Kelly Fernandez 1/1/2016
I had never heard of Pantsuit Nation (PSN) until Constantine had brought the group to my attention by invitation, so I was surprised as to how many notifications I received from my Facebook friends reacting to posts. There is something to be said about the impacts that stories have on readers and listeners. Experience is an underrated tool. This type of spread of information has undoubtedly evoked a mass scale of emotions on a global level.
The evidence of this is visible in the numerical involvement, the stories, the content of the stories, all of the speculations, and the backlash of those speculations. Constantine shared an article written by Harry Lewis entitled “PSN is a Sham”, which is a reaction piece to a book deal announcement on behalf of Libby Chamberlain and PSN. The author notes that PSN seems to have transformed to a “collective grieving space” after Hillary Clinton did not become president of the United States. There perhaps seems to be a miscommunication between participants and leaders of the organization, which seems to be regarding the intentions of everyone’s involvement and personal missions versus group missions. These speculations have brought accusative conversation. Lewis says that it seems the mantra of PSN began as “everyone here is welcome” and has now morphed into “why are you ruining this environment by attacking our sisterhood?”
I find it uncommon for ideas of space for direct conversation or philanthropy to come under criticism. I have seen this conversation dwell mostly toward the neoliberal aspects of said organizations, but does neoliberalism change the effects of story sharing? Learning from one another’s experiences occurs on a personal level and evokes a macro idea of opening diverse perspectives. Call it neoliberal, call it a non profit, speculate the profit, but shared experience has always proved inspiring.
Libby Chamberlain responded to this backlash to her book announcement via Facebook post. She began by noting that PSN started by encouraging participants to wear a pantsuit on November 8th. It is important to recognize how the group has evolved from a movement beginning as a gesture of direct action, a perspective that I feel I have noted incorrectly in my previous post. PSN itself has morphed into a provided space, structure, and participants whom have filled in the body. She brings about an emphasis on this being a group for humans to celebrate and contribute to social learning through different points of view.
Diversity is stability!
Now that PSN has an opportunity for diverse storytelling, it is up to participants to examine their level of trust in the group. Is the idea of storytelling for a seemingly neoliberal profit the breaking point for you? What has the idea of publicizing a safe space done to the group? How does evolution of an organization change the trust level in its participants? What happens when an area for support becomes an example? Chamberlain does say that participation in the book is voluntary and she answers particular funding concerns. “Proceeds from the book will support PSN and the causes that are central to this group…we will also use PSN to raise money for other likeminded nonprofits.”
With regards to the questions posed by Constantine on December 22, 2016… There will be emotional and personal responses to the issues that receive emphasis. There is now an overarching responsibility for the conversation space to respect and consider all input. Otherwise, discriminated feelings remain perfectly valid. It will continue to be a challenge for this organization to construct a book that will remain attentive to possibly 4,000,000 group members.
The process of PSN appears to be much smaller than one would think of 4,000,000. This is because there is lack of clarity between the process of the admins and the process of participants. The mission is weakening through winging many different conversations involving an array of different types of grievances. Clustered conversation is distraction with an intention of healing catharsis taking the immediate attention. The controversy of the intentions of PSN is valid, yet the importance truly lies within the intentions of those filling the structure. However, there is no reason to take away the organic nature of the evolution of this group. The space of PSN is only an opportunity for offering stories, funding support, seeking support, listening ears, and/or attentive readers. Good intention can humbly begin by everyone taking time and energy to fully consider and recognize one’s own privilege. This allows room for open understanding and patience. The political and financial speculation seems to be wasted energy to me. If trust in the group is won, then what can be done for this movement to replicate on a local level? If trust in the group is lost, then what does work for you and your experience?