There’s a new post at The Bias! Today Annalee tackles the sticky subject of Fundraising, Activism, and Who Gets Paid.
There’s a thing about feminist activism. Our years of hard work have made it at least sometimes embarrassing to be caught discriminating against women, but the people who’ve built our culture of exclusion and discrimination are still not interested in giving up their power. Nor are they interested in changing the sexist practices they both benefit from and enjoy. They are happy to throw money at people who will tell them it’s not their fault–that it’s a ‘pipeline problem’ or that ‘women don’t ask’ or that we need to ‘lean in.’ For them, cash is cheap.
This creates an environment where it is very easy for people to trade on the unpaid work of feminist activists while at the same time undermining us for a cash reward. The people who move the needle on these issues are the ones telling uncomfortable truths–usually without getting paid for the work. By making meaningful progress, we make room for others to sweep in behind us and set up shop on the ground we’ve gained; to pass themselves off as the kinder, more palatable alternative to women who actually get things done.
Many of the people who do this don’t even realize they’re appropriating other people’s labor. They often don’t know the space well enough to know that their proposal will be ineffective or actively harmful. But whatever their intentions, their watered-down activism is a form of modern-day simony. It offers donors a chance to feel good about themselves and brag about their feminist credentials without meaningfully changing their behavior or interrogating their own role in our industry’s toxicity.