With the slow demise of old media has also come the demise of niche media like websites which cater specifically to women’s studies and women’s interests. Prompted by the demise of Double X, an offshoot of Slate, itself an off-shoot of the financial troubled Washington Post, one can tell how both female-centric media and academic fields are usually the first to go in times of economic crisis, budget cutbacks, or higher education famine. While part of me laments that such sites end up being placed first on the chopping board when revenues plummet, another part of me wonders if we are finally ready to rid ourselves of the need for specific media designed for identity group solidarity. In another time where persecution was harsh and undeniably swift to those outside of the mainstream who dared tread into uncharted territory, I think we may be ready to draw up tentative plans for full unity.
Last week I visited Philadelphia and the historic Arch Street Meeting House, a Quaker house of worship that prides itself as being the largest gathering in the world and the oldest still in use in the United States. The main part of the building was separated into a larger worship space and a smaller one directly adjacent to it. A faith committed resolutely to equality among all its members deliberately made accommodations to female attenders by giving them the option of using a women-only space during worship services. There, ladies who would have otherwise felt constrained to speak from within their hearts and their convictions because of the close proximity of their husbands or out of fear of broaching social protocol could have a safe space of their own. Within it they were allowed to verbalize that which they had every right to be express but too often kept inside themselves. It need be noted, of course, that this arrangement no longer exists and that now the voices of women have been welcomed into larger fellowship. I rejoice that progress has been made and hope it continues.