Continuing our 2017 yearbook.
August 2017 is when I finally met all eight members of Team AniFem, plus some of our writers, patrons and industry supporters for the first time.
It was an incredible month for me, and I’m almost surprised to see we had regular content go up! But we did, and it was good. Another excellent piece from Megan (who I met a couple of weeks after this was published) and a great addition to the Fan vs Service category from Vrai.
We also had a piece on fanservice which went through enough versions of editing that I need to give a shout out and thanks to the author, Annie Hackney. Annie has consistently been an absolute pleasure to interact and work with, but she probably wanted to tear her hair out at various points of this process!
This was a really, really challenging piece for us as a platform to navigate – in the best possible way. It forced us to discuss and work out how we balance tension between the equally feminist issues of “It should be as acceptable for women to be publicly thirsty for fictional characters as it is for men” and “We need to ask questions about how we sexualise underage characters.” Both valid perspectives, both well-worn topics in the halls of internet debate.
Annie had a fresh perspective that I’m glad we were able to publish. Part of being feminists means challenging ourselves with difficult questions, and part of running a feminist platform means navigating the fine line between what can feel like contradictory feminist concerns. Annie did a great job, and I’m so pleased with where we ended up with that piece.
Final shout-out goes to Erica Friedman, who has been a consistent supporter both of me personally and of AniFem since the start. To have someone with Erica’s experience and gravitas expressing support for us and giving me advice has been immensely valuable. I’ve proposed a bunch of collaborative ideas to her over the year and never followed through on any of them, so I jumped at the chance to publish this piece.
We’re one podcast down this month – if you recall, this is the one routine task that was still on my shoulders, and – as will be unsurprising to any of you following this series – I struggled to keep up with it. I don’t remember if I asked Peter to add uploading and formatting these posts to his audio editing responsibilities before or after my US trip, but it was definitely around this time.
Delegating is something I’ve got much, much better at over the year, and you can all see that the more I’ve delegated the better and stronger AniFem has become. This is only possible because I can pay people; there’s no way I could ask what I ask without being able to offer compensation, and that’s thanks to every single one of our patrons.
I’ll never forget arriving at Dulles airport, finally finding wifi again and getting a photo of Peter holding the sign Lauren had made with my name in katakana, as they waited for me outside arrivals. (I actually ended up walking up from behind them, so I’m really glad they sent a photo or I wouldn’t have seen the sign.) Any of you who have met online friends in person will be familiar with the feeling of “I hope I’m coming across as well as I want to, I hope I’m not disappointing them, I hope we get on as well as we do online” type thinking that was running through my head the entire time. I needn’t have worried.
Lauren is exactly as she seems online, genuine and funny and surrounded by gunpla. Peter is less deadpan than you might think (the dry humour’s still there though), and we had a lot of fun watching a lot of anime. Well, he watched a lot of anime. In what became a recurring feature of my trip, I mostly fell asleep like an old lady as soon as I got in front of a screen with moving images on it. (My FOMO is also so severe that I refused to cut off conversations to go to bed even when exhausted, which led to Nate ending one conversation with “Your eyes are literally closed right now, you should get some sleep!”)
I was actually most nervous about meeting Dee, who has suffered the most from all the stubborn/unreliable/avoidance tendencies I’ve recorded here. Again, I needn’t have worried. She’s one of the sweetest, most positive and supportive people I’ve ever met, and reiterated that she genuinely enjoys the work she does for AniFem. (She also likes good beer as much as I do, which I consider an A+ bonus quality in any human I work closely with.)
Meeting Vrai and Caitlin was less nervewracking and just as awesome, and all of us being in the same place at the same time was something of a dream come true, especially after a couple of days of getting to know each other better. I have great memories of eating Texas barbecue (which I did not do in Texas), of shopping for and drinking beer on Lauren’s rooftop with views of Washington DC, and – most importantly – our strategy day.
I say “day” – it was really just a couple of hours in a hipster cafe with a big table where we could have cocktails, coffee and a working brunch. I’ve been to a fair few business strategy sessions in my time and had planned out an agenda to get what I wanted out of it: a clearer vision, a unified mission and shared ambition for where we could go. After what had been a rollercoaster of a year working together, I wanted everyone to build a bigger picture of what we’re working towards and feel motivated to achieve it.
It was a really good session, with some unexpected results. Once we break even and can stop scrabbling to cover basic costs, we have some very exciting times ahead.
The next con I went to was AnimeFest, where I reunited with Caitlin – who was the very reason I was at AnimeFest in the first place. I knew the Yuri!!! on ICE creative team was going to be there, and was worried I’d get a bit starstruck and feel like a massive underachiever so I’d planned to skip it. Caitlin changed that plan when she asked if I minded her applying for a press pass under Anime Feminist’s name.
I’d never considered a press pass. UK cons aren’t quite the same as US cons, on a different scale and with a different baseline of programming. The idea that a blog could get a press pass seemed unlikely to me, especially after our panel had been turned down for Otakon, but I dubiously told Caitlin she was welcome to try. When our press pass was approved, I became more and more tempted to join her in Dallas. I tentatively floated the idea and her response was “There’s an extra space in the hotel room I booked, if you want it…” It seemed meant to be. I changed my flights the very next payday.
That’s one thing I should mention, in the name of transparency: I paid for my flights and accommodation for this trip out of our Patreon fund. I stand by that decision; by that time I’d done almost a full year of unpaid work for AniFem, and physically going to the US and meeting with the team in person – not to mention meeting contributors, patrons and staff at Crunchyroll, Viz and Anime News Network) was immensely valuable. I couldn’t physically afford it on my own, and I’m grateful to our patrons for making it possible for me to meet the team so early in our international working relationship.
Right now, just breaking even is our most urgent and immediate goal, but someday I’d like us to have enough regular income to orchestrate annual in-person team meetings as well as wider AniFem meet-ups like the one we hosted at Crunchyroll Expo… but more details on that in the next yearbook post.
Read the rest of our 2017 Yearbook
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