February 6, 2022

ONONYE | R.I.P, The Lily & Do We Still Need Feminist Spaces?

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But when you get past the original no-brainer, it’s a pretty good question. One of my favorite publications (ever!), The Lily, recently announced that they’re “moving” to the main Washington Post site under the section “Gender & Identity.” The Lily was established in 2017 by The Washington Post as a “by women, for women” outlet, named after the first women-run newspaper in the United States, which was created in 1849. 

Since its inception, it has been one of my favorite places to look for news because I don’t have to dig through dozens of articles to find a piece about women (or even worse, by a woman!). Women and gender-marginalized people have been the center of The Lily’s mission and I have enjoyed a safe space to read stories about reproductive rights in the United States, trans rights in sports and resources for survivors. 

In the tweet announcement that they would be moving their work back to their parent company, editors stated, “Our expansion to @washingtonpost will help you more easily discover the breadth of gender and identity coverage coming from writers across the newsroom.” That makes sense. Right? 

This argument reminded me of a conversation that I had with a professor last year. When I quoted an article from The Lily in class, she described why she was against “gender-focused” media: It separated newsrooms and marginalized gender topics to a “section” of a publication rather than making sure it was fully integrated into all of their work. 

I wholeheartedly agree. But, that doesn’t stop me from reading The Lily or listening to BBC Woman’s Hour daily. Most news stories just aren’t pushing women, gender-marginalized people and people of color enough for me. Rather than dig through to find those pieces, I want a space where they’re readily available. Yet, at the same time, I desperately want The Washington Post’s “Gender & Identity” section, because gender media shouldn’t be self-selecting — everyone should know what’s impacting women and gender-marginalized people. 

I feel the same way about cultural studies courses at Cornell. I wouldn’t be who I am if I wasn’t a feminist, gender & sexuality studies major at Cornell. I want the department — which just celebrated their 50th anniversary (yay!) — to last forever. I want to come back here as an old alumna and see scholars passionate about gender research, because it’s important. 

At the same time, I want other departments — like government, english, biology, hotel administration and engineering — to make their own spaces for women and gender-marginalized people. These are some of the widest-reaching departments on our campus, and they should be welcoming spaces that encourage discussions about gender. That doesn’t just mean accepting diverse students and faculty into their programs, but also embracing feminist scholarship and conducting feminist research. 

Which leaves me at an uncomfortable conclusion: I miss The Lily, but I am excited for what’s to come with this new section of The Washington Post. 

Anuli Ononye (she/her) is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. Womansplaining runs every other Monday this semester.