Amber Gordon - Femsplain
A fem-powered content community for all women to be seen and heard.
I dislike the term “internet savvy” because it doesn’t really tell me anything – There are just so many parts of the internet and so many types of behaviors that take place on it – but if there’s anyone it’s safe to say is internet savvy, I think it would probably be Amber.
I emailed Amber these questions before the site even launched because I knew she would bring her own perspective to what a platform for women should be and knock it out of the park. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but it has been great watching Femsplain unfold over the couple of weeks. For one thing, Femsplain fits Tumblr like a glove. I really like how they reblog their writers and publish pull quotes (the type of thing typically shared on Tumblr anyway) as their own separate posts. Sometimes the line between the Femsplain Tumblr and main site kind of get blurred for me a little bit, but that’s interesting too. And the topic of “firsts” is broad enough that there is a breadth of different subjects and voices represented. In less than a month a place holder landing page has turned into what feels like a vibrant community space.
Okay, Amber now
Who are you and what do you do for a living?
I’m Amber Gordon, 24 years old. Lover of coffee, content, and Internet culture. I live in a sublet apartment in Chelsea, NYC. My hobbies include discovering weird online communities, playing online games when I have time, and learning as much as I can about whatever excites me. For a living I’m a Creative Strategist at Tumblr. It’s really a fancy title, but what it means is I ideate creative content solutions and consult top 100 brands on how best to use the Tumblr platform.
What is Femsplain?
Femsplain is a publishing platform for anyone who identifies as a woman to contribute any type of content fitting the assigned month’s theme. We also encourage anyone to read and support the voices that have contributed.
Did you look to other publications or writers for inspiration? I initially thought of Lady Bits when I heard about Femsplain, but it’s not really centralized; and the monthly theme and open call made me think about 24 Hour Mag, but you’ll be releasing content regularly instead of in issues.
I certainly listed out publications and writers I admired, I also listed publications I didn’t want to imitate for x and y reasons. Three of those [prior] publications were Rookie Mag, The Toast, and The Hairpin. More importantly, two writers who’ve inspire me and I greatly admire are Jazmine Hughes (Contributing Editor at The Hairpin) and Jessica Roy (Senior Writer at New York Mag). Both are incredibly smart, funny, and just really good women, whom without knowing I’m doubtful I’d have the courage to launch Femsplain.
How did you settle on the idea of themed months?
The themed months idea came from being stumped on, funny enough, which emoji categories we wanted to have. The emojis made it through to the launch but we decided against the traditional categories so that our contributors wouldn’t feel obligated to pick a specific one to write about. We’ve also made it so that the themes are broad enough that way anyone can create something with the theme loosely in their mind.
It seems like you’ve put a lot of effort into emphasizing that Femsplain is a place for any woman to be heard. The submission guidelines are quite open, even allowing for screenshots of text threads. I was wondering if you’ve struggled at all between maintaining quality and making sure people who might not normally have a chance to be heard, or aren’t as experienced writing, still get included.
So far the quality of the pieces we’ve received are incredible. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the open submissions because honestly I didn’t know if anyone would contribute. At this date we’ve filled our content calendar for the month of November, 3 pieces per day, and they’re all insanely good. They feel so authentic and meaningful, every single one of them. You can feel how real emotions went into every piece, even the ones meant to be comical.
Of course we’ve gotten a fair amount of inquiries on sharing Tinder stories and to “maintain a quality” to the site we’ve just asked those women to still contribute but consider a different story. We don’t want to turn anyone who wants to share something away, and they understand.
What do you think the biggest opportunity for Femsplain is? Like, what is the impact you’d most like to have?
My vision for Femsplain has become harder and harder to talk about as each day passes. Every day something amazing happens that I would have never dreamed would and it’s so overwhelming. Everyone is so willing to offer their help, women and men. A great example of that is the day Femsplain launched, I was having site load issues because of the volume of people visiting the site. Someone on Twitter, who’m I hadn’t known till he tweeted at me asking if I needed help showed me how to fix the issues I was having over GChat. The other day one woman donated an unnecessarily large amount of money towards the launch party we’re having on the 21st. I have an entire volunteer staff of 17 women, editors, contributors, and one fantastic person who comes over my house every Sunday for the past few weeks to help me with anything I’m behind on.
I went off on a huge tangent, but really this is what my hopes are. We all come together to build a positive, supportive community that feels real. Like you mentioned, there really is a lack of visibility into what women go through everyday. If we can talk about our problems, triumphs, fears, and passions in a safe space and create thoughtful and educated conversations from them that’s a start.
Eventually I’d love to turn Femsplain into something bigger, but right now I’m focused on building and spreading awareness.