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soc.feminism Information FAQ

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Archive-name: feminism/info
Posting-frequency: 25 days
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
   Copies of this FAQ may be obtained by anonymous ftp to
   under /pub/usenet/news.answers/feminism/info. Or, send email to 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,, 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.

   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,
   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
   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.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
   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 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 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 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
    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, 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
   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

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