Open Letter to Pantsuit Nation

Dear Pantsuit Nation,

You definitely don’t know me. I have been a silent observer of your closed and mostly “private” Facebook group for a few weeks now. Watching you grow into an influential collective. Over 3 million members strong! Your brand is storytelling, especially post-apocalypse. It seems now that the Orange Menace is inevitable…you want to amplify voices affected in the aftermath.

With this in mind, I expected there to be an abundance (not just a couple) of stories from people most severely effected by the Orange Menace. Immigrants, disabled people, people in the LGBTQIA+ communities, black people and other non-black people of color and the people who intersect into all of these groups. I was excited with the idea that there would be a white audience, ready to listen to the most vulnerable voices among us.

Although I rejected the first dozen invitation to the group, 13 was the charm.

However, while the content is lovely and the collective lamenting feels therapeutic on the outset, I am not IGNITED! I am not INSPIRED! The tone of the page is self-centered as fuck and congratulatory. Congratulatory for what? I’m not sure. There are so few stories from the most marginalized groups, I wondered what the point actually was.

I get it, you share what’s submitted to you and these are the stories being submitted right? I think maybe, you could work a little harder to invite more diverse story telling into your group. With more than three million members, someone will know someone who knows someone who can get you connected with people who really deserve a platform and allies willing to stand with them. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center hate crimes are up, more than 800 reported incidents since the electionand, and the numbers continue to rise.

What are you doing with this group and it’s three million members, really?

This is the question I keep coming back to. Three million members and where is the call to action, how are you creating real change?

You seem to support the efforts in Standing Rock, though I have seen no natives at standing rock being given a platform in your group. You share links to your zazzle account to promote your merchandising, so I can see you know how to leverage your platform.

You are leaving some people out. In particular, black women.

Perhaps, you just don’t have clear direction. As an ally, it is always so difficult to know where and how to get started.

Enter Safety Pin Box

Safety Pin Box is a monthly subscription box for white people striving to be allies in the fight for Black Liberation. Box memberships are a way to not only financially support Black femme freedom fighters, but also complete measurable tasks in the fight against white supremacy.

– Marissa Jenae Johnson & Leslie Mac, Creators

Leslie Mac and Marissa Janae reached out to your national Pantsuit Nation page in the spirit of allyship, hoping to get their story and their service in front of your membership…surely, this is the kind of story that deserved to be told.

The service literally puts allyship into a box, packaged and wrapped for white consumption. Calls to action in monthly, bite-sized pieces of brilliance. Finally, a clear-cut way well-intended white people can make change in ways just wearing a safety-pin or telling personal stories can’t. Surely, Pantsuit Nation would support these two entrepreneurs and social justice activists and black women…right?

No.

Not at all. Even after dozens of people shared it with your group in hopes you would amplify both the message and the women behind it. The resistance was real, the refusal was evident and while I’m not even surprised at your one-sided ideas of allyship, I’m definitely disgusted.

You didn’t bother to respond to my requests to post at all. However you did respond to someone with this unimaginative canned and tone-deaf message on twitter…

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It wasn’t helpful so, I have a few questions…

What exactly are you doing with this group? Who are you supporting? How are you supporting them, beside story telling and PSN specific actions to buy PSN specific merchandise? Are you a non-profit or for profit and if it’s the former, where is that money going?

Do black lives matter? Where is that represented in your space?

Do black women matter? Why wont you amplify these voices?

You can direct your answers to me here or on Twitter – @Jenina_ishere – I’ll wait.

PS – for anyone interested in being an effective ally, please check out The Safety Pin Box

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Peace and love,

Me

xoxox

93 thoughts on “Open Letter to Pantsuit Nation

      1. But Pantsuit Nation does not require members to buy the leggings in order to be part of the group. Safety Pin Box requires $$, as April says.

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      2. Signed the letter ‘me’? Jenina Marie is her name. I bet many pantsuit nation women will march in DC. I know a lot of the posts are from women of all races. Let’s work together; hey, there’s even men on Pantsuit Nation.

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      3. Everyone here knows who I am…😂 who are you “outing” exactly? My picture is prominently displayed in “about me” go take a look…😂😂😂 you’re silly. Thanks for stopping by tho Becky!

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  1. YES – this a million times yes.

    I’m furious with the original PSN, to be honest.

    They had an amazing opportunity with that group, and squandered it to make it into someone’s fluffy “project”.

    One must recognize that there exists an inherent responsibility when you manage to accidentally collect that many people with that much shared vision, and so much dire need. To waste that opportunity is neglect, plain and simple. To fail to act or even allow us to promote action within that group stymies the potential that it has, the negative effect of which is potentially disastrous.

    Not only is it unfair: it is ethically wrong.

    Telling stories is fine for a little while. For many it served as a salve to the soul after this tragedy of an election, but it does NOTHING to address the symptoms. By neglecting to allow US – the PSN members – who made it what it is – to use it as a conduit for that change is short-sighted and wildly irresponsible.

    Shame on them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Totally agree. Wasted opportunities abound. I finally called them out on all the whining and crying and complaining the other day. Told them if they couldn’t function they should see a doctor. You should have seen the backlash. I had to take down the post. I was informed that the site is a place to “vent” and that if I didn’t like that I should find another site. It’s just a bunch of white women with nothing better to do than sit around contemplating their navals and get worked up about something together, rather than actually doing anything about anything. Exactly the opposite of what Hillary would do.

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    2. To me, Pant Suit Nation is a support group (not a political action group or a change oriented group) where people can share stories, fears, dreams and hopes with like minded people. I have found it personally helpful. It seems to have a membership made of of many religions, a large LGBT membership, some males along with many females, many members of mixed races, some white and many of other ethnicities. The common thread is being deeply disturbed about the apparent legitimatizing of hatred and intolerance. If people want to join more pro-active, change oriented groups, such as BLM or Safety Pin Box or any of the myriad of others, they are free to do so, but stop trying to put your personal agenda on this group. Simply drop out if it is not for you. And to the apparently guilt ridden white woman who begged “all black women” to not drop out…stop begging. The membership is expanding rapidly and is evolving based on the interchanges. Hopefully, they will remain varied enough to retain a mixed membership with a common need to share and find support in a non-threatening environment. The rapid expansion of membership happened becausethe social page filled a need…the administrators/creators have no “inherent responsibility” to take it in the direction you suggest they must.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s interesting the way you interpret my well researched, well thought out letter, filled with real, first hand, lived experience as begging.

        I think it says much more about you, than me. Thanks for your comments!

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      2. Where are you seeing a large LGBT membership and multiracial one? As a lesbian in a multiracial family who has been on PSN for weeks I can tell you other than 5 or 6 wedding announcements, a woman putting up rainbow Christmas lights as an ally and one trans man being assaulted on a train (which is horrific). I have not seen my people represented because we are too busy on PSN making white abled bodied heterosexual women feel like they have a cause?! Story telling is fine for a time being during the grieving process but that time has passed. It is time to put on big girl panties and get to work! It sickens me that you are attacking this woman for stating the truth. The truth is PSN had the potential to be one of the largest calls to action in decades and they choose to turn that into a therapy session! Your Safety Pin isn’t going to do a GD thing for me when my family loses their rights because you were to busy telling stories instead of protesting, learning, and HEARING the CALL TO ACTION.

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      3. It isn’t a change oriented group? Bizarre since they speak of how Clinton asked us make our voice heard and she says she took this as a call to action. What was the action if not for change?

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    3. I was added to the group Libby Chamberlain started very early on. It was called National Pantsuit Day November 8th. I made a group name called Pantsuit Nation on the http://www.hillaryclinton.com to Get Out the Vote. I had a message chat with Libby and offered to do an “event” on her Facebook page. She blew me off. I then started a political organization page called Pantsuit Nation on November 2nd. The motive of my Pantsuit Nation Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Pantsuit.Nation/ was and REMAINS one of activism. If you were or are still a member of Libby Chamberlain’s group, but would like to be ACTIVE, please join us!
      Following is our chat:
      Hi Libby! I just made a post about the boycott of ALL Ivanka and Donald Trump merchandise in stores such as Nordstroms, Macy’s, etc. Hope that is ok? We can REALLY make a difference with our wallets as well! #GrabYourWallet
      They accepted your request.
      Nov 2nd, 4:33pm
      Hi Libby – I made a post to GOTV for Hillary and it was DENIED? Is there a reason for this???
      We’re seeing thousands
      The best way to increase visibility is to search for GOTV and bump
      The more posts there are, the harder to see each one
      OK – I just did the search. Mine wasn’t like that. It was a call to action and a challenge to make calls through the official hillaryclinton.com website. I challenge 5 people to make 5 calls and they challenge 5 people and so on.
      These are just personal stories – they aren’t call to action.
      Would you be interested in creating a document I can upload as a PDF that gives some information about canvassing, phone banking, and other GOTV efforts for the final week?
      Since we are seeing so many similar posts, it would be great to have a central place to point people. More people will see it I post, and I’ll also keep it in the “files” tab on the group page
      I would rather just do this as an event – put the link there and the info. I added this photo that I changed my profile pic to and thougpic. It would be fantastic to see this flood Facebook as a “silent” movement!!!
      I believe that is happening already
      on this page?
      I don’t see anything remotely like what I am presenting
      If you’d rather not, I’ll take it to another group. But I’ve been here since it was quite small and thought I’d start here first.
      Do you understand what I am proposing?
      AWESOME! ty so much! Hope we get some good participation!!
      Nov 3rd, 5:50pm
      Hey Lisa! Are you behind the Pantsuit Nation Facebook page? Noticed the same rockin high heel image!
      Yes
      Great!
      We’re moving toward that as a possible call to action and hashtag for the social media push we hope to do in the next five days.
      I see it was created today and doesn’t have any content yet.
      Any interest in donating the page to the group for wider exposure?
      It would be the public face of the secret group.
      Obviously it’s yours and you can use it how you want, but I think we’re on the verge of some pretty big engagement with the pubic.
      We’re working on a social media blitz, focused on getting out the vote
      You realize this is EXACTLY what I was trying to talk to you about yesterday, correct? And was all but blown off?????
      I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. I have hundreds of people messaging me about why their posts haven’t been approved. I was trying to understand where you were coming from.
      We have created an admin post that we are trying to push with a call team in place.
      about phone banking
      I realize you have many members. I would like to point out that I joined this group when YOU were the only admin. Additionally, you and I were talking about this yesterday..and then VOILA!
      and I was ignored.
      and getting my posts censored????????????
      Seriously?????
      OK good luck with everything you’re trying to accomplish, Lisa. I think we’re on the same team.
      you as well. And I would have been a GREAT asset to your movement.
      Nov 3rd, 7:24pm
      Accept my friend request please and I’ll transfer the page over to you.
      I would love to stay on as admin though – just providing motivation and information and only as relating to the phone bank.
      I don’t want any power – just sort of like a “glorified cheerleader”
      ok – good luck!
      Thanks for the offer, Lisa! I really appreciate it! Considering a few different options and will get back to you!
      Yes I saw.
      HA! So glad to know you follow the principles of the movement.
      Are you going to tell everyone who “congratulates” you on the new name that you stole it? AND my idea? This is REALLY sad. I offer you help and you steal my ideas.
      Good thing about FB messages! They never go away!!
      Merrie Valliant was the first person that called it Pantsuit Nation
      My first use of that was on 10/25. I’m not sure why you’re upset with me Lisa, but I do honestly think we want the same things.
      I wish you well.
      It’s your conscience Libby.
      Chat Conversation End

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  2. YES!!! God forbid you challenge the nice white ladies at PSN about the bias in their posts or ask them to think too much about it instead of giving them constant praise and head pats for their Michelle Pfeiffer moments.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. All they needed to do was to respond to that post that asked for money? Sorry, but you miss the entire point of the PSN. If you don’t like PSN, go away. But stop dictating to people what they MUST do or not do.

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    1. This is so very true. The moderators actually allowed a post on “The 8 White Identities” today, and you should have SEEN some of the white fragility in the comments section. Unreal. A lot of these people really have no clue at all. And, yes, all they want to do is write fluffy stories about how they bought a black person a free latte at Starbucks today or some such thing, and get 1,000 likes and 1,000 more comments telling them what great white saviors they are. It’s embarrassing.

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  3. I do not like the direction that PSN has taken. Like you said, it was a MASSIVE group of likeminded people who needed leadership and a direction. So much amazing action could have come from that collective gathering.

    However, I think that Safety Pin subscription box is stupid and exploitive. Not at all what we need during this time.

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    1. Hmmm. . . I find it difficult to apply the word “exploitative” to black women raising money or charging money (we don’t know how those dollars are going) to fight white supremacy by providing services white people are asking for.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Evan Myers, How about supporting the party that enacted the civil rights legislation that ended legal segregation and enforced voting rights?

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  4. I love the idea of financially supporting black women and using the Safety Pin Box. Pantsuit Nation should amplify that voice and whenever a woman of color has a good idea, should support and promote that, period. White people created this mess —including Donald Trump’s election –and it is on white people to make things better. Most white people think our good intentions absolve us from perpetuating white supremacy when we do without that intention. I hope that PN can build genuine diversity into their leadership, meaning a team that is reflective of all, really. That said, I think we need to be very, very aware of the dangers of destabilizing any part of the anti-Trump, anti-white-supremacy, racism, sexism, homo-trans-Islam-ophobia, etc. movement. Critique and ask for reform, yes, but work against, no. My guess is that the people leading PN– volunteering their time and lifeblood–have little to no experience working with, within, and in the service of diverse communities. We should continue to point out where they are weak and how they need to change. Imagine the goodness and goodwill that might unfold if they do start listening to black women? How many black women voted for Donald Trump? Wasn’t it like 2%? As far as I’m concerned, once again, that particular demographic knows what’s really going on– and have throughout history.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Fwiw, I’m one white woman who is trying to listen to the voices of women of color telling those of us mobilized by the election in what ways we are weak and need to change. I hope you keep talking! I’m also getting on the SPB mailing list and checking out the sample task. I am a part of Pantsuit Nation, which is quickly dividing into state and local chapters, that, unlike the national FB group, *are* action-oriented. Sadly, these local groups are also predominantly white, and the smaller groups that I’m involved with are really struggling with how to partner with people of color, as well as the LGBTQ community, and non-Christian religious communities. We have so much to learn.

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  5. Please, if you would like to do something different or better, be my guest. But quit whingeing about the people who are doing the work unless you’re willing to take it on.

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    1. What work world that be? Story telling or inclusive social activism? Pantsuit Nation is terrible at both! Plus…my blog…my right to “whinge”….it costs nothing to keep it moving! #safetypinbox is different and better.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Flavia, what work are they doing and for whom? Why do you assume Jenina writing and expressing her thoughts and voicing her opinions isn’t doing the work? I mean she is a woman of color and she was asking a white woman to represent women of color specifically black women. Why is that out of the question?

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  6. I hear you and have been debating about unsubscribing from PSN myself for some of the same reasons. I have heard others say that they have just muted the feed since its pretty overwhelming. Although TBH, I do read some of the stories and find tears streaming down my face and get more determined to help if I am faced with similar situations.
    I like your safety pin box idea and personally would love to amplify the black lives matter and indigenous people voices. Other than wearing my pin every day, sharing news posts, sending postcards, and donating to a good cause, what can I do today especially in a pretty vanilla part of Colorado? I’m sure others are feeling the same as well as building up stamina and resolve to fight back – hearing the “me too” that they may not have heard before. I too tried to post a few things that the moderators decided didn’t fit with their group design.
    I am amazed at the level of engagement though of 3 million people!!! Instead of giving up on it, could your safety pin box group (without charging money upfront) help build a smaller coalition that can persuade the probably overwhelmed and likely underprepared PSN group leaders to use the power they have harnessed for good! As you say, they need direction. I’m sure they had no idea that the group would ever get as big as it has. Take a page from the NODAPL folks and find the olive branches…

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    1. Hi Dara, thanks for your comments! You can lead a horse to water right? I encourage you to visit the safety pin box site…try out one of their sample tasks and if you like the task but, you can’t afford to participate right now, share it with friends.

      The women running the service are self employed activists…unfortunately not everyone can afford to give their labor away.

      Especially WoC who are woefully underpaid as is.

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  7. I’ve found PSN to be inspiring and had no idea there were perceived issues with lack of direction, diversity, etc., as I’ve seen posts from every demographic. I also support the safety pin movement, and will be marching in DC on Jan. 21. I urge everyone to come together, stay together, and not tear like-minded groups or people down at this crucial time. Great things can be accomplished through multiple avenues and initiatives, and if the 1st or 2nd or 3rd doesn’t work or resonate with you, by golly start a 4th. Please, let’s all keep moving forward in support of each other and against the likely mess this election outcome will mean to us all. We have to stay strong TOGETHER.

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  8. I’m going to say that I’m not very inspired by PSN either, so I don’t spend much time in there. It’s an amoeba social media site– thrown together by sad/mad women who were sheocked senseless by this election. It’s become mostly a venting space for people who need their emotional parking tickets validated. And they’re doing that job. But, there is no active malice against women of color or LGBTQ people or the water protectors st Standing Rock. To claim they are leaving us out just assumes they have to power and make-intent to do that. People, all kinds of people are doing and writing amazing inspiring things all over the place. I think we should pick our battles more carefully, not form the usual Left circular firing squad. You know who really has power over us, and plans to leave us out? Trump and every evil cabinet member he has chosen so far, the republican led Senate and House, and undoubtedly the next Justice on the Supreme Court. Who gives a single F#€K about Pantsuit Nation? We have bigger fish to fry. Much, much bigger fish. Let’s focus on that.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Bitch bitch bitch. Comp;ain complain complain. So THIS is supposed to inspire? Because you sound like a spoiled child. Go DO something if you have such a fucking problem. Quit sitting around on a blog because a hateful person. What the hell are YOU doing to change things?

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  10. I disagree. Yes, PSN has a lot of white women unaware of their privilege, but I have also read a large number of posts made by women of color and women and men who are aware of their privilege. Some posts ARE self-congratulatory, but just yesterday, I watched a woman’s post about her realizations about her own racism be carefully moderated to request it not become a congratulatory post, but a post of “we will do better.” Your post ignores those things I have seen, that are really there. And respectfully, I am really poor, with a child to feed. I can’t pay extra money to something as you suggest. It would be BETTER to not segregate ourselves as well. White women must learn to acknowledge their privilege. There is simply no better way to do that than to create a diverse group of people working together. 



    There’s something else. Some of those early troublesome posts or comments at PSN seemed to be … from fake profiles. In other words, someone not sympathetic was coming in and stirring up the pot quite a bit. It caused some women of color to leave. I dealt with one of these accounts myself, and after really pushing these two accounts hard, they just … disappeared. From Facebook. From PSN. I think we need to work together, not apart.

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  11. Most of the posts I see are straight white women upset over a relationship they’ve lost because of the election, or how they’ve lost friends on Facebook. It comes across as self-obsessed and insensitive, considering what PoC and other marginalized groups have lost/stand to lose.

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  12. I’ve been considering leaving PSN for many of the reasons you touched on. I’m also frustrated at the lack of direction from the creators of the group to mobilize users to take real action for change. It’s a shame that it seems like they are letting this opportunity go to waste.

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  13. Let’s all send PSN our complaints in the form of “personal stories.” Something like:

    “Hi guys! So this just happened to me, and I’m so upset and need to share it with someone. I was so sad after the election, but then I found this amazing facebook group where people write in and share their post-election stories. It was amazing! The group made me feel like I wasn’t alone anymore! And over the weeks the group has grown to millions of people! After a couple of weeks, though, I noticed that there weren’t many posts from PoC, and that nobody seemed to offer any clear or direct paths for fighting back or creating real, systematic change. It made me so sad! Guys, I think I need to end my relationship with this facebook group 😦 It’s a really hard decision. But I just really believe, deep down, that it’s important to build inclusive platforms open to all voices and to use those platforms to act on this messed up world. Thank you all so much for your support! It means so much!”

    If they get enough stories like this, maybe they’ll post one?

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  14. PSN took a different direction than I wanted. But they did give a place where I could connect with others in my state. We decided to be politically active because we need to be. Action is what helps us. So thank you PSN! Those of us in Wisconsin will take it from here and take our state back.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I left PSN after the *three* different times I tried to discuss my family’s story, and how people could advocate for people with disabilities went unapproved. Evidently I’m not feel good enough, or something.

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  16. Unsolicited input from one of the millions of “nice white ladies” from PSN (who certainly aren’t all nice, white, or ladies). I’d echo Mimi’s comment above. It sounds like you might be passing judgement on an very eclectic group that sprang to life out of now where, and has yet to find a voice or specific purpose. Yes, hopefully they will be able to harness the group for action , they better hurry! But we are trying, listening, learning. Please be part of the solution – be an honest poc voice we need to hear on that page – it’s a big stage. I sought out this page because I’m listening, seeking ways to be part of the solution. We need to stick together. 2cents.

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  17. Hi there,
    I’m one of those “nice white ladies.” I’ve been a part of PSN since it was 5,000 people, and let me tell you I have noticed a lot of the same things you have noticed here. I really respect what you’re saying and agree, though I do think PSN is a really positive election education and survival tool for a lot of folks.

    Look, I get it. LOTS of stories of white women living in the south who, for the first time, stood up to that racist guy in the supermarket. LOTS of love letters to Hillary and lamenting and worrying and shock at the election.

    I don’t love the self-congratulations either, but I understand it. For many of these women who live in red states or are married to Trump supporters, this is their community. All of my friends and co-workers are liberal, but many of these women need a friend. So I excuse it a little bit.

    I do want to say that I have seen a large variety of posts over the months I’ve been in the group. Now there are too many people to read them all, but there are a fair amount of posts from multi-racial families, queer folks, stories of refugee family members, black moms, and gay dads. It’s not the majority, and since the election the tone has changed a bit. But there are posts about actions to take and information for people who may not be getting this information in their circles of friends.

    Let’s just say this isn’t the MOST activist groups I belong to, but I do appreciate it for what it is. And I think anywhere that has become a place where women’s voices can be heard and shared is significant, especially given the sexism that this election revealed.

    I don’t think that the originators intended for this group to do anything but create a community. And accidentally it may have mobilized a lot of people to take action where they wouldn’t have before. This is where I found out about marching on Washington. It’s where I saw rationale for calling members of Congress and call scripts. This group’s members made the most phone calls for Hillary in the weeks before the election.

    I don’t think this group has a responsibility to promote the product you suggest. They have specifically not promoted products, though the item you mention is awesome. They are a collection of people telling stories and sharing inspiration. If there is a way that this group could be used for even more purpose than that, I think they could use support and not public criticism that could separate us.

    The almost 4 million members are mostly white, and that explains the majority white voices you hear there. But it’s not a curated site run by folks who are posting only a selection of stories. Perhaps the group organizers should put out an encouraging call welcoming stories from their members of color and prioritize approving those. I think that could go a long way towards building a more inclusive group that hears the voices of the marginalized, and would do the group good.

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  18. I’m one of those “nice white ladies.” I’ve been a part of PSN since it was 5,000 people, and let me tell you I have noticed a lot of the same things you have noticed here. I really respect what you’re saying and agree, though I do think PSN is a really positive election education and survival tool for a lot of folks.

    Look, I get it. LOTS of stories of white women living in the south who, for the first time, stood up to that racist guy in the supermarket. LOTS of love letters to Hillary and lamenting and worrying and shock at the election.

    I don’t love the self-congratulations either, but I understand it. For many of these women who live in red states or are married to Trump supporters, this is their community. All of my friends and co-workers are liberal, but many of these women need a friend. So I excuse it a little bit.

    I do want to say that I have seen a large variety of posts over the months I’ve been in the group. Now there are too many people to read them all, but there are a fair amount of posts from multi-racial families, queer folks, stories of refugee family members, black moms, and gay dads. It’s not the majority, and since the election the tone has changed a bit. But there are posts about actions to take and information for people who may not be getting this information in their circles of friends.

    Let’s just say this isn’t the MOST activist groups I belong to, but I do appreciate it for what it is. And I think anywhere that has become a place where women’s voices can be heard and shared is significant, especially given the sexism that this election revealed.

    I don’t think that the originators intended for this group to do anything but create a community. And accidentally it may have mobilized a lot of people to take action where they wouldn’t have before. This is where I found out about marching on Washington. It’s where I saw rationale for calling members of Congress and call scripts. This group’s members made the most phone calls for Hillary in the weeks before the election.

    I don’t think this group has a responsibility to promote the product you suggest. They have specifically not promoted products, though the item you mention is awesome. They are a collection of people telling stories and sharing inspiration. If there is a way that this group could be used for even more purpose than that, I think they could use support and not public criticism that could separate us.

    The almost 4 million members are mostly white, and that explains the majority white voices you hear there. But it’s not a curated site run by folks who are posting only a selection of stories. Perhaps the group organizers should put out an encouraging call welcoming stories from their members of color and prioritize approving those. I think that could go a long way towards building a more inclusive group that hears the voices of the marginalized, and would do the group good.

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    1. Of course PSN is a carefully curated site. The admins of PSN only post certain types of stories; I definitely noticed the lack of diversity in them. So many of them have the same themes and complaints. It is only recently that I saw any posts from women of color and other vulnerable communities. For example, I can count on half my hand how many posts I’ve seen from disabled members. When posts from PoC have been approved they were followed by cries of “but that’s not me” and “reverse racism!”

      In regard to PSN not promoting products, I guess you missed the pinned, official post about the plethora of PSN products offered through zazzle.com. Further, what do you think of Libby Chamberlain taking the stories of PSN and securing a book deal for herself?

      While Libby was deleting posts from women with calls and links for real action, she was quietly acquiring trademarks for Pantsuit Nation, even though someone else came up with the name. While Libby demanded that members not share the private stories they read in this “secret” group, she was obviously showing them to publishers to secure her deal. Inexplicably, she still has a lot of support. The usual women are saying “So what if she makes money? She is asking for consent before she publishes, it’s not like your secrets are being spilled.” Alas, they are missing the point. People are angry because Libby is taking the stories of vulnerable people and is making herself the face of it. If that is not the definition of white privilege, I don’t know what is.

      Further, people feel betrayed by the lack of transparency. Libby Chamberlain could have informed the members at **any time** that she would like to collect stories for publication. StoryCorps and Humans of New York have always been public projects that focus on story telling as a catalyst for change. Instead of creating a transparent, public project, Libby acted in secret and announced it after the deal was done. She has refused to answer any questions after she made the announcement. Subsequently, hundreds of posts were deleted and then the comments were turned off.

      The group could have been focused on the recount and other actions that would have supported Hillary Clinton before the electoral college voted. Instead the power of almost 4 million members (almost as large as the NRA!) was squandered in the interest of Libby Chamberlain’s personal profit.

      Like

  19. I view every FB group I belong to as a public street – maybe the really small groups as alleys or pocket parks. Whoever shows up when I do is who I encounter. From the radical sewing community to the funky cooking group to PSN, which is by far the biggest, the stories that are there when I pop in seem to be random. With 3M members, I imagine that what I see is a micro-fraction of what’s happening there.

    I don’t understand how a gathering that large and random can have any identifiable direction or call to action. I love the room for personal storytelling in PSN, and have certainly been touched and energized by many stories. As a Queer senior with a disability, I just show up and add to whatever I feel moved to say. I’m not out in any of my groups until it seems relevant, and I presume that of others as well.

    My call to action is in my immediate neighborhood and larger community. There I talk with folks about the ways we can impact our community, and some interesting plans are emerging. My time is much better spent IRL making changes for the people I live and work with.

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    1. Yes. Local chapters are much more willing and approachable and, as it turns out, wanting to break off from national due to a potential transition to 501c3 and an edict that all chapters stop any activism or political work.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you for writing this (and making me aware of the box). I’m white, and I have been following PSN almost from the beginning. I’ve also felt that the group has been putting a huge focus on our feelings as white people instead of the experiences of POC and other minorities. No one wants to admit they are racist, we all just want to show how not-racist and inclusive we are without actually doing something. It not just trump supporters who need to wake up, its all of us with relative privilege in America, and especially white people. We need to recognize the racism within ourselves.

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  21. I became convinced after about a week on the group that PSN was nothing more than another form of progressive white supremacy. As a first generation immigrant, POC, person with two disabilities (one physical, the other learning), I see almost no reflection of my reality on the private group. I opted out of it weeks ago. Still a member but no longer get the incessant march of sobby, weepy emotional stories clogging my feed. I should really just drop out all together.

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  22. Pingback: A Woman’s Worth
  23. Agreed, Janina.

    Beyond the original opportunity PSN had to get really inclusive, their feed has largely become a place for people to talk about whether or not they should drop their hate-supporting mates after the election, when they’ve known the answer all along. And, once something white starts getting money for leggings or t-shirts or mugs, it’s pretty much over because money yells over the message.

    However, SPB seems to have found a way to make money yell along with the message. And most whites could afford it if they simply made their coffee at home. The caveat is that most white peoples’ passionate advocacy goes toward their neighborhood meetings (i.e. You can’t park your sailboat in your driveway, or ‘I saw two Black people in the park collecting pine straw to make baskets with – be on the lookout!’). This is because few white people have ever had to really fight against any force resembling the hate movement, and also because few of them want to chance upsetting another white by calling him/her on their bullshit (i.e. just wants everything to be ‘nice’).

    But this is not an excuse. The knowledge is there to be had. The tasks are there to be done, and they’re being supplied to us – we don’t have “but where do I start?” to fall back on anymore. No excuses (which, as you can imagine, is super scary for a lot of white people, excuses being the bedrock of our race).

    Should these women leave their hate mongering insignificant others? Of course they should, and good on others for providing support (I’d be interested to know how many have actually left those bad relationships as a result – hopefully some have – rather than just using it as a place to get it out of their system before he comes home).

    White people actually have to DO something, and a resource like Safety Pin Box is a way to do just that, eliminating all but one of our white questions and giving us a way to help in one fell swoop, directly from POC hands, hearts, and voices.

    The only question left is: will we listen? I hope so. Much love.

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  24. Hi, and thank you for this perspective! I agree, many of the states and local groups were disappointed in the decision to avoid turning the national PSN group toward action. They are, I hear, working on a “sister” type set up for an action group, however the state groups don’t have time to wait for them, with the members ready to act NOW. That said, whenever they do announce it, I would re-address the SPB there. I know I found this article through my state’s formerly-PSN group, and as someone on the board for our state, I plan to subscribe and use it to help me better understand how to be ALL-inclusive and actually make a difference in those lives that have been marginalized the most. Thank you so much for speaking about this!!!

    Like

  25. I don’t know precisely what I feel about the national group, but the Washington State chapter that I’m in is trying hard to be intersectional and is promoting #safetypinbox in their threads. It is sometimes a hot mess with so many different people offering opinions, but approaching the state chapter folks would give a clearer idea of the activism and ally-ship going on that isn’t visible at the national level.

    One of the things that really strikes me as self-congratulatory is the repeated posts by white people about the ways they were nice to poc. When I was a kid my mom made up this thing called the Extra Mile Club. We could report on the good things our family members were doing to get the story written on a piece of paper to be read at the end of each week. We couldn’t report on ourselves, though. I think that principle matters. I want to hear from POC how they are being supported and what they still need.

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  26. I get the fund raising. I do. But i am a white senior on a fixed income, and i can’t afford even 25 a MONTH. I support your cause, in fact i support equality not just for black people, but for ALL People.
    Because i am a big believer in history. If we do not hang together we WILL all hang separately.
    I look at the Coming of the Cheeto-headed Hydra as a call to drop the isolationist tendency to protect only those who look like me (or you, or you over there in the back).
    We need to band TOGETHER— Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, Green, Purple , and yes, White.
    Or they will hang us ALL.
    Look at the “Cabinet being assembled— if you think ANY ONE GROUP is exempt, think again. We are all screwed.
    So maybe you can come up with a better pricing plan. I voted for Bernie, and then for HRC. I would have voted for President Obama had he been allowed to run for a 3rd term, cuz i voted for him both in 2008 and 2012.
    So don’t forget that “other” big demographic— Democratic old folks. Like me.

    Like

    1. If it isn’t in the budget, this service may not be right for you. However, if you sign up to the mailing list there are free tasks available. Also, the site does accept donations of any amount for their “black women being” program.

      Thank you so much for reading and for your feedback! 😀

      Like

  27. I will be sharing both this blog and the link to Safety Pin Box on my Facebook Feminist Page. They are scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, 12/7. As a long time (white) Feminist, it is my opinion that most white women, while seeing/feeling the injustices done to them, are blind to the injustices done to women of color. Feminism must be inclusive and include women of ALL color. We are all human. We are all women. We must work TOGETHER to create and bring about change in this country (US) and the world. With the election of this so-called person to president, our job(s) become that much more difficult. Always remember the saying, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”. It is more than past time for ALL women to come together in Solidarity.

    Like

  28. You have quite a sense of entitlement, don’t you? I’m speaking for myself, not the group, when I say that my understanding is that it’s a group for Hillary Clinton supporters to feel safe, tell stories, etc. why you think you have a right to make the group feel guilty for not fulfilling YOUR needs is a mystery to me. But it’s amazingly selfish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So, they shouldn’t be inclusive?

      I’m entitled for expecting inclusiveness and solidarity from the Pantsuits? Is that what you’re saying?

      That it is a privilege that I shouldn’t feel entitled to? I’m selfish to have an expectation of solidarity among a group of feminists?

      Can you clarify….where me, expecting feminists to amplify diverse voices of women of color is selfish?

      Like

      1. You’re not just asking for inclusion. You’re asking for additional favors, which is fine. Except that now you’re trying to shame the group since you didn’t get the response you wanted. That’s the issue.

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      2. Ok, Great! I didn’t know my own mind…but you seem to know everything about this situation, so I’m glad you stopped by. Thanks! You’ve been so helpful…I’ll go let everyone know racism is over now that you’ve explained to me what it was I was actually asking for and it wasn’t inclusion…cos Natalie D. Aponte said so.

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  29. I’m a white woman who joined PN thinking it was all about inclusiveness. As the days passed and the election came and went the tone of the group changed. Where are the marginalized? The majority of the PN members need to stop talking and start listening. I always told my kids growing up God gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth so you can listen twice as much. (yes I’m a progressive Christian)

    My personally story puts me at a level of understanding that most of my white sisters have no clue about.

    I live below the poverty line, my husband is disabled and I have a child on the autism spectrum, my 2 oldest are both in college. I’ve not had health insurance in the 12 years my husband has been disabled. My kids got free lunch when they were in school etc. Our primary income is social security disability and my husband would be in a lost worse shape without his Medicare and food stamps too.

    That’s enough for any person but then I realized one day add in skin color and it’s multiplied x100. I won’t even pretend to know what that feels like but trying to imagine it. I’m trying to listen twice as much as I talk. You have a right to speak. You have a right to share and we should start listening.

    The not listening is how we ended up with the moron for a President Elect.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Look, I get what the Safety Pin Box people are trying to do, but their website and pitch comes off as “get your Box o’ White Guilt here, folks.” It took me getting to the end of the page to decide whether it was satire or not. Based on your post, I’m leaning on it not being, but it is a rather ridiculous concept. These ladies are selling absolution for the privileged. Make a donation, buy a pithy box of trinkets, and go along on your super vanilla way and make sure not to trip over Martin Luther’s theses on the way out. $50 bucks a month of donation and a checklist of charitable deeds isn’t going to end racism, conversation is. Meeting people where they are is. The scientific fact is that the more educated people are, the more socially liberal they are. Racism is rooted in hate, hate is rooted in fear, and fear is rooted in the unknown. If we want to get shit done, we need to get people together. Sit them across tables from each other. Let’s all have a damn tea party where we can sip tea at each other back and forth until eventually we find that common ground. Everyone thinks their view is the only correct view. Everyone thinks that anyone who thinks differently is ignorant. Talking and seeing things from the other perspective builds understanding. But that shit’s hard. It’s hard to look at the woman sitting across the table from you and realizing that you don’t immediately have the same shared experiences to find that first bit of common ground. You didn’t go to the same church or even type of church, your hair is styled differently, you grew up in different parts of town, you don’t watch all the same movies, you don’t listen to the same radio station… And it is hard. It’s worse to ask the hard questions. Why are so many black women single mothers? Why do white people make drugs out of Draino? What is up with “gangsta” culture? What is up with the “skinheads”? Why don’t we like the same things? So yeah, I get the box, I get why you’d be pissed at people for buying the leggings and not buying the box. But I’m insulted by the box. I think the box is degrading to black women’s struggle. For $50 a month, you too can feel like you have done your part and bury your head back into your organic sand pit assuring yourself that you’ve done your part. You can absolve yourself of every microagression you’ve ever committed. For $50 more a month, white women will allowed one additional credit to be used as a referral to that time they watched a Kevin Hart film OR a “I’m not racist but…”

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  31. Jenina, I have to disagree with your opinion of the group PSN. The group description states “PLEASE DON’T: Offer your own Pantsuit Nation merchandise or solicit members for personal or political donations or calls to action. If you’d like to submit a proposal for a call to action or fundraising opportunity please visit http://www.pantsuitnation.org/join-us.html. If you’d like to partner with us to sell a product that you have designed or made, please email partnerships@pantsuitnation.org.” Obviously, they don’t want ANYONE pushing their own agenda. The admins do actually have calls to action, but it is mainly a group of people seeking virtual shelter from the backlash of the election. PSN doesn’t leave people out, because they don’t recruit. They do however support those who have been hurt by words or actions and applaud positive reactions. And I have to say that daily I read stories shared by those who have been victims of hate with only a few scattered self congratulatory stories from the privileged.
    As with most things in life, if you want to do, then do. No need to wait for a FB group to tell you what’s needed-you know and everyone else knows- what needs to be done to make change happen. I understand that pushing your boxes may be your way of “doing”, but like with any other sales job you just have to deal with rejection when it comes along. Pouting and stomping your foot and crying foul just doesn’t seem like something a leader trying to start a movement should be doing. IMO, your dismissive aggressive responses make you come off as being vindictive because the group didn’t want to play with you. You are okay with openly criticizing PSN, but I can see by your responses to other comments in this thread that you don’t take the criticism as well as you hand it out.
    I agree with randomactsofpunctuation (above) about SPB being a box of guilt and I find it degrading. That’s right-for $50 a month you too can PRETEND to be doing something instead of ACTUALLY doing something. Pay money so you can continue with your rosy life and still feel useful.
    Volunteer, donate time, sign and share petitions if that is all you feel you can do, make an effort to be kind to your fellow humans, go out and talk to people. Talking is the key because that is how ideas and knowledge spread. That is how stories are told, minds are changed and hearts are touched. Make real human connections. That is how understanding, acceptance and love grow.

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    1. That only came to be this week since their push for 501 c3 status…..which is also why local chapters are breaking off and going on their own…I really wish people would so some actual research….this group isn’t new…they began it raising funds for standing rock…they advertised for Penzy spices…a quick scroll through their page can paint the picture of hypocrisy in its own.

      I’ve moved on to better more effective things than the mediocre at best pantsuit nation.I think everyone should move on.

      Like

  32. First off I want to thank you for writing this. I am all for activism but sometimes I am so frustrated with the flood of story telling on PSN. My local chapter of PSN seems to have much more diversity than what is on the national PSN and I am not sure if a large part of that is the insane amount of censorship with posts as I have posted numerous times and only one was approved— probably because it was about a safety pin smh. For some reason these white feminists (I am white and feminist but not a white feminist if you get what I am saying) only want to hear pick me up stories or have a reason to be outraged. All I can think is where are the young Davis and Steinem like feminists who are ready to get out there? Since most white people are afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing I think the box is a good idea but I myself prefer to do my own research and get directly involved As a disabled Lesbian woman in a multicultral family I can agree I rarely see representation of my family in PSN maybe they out number us? I don’t know but I wish I heard more stories from the disabled, LGBTQ and multiracial families I would encourage anyone who wants to take direct action to check your local PSN page, BLM, local fundraising for standing rock, and individual causes as I too am not sure what it is PSN nationally is trying to evolve to?

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  33. I receive the feedback of needing to be more inclusive. That said, this group was originally started to find other “blue dots” who were alone in red. And already the weekend before the election it was growing so fast that it was getting too large to get all voiced hear & etc. Some of us members started back then already to form a subgroup (Georgia Chapter) to actually get our posts on the group and find a niche within the welcomes national page. It has been interesting to see how the main group has evolved but do not assume that this group is just talking. We members are very active. The letter writing, the phone calls, the protests, the marches being planned….it’s all happening in smaller threads on subgroups where we identify as PSN. We are thankful that the main group found and WE ARE ACTIVE. Observing is a choice. Participating is a choice. And hundreds of us are participating. The responsibility is our own, not the main page.

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  34. I love all the valid questions you raise with this article. I had many of the same icky feelings about the group myself. Everyone in PSN should take a moment to consider what they are really hoping to gain from membership.

    Like

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