Friday, June 12, 2009

The "feminist fantasy" of Etsy Lash-back

Once again, there is an article on Jezebel I want to talk about. I still can’t comment (how in the hell long does it take?) hence this post.

The article is actually about another article on Double X called, “Etsy.com Peddles a False Feminist Fantasy ,” by Sara Mosle.

The article is kind of long, so just follow the link if you’re interested.

I’ll wait here…. … … *taps foot impatiently*… ... ...

Ok, I think a lot of people missed the mark on this one. From Double X to Jezebel, the comments are kind of nasty.

Here is one example:

I guess I missed the part where Etsy ran up to a bunch of people, yelled "OMG MAKE SOME REALLY HIGH-QUALITY, INTERESTING ARTS AND CRAFTS AND I WILL PUT FOOD ON YOUR TABLE FOREVARRRR!!111 We are a collective! We will live forever! ALL YOUR WANTS WILL BE TAKEN CARE OF!!1" and then as the people made some really cute, attractive, interesting wares, Etsy punched them all in the face and stole their lunch money.

I thought people sold stuff on Etsy because they enjoyed their craft and the arrangement worked out well for them economically, not because they were fooled into a horrible, horrible scheme by evil dictators.

Guess I was wrong! But I'm a silly woman who is easily preyed-upon, so there's that.
See, people completely misunderstood Mosle’s point.

The author’s criticism is towards Etsy as a company and not the people who use the site. She didn’t say there was anything wrong with the people who use the site or women who decide to stay at home.

She is merely critical that etsy – as a company – is giving women the false sense that they can quite their day jobs when that’s obviously not the case. It is the false advertisement and small circle of sellers that seems to be peddled, by Etsy itself, which Mosle has a problem with. (And I think her point about prices being driven down by such a huge influx of products is a very valid one. How is it any different then the local hardware store trying to compete with Home Depot?)

I don’t understand why people who claim to be Etsy sellers are so upset about this. As a seller myself, I completely agree with what she’s saying. There is no reason for me to be offended by what she wrote.

I am not Etsy.

I am a struggling artist, who makes things because I can’t not make things, who is trying to cover my supply costs through the use of Etsy. There is nothing wrong with seeing flaws in the system. Some people are acting like this article was a personal attack. I don’t get it. Etsy makes money off you. It is not the champion of feminism or some ideal feminist utopia. It is a tool to be used no different then ebay or any of the dozens of other art sites out there.

Etsy is just one venue to sell your goods. There is no reason anyone should believe it’s anything more then that. All Mosle is doing is pointing that out that Etsy does little to point that out with it's continual "How You Can Quit Your Job" articles.

(And what is up with the attitude that whenever a woman has an opinion that differs from your own she’s attacking feminism? Sheesh.)

Though I did find the comment, "There’s little evidence that most sellers on the site make much money. This, I suspect, explains the absence of men. They are immune to the allure of this fantasy. They have evaluated the site on purely economic terms and found it wanting," a bit condescending (this implies that men are savvier then women and/or women are incapable of seeing beyond the “fantasy” of Etsy. I obviously don’t think that’s the case. The reality is the crafting demographic is made up mostly of women. It would be silly to assume Etsy wouldn’t reflect that.) I thought the overall article was a good critic of a well known site.

But instead of giving the article the critical thought it deserves, people were too quick to feel personally attacked and lashed out.

Yes the words “feminine ghetto” were in bad taste. Yes Mosle should have been more conscientious of her innuendo that women aren’t as savvy financially as men (and when did making money doing something you love become a "feminist fantasy?") But none of this takes away from the valid argument that Etsy sells the idea that anyone can make a living selling homemade trinkets.

An idea that's not true.

Does that take anything away from Etsy in my book? No, not really. But it does mean that we shouldn't be so quick to attack Mosle in the name of feminism.

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