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Subject: soc.feminism Information FAQ
This article was archived around: 11 May 2006 04:21:19 GMT
Posting-frequency: 25 days
Last-modified: 22 Nov 1999
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 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
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 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
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
+ 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.
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.
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.
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.