Staff

Gender & NMG Mag

Hi - I'm Nancy, founder of NMG. 

It’s very important to me that this conversation is happening and a huge thanks to @Seb for your excellent post to bring it up. I'm sorry for taking a while to respond. I had a nasty cough virus and did as little work as possible the past couple weeks.  I didn't want to make just a quick and short response because this is important to @Seb and to me and to nmg. 

Staff haven't thought before about not using the words girl and girls when talking about our members. It might be surprising now, but when we started NMG the word “girl” and its variants was often used as a belittling insult, conveying a sense of weakness, powerlessness, frivolousness, incompetence, or unimportance, no matter who it referred to. On the internet, when people searched the word girl or girls they nearly always got porn sites as the answer to their search! Many people told us we should not use the word girl or girls then because it would make our magazine seem childish and silly and sexualized.

That made us angry! We disagreed and decided it was important and symbolic to fight the stigmas wrongly attached to the words girl and girls. We were determined to reclaim the word girls to mean powerful, proud, wise females who weren’t adults yet. We were and still are fighting for the respect due to those people. We also fight for the respect due to all people, in their infinite variety of backgrounds and identities. 

Now we’re thinking about it because of your post and want to invite you and all our members to figure out ways we might change the magazine and at the same time make sure it survives for the future. Figuring out what to do brings up some big challenges for us as an organization that I’ll talk about in a bit.  

NMG was created by girls, women and one man - my husband Joe - in order to bring respect to girls’ voices, to listen to girls, to take girls’ needs seriously, to celebrate girls, to show dignity for girls and girlhood and to make the world better for girls. We started in 1992 and our focus was very much on helping girls challenge sexism and other isms. We started NMG because we couldn’t find any media that did that. Almost all social norms and all kinds of media did the complete opposite by sexualizing girls, objectifying their bodies, stereotyping them, having much lower numbers of females than males in all kinds of media, judging them harshly, severely limiting their opportunities outside traditional roles,  and spreading very low expectations for what girls could achieve and contribute in the world. 

Also from the beginning, we welcomed all readers, not only girls, but boys, and even adults. Our writers and artists were all girls and women. This was very important to us because at that time there was hardly anywhere girls were published telling about their experiences and wisdom, hopes, dreams and needs as girls, in their own words. We think the world still needs much more of that than it has - it’s still way out of balance with the majority of published writing and other media like news, films, video, podcasts, being created much more by males than females. Just look at the oscars and at journalism awards for a couple examples. 

Seb mentioned not seeing anything in the mag about Almost all of the magazine’s content comes directly from our readers. We depend on our readers to tell us what they’re thinking about, hopeful about, concerned about, etc.  At the beginning we had no realization that kids in our age group of 8-14 could have a gender identity of transgender, non-binary, or genderqueer, and others. We literally never heard about that from our readers, which isn’t surprising - it was a very closeted time even for adults, and those terms were not known by a lot of kids in the 90s and early 00s. 

Our readers did write to us from the beginning about sexual orientation and the experiences of having lesbian, gay and/or bisexual parents, siblings, family, etc. We published those stories and Ask A Girls when we got them, and we still do. We don't get a lot of them so they're not in every issue or even most issues. Every time, those articles caused some parents and groups to cancel subscriptions, try to get their school or library to cancel NMG, etc. But that didn’t stop us from publishing them. Rush Limbaugh and Focus on the Family, both extremely right-wing, targeted NMG on the radio and in mailings in 1995 that criticized us for “promoting lesbianism” to our readers. We felt proud to stand up publicly to that bias and support girls and women who personally faced the bias. 

Now, as Seb pointed out eloquently, it's a different world and time. Girls, boys and kids do think and talk about their gender and pronouns. That's a great thing. So for the magazine, we want to have an open and ongoing discussion of ideas from Seb and other members and readers about how we can do that so everyone feels welcomed by the magazine. Seb gave us ideas to start with in their post. We like the idea of using the words readers and members in the magazine, along with the words girl and girls. We think it's important to keep girl and girls in our mix as that is how many of our members identify. (We don't like to call anyone users because to us it feels like it reduces people to consumers.) We’ll start asking all our mag writers which pronouns they would like us to use when referring to them. We also changed the “About Us” form in the online community a few days ago so online members can tell the pronouns they prefer.

We look forward to hearing from more members about all of this and will also do what we can to get response from our magazine readers and our magazine members, the people who pay for the magazine and keep it alive and surviving.  When you have ideas for the magazine, we LOVE to hear them - send us an email anytime to editor@newmoongirls.com. The most helpful ideas include details about what kind of article you would like to have considered for publishing in a future issue. It can be something about you and an experience you've had, or a dream you have for the future, or a topic for Voice Box, or for the Body & Mind or any of the regular departments. 

Thanks again for posting this Seb, and everyone who also has posted about these topics. We always want to hear what's important to you all.  Love, Nancy 

  

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Replies

  • OK, re-post.

    So here's my opinion. I think that NMG should remain a website for all girls and non-binary people, plus some boys, because if it wasn't, it would no longer really be NMG, if you know what I mean, however, I feel that the magazine should be more... Welcoming to boys, as well as transgender and non-binary people. One way that could be done is to have (as I previously mentioned) a couple pages, with a name like Girls Bodies, or something be for stuff like periods, and that type of stuff strictly. In this way, boys/nb/trans people could read the rest of the magazine comfortably. I still feel that if even one person is uncomfortable on NMG, we should try our best, as a community, to accommodate there needs/wants, unless they want to completely change our website.

    That being said, as Sarah previously said, I just want to say, there are MANY awesome boys in this world, and some not-so-awesome girls. Also, trans and nb people, you matter to me as much as anyone else! I love you!!!

    I would also like to say (if you haven't gotten bored yet) that it would be awesome to have a website similar to this one someday for boys and nb people, as well as one for all people, whatever gender.

    NMG, you rock!!!
    • there are boys here, though.
      • Thank you that's true, let me edit this.
      • Yeah, I think she meant cis boys, but she could've phrased that better :P
      • ^^^^ I see where you're coming from, and this is beautifully worded, but NM does except boys (trans boys), so if you could add that to your post, to include everyone on here, that'd be great :)
      • ^^^^ and it’s still NMG
  • Mod S2S Mentor
    I’ve been keeping up with this discussion just by reading it, but I figured I’d drop in some of my thoughts.

    Under the assumption that we all agree that our society is patriarchal, or at least that it’s on the decline from being a patriarchy, I think that’s really the reason that this can come off as “excluding” cis boys. The only people who fully benefit from the patriarchy, and for the most part uphold it, are cis boys. It’s not their fault on an individual level (I know some fantastic cis boys!), but I would say that on a societal level, it is. Every other group of people suffers from the patriarchy in one way or another. Whether that’s cis girls being told that they are less than boys, or trans people having their identities disregarded by the binary patriarchy, the only people who fully benefit from the patriarchy are cis men. That does *not* mean that trans men aren’t real men! Not at all! It *does* mean that trans men will have different experiences throughout their lives than cis men will, including negative experiences brought on by patriarchal standards.

    That said, I think that’s the underlying reason for “excluding” cis boys/men from spaces, anywhere from New Moon to historically women’s colleges. These spaces are built for gender minorities to succeed and, for a moment, be the majority. The entire rest of the world is built for cis men, and cis men alone, to succeed and be the majority.

    I hope that that made a bit of sense? Regardless, I’ve loved reading this discussion; as many have mentioned, it’s been extremely respectful! <3
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Ask A Girl: Need advice? Give great advice? We help each other! Ask your questions or answer any of the questions already here. Your post will appear in a day or two, so check back often. We've had many girls ask if their questions can be anonymous, and that is not possible on this website. We want you to know that girls in NMG can trust each other, even with embarrassing questions. And if you want to, you can change your user name to a "not real" name that will then also be used in the magazine if your Ask A Girl question is published.

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