What began as Temple University senior Melody Berger’s contribution to the feminist community on her campus has grown into a long-term project reaching to all corners of the young feminist movement, with the first issue of a web-based magazine due out this month.
Berger felt that many feminist magazines were either marketed toward mature women, or focused primarily on feminist pop culture to include the younger generation within the movement. With her publication, known as The F-WORD, she seeks to include readers who are not influenced by either type of publication by bringing a diverse group of young women from around the world to the magazine.
She hopes to get them involved in the process of feminist education by setting up a web-based feminist classroom and helping first-time contributors get published.
Creating the magazine was something Berger said she needed to do. “The F-WORD promotes feminist education. It’s one thing to say ‘I want to start a feminist magazine’,” she said, “and another to say ‘What do I need to write and who needs to hear about it?’”
In the first issue of the magazine, readers will be able to browse through an interview with Gloria Steinem, and a feature on Bitch of the musical duo Bitch and Animal. The magazine will regularly feature a young activist of the month, along with regular columns, artwork, and a discussion board where online visitors can chat about the content of the magazine and what feminism means to them.
Joanna Schneier joined Berger, her best friend, in her quest to develop the publication into a feminist classroom of sorts. “My perspective was to bring in women primarily from minority and immigrant communities who don’t necessarily identify as feminists and show them what it could mean to be a feminist,” she said.
Schneier, who recently moved to the United States from Israel, has an extensive background working to improve women’s rights in the Middle East. She has consulted with Berger to identify The F-WORD’s target audience and help to develop ways to give these feminists an outlet. “My goal is to get rid of the notion that feminism is primarily for the upper class,” she said.
The F-WORD is a grassroots effort. Since September, Berger has expanded her list of potential literary contributors to over 300 through her contact with women’s studies departments and feminist organizations throughout the country. Amazed by the response of the community, Berger and The F-WORD staff believe that people are willing to contribute because they acknowledge the importance of the movement. “One of our main goals is to make these young readers aware of how broad the movement actually is,” said Schneier.
The publication strives to create mentoring relationships and foster intellectual growth by actively involving contributors in the process of creation. “I think the best way to learn about what you’re interested in is to write, or to do whatever you do—paint, compose, anything,” said Berger.
Mills freshwoman Colleen Zickler was one of the first young women to get involved with the project after she read Berger’s message on a student-news post. She had the opportunity to conduct her first interview for the magazine with author Michelle Tea last December, which is tentatively scheduled for publication in the coming months.
“I’ve learned so much, both from Melody and Michelle,” said Zickler of her experience. Berger and Zickler plan to work together to organize a series of interviews during the upcoming semester, including one with author Zoe Trope. “Melody is all about finding new writers and people who want to hone their journalism skills and getting them involved,” said Zickler.
Berger strives for inclusion and accessibility in the process of publication, as she realizes the valuable experiences to be had by young women like Zickler. “We’re more about getting people to write and express themselves rather than rejecting them,” she said.
Being a web-based magazine is part of this accessibility because young women across the nation and globe will have free and easy access to the publication through the Internet. For now, The F-WORD will be solely based online, although there are plans to create a print version sometime in the near future.
Berger enthusiastically shares her goals for the future. “For me, personally, this work is something that I’ll always want to do for the rest of my life. It fills a goal, it fills a need,” she said.
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