-exclusive discussion forum, our first convention panel and party—and, of course, following through on our wish to pay every writer, editor and administrator who contributes to the success of the site.
To all our patrons: thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You make it possible for us to not just do our work, but to do it both ethically and to a high standard. (Over the next 12 days, I’ll be giving some insider information so you can see just how true that is.)
This week Anime Expo, the biggest anime convention in the English speaking world, put a call out for volunteer interpreters. Anime Expo is far from a new event, and had over 100,000 attendees last year. How did they fail to account for the cost of professional interpreters when budgeting? If they can’t afford to pay interpreters, what hope do any of the smaller cons have? Let’s be real: they didn’t fail to account for it, and they can afford it. AX is a big enough event in the fandom calendar that they could have bumped ticket prices up by under a dollar each to bring in the necessary funds. If for some reason that wasn’t an option, they’re a big enough name that they could even have crowdfunded it. There’s no good reason not to pay every single interpreter for their work. There are, however, a couple of bad ones.
The second part of our Q&A responding to questions from our Twitter followers! (You can find the first part here.) This time the questions are all about anime. Listen to us talk about our favourites, disappointments and guilty pleasures from the Fall 2016, Winter and Spring 2017 seasons and beyond.
Part 1 of Anime Feminist’s six-month anniversary Q&A. Amelia, Dee, Peter, and Vrai answer questions about the founding, development, and future of Anime Feminist.
12 Days of Anime is a great example of a project where you can learn more from failure than success. Specifically, I learned that when the team isn’t in a position to help I can probably accomplish about a quarter of what I need to. Also, there are many situations where optimism is appropriate, but time management limitations don’t fall under that. These are good lessons to take into a new year.
Anime Feminist is two months old today! This month we have exceeded $750 in Patreon pledges, committed to pay all our writers from January 1st, set up a new contributor process to make submissions easier and run more smoothly and launched our first collaboration.
On our 50th day AniFem made it to over $700 in pledges! To do so on a platform like Patreon, known as a beer money tip jar rather than a business model, is a pretty staggering achievement. Again, we started with no community, no name recognition, very limited content – and fandom has showed up for us, ensuring that we don’t have to rely on other income streams like affiliate links or ads. As a result, I am committing here and now to paying every single one of our writers in 2017, starting January 1st.
Very proud to say that, thanks to the generosity of every single one of our patrons, after just 35 days we have met our second Patreon goal of $600 in pledges per month! This is a quarter of the way to being sustainable at a minimum level, where all writing, editing and running costs are paid for. That’s fantastic progress for just over a month, and if you read our one month anniversary update you’ll be able to see some of the lessons we’ve learned and some of our plans for the future. Most important for you, however, is that meeting the $600 milestone has guaranteed four posts per week, effective immediately.
We are officially one month old! It seems like much longer, but we launched on 11th October and have officially been up and running in public for one calendar month.
Discourse doesn’t have the best reputation in anime fandom. It surprised me, coming back to anime fandom, to see so much disdain attached to such a neutral academic word. ‘Discourse’ here means that someone wrote a thought-provoking piece, probably about something controversial, which generated conversation on social media. If you’ve been following the development of this site, you might recognise that as something I consider a goal for AniFem. The anitwitter use of the word ‘discourse’, however, is as a joke. Sometimes this is deliberately snide, with the implication that cartoons are obviously just cartoons and anyone who bothers to waste their time on more in-depth analysis than that is an idiot. Sometimes, it is a disclaimer or apology. “See, I don’t take myself too seriously, I still have perspective!” Other times, it is an expression of community. “Uh oh, everyone, here we go again…” It is not a word applied to in-depth analysis of animation artistry, visual direction or narrative structure; only personal topics like identity, representation and politics. The message is that if you have written something which sparks discourse, or participated in discourse without being quite flippant or entertaining enough in your phrasing, you should be embarrassed. How many people have avoided expressing or responding to a viewpoint because they worry people might roll their eyes? How many have adopted this use of the word discourse despite engaging thoughtfully with it when it arises, just so that everyone in their community understands they aren’t THAT kind of commentator? I’m not sure what benefits this use of the word brings, but it seems to me like there are plenty of negatives. Sincerity As is sometimes the way, while writing this piece someone I follow on Twitter published a post on the same subject from a different angle: So what lesson are people supposed to take from this, exactly? Never be sincere online? That must be the lesson quite a lot of people took from it, as most online interactions tend to be steeped in at least six layers of irony before they’re deemed worthy of responding to. Genuine emotion tends to feel like performance, whether we feel like it or not. If you write a lengthy, in-depth piece about some social issue or trend in entertainment that’s really close to your heart, it’ll often get picked up and spread around as a “rant,” which is language that demeans the emotional and intellectual labor that goes into producing such a thing, no matter how innocently it’s used. Now replace ‘rant’ with ‘discourse’. Intended or not, the way anime fandom uses the word can come across as mean-spirited, designed to smack down the enthusiasm of people who wanted to hold an in-depth conversation about something they feel strongly about. It reduces the effort they put in and any number of nuanced, carefully constructed points to something which deserves to be laughed at simply for existing. We have a fandom culture which looks down on thought-provoking content as a concept. This use of the word ‘discourse’ is just a symptom of that. Expectations When someone does volunteer as tribute and post thought-provoking content anyway, fandom expectations are ridiculously unrealistic. You shouldn’t think too deeply about cartoons, but IF YOU DO then you’d better cover every possible scenario, perspective and contradiction, and be prepared to debate every possible aspect of the discussion perfectly with expert knowledge and extensive experience at your disposal, anticipating every possible possibility that may possibly be relevant… or have the validity of everything you’ve ever created called into question. Batting novel-length academic theses back and forth is not how people converse. Not even in academia! One article is only ever required to make one point, and if you can identify that one point then the article has done its job. All articles have a scope and specific intentions, and many have word limits too, but expectations of authors seem to be at an all-time high while benefit of the doubt is at an all-time low. Too many responses to in-depth analysis lambast the author for not including a particular point in their original piece rather than raising that point as a way to further the discussion. It’s the difference between “I think this is also relevant” or “I want to challenge this point you made” and “Why didn’t you cover this?” One asks the author to comment, the other to justify. One expects the author to be open to new viewpoints, the other expects the author to cater to all viewpoints. One expands the discussion the author began, one shrinks it to defence of a single corner. Conversation Developing discussion is something the whole team feels passionate about at Anime Feminist, and we’ve been looking at a number of ways to approach this ourselves. One area I have so far avoided is opening up our comments sections, because dealing with just our Twitter mentions is all-consuming on some days. However, this is something people have asked for repeatedly, so we really want to give it a try and do everything we can to make it a rewarding experience for everyone. We’re going to start opening them on selected articles, which we will deal with case by case. Whether we open comments on a post will depend on the content of the post and how much time we have to monitor the conversation, which will be moderated to make conversation as productive as possible. If it goes well we will open them on more articles than not. If it doesn’t go well we will shut it down and continue as we have until we are well funded enough to pay people to moderate. This is an experiment, not a new commitment. Whether we have a comments section or not, you are always welcome to tweet at us, contact us on Facebook or get in touch through our contact page. Things have been a little quiet and we’ve been less responsive for the last week or so while we’ve …
After just six days AniFem has beaten our first milestone on Patreon of $300 a month! We started out with no community, no name recognition, barely any content – but by yesterday over 70 people felt strongly enough about what we aim to accomplish to commit at least $1 a month to helping us succeed. Today, that number has exceeded 80. This earliest goal always felt like it would have the steepest climb, and we can’t thank our patrons enough for helping us reach that point so quickly. To celebrate, here is a behind-the-scenes ‘state of the nation’ update on our supporters, our response to criticism and our plans for the future.
(I need to work on catchier titles.) Many of you are here because of an interview I had with Cecilia D’Anastasio, published on Kotaku earlier this week. Cecilia did an amazing job. I had expected a gentle, softball interview from a fellow feminist anime writer, really more of a cosy chat… but – while being perfectly lovely throughout – she showed up with challenging questions ready to push me from vague diplomacy into proper answers, and it was hard. That she’s ended up with an interview that so many commenters have told me satisfied doubts they went in with is a testament to Cecilia’s skill. There are a few points I think have been misconstrued by readers which I would like to clarify and a couple of points I’d like to expand on though.