Feminist blogger sells out to porn industry

// 14 October 2006

Ampersand, the male feminist behind the massively-popular site Alas, a blog has sold his domain name to a porn website.

Although the blog continues on, with no change of content, the domain name amptoons.com is now owned by a porn site, which uses it to boost its search engine ratings.

In a post explaining the decision to his readers, Ampersand said that he had accepted the offer because of his precarious financial situation.

I\x92m essentially in the same position as someone with a blog on "blogspot.com" – I don\x92t own the domain, and although I control what\x92s on my own blog, I don\x92t have any say over what\x92s posted on the domain other than my little piece of it.

I realize that some "Alas" readers will feel that I\x92ve sold out, or that this puts me beyond the pale. I\x92m genuinely sorry for that. For the record, I don\x92t feel I\x92ve been victimized (as one person suggested in email), nor do I feel like I\x92m a total sell-out. What I feel is this: I\x92ve made a compromise, one that I probably wouldn\x92t have made in a perfect world.

However, the move has provoked a storm of controversy across the feminist blogosphere, with many bloggers removing links to Alas in protest.

Some have taken particular issue with Ampersand for failing to alert his readers and commenters for several months.

Women’s Space/The Margins has given the blogger a particularly thorough going over for selling out.

Your blog was what it was because of all the people who commented to it, read it, guest blogged there. They made it what it was, too. Their words, on your site, are what caused it to be widely read\x96 not just your words. And their words are their words\x96 not yours. Their reputations are their reputations, too. That being so, I believe you owed it to all of the people who supported your site by commenting to it and guest blogging to ask for their thoughts and views before you irreversibly tied their words, comments, guest blog posts to a page which links to misogynist, racist internet pornography.

As Zuzu at Feministe says:

Regardless of your feelings on porn, pro or con, the way that Amp handled this \x97 not telling anyone of the arrangement until long after the sale, not allowing for comments when he had to reveal the arrangement \x97 does not speak well of him or of his commitment to feminism.

UPDATE: One reader has pointed out that Ampersand has since apologised for failing to alert his readers to the sale in time, or invite comments before he sold. This is true, and here is a snippet from the apology:

One criticism of me that I think is especially strong is that I should have announced the sale of amptoons.com before it happened, to give people a chance to comment and to give other bloggers the chance to delink. It was wrong of me not to do that, and I sincerely apologize for that.

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