On International Women’s Day eight years ago, I launched Rebellious Magazine for Women from my best friend Aaron’s kitchen table. Two months earlier, I had asked women to send me essays about what makes them Rebellious, and the entries had trickled, then poured in, along with photos of folks confidently claiming their rebellious streak.
As Aaron tried to teach me how to update our unwieldy pre-WordPress website, I cried with pride over watching my dream of an independent platform for women come true. I had wanted a place for women to tell their own stories in their own way, and here it was. With Rebellious, I was the publisher of first-time writers, veteran journalists who had stories to tell that their mainstream media employers wouldn’t publish, and some of the city’s funniest storytellers with yarns to spin.
It was glorious.
And then: burnout, overwhelm, working for the Man, blah blah blah, disco nap, rebirth! I took a much-needed break from publishing in 2013 and relaunched in 2016.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about our origin story, but I’m doing it again now because each retelling reminds me of how important our mission is. Eight years later, the power of women’s voices resonates in a different way, not just for me, but for everyone. In 2020, every brand celebrates International Women’s Day, a sharp contrast to 2012, when very few people even knew what I was talking about.
In the ever-changing world of media, eight years is a lifetime—literally. I’ve watched countless publications, startup and legacy, come and go. That we are still standing is its own act of rebellion. That this magazine means enough to me that I pay our writers largely out of my own paycheck is its own form of financial anarchy. I’ve stepped away from the day-to-day operations of Rebellious, but I’m still here, still as committed as ever to seeing us to another eight years and beyond.
We wouldn’t be here were it not for the talent, dedication and constant creativity of Team Rebellious. They inspire me every day to be a better business owner, feminist and friend. I’m lucky beyond measure that they’ve stayed, giving Rebellious her signature voice, perspective and dare I say, swag.
I’m grateful every day for all of them. Love and thanks to: Janet Arvia, Jera Brown, Laurie Fanelli, Molly Harris, Valerie Hawkins, Jessie Mansbacher Kibbe, Princess McDowell, Rachel Berg Scherer, Terri Schlichenmeyer, Joy Wright and Susan Yount.
And special thanks to the board of the Feminist Media Foundation for your unflagging support, witchy wisdom and sisterhood: Emily Lonigro, Cindy Ogrin and Tori Ulrich.
Thank you, as well, to the dozens of other folks who have written for us over the years, including those OG Rebelles who wrote for free. You are an invaluable part of our legacy.
Eight years in, I still cry with pride over what Rebellious has become and her potential for the future. Today’s Rebellious covers arts, books, culture, comedy, dating, music, news, parenting and sex—yes, sex—from a feminist perspective that is as unique as it is necessary. While we remain Rebellious Magazine for Women, we honor and strive to cover the expansiveness of the gender spectrum. There is room for everyone at this rebellion, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Every day that goes by is a reminder of how far feminism and the feminist movement have come since 2012, and of how much further we have to go.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: It’s your birthday? But I didn’t get you anything!
Awww, don’t worry, you still can! Click here for our support options, including PayPal and Patreon. If you’re a Venmo user, I’m @Karen-Hawkins-7. All proceeds go to keeping our rebellious streak alive and well. The free press isn’t free, and while Rebellious is free for you to read, it costs money for us to produce.
We have other tricks up our sleeves for keeping Rebellious afloat, expanding our coverage, and achieving sustainability, so stay tuned. In many ways, it’s never been a better time to be in independent media in Chicago. Watch this space for news about the new Chicago Independent Media Alliance, a project of the Chicago Reader.
Thank you for reading this far. Happy birthday, Rebellious, and happy International Women’s Day, all!