Thoughts on Publishing, Feminism, and Community from Our Friends at The Fem

Part of our vision for Lumen was to create a vast network of writers and artists, and we are beyond thrilled to count The Fem among our literary friends. Here are some words from founders Autumn Spriggs and Rachel Charlene Lewis

The Fem began in the summer of 2014. At the time, Rachel and I were about to start our senior year of college and were heavily involved with the feminist group on our campus. We were also in many creative writing courses together, so merging those two passions seemed obvious. It was important for us to create the ideal space; a space where marginalized groups would feel safe sharing their writing with a receptive audience. Every new submission, every follower on the site, is a celebration. I have this bubbly excitement from watching our little project grow from day to day. Sometimes it doesn’t seem real and I have to stop and remind myself that this is happening.

One of the things I love about The Fem is the beautiful, supportive community that has surrounded it. I’m grateful to have editors who love what they do and enjoy reading about identities other than their own. I’m grateful to have authors who want to participate in our conversations and contribute their experiences. I think that there are too many publications, big and small, that take voice for granted. It’s one thing to praise unique voices and another thing to share those voices with the public. For us, we’re sharing those voices. We’re saying that it’s okay to be in the moment and it’s okay feel. We want diversity in abundance, and to reach that goal, we need honesty.

As Editor-in-Chief, I’m honored to work with an amazing team. Without them, The Fem would not be possible. They’re bold individuals who never hesitate to speak their minds and offer insight. Together, we’re a group of women who form the skeleton of this transformational publication. We’re one example of how different backgrounds, multiple and complex identities, can create harmony.    

-Autumn Spriggs

The Fem is a safe space. We offer a place where people with marginalized identities can do more than just push their way through the muck of the literary world; here, their voices are valued and appreciated and raised up. We are not just a space for white women to talk about girls in developing nations, or for white men to talk about guilt, or for able-bodied people to muse about disability, or for straight people to talk about their reactions to marriage equality. This is the space where the voices themselves are heard. There is not "people talking for people" here. This is privilege being used to provide a space, and step back.

Autumn and I are privileged enough to have internet access, degrees, and credentials that get people to take note of our work, and the skills that it takes to run all that comes along with a literary magazine. We work with new writers, we reach out to new writers, and our editors work with writers to improve their writing. This is about publishing beautiful content that may have otherwise gone unheard. At the same time, though, we represent diversity in our staff. We are speaking for ourselves too, and our voices are varied. There is so much power in that. To me, there is something incredible about being a social media manager and straight up putting out a call for queer writers of color. For writers with disabilities. For trans writers. We aren't just pretending to see incredible value in diversity, inclusivity, and feminism in literature. We are doing it. We're doing the work.

Personally, I am constantly in awe of our writers, and of our supportive audience. I never feel like I'm tweeting into the void. There are people who believe in our work, and I've made so many connections with these writers and editors and creators I'm so in awe of. As a writer, learning about the network of literary magazines and journals that are also actively seeking diversity in their publications is so empowering. I learn about these places, and I'm like, wow. We are a part of a movement to scrape away the muck masking the lit world. We're polishing it. We're done listening to the same people all the time. It's not about a single-themed issue, or a mission statement about a commitment to diversity. It's constant.

-Rachel Charlene Lewis