I believe that the okayplayer.com boards are not a feminist of color space. Members of the boards seem to feel that there was a time in the recent past when more feminist discussions were taking place, but now many users feel that women in general have left the boards for Twitter, or have been ‘lurking’ and not offering their perspective generally. I was interested as this seems to be a widely held belief that was suggested by multiple active users independently.
In order determine whether OKP is a feminist of color space I monitored the boards for about two weeks, and in the lead up to the writing of this blog post created a ‘throwaway’ account and posted a poll to gauge the reaction of the OKP community, as well as some of my preliminary findings. At this time the post has 28 replies, 245 views, and 9 poll votes. Interestingly, more users responded affirmatively to the question of whether OKP was a feminist of color space in the poll (4 yes to 2 no) than respondents in the comments, where no one made the unqualified claim that the OKP boards are a feminist space. 3 respondents indicated that the space is racialized.
The overwhelming sentiment among users seems to be that the community is receptive to feminist perspectives and welcoming of all users, but that the board suffers from a lack of feminist perspectives. Additionally, users feel that there had been an exodus of feminist users to Twitter or other platforms in the hope of finding ‘echo chambers’ where their views are less susceptible to challenge. As one user indicated :
Safe from dissenting points of view, ideas or beliefs? NO. This is why I believe that many have left for other forms of social media. Not everyone agrees on everything here, and many of us have radically different points of view on the same subject. There isn’t a list of people that you follow or block here, or any filters, so everyone is exposed to everything. On twitter/IG/facebook/etc., one can tailor their timeline, friends list, followers, etc. so that they are ONLY exposed to the types of news, information and posts that they WANT to be exposed to. For many people, an online environment with differing opinions = NOT SAFE, while an online environment where many people share similar ideas = SAFE. Personally, I stuck around on OKP because I got a wide variety of viewpoints here, and I felt ‘safe’ expressing a dissenting point of view. I don’t feel ‘safe’ expressing on other social media because of the groupthink mentality there.
As another user noted:
I think this is a place where everyone is allowed to speak their piece. Yes, there has been some very strong ‘racial’ content, possibly even hate speech, there has also been intelligent debate among people who disagree STRONGLY, there have been ‘teachable moments’
some people get to speak that probly SHOULDNT, IMO…but that’s not what we do here. We’ll clown the shit out you and drag yo azz…but you can speak tho.
I think MORE feminist perspectives should be here…but maybe they dont feel like castin’ they pearls before swine.”
There was also an interesting sense of history shared by multiple users, who felt that at one point more conversations surrounding feminism were taking place. Users also felt that there were individuals who stomped out threads concerning feminist issues and gender more generally through trolling and name calling:
As far as being open to discussion, definitely. We used to talk about that stuff all the time in the old days. But it’s rare to see robust conversation about those issues when there aren’t any women participating.
That’s just the way things always were…. I think the “bad days” on gender discussion on here were way after 2000. Like maybe 2008 – 2012, or so. That family atmosphere was still very much alive through the mid 2000s, especially at the various local levels (NYC/Philly/DC/ATL, etc.) And then the women bounced to Twitter or started lurking exclusively about 5 years ago.
Ultimately, I found that OKP, while receptive to a broad swath of perspectives and positions, is not a universally ‘safe’ space for feminists of color. Moving forward, I would like to dig deeper into the conversation threads and continue to monitor the responses to my post in order to see how this online community might evolve into a safer