Monday, April 02, 2007

Interview with Jaymi Heimbuch

"I absolutely identify as a feminist. In my first women’s studies class, each student had to stand up and say a little about themselves. Many stood and said they were feminist. I stood and said “I’m not a feminist, but…” Yep. I was one of those. By the end of that women’s studies class, I realized I was an ardent feminist and was no longer afraid of the term. And now I run a feminist website and edit a feminist magazine." -Jaymi Heimbuch

Jaymi Heimbuch, the editor of Girlistic.com and blogger at The Feminist Pulse, is the latest interviewee to participate in my project. Kudos to Jaymi for sharing her sharp perspective!
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Interview

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you identify as a “feminist”? How important, if at all, is being/not being a feminist to your identity?

Jaymi Heimbuch: I absolutely identify as a feminist. In my first women’s studies class, each student had to stand up and say a little about themselves. Many stood and said they were feminist. I stood and said “I’m not a feminist, but…” Yep. I was one of those. By the end of that women’s studies class, I realized I was an ardent feminist and was no longer afraid of the term. And now I run a feminist website and edit a feminist magazine.

I think that a large number of women and men are feminist, but don’t admit to it, or even realize it. All feminism essentially means is that you stand for equality of people. The feminist movement does wonderful things to progress our culture in positive directions, and joining up with it, label and all, is necessary to keep the ball rolling. So something more important to the feminist movement than just thinking in terms of equality, is acknowledging that you’re feminist. It is, I feel, vitally important to our social evolution.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Whether or not you identify as a feminist, what does“feminism” mean to you?

Jaymi Heimbuch: Feminism – just the sound of the word – lights up warm fuzzies in my belly.

I think feminism is a very basic social premise. It is recognizing the legitimacy of every person, regardless of sex or gender. It is an opportunity to celebrate qualities that so often are denigrated in order to take power away from women. It provides an opportunity for broad discussion of major social, gender, sex, and sexuality issues. It opens up a forum for critical thought about power in the human race. It digs up archeological facts about women’s roles throughout history that have been forgotten or buried. And it means a sisterhood, a bonding of people who appreciate, rejoice in, and fight for the feminine elements of our world.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you or have you ever kept a blog or blogs? When you spend time online, do you read blogs? Are there any blogs you read regularly?

Jaymi Heimbuch: The Feminist Pulse (Girlistic.com’s blog) is my first experience with a blog. I skimmed blogs previous to starting up Girlistic.com, but didn’t spend much time in them. I still recognized, however, the position of power blogs were taking up on the web. When I decided that a blog would be a vital element to making Girlistic.com a great resource, I jumped head first into the feminist blogosphere and fell completely in love. I spend the majority of my weekdays online and try to read blogs as much as possible, but it only amounts to a couple hours a week. Reading blogs, especially feminist blogs, is a core way of staying connected with the feminist community and other like-minded people. It’s a great way to gather information, take in opinions and different viewpoints, and stay up on the hot topics of the day. The Carnival of Feminists has been a key for connecting with so many of the feminist blogs out there. For many of the smaller personal feminist blogs, it’d take hours of surfing to uncover them.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How long have you been keeping a blog?

Jaymi Heimbuch: We started The Feminist Pulse in October of 2006.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What made you want to start a blog? What was your inspiration?

Jaymi Heimbuch: I wanted to start a blog for several reasons. One is that Girlistic.com’s vision is to be one of the greatest feminist resources on the web. I recognized that a blog is a great way to disseminate information in a personable and approachable way, which is how the feminist community really works. Another reason was that I saw how popular blogs are, and thought it would be a chance to get people interested in The Feminist Pulse, and then interested in all the other resources Girlistic.com offers. So it was part social networking, part business networking, and part selfishness, because I knew that having a blog would give me the perfect excuse to spend time online at news sources reading up on all sorts of tidbits, guilt-free.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How would you describe your blog?

Jaymi Heimbuch: The Feminist Pulse is a group endeavor. Through many try-outs of different bloggers, we’ve honed the perfect group of women to keep up the posting. There are five of us and we all have different interests and things we focus on, so readers get regular posts of many different styles – from news bytes, to pop-culture analysis, to personal musings and so on. I feel we have the perfect connection of women to have a well-rounded, feminist informational blog.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Does your blog have a theme or does it focus on a particular issue?

Jaymi Heimbuch: The Feminist Pulse focuses on anything having to do with feminism and women. Part of the fun is to talk about anything and everything, so nothing is off limits as long as it has to do with feminism.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How do you define a “blog”?

Jaymi Heimbuch: This is actually a tough question, because there are so many types of blogs. It’s kind of like trying to define a “book.” I guess I would say that a blog is a method of sharing thoughts and information with others, in a less formal and more interactive way than a typical website. However, some bloggers are highly professional, and some simply use their blog as an online hobby – so there’s quite a range in what someone can do with a blog.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What qualifies as a “feminist blog”?

Jaymi Heimbuch: I think any blog that supports feminism counts as a feminist blog. This can be anything from a “feminists rock!” attitude, to providing information and discussion about women’s rights and issues, to critical (but still ultimately supportive) analysis of key feminist issues and the movement as a whole. Many women’s blogs that don’t outright label themselves feminist but are highly supportive of women’s rights, women’s equality and women’s issues – such as many women’s business networking blogs, or mommy blogs – can also count as feminist. Just as it is in daily life.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Have you ever participated in a blog carnival? If so, tell me about that experience. Why did you want to participate in a carnival?

Jaymi Heimbuch: We do participate in the Carnival of Feminists. I wanted The Feminist Pulse to participate initially for two reasons. The first is that I saw it as a great opportunity to let other feminist bloggers know about our new blog. The second is that I see it as the best opportunity for me to explore feminist blogs – again, guilt-free – and get a better understanding of the feminist blogosphere, including what the current major issues are, who the key bloggers are, and what blogging is like. Now we participate simply because we love the feeling of connection with other feminist bloggers.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: How did you find out about the blog carnival you participated in?

Jaymi Heimbuch: Way before I thought of starting The Feminist Pulse, I read in a favorite blog about the carnival of feminists. I had no idea what it was and didn’t understand the idea. As I learned more about blogs and started up The Feminist Pulse, I researched it more, clicking from blog to blog until I understood the concept and decided that we should host a carnival.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Now that you have participated in a carnival, what do you think about them?

Jaymi Heimbuch: I absolutely love the Carnival of Feminists. I haven’t looked over other carnivals, but if they’re anything like this one, then they must be a kick. The Carnival of Feminists is, I think, the absolute best way to stay connected to other feminist bloggers and keep up with the latest issues, stories, controversies, and hoorays hopping around the blogosphere. They’re fun, informational, and full of discoveries.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: What do you think is the best/worst aspect of blog carnivals?

Jaymi Heimbuch: The best aspect of the carnival is the feeling of connectivity it provides. I have yet to discover a bad aspect of the carnival.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you belong to or consider yourself a member of any online community? How do you define these communities?

Jaymi Heimbuch: I do consider myself a member of many online communities, including the community we’re working to build with Giristic.com. Anytime there’s a venue for networking with others, I consider it a community. From MySpace, to our own Girlistic, to the Carnival of Feminists, to Yahoo Groups and LiveJournal, there’s a ton of communities out there waiting and wanting members.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that activism can be carried out online? What are the possibilities of such activism?

Jaymi Heimbuch: Activism can be carried out online, and what’s more I feel that the internet is an indispensable way to be an activist. In-person activism is important, but the internet provides a way for people to make big differences with little effort, not even leaving their own homes. Girlistic.com promotes activism by posting ways to take action on our homepage. We have a “Get Your Exercise” section where we provide ways for visitors to make a difference from taking 30 seconds to sign an online petition, to providing an idea for what they can do to help women in their local areas. The internet is an ideal medium for petitions because you can easily pass it along to others and quickly connect with a multitude of like-minded people. From virtual sit-ins, to letter writing, to boycotts, the possibilities of online activism are as endless as offline activism.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you think that feminist activism is being conducted online? If so, can you think of any examples?

Jaymi Heimbuch: Girlistic.com alone is proof that feminist activism is happening online. As I mentioned, we provide ideas and links to being active, and we progress the feminist movement through providing free resources and a free feminist magazine for our visitors. And Girlistic.com didn’t start in a vacuum. We found our inspiration from such sites as Feminist Majority, NOW, Million4Marriage, 34MillionFriends, MoveOn, TrueMajority, and Amnesty International Women’s Rights Watch just to name a few. Through email lists, press releases, online petitions, email campaigns, and, yes, blogs, feminist activism is all over the place online. I feel strongly that the internet is the way the newest generation of feminists will perpetuate the movement and keep up our successes.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you have any questions for me based on our conversation?

Jaymi Heimbuch: Yes, one. When is the estimated date your research will be complete and will it be available for people to read? I’m terribly excited about it! I actually wanted to do an article specifically on this topic for our last issue of Girlistic Magazine, which is themed on technology, but didn’t have the time to do satisfactory research. So I’m very interested to read what you discover.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Well, some of my research is already up on my blog. A part of my project is soliciting feedback from the feminist blogosphere. In the spirit of participatory action research, I want to be sure that my research meets the community standards of the feminist blogosphere. A final draft of my thesis proper will be available some time after May 1st (official university deadline). I would like to make PDF version of my thesis available to the feminist blogosphere, especially all of the great folks who participated in interviews, but it may take me a bit to figure out the exact science of hosting/posting a file that large.

Thanks, Jaymi!



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1 comment:

  1. Hi Elizabeth! I came across your blog when I was perusing the GW WSTU website. What a cool idea! I would love to hear more about how your year is going and how things are holding up back in DC. I'm sure you're terrbily busy now, but if you have a minute send me an email! I hope all is well, and keep on blogging!

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