DNLee and the Valuing of Women's Work

[Content Note: Misogyny; racism; sex trade shaming; rape culture.]

DNLee, a black female biologist who blogs at The Urban Scientist, recently received an invitation from the blog editor of Biology-Online.org asking her if she wanted to guest blog for them. She had a couple of questions, including whether she would be compensated for her contributions, the answer to which was no. After she politely declined, the blog editor replied:

screen cap of email exchange reading: '[blog editor]: Because we don't pay for blog entries? Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore? | DNLee: Did YOU JUST CALL ME A WHORE?'

Yes, you are reading that correctly: Because DNLee did not want to blog for free in a space that was promising her only a level of potential exposure no greater than the one she already has, she's a "whore."

DNLee's response to this contemptible garbage can be read here and here, since, per Mike the Mad Biologist at the latter link, "Scientific American [where DNLee's Urban Scientist blog is hosted] apparently censored DNLee about this–the aggregator has ties with Scientific American."

As DNLee points out in her YouTube response, there are a lot of reasons why an established blogger may or may not choose to blog in another space, and money is only one of those considerations. And, speaking for myself only, there are places to which I will submit original work without compensation, and places I won't. There are places I will let my work be reposted without compensation, and places I won't. There are individual people for whom I will do a lot of free editing work, or help with research, or offer loads of time to do background for them, for a piece for which they're getting paid and I'm not, and people for whom I wouldn't offer my time without compensation.

And all of these decisions come down to my believing in the people to whom I'm giving my work/time/energy, and/or feeling passionately about the subject to which I'm contributing. It never, ever, comes down to: "This will be great exposure for me!" So all those emails like the one the heapshit from Biology-Online.org sent DNLee, promising me an audience (that's usually smaller than Shakesville's current daily traffic) but no compensation? They go straight in the trash.

Because these people think they're doing me some kind of favor, by asking me to do free work for them. Which I share in order to contextualize the attitude with which this shit lands in bloggers' inboxes in the first place. And when it's the inbox of a black female blogger, who politely declines, it's that attitude, in combination with misogynoir as thick as pigshit, that underwrites a response demanding to know if she's some kind of whore.

Because women, especially women of color, are supposed to provide our labor for free. Because we don't have the right to say no to a man's invitation to do free work for him. Not without being punished or shamed, anyway.

DNLee did not even ask him to value her work. She didn't try to negotiate for pay. She simply valued her own work at more than nothing. And even valuing her own work means, to some men, that she must be punished and shamed.

Because valuing women's work is a feminist act. And nothing brings out the ugly in entitled misogynists than feminist acts.

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