Beliefnet Tells Writer She Can’t Use the Word ‘Feminist’ in Her Blog’s Title Because It’ll Offend Readers

My blogging-buddy Libby Anne has a blog header that looks like this:

Love. Joy. Feminism. Cool!

Another Patheos blogger writes about the intersection of feminism and her faith:

No big deal, right?

Well, Kristine Holmgren was recently invited to blog on a religion-based site I didn’t realize still existed — Beliefnet — and she proposed a title/subtitle for her blog to her superior, “marketing and business analyst” Sharon Kirk:

“How about — ‘Sweet Truth — Thoughts of a Faithful Feminist’?”

The response she got back from Kirk was astounding:

I love “Sweet Truth” however I would suggest changing the tag line or deleting all together as I’m concerned about the negative connotation that our readers may associate with the word feminism. In addition, we’ll want this blog to focus more on Christianity/spirituality as opposed to issues related to feminism. What do you think of simply “Sweet Truths with Kristine Holmgren”?

In other words: Feminist is a dirty word. And Christians would be offended by it. So… no.

That was a dealbreaker for Holmgren and she decided not to sign with Beliefnet. But not before speaking with blogger Jim Romenesko:

The pastor/writer says she asked Kirk over the phone why she had a problem with “feminist.” The Beliefnet marketer said she didn’t, but that “we know our readers are offended by the word.”

Holmgren tells me: “I asked, Why did you contract with me? I made it very clear who I am. I said, I’m afraid this is a dealbreaker. I said was I stunned. I felt like I was talking to somebody from 1955.”

From a purely marketing standpoint, the argument doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve never seen Christians avoid things they’re “offended” by. Instead, they dive right in and then act like they’re on the outside. (“Homosexuality is evil! Just look at these images I happened to find online. Randomly. I swear…”) You would think a Christian/feminist blog would be one of those sites that people either love or love to hate — a marketer’s dream.

But I’m glad Holmgren stood by her principles and rejected the offer. Beliefnet needs her a lot more than she needs that site. It’s their loss.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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