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Last-modified: 22 Nov 1999
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soc.feminism Information This is an informational post about the newsgroup soc.feminism. It is posted every 25 days to soc.feminism and is available at http://www.io.com/~tittle/feminism/info.html. Copies of this FAQ may be obtained by anonymous ftp to rtfm.mit.edu under /pub/usenet/news.answers/feminism/info. Or, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org with send usenet/news.answers/feminism/info in the body of the message, leaving the subject line empty. _________________________________________________________________ History of soc.feminism This newsgroup was formed in late 1989. There was considerable debate over the subject matter of the group, who would be allowed to post, who would moderate, and what the name of the group would be. There was a large contingent of people who were afraid that the purpose of soc.feminism would be to provide a women-only feminist-supportive environment, and they ensured at the time that the charter of soc.feminism would allow pro-feminist and anti-feminist views, and be open to both women and men. In the end, four moderators were selected to moderate the group. As for the name of the group, it was nearly named talk.feminism, but soc.feminism won out. The decision was somewhat political, as it was felt that more sites carried soc. groups than talk. groups. The original proposer of soc.feminism was Patricia Roberts, who collected the votes, worked with Greg Woods to set up a program allowing multiple moderators and chose the initial moderators. We were the first multiply moderated group: soc.religion.islam, rec.arts.sf.reviews, sci.physics.research and others have since followed suit. The four original moderators of soc.feminism were Cindy Tittle Moore, Miriam Nadel, Jean Marie Diaz and Valerie Maslak. Maslak dropped out about a year later when faced with increasing net-connection trouble. Diaz has not moderated since the summer of 1991, and Nadel has taken an extended leave of absence after completing her doctorate and taking up consulting work in mid 1992. Muffy Barkocy became a new moderator in December of 1991 and retired in January of 1994. Paul Wallich joined us in the beginning of 1993. Fazia Rizvi joined us for about a year in 1996, and Sally Nordquist moderated for part of 1995 and 1996. The most recent moderator to join the fold is Julia Kotsatka, who began moderating in March of 1997. As of mid 1998, there are two moderators: Paul and Cindy. People who objected to soc.feminism's moderated format created the group alt.feminism in protest in the summer of 1992. Some dissatisfaction with how the group was progressing was discussed in the summer of 1993. A full scale discussion on a charter proposed by the moderators resulted and the charter was adopted at the end of the summer. Note that prior to this soc.feminism had had no charter, and used an informal set of guidelines instead. Women and men both of diverse views (but not hostile to feminism) have always been welcome to post. Therefore the group currently tries to provide a pro-feminist (but not women-only) space on Usenet. _________________________________________________________________ Charter Soc.feminism is a feminist discussion forum. Discussion on feminist theory, experiences, and opinion are all welcomed. The basic validity of feminism as a viewpoint, however, is not to be considered at issue. That is, no anti-feminist postings will be allowed. Note that "anti-feminist" does not necessarily include those who question feminist tenets so long as the intent is to find a better direction to take rather than to dismantle feminism. The overall goal of the newsgroup is to provide information to those wishing to learn more about feminism and to serve as a resource to those who consider themselves feminists. To this end, thoughtful, informational, well-organized and non-inflammatory articles will be preferred. Speculations and opinions should be clearly labelled as such, and sweeping generalizations about feminism (and women, and men) should be strictly avoided, in the spirit of recognizing that feminism takes many forms, opinions and positions. For the purposes of this newsgroup, a working definition of feminism is as follows: 1. The belief that women and men are, and have been, treated differently by our society, and that women have frequently and systematically been unable to participate fully in all social arenas and institutions. 2. A desire to change that situation. 3. That this gives a "new" point-of-view on society, when eliminating old assumptions about why things are the way they are, and looking at it from the perspective that women are not inferior and men are not "the norm." Obviously people will differ on the implications, opinions and course of action necessary that they derive from this basic position. Topical content is expected to be of interest to feminism. A wide variety of topics may be discussed; if the topic is no longer obviously feminist related, discussion may continue, as long as participants make it clear how their feminist views affect their opinions on the topic. The topics of rape and abortion are prohibited from this group, and discussion on these is directed to talk.rape and talk.abortion, respectively. Informational postings describing abortion rallies or Take Back the Night activities are the only exceptions. Inflammatory articles, ad-hominem or personal attacks are also prohibited. The parallel topic of equal rights for men is not to be the primary focus of this group. In particular, posts pointing an accusing finger at feminism for not being right there to create shelters for abused husbands or diverting/dismissing discussion on discrimination against women by pointing out where men are discriminated against instead are prohibited. Feminism is primarily concerned with eliminating bias against women; efforts to eliminate bias against men are equally laudable; but discussion of same will be steered toward soc.men, alt.dads-rights and other suitable forums. This is not to say that all discussion will ignore the situation of men, or how to make that better; most feminists do want to make things better for all people and in particular many radical feminists point out that you can't do one without the other. Discussion of men's rights is not prohibited, but such discussion may not be used as a means for invalidating or squelching other topics. Since there are many conflicting aspects of feminist thought, we know that posters to soc.feminism will disagree on some issues. Nevertheless, an attitude of *mutual respect* is expected. Soc.feminism is not to be a place for "conversion" -- people are not expected to convert non-feminists to feminism or vice versa. Neither are people expected to convert others from one flavor of feminism to another. Therefore, responses to a post that one disagrees with are not expected to pick apart that post but to describe alternate points of view and their supporting reasons. For example, if an article posts "a, b, and c" and you disagree, an article that says "I disagree, I think d, e, and f" will be preferred over "I disagree: not a, not b, and not c". Note that polite critiques, especially as part of minority views in feminism, will usually be accepted, but individuals who consistently post only critiques may be asked to contribute positive and informational articles about topics they're interested in instead. If we can't distinguish your article as an honest critique from an anti-feminist stance, we will ask you to clarify your position in your post. In borderline cases, depth of thought, originality and good writing will count. That is, an interesting posting will be preferred to a dull one. Decisions of the moderators based on these subjective factors are final. Those whose articles do not meet the above criteria are encouraged to explore alternative groups such as: alt.feminism, alt.dads-rights, soc.feminism.d (if created), soc.men, soc.women, talk.abortion, talk.politics.misc, and talk.rape. _________________________________________________________________ Submissions and Requests addresses To submit an article to soc.feminism, post as you normally do for other, non-moderated groups. This should work for most people. If you have trouble with this, email the article to email@example.com. This will treat it exactly as any other article posted to soc.feminism (in fact, this is the address that your newsreader should email the intercepted article to). If you have questions about the group, you can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. This address will forward your mail to all active moderators (moderators take vacations, too). Please do not send email specifically to any one moderator unless you have been requested to do so, as email addresses and moderators may change. It is strongly recommended that you save a copy of each post you make to soc.feminism. If it fails to appear and you do not receive a rejection notice, then you should mail it along with a (politely worded) query about the status of the article to email@example.com. Do not send the article in again, it might go to a different moderator. Use the request address so that you reach all current moderators and so you can determine who, if anyone, got the submission. No crossposting is allowed and approved articles will drop any other groups listed in the headers. Because articles sent to moderated groups are intercepted and emailed to the moderators of the group, you will not see the article appear anywhere else. Thus you are advised to repost your article without soc.feminism (or any other moderated group) in the headers if it is important that it appear elsewhere. "Spam proofed" addresses are not prohibited, but you will not get any responses from us as we see no need to take the extra effort to decipher the address in responding. If it bounces, it bounces. _________________________________________________________________ General Guidelines for submission You should first note that these guidelines are just that. They cannot precisely spell out exactly what will be accepted and what will be rejected. Much can depend on context, for example. In addition, there are always new takes on topics, and a set of guidelines could not hope to enumerate them all. 1. Articles must be relevant to feminism. They may not contain ad-hominem attacks or flames. 2. Discussion of the moderation of the group (what happened to an article, whether or not an article is really appropriate, etc.) must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org to reach all moderators. Where appropriate, include a copy of the article in question. Such discussion will not be posted to the newsgroup. This is not hard and fast, and discussion on the nature of the group's moderation has in the past occured on soc.feminism. 3. Two topics that are of general feminist interest that are severely restricted here are abortion and rape. This is partly because the topics are inherently inflammatory and because there exist talk.abortion and talk.rape newsgroups to carry on full-fledged debates. Some discussion *is* allowed, mostly as long as the articles are not inflammatory and as long as the primary focus is on the topic's relationship with feminism. Informative articles (e.g., about specific groups, or calls for marches, or official positions of feminist organizations, etc) are allowed. You should note that while soc.feminism takes no official position on the question of abortion, the majority of abortion-related articles that are approved tend to be pro-choice simply because most of the articles submitted are. This should not be construed to reflect the personal opinions of the moderators, or of any individual posting to soc.feminism. 4. Every now and then someone posts a question of the form "This is a feminist newsgroup, but I never see any women posting to it!" This may or may not be accompanied by a plea for men to reduce their posting. In the first place, simple demographics of USENET mean that there are overwhelmingly more men than women with access to USENET/email. The existence, however, of some groups that are almost totally female or balanced more 50-50, points to other problems than simple demographics. Many women have complained that soc.feminism is still "too hostile" for other women; there are undoubtedly many others that refrain from posting because of the negative aspects of being labelled or considered a feminist. If you are a woman and would like to see more women post, the only practical action you can take is ... to post. Asking men to refrain from posting is simply unfair, especially given USENET's public nature. There are a number of women-only forums, pointers to which appear in the Resources FAQ. 5. There are many other topics that flare up into prolonged and protracted disagreements. Chief among these are 1) the question of gender neutral language, 2) the actual statistics on spouse-beating or other crimes in comparing which gender is "worse off," 3) the propriety of "women only" events when "men only" are always attacked as sexist (including the question of women-only colleges). These topics have come up many times and most regular readers would be appreciative if you check and even read some of the references given on these topics in the References post before jumping in or starting such a topic. This gives everybody a common basis to discuss from. While these topics are not forbidden, they may be stopped at the moderators' discretion when circularity starts to occur. 6. Other articles that are otherwise perfectly acceptable may be rejected if a number of prior articles have made the same point, e.g., someone asks for a book title, or someone makes a point and a number of people make the same counterpoint. "Me too" and "What s/he said" articles are generally rejected as well. The aim is to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio as much as possible. 7. The subject of homosexuality is relatively sensitive. We will not post anything we deem homophobic (we consider this to fall under unwarranted attacks that are already forbidden). Many articles on or about lesbianism are considered relevant to feminism because of the close association between feminism and lesbianism. Articles about gay males are accepted if there is a clear relevance to feminism present. The point is, there are ties between feminism and homosexuality, whether or not one disapproves of it. Those ties can be discussed so long as the question of whether or not homosexuality is "right" or "wrong" is avoided (since such discussion is irrelevant to feminism). Here's a check list: + Gay rights in general are structurally similar to women's rights, black rights, minority rights, etc. They may be acceptable (as would black or minority rights articles) if there are parallels drawn with feminism or some other clearly drawn link. + Because much of the theory of patriarchy revolves around how female sexuality is directed and used for the benefit of the patriarchy, Lesbianism is often considered a direct challenge to the patriarchy, especially in Western cultures. Therefore most articles on Lesbianism are relevant. + Anti-gay rhetoric is not acceptable. Calm and reasoned arguments against homosexuality are not acceptable. Soc.feminism is not a forum for whether or not homosexuality is "right" or "wrong." + Discussion of whether or not feminism itself is homophobic (with the a priori assumption that homophobia is wrong) is very interesting and a welcomed topic. 8. The subject of transsexuality is potentially explosive. Again, we will not post anything we deem anti-TS (we consider this to fall under unwarranted attacks that are already forbidden). Many articles on or about transexuality are considered relevant to feminism because of the fundamental questions about gender identity this involves. However, articles accusing M2F folks of trying to "sneak into" women only events, that they are inferior to "born women", that they deserve contempt only, etc, shall be rejected. 9. If the post includes private email, be sure to obtain that individual's permission before posting it. There are no legal rules about this (yet), but it is requested as part of general net.etiquette for this group. 10. If you are posting material that may be copyrighted, please give all information about where it comes from. Partial quotes, newspaper articles, book blurbs and the like are generally OK, but with full source information, we can decide whether such postings potentially infringe copyright law. We will not post articles that violate copyright law: examples include entire newspaper or magazine articles, or substantial portions of books. A review that extensively quotes such a source is OK, a commentary on such a source without as much quoting is better. 11. Posting pointers alone to discussions in other groups is not generally allowed. However, a discussion of such a thread in another group is perfectly fine, eg, summarizing the discussion and adding your thoughts to it. Remember that we do not crosspost any soc.feminism articles in any case; articles that simply add soc.feminism to the list of newsgroups to an ongoing thread will be rejected as lacking context (especially when such articles try to import a flamewar). 12. Finally, please edit out all unnecessary quoted text and pay attention to your attributions. We have done some ourselves when it seemed necessary, but we do not feel that this should be part of our job. Therefore, your article may be returned with a request to streamline it if you do not take care to remove old signatures, excess text, unrelated points and the like. _________________________________________________________________ Multiple Moderation This group is moderated by several moderators, each working independently. Submissions are sent to email@example.com, where one current moderator is selected, and the article forwarded to that moderator only. This means that there is some variation in what is approved or not, since there is inherent individual variation between different people. We do try to minimize this variation by consulting with each other on the occassional, problematic, article. However, the whole purpose of multiple moderation is to reduce the load on any one individual, therefore we do not consult each other over every posting we get. Please keep this in mind if you have a complaint which may be related to this. _________________________________________________________________ Anonymous Posting We have posted articles anonymously for contributors before. In general, you must satisfy us that you have a good reason for remaining anonymous. You will not be anonymous to the moderators, but your article will be posted without identifying material if we consent to posting it anonymously. For articles that you wish to be posted anonymously, you must preface it with your request and your reasons for the request. We will not post it if we think that your reasons are insufficient or deceitful; you will be informed via email of the decision. In any case, your identity will be kept confidential. Mail "handles" are not considered anonymous; anonymity is when there is no email address available to reach the person who posted the article. Soc.feminism has no policy regarding the common practice of using a fanciful name or nickname instead of the real name in the "handle" field. (We do, however, reserve the right to question or refuse articles from people appearing to be using aliases for disruptive purposes, particularly if they have done so on usenet before.) There are several anonymous mail servers that set up a double anonymous connection: when you send mail to it, it gives you an anonymous email address, and anyone responding to that email address gets an anonymous address of their own. We do not have any objections to people using this software (since you provide a valid email address to send to), but be aware that some of these services are a bit buggy and may cause us problems especially if we reject your article. In addition, such services may add several days delay in forwarding email back and forth. We reserve the right to reject such articles from these services at our discretion. _________________________________________________________________ Editorial Policy If the moderator who receives your article thinks that it is generally OK if it is somewhat edited, you will get your article back with comments. At this point, you can change it and send it back directly to that moderator. If you feel that changes are unreasonable, you can appeal to the feminism-request address. Articles that are rejected receive a "rejection notice"; again if you think it was unfounded, drop a note to feminism-request. If you sent an article and it has not appeared nor have you received email about it, you may wish to enquire via feminism-request. Do keep in mind, though, that articles may sit for a while; moderators do not necessarily check their mail over the weekends, and that site connectivity may mean that your site will not receive your article from the moderator's site within the time you expect. However, email is not perfect and has been known to send mail into giant black holes, so bear with us. The moderators may make cosmetic modifications to articles that have lines that are too long, have their attributions mixed up, or quote excessive material. Moderators will occasionally inject their comments, usually to the effect of advising people where followups are going to, warning of topic drift, or some other explanatory note. Any further modifications are always after consultation with the original author as described in the previous paragraph. _________________________________________________________________ Please mail in comments, additions, corrections, suggestions, and so on to firstname.lastname@example.org.