This started with a text message, for those of you who haven’t heard our foundational story. Nicole was perfectly happy at her old job, chugging along free of editorial responsibility and public heat, and then Mallory texted her and said:
“Why don’t you quit and we can start our own site?”
And Nicole said: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha :)”
And then she thought about it, and it occurred to her that having their very own site would be different. Harder, obviously, and you could no longer lie and tell people you were rejecting their piece because “my boss hates you/it, sorry,” but it would be theirs.
[ED. NOTE - This makes me sound like a homewrecker.]
[ED. NOTE - That's your conscience speaking.]
So, what was The Toast to be? We immediately knew we wanted to pay our contributors something, because writing is work. We didn’t want a political blog, because other people do that much better than us, but we also wanted to have a STANCE.
We strive to be intersectionally feminist. We are pro-choice. We are pro-queer. We are pro-trans. We strive to feature writing from women of all ethnic backgrounds, to be a place where women who are not all white and under thirty and straight and living in New York City are also writing about “Battlestar Galactica” and “Sherlock” and which BB creams work for them, and their friendships and the time they broke their arm playing field hockey. We want to write about books, and think about books, and read books together and then talk about them. We want to hear about your books. We want to read fanfiction about Cold Comfort Farm (Indiebound | Amazon) and also Love & Basketball.
We want to have arguments: we don’t want to run things we find deeply offensive, but sometimes we will want to run things that 40-60% of our readers will strongly disagree with, because when you just write for people who already love you, you never really swing for the fences.
We want to have a variety of women’s voices on this site. Our general demographic is the good old 18-35, like most ladyblogs, but did you know that many women continue to exist past the age of 65, and sometimes even longer? It’s true. We’re also hoping to coax the kids at Rookie into live-blogging “A League of Their Own” with us, because when we were sitting around Nicole’s house, brainstorming the site, “A League of Their Own” was the first thing we wanted to recreate in blog form. Right now, we feel a little like Marla’s dad watching her train pull out of the station, making his “swing away” gesture.
We’re interested in international voices as well. Flavia Dzodan will be our aggressive European correspondent, bringing focus to things we don’t cover very often in the feminist blogosphere: refugees, border disputes, trafficking. Violetta Bellocchio will be explaining the sexual politics of Italy for us, hopefully with charts for the easily lost. (Are you an international voice? Talk to us! There’s a ton of globe left even after you cross out Italy and the rest of Europe.)
We’re going to be talking with sex workers. Probably one of the last things the world needs is more civilians expressing their own opinions on sex work, so we won’t add to it (except for this part right here). We’d rather hear from the women who’ve done the work, and why (or if) they chose it, and how they feel their lives and livelihood could be more safer and more equitable. Our own bias is towards legalization and regulation, but we will also publish women with different viewpoints. The most important thing to remember is that a good feminist ally to sex workers brings popcorn, because everybody likes popcorn.
We’re going to talk about kids. Not a lot, probably, but some. Nicole has a kid (she’s pretty into it), but her kid content will be occasional, and only if she thinks it will be the best thing ever written about being a parent, or breastfeeding, or giving birth, or handing them your iPhone so you can try on a cardigan at The Gap and then getting distracted and accidentally shoplifting the cardigan and planning to return it any day now.
We’re going to talk about men. Nicole is married to one, and thinks they’re tops, Mallory is saving herself for Kristen Stewart, and gathering a misandrist spider army. We are happy to publish men’s work if it is excellent.
Something that’s a little different about us, and that may change based on advertising desires and popular acclaim: we’re going to start with just features. Four or five a day, some by us, some by our contributors. We’re not sure if that will work, honestly. Maybe you’ll want more short things to click on, more often. But we think there’s value in posting things that we’ve invested time and energy on, even if it comes at the expense of “You won’t believe this story about the thing you saw on Twitter and have already believed” link roundups.
That was a lot! You’re probably a little overwhelmed, and scared, and cold, and trembling. As you can see, we’ve dumped our entire first day of coverage on you at once, because we want our readers to know what they can expect from us as a site. We’re publishing all day on July 4th, because, well, we’re new, and we want you to have something to read. Also, Mallory burns easily, so she needs to stay indoors in the summertime.
This week, you can look forward to a narrative from a Canadian woman who had to make her case to two separate hospital psych panels in order to prove she needed a medical procedure many of us now take for granted. We’ve got the brilliant Kate Harding on shuttering Shapely Prose, an introduction to our dream interpretation service by Jen Doll, a satirical work of literary history that one of us did not realize was satire (we’ll let you guess which one), a personal narrative by Anne Helen Petersen that made us cry, and the first installment of Ginger Clark‘s “A Literary Agent Answers Your Fevered Questions.”
And it’s toast like the breakfast, or toast like the clinking glasses, whichever your hot little heart prefers.