Issue 44 Out Now!
Illustration: Saul Freedman-Lawson
When I first joined Shameless, I was invited into schools to talk about the importance of independent feminist media. My talks and discussions revolved around the product we co-created, its content and form, its aesthetics. I talked about how we were different from other publications at the time, not so much responding to the world around us, as we were building our own.
In the last few years, something shifted in these talks. People seemed less interested in what we were producing, and more interested in how we were producing it. Sometimes, there’d be questions about funding, or organizational structure and decision-making. Other times, there’d be questions about burnout and being 100% volunteer-run. Questions about retention and what keeps people around so long when we make so little doing it (ie. nothing).
The last talk I gave about Shameless was called D.I.T. (Do it together): Building Cultures of Care. I spent maybe one slide talking about what we do, and the rest of the hour focusing on how we do it. The tl;dr: we create feminist media in feminist ways. We care for each other.
Independent publishing — independent feminist publishing — exists in a culture of scarcity, and Shameless knows this all too well. No operational funding, no full-time staff, no physical Shameless HQ (does Zoom count?). I sometimes wonder how we manage to just exist after seventeen (!!) years, let alone get issues out the virtual door. In the absence of capital, care is our more valuable commodity — it has sustained and continues to sustain the organization through ebbs and flows. It is what defines us as a feminist publication.
Care has taken many forms at Shameless throughout the years. I’ve received it as: our publisher remembering my very specific snack preferences at meetings, as our editors holding space for meeting check-ins that can be messy, fulsome and nonlinear, as laughter from pretty much everyone, when I’ve needed it the most.
Similarly, I’ve tried to express care through active listening, empathy, and picking up what might be too heavy for someone else to carry. I’ve witnessed it as genuine friendships and connections, the very necessary blurring of personal, political and professional, and the prioritizing of each other’s well being over any abstract notion of an organization.
In this issue of Shameless, we got to turn the lens inward a bit and invite staff to reflect on how we give and receive care (p. 12), how we resist the commodification of care (p. 24), and how we care for ourselves by finding joy online (p. 28). We invite others into the conversation, sharing advice on caregiver burnout (p. 13), exploring what it means to care for our ecosystem (p. 16), and drawing connections between food and care (p. 38).
Care continues to be central to my experience at Shameless, and the making of this issue was no different. We worked at the pace of care. We forgave each other when we felt overwhelmed, and we problem-solved and did what we could to support each other along the way. I am proud of this work of feminist media.