Friday, December 6, 2013

Revisiting Rookie

Culture topic icon
I’m a big admirer of Rookie, a website on fashion and pretty much everything else for teenaged girls. I admire it not because I’m interested in fashion or teenage girls, but because it’s a beautifully conceived and designed grassroots community website, with terrific writing, led by a pretty extraordinary young woman, Tavi Gevinson. Back when I started this blog, I posted a TED Talk by Tavi, because I was sort of thinking that disabled people need a site like Rookie, focused on disability life. There are some good all-purpose disability websites out there, and a lot of great blogs, but I still haven’t seen a site as cool as Rookie, that’s inclusive, but has a point of view.

Anyway, that’s why this post by someone I follow on Tumblr and Twitter caught my eye. I am so glad Rookie did a story / photo exhibit, on youth with disabilities. I hope it isn’t the last one. Here’s a link directly to the article, if that’s easier.

Rookie, Lauren Poor and Maddy Ruvolo - December 6, 2013

In case you missed it, here’s the TED Talk:

… And here’s some of what I wrote about it:

In her presentation here, Gevinson talks about the difficulty of finding strong female characters in popular culture. You can find strong female characters in movies and on TV, their strengths tend to be defined by singular, narrow characteristics:
"They're not strong characters who happen to be female. They're completely flat and they're basically cardboard characters. The problem with this is that then people expect women to be that easy to understand, and women are mad at themselves for not being that simple. When in actuality, women are complicated, women are multifaceted. Not because women are crazy, but because people are crazy, and women happen to be people.”
Now try this. Replace the words I've colored red with "people with disabilities", or your favorite "disability" term, and these observations are just as true. The same holds for lots of the articles and blog posts on Rookie about being female and a teenager.

After reading the New Yorker article, and then exploring the Rookie website, I came to what should have been an obvious thought. Disability is at least as varied, vexing, and misunderstood as being a teenage girl. Why not apply the techniques, models, and attitude of Rookie to the disability experience?  Start a blog on the topic of disability, and expand it into an online magazine / community by and for people with disabilities. Most importantly, give it personality and a point of view. Make it a site people with disabilities want to visit.

So, what do you all think? How can we get our own version of Rookie going, and can we sustain it?

No comments: