We at the Telefeminism Project are a small and somewhat ragtag group.
In truth, the person you’ll see tweeting and posting the vast majority of the time is one person (the person writing this now, in fact) who came up with the concept and has been working to expand it. A number of volunteers stepped up to pitch in with data collection, and a few fantastic individuals have been kind enough to stay on. I avoid using that pronoun – “I” – in favor of “we,” because the project would never have come this far without help from others. Moreover, “we” better encompasses one of the overarching principles of this project, which is inclusivity. There’s an unfortunate trend among passionate people, feminists and fans among them, to argue meaning and merit. There are a lot of types of feminists, and to exclude the views of any of them would be counterproductive.
Before we get into what kind of help we need, it’s important to explain that this is not a typical “startup” or “nonprofit,” though both terms describe us. We’re unique for three reasons:
- For the time being, we aren’t interested in raising money. This is a passion project. No one here is an employee, and no one gets any monetary compensation. Sometimes, they do get baked goods.Should you choose to help us, you will not receive any money, but somewhere down the line, you will receive some kind of credit. It depends on your location, when we might be traveling, and the format of the final product, but think cupcakes, a drink, or formal credit in a published piece, respectively.The bottom line is that this is about passion. Our goal of improving the way women are represented on television is a means to an end. That end is changing how viewers think, and consequently, act. If we had to name an ideal outcome, it would be gender parity in Congress. Women are 51% of the population, and a representative democracy should reflect that.
Okay, so it’s a really lofty goal. We’re not going to get there with this one project, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And there are a lot of smaller goals – like equal pay for actors regardless of gender, ending a culture in the industry that breeds and tolerates sexual harassment, and encouraging more girls to enter STEM fields.
That said, if the right person comes along, we may look at how we can develop aspects of the project that bring in a little bit of money with which to hold outreach events and the like.
- The vast majority of what we do is research. All those nerd jokes? We’re only kind of kidding. The biggest part of this project right now is collecting data, though we plan to move forward with the second part and begin field interviews with people in the industry soon. Our social media presence is really just a glimpse of what we’re working on, though we do want to expand it somewhat. That’s kind of where you’d come in.Data collection takes incredible attention to detail, willingness to double-check everything, and an analytical mind. You don’t have to be a calculus wizard or a member of the Mathletes to do this. You don’t even have to be able to split a check between four people (because almost no one can accomplish such a feat). But you have to take what you do seriously. Bad data can derail everything and make months of work useless. The good news is that we’re ready to help you learn how to do it, and do it right.
- The “project” part of The Telefeminism Project is literal. The envisioned outcome of this venture is a book, a research article, a documentary, or a combination of those. There’s still no concrete decision on where we’ll go from there, in part because there’s no way to know how much interest this project will generate or where – this is one instance that calls for this word – I will be and what kind of time and energy I will be able to put into it. We’ll have a better sense of what the future holds for Telefeminism as the project grows, and once we see what works and what doesn’t. Your help may very well influence that.
So, all that said, here’s the kinds of roles we’re looking to fill:
- Outreach (preferably in Los Angeles, NYC, or London): individuals who have some proximal relationship to the TV industry and can facilitate interviews. This does not necessarily mean you have to know a bunch of celebrities. We’re interested in interviewing people at all levels of the small screen food chain. Although if you want to hook us up with members of our “dream interview list,” we will not complain.
- Show trackers: individuals who watch and track fairly simple data on weekly shows. Must be done on a regular basis (as in, every episode of a show) and on the day it airs (obviously life can unexpectedly get in the way, but this entails making a commitment to watch live unless there’s a really good reason not to, like your train was delayed due to escaped zoo animals on the tracks or you have a huge term paper due). The results – namely, whether or not a show passes the Bechdel Test and Mako Mori Test – can then be tweeted out in a timely manner.
- Commentators/bloggers: individuals who want to make a limited commitment by contributing one or two articles on some aspect of women on television or by live-tweeting a few episodes of a show while mostly staying on the topic of representation. Requires willingness to represent the project in a certain way (ie don’t live tweet sexist stuff or get in trolling wars) and to have articles edited.
- Website czar – look, we get it, our website kind of sucks. This person would help us revamp it and then either maintain it or relinquish webmaster privileges leaving clear instructions on how to update and not completely destroy the thing.
- Data collectors: individuals who watch and collect data on full seasons of shows and return the data. See above for how important it is that you’re willing to commit to watching carefully and possibly re-watching to check results. The particular shows and seasons are negotiable, though there are a number of shows that have already been analyzed.
- Cat wrangler: just kidding. Kind of. Everyone involved in this project has cats, so if you really want to clean a bunch of litter boxes, it’d probably be fine.
Yes, it’s a big ask, and we’re not anticipating filling all these rolls. This is more of an open call to anyone interested in helping and an explanation of how you might be able to do that.
If you’re interested, email us at email@example.com and please put the name of your favorite BAMF in the subject line.