The story of The F-Word
The F-Word is an online magazine dedicated to talking about and sharing ideas on contemporary UK feminism
Who Are We?
The F Word is edited by Jess McCabe (2007-).
The F Word was founded by Catherine Redfern who edited it from 2001-2007. Please see below for a message from Catherine and Jess.
The F-Word was "Highly Commended" by the Women in Publishing New Venture Awards 2002.
In September 2003 The Founder and Editor, Catherine Redfern, was named by The Guardian as one of 50 "Women to Watch"
Purpose of the Site
This webzine exists to help encourage a new sense of community among UK feminists, and to show the doubters that feminism still exists here, today, now - and is as relevant to the lives of the younger generation as it was to those in the 60s and 70s. The webzine was founded by, and is mainly written by younger feminists, those of us born during or after the feminism of the 60s and 70s. Although we encourage contributions from feminists of all ages, we are particularly keen to encourage and showcase the new voices of younger feminists, our peers. To this end, contributions from new writers of all ages, and young women and girls are particularly welcomed and encouraged.
What is contemporary UK feminism? It is impossible to define: it can appear in many different people's lives in many different ways. The F-Word does not define what contemporary UK feminism is but instead allows a place for different people to share their different opinions and views. The contributors to the site may have opposing views on certain issues, and that's fine; it simply demonstrates that feminism is a diverse, living and healthy ideology which is confident enough to question itself. There is no "party line" in feminism, there is no "feminist rule-book." Feminism in the UK today is whatever we make it.
Message from Catherine Redfern (Editor 2001-2007) - February 2007
When I created this site six years ago in 2001 it was because I felt there was a lack of such resources for UK feminists. I had searched for feminist websites (google was just in its infancy at the time!) and was perplexed to find nothing much, only old references to Spare Rib and academic Womens Studies sites. It was disappointing to compare this to the vibrant feminist websites and magazines coming from the U.S. and other countries.
I figured there must be other young women out there in the UK who were interested in feminism like me and were keen to debate the latest contemporary feminist issues in an open-minded and constructive way.
Well, I have to say that creating and publishing The F Word is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. I am extremely proud of and thankful to everyone who has been involved in it, and very very pleased to have been able to contribute something to British feminism.
Six years on, the site has grown to include 315 articles and reviews written by 115 contributors, a regularly updated blog, we have tens of thousands of readers, we have been publicised in the national press and the site is archived by the British Library.
I have been told that feminists have felt inspired by what they have read and have gone on to form other groups, campaigns, organisations and websites of their own. The feminist community in the UK is now incredibly vibrant and increasingly visible and active. It is pleasing to see that young women are at the forefront of this and I hope that this site has contributed in some small way to the resurgence of feminism in recent years. I am incredibly proud to have been part of that.
I am now writing to let you know that I am now stepping down as day to day Editor of The F Word and handing over to Jess McCabe, who some of you may know from our blog. I will remain as the site's Publisher (effectively the owner), but will be removed from dealing with the content and the editing.
Jess is extremely qualified to take over the reins and I have the utmost confidence in her to do an absolutely fantastic job and develop the site further.
I'll hand over to Jess to introduce herself to you:
Before working with Catherine, I was already a fan of the F Word and the groundbreaking work that Catherine has been doing. I'm honoured that Catherine has invited me to come on board, and I hope that I can live up the high standard she has set, which has made the F Word the success it is.
With a little luck, most F Word readers will already be familiar with some of my writing both on the website proper and, of course, the blog. Others might know me from the Feminist Library, where I've been volunteering for the last few years.
For those who don't know me, I live in South London with one partner, two cats and a really big collection of DVDs. Gender politics aside, obsessions include punk rock, 18th century literature and any number of terrible TV shows. My background is in environmental journalism. But I'm sure we'll get to know each other better over the next few months, so I'll hand you back to Catherine...
Jess and I have both agreed the Editorial approach to the site and we wanted to share this with you to reassure you in case you had any concerns about a possible change in direction. Here it is:
The aims / objectives of The F Word are to:
- Provide a place for emerging/new feminist voices.
- Provide a place for thoughtful analysis of contemporary feminist issues.
- Provide a safe, supportive environment for feminists & supporters of feminism.
- Allow for a diverse range of feminist voices, a place for disagreement & different opinions to be aired in a calm, constructive way.
- Support the UK feminist community in all its various forms.
- Be accessible to all, i.e. comply with web accessibility standards.
Whilst responsible for publishing content to the site, the Editor will aim to:
- Remain sensitive to different feminist viewpoints on contentious issues.
- Avoid sexism, ageism, racism, heterosexism, and any other discrimination in content
- Avoid publishing any blatantly unsubstantiated or un-referenced statements as fact.
- Truly reflect the author's intended meaning while editing pieces for publication.
- Allow for a broad interpretation of feminism.
- Encourage a respectful, open-minded approach to seemingly different viewpoints.
Whilst allowing for strongly held individual opinions to be published, The F Word as a publication will not:
- Define what feminism is, to the exclusion of other interpretations of feminism
- State that 'true' feminism is a certain thing
- Provide a platform for trolls or anti-feminists
- Include advertisements on the pages (n.b. where a book etc is being reviewed, there may be a link to the relevant publisher or book seller's website, or special offers to readers by the creator of the product which is being reviewed)
- Be drawn into discussion about whether feminism is necessary or valid
- Sell out to a porn site!!!
- Get involved in “in-fighting” within feminist circles
- Claim to represent “the” voice of feminism
- Restrict contributions only to those who have academic qualifications or are widely read in feminism
- Be able to please all of the feminists all of the time!
I have to say a special thanks to various wonderful people.
Without Andrew this site would not exist. He was the one who encouraged me to set it up and who actually bought the URL for me as a surprise. (I don't think he knew that he was letting himself in for 6 years of web designing and technical consultancy work for me, but nevermind!). He has worked incredibly hard and had been totally dedicated in making the site comply with web accessiblity standards. Really this site has been a partnership effort between us and his contribution has been absolutely invaluable.
Thank you to Jane and Helen, the very first subscribers to my mailing list and my best friends, for being unfailingly supportive and inspirational over the years and encouraging me in everything I have wanted to do.
Thanks to Kristin Aune, Rachel Given Wilson, Vic Hartgrove, Holly Combe, Louise Livesey, Lynne Miles, Red Chidgey and everyone at London Third Wave for friendship, support and enthusiastic and optimistic discussions about the coming new wave of feminism. Steven Jones, for being my boss during the first few years the site was going on and for being such a fab person and a good friend.
Thank you to every single contributor, too numerous to name here, but you know who you all are and you are all bloody fantastic!
To all those at The Guardian for being so supportive especially Katharine Viner, Kira Cochrane, Libby Brooks and Rachel Bell.
And of course thank you to Jess for agreeing to take over and for being so incredibly patient over the last few months whilst I've tried to tie up the loose ends.
I wish all of you the best and here's to a future where feminism grows increasingly stronger.
- Thought this site was for young UK feminists? This page will help to explain why we've changed to Contemporary UK Feminism.
- Want to know more? Have more questions? Read the Frequently Asked Questions
- Want to contribute? Go to the Contribute page for more information and guidelines for contributors.
- Want to see who has contributed already? Look at the List of Contributors
- Want to get in touch? Contact us here
- Want to search for something? Search the site here
- Want to be notified when the site is updated each month? Join the updates mailing list