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Goodbye, Feminist Times … for now

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Feminist Times, on ice, Sarah GrahamSo proud of what Feminist Times has achieved in such a short time.

By Sarah Graham, former deputy editor of the  Feminist Times, which recently announced its closure.

On 14 July, myself and the Feminist Times team announced the end of the website in its current form, with the following statement:

‘We simply cannot survive any longer without having to change our values. Other projects like ours allow themselves to be co-opted by a big brand or not pay contributors. We would not be happy to do either.

Having already crowdfunded and made it clear that we need more members to survive, we believe the boldest and best move is to put the project on ice exactly 12 months since our naming ceremony; to celebrate 9 months of incredible agenda-setting content from exceptionally talented writers; and to acknowledge that we achieved what many others haven’t: we made a feminist online magazine that competed with the mainstream and we did it while keeping our principles intact.

We want to publicly thank our Members. They provided a pluralist platform for the stories and women often sidelined by the major magazines and newspapers. Everything we did was done with them in mind.’

It’s been an incredible but difficult journey that brought us from the website launch in October 2013 to mid May, when editor Deborah Coughlin and I decided between us to hand in our notices, unable to continue under the straitened circumstances we’d been working under.

I’m so proud of what Feminist Times has achieved in such a short time.

We’ve published some pieces that I’ve absolutely loved, and we’ve published some pieces that I’ve really strongly disagreed with but felt were important to engage with.

More importantly, we’ve published women and subjects that have struggled to find a platform elsewhere, from Jude Wanga on sexual violence in the DRC, to Kat Lister on Blondie’s Goldlike Genius award.

Ultimately paying contributors fairly, whilst spurning the commercial imperative to take advertising, was too expensive for our membership fees to sustain.

In my final editorial for FemT, I wrote about our constant struggle for money and a room of our own – a problem that I know is all too familiar for feminist blogs and bloggers.

The feedback we’ve received from readers, members and supporters this week has been so heartening and a really important validation of what Feminist Times has meant to the online feminist community.

Tweets and emails from organisations like Refuge, and contributors like Bethany Rutter, brought tears to my eyes.

Unlike my editorial, which was unexpectedly difficult to write, my highlight of our final week was putting together these two pieces: The Best of Feminist Times and What Feminist Times means to me.

I don’t know what will happen to Feminist Times next – founder Charlotte Raven is keeping the project on ice while she continues consultations on alternative funding options – but I’m thrilled to have been a part of this phase.

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