Project 3: Website Analysis

Autostraddle is a popular blog/website focused on lesbian issues and culture as well as media and entertainment. Unlike much LGBT-focused media and entertainment, Autostraddle makes it a point with every post to include queer women of all identities, with regard to race, sexuality, age, class, and religion. Many trans women, women of color, and disabled women struggle to find representation of queer experiences that look like theirs, be it on similar news-focused sites, or in TV and film. If you’re someone who identifies anywhere on the spectrum of queer womanhood who has been disappointed by site after site, Autostraddle is guaranteed to have something to offer you.

Until recently, the site used a more blog feed-like visual format with one post after another, but recently switched to a three column layout that delivers more information to the user from a vantage point. Posts can be accessed in a chronological feed, or from drop-down links split into a few categories at the top of the page (Arts & Pop Culture, Sex & Relationships, Community, Columns, Identities, and More), each of which expands into several meticulously organized subcategories. This row of links is placed under the streamlined logo and site title on the left of the page, drawing the user’s eye to it first. To the right are more links to the online store, information about the site, and ways to get involved, as well as donate button highlighted in bright pink, in contrast to the overall white and pale teal color scheme. There is also a search bar and links to all social media at the top of the screen, and a dismissible banner with a more prominent link to the store. The bottom of the screen recapitulates links to the about page, contact information, and social media links, making it easier for the user to access these without having to scroll up again to the top of the page.

Under the “Support Us” link is a drop-down menu with several options. The first, “Buy Our Merch”, redirects to another site which hosts the blog’s official store where patrons can buy many different designs on shirts, hoodies, and even underwear, ranging from those explicitly declaring one’s sexuality to others simply stating a love for cats. The second suggestion offers the option to “Become an A+ Member”, the site’s premium membership, allowing access to bonus (sometimes personalized) content and deals on merchandise on their own site as well as partnering stores, created to help the site survive without resorting to heavy advertisements. Other options include a simple “Donate” button and a link to shop affiliated businesses from which Autostraddle receives money.

Autostraddle, as mentioned before, is a blog directed toward queer women—specifically lesbians in particular, but the site is accessible and welcoming to women of all sexualities and identities. The creators of Autostraddle make this explicitly clear at every available opportunity, reiterating their mission statement as frequently as possible. The webstore sells dozens of products targeted at women who want to visibly proclaim and celebrate their marginalized identities in loud, colorful ways. The posts on the site for the most part use casual, fun language that is accessible to most ages and levels of education and political literacy, making its content engaging and welcoming for young people with modern sensibilities and unpretentious attitudes toward media. Many if not most posts are directly concerned with LGBT women’s issues, some on a serious level (such as issues of homophobic politics, hate crime reports, and poor LGBT representation in media or lack thereof entirely), others on much more entertainment-focused topics (like TV show and movie reviews, comics by lesbian and bisexual women artists, sex toy reviews, and themed playlists). The blog is also heavy on advice columns, usually about sex and relationships but covering everything from pet advice to recommendations for different brands of leggings. The tone is always casual and accessible, and the website design is inviting and cute without being overbearingly cutesy, utilizing stylish but not excessively ‘fun’ colors and fonts. The site emphasizes intersectional feminism and accessibility as much as possible, always reestablishing its target audience as young adult lesbians, but stressing its inclusivity of all ages and orientations.

Going a step beyond general inclusivity, the site regularly posts writing by and for women of color, transgender women, disabled women and all sorts of women who experience multiple marginalized identities. For example, two comic series on the site, ‘Foolish Child’ and ‘Oh Hey! It’s Alyssa’ are written by a black queer woman and a physically disabled lesbian respectively and while their comics frequently address their marginalized identities (on top of sexuality), they meander from topic to topic freely, successfully giving platform and voice to women of multiple marginalized identities to discuss both their struggles and just their day-to-day lives, without feeling tokenizing or fetishistic. The site has a clearly accessible drop-down tab of links labeled “Identities”, making it easy to find posts pertaining to bisexuality, race, disability, religion, and teenage issues, to name a few of the many identities spotlighted.

Autostraddle takes itself seriously and prides itself on breaking the stereotypical, non inclusive image of the otherwise privileged mainstream LGBT community. Many popular LGBT figures and icons cater to a narrow group of people while pushing down on those more marginalized, but Autostraddle makes it clear that not only are queer women of all identities welcome, they are focused on equally and treated with great importance.

If you’re a lesbian, bisexual, or otherwise LGBT+ woman who has struggled with finding a voice and a community on social media and popular websites, Autostraddle most likely has several advice columns, comic series, and miscellaneous blog posts specifically focused on your identity. They also welcome new writers with all different experiences and perspectives, so if you still struggle to relate anything to your specific personal experience, you could be the voice others like you are waiting to hear. Autostraddle exists to amplify the voices of queer women who struggle to be heard.

“Autostraddle Homepage.” Autostraddle, http://www.autostraddle.com/.