That’s right—this June we’re going to start paying contributors! Over the last two and a half years we have featured tons of amazing cultural analysis, much of which was produced by professional writers and academics. But without a budget to pay anyone (including ourselves), we relied on friends and followers to donate their work solely with the promise of an in-depth editing process and publication on the Dismantle website.
We are so grateful to all of our past contributors for believing in our project and helping us get rolling. But we know that it’s not enough to write for “the cause” or even for editorial help—at least, that’s not going to pay the bills. Further, we want to avoid devaluing the very difficult labor of conceiving, researching, editing, and wordsmithing engaging cultural analyses. In a climate where many writers’ salaries are in decline, our highest priority has been to get to the point where the first people who get paid are writers. Thankfully, we are finally there, even if our starting point is a small amount: $50.00.
We hope that by demonstrating our commitment to valuing writers’ and artists’ labor, our readers will demonstrate theirs, too. However, we don’t want to lock our content behind a paywall or weigh the site down with a bunch of ads; it’s important that we keep Dismantle accessible. So our plan is to pay contributors from our growing Patreon fund. We recently crossed the $250.00 a month threshold (THANK YOU!), and we decided to split this amount with our contributors. Each month that we’re earning ~$250.00, we’ll pay for two articles at $50.00 each.
The rest of the money will go back into maintaining and promoting the website. We’ll increase the amount paid and number of articles commissioned as we earn more money. So, for example, when we reach $300.00 we’ll pay for two pieces a month at $75.00. When we reach $450.00 a month, we’ll pay for three pieces a month at $75.00, and so on. To see all of our goals for the first $1000.00 a month, visit our Patreon page.
Over time we’ve featured and helped develop work by more than 30 writers and artists. We are incredibly grateful that these talented folks have chosen Dismantle as the home for their contributions. We could have run this as the Sara and Elise show, but it’s the diversity of voices and perspectives that makes Dismantle exciting.
Importantly, though, it’s time to branch out and begin compensating writers to ensure that Dismantle maintains its mission. When we rely on donated work, we mostly get contributions from writers and scholars in our own networks—including fashion studies networks, which are unfortunately, overwhelmingly white. We love all of our contributors, many of whom have offered perspectives from diverse marginalized communities (i.e., queer and working class folks and/or those with disabilities or chronic illnesses). Further, their work is very often critical, intersectional, and actively anti-racist. However, we know that up to this point our content doesn’t adequately account for the diverse voices in the fields of fashion studies or cultural studies in general.
Our mission is to address—not recreate—the kinds of white supremacist, bourgeois structures that keep queer, POC, and other underrepresented communities from publishing and sharing their points of view. And we know that 1) a history of being shut out and undervalued means people in these communities often need to be explicitly invited to participate 2) people from underrepresented communities are far more likely to be asked to work for free.
We live in a world where time is money. Whether we like it or not, as long as capitalism persists, the more we’re able to pay, the more we’ll be able to truly create a space for dismantling patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and all the other bullshit that facilitates centering some voices more than others.
What You Can Do
Readers: Go to our Patreon page and help us pay writers (and, ahem, editors) more! Any amount helps. Even $3.00 a month shows us and the world that you believe in Dismantle, and believe that writers and artists shouldn’t entertain and educate you for free. You also become part of a growing community dedicated to dismantling the boundaries and hierarchies that divide us. (If you prefer, you can also make a secure one-time contribution via PayPal.)
Writers: Send us your best fashion, popular culture, and social change pitches! Check out our submission guidelines and get in touch! Everything else about the process will stay the same. It’s just that you’ll get paid!
And THANK YOU to our first patrons for helping us reach this exciting milestone!