Since March is Women’s History Month, and we also get to celebrate International Women’s Day with our global sisters on March 8, it only makes sense that the Museum of Modern Art in NYC is holding its 4th annual Wikipedia edit-a-thon with the Art+Feminism organization, in order to bring more visibility and recognition to some badass women who have been left out of various history books and records.
For those who are unfamiliar with an edit-a-thon, they are a community gathering of people who use research to update and edit Wikipedia pages. Over the past few years we have seen a rise in feminist edit-a-thons globally, as more and more people and organizations are recognizing the need to bring the lives, achievements and stories of women forward in a public way, in order to combat the long history of silencing of their voices.
This media website in India started teaming up with various activist and non-profit organizations for a new monthly edit-a-thon mission which started in October 2016. Each month, Feminism in India focus on one specific topic (so far they have covered Indian queer feminists and human rights activists, for example) in order to raise the profile of women who are doing important work in the sub-continent.
Chicago-based biology student Emily Temple-Woods found herself becoming part of the edit-a-thon movement with a very unique entry point. Having experienced online harassment for having an online presence and daring to talk about feminism, instead of retaliating or giving into the trolls, she uses every negative comment and message as a reason to update a page about a woman in science. They say success is the best revenge, but perhaps using that negative energy to raise the public profile of important women throughout history is even better!
The Art+Feminism organization came together initially as a conversation between 4 friends, Siân Evans, Jacqueline Mabey, McKensie Mack, and Michael Mandiberg, who wanted to “create meaningful changes to the body of knowledge available about feminism and the arts on Wikipedia”, according to the website.
When they stumbled upon the fact that less than 10% of Wikipedia contributors identify as women, according to Wikimedia Foundation, they knew this was an inherent problem with the way women are discussed.
“While the reasons for the gender gap are up for debate, the practical effect of the disparity is not: content is skewed by the lack of female participation. This represents an alarming absence in an important repository of shared knowledge,” said the team.
Since their inception in March 2014, they have been responsible for over 280 edit-a-thons around the world and worked to update and improve pages about female artists throughout history. The best part about Art+Feminism’s events are that anyone is invited to take part.
The 4th annual MOMA event will be held on March 11, and this year will also feature a panel about information online moderated by Kimberly Drew, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s social media manager. According to Alex Greenberger from Artnews.com, she’ll be discussing fake news and how to find accurate sources on the internet with writer Joanne McNeil and Data & Society Research Institute fellow Zara Rahman.
At a time when the socio-political landscape is being hampered by the Trump administration and their penchant for discriminating against women and minorities, then blatantly lying about their motives, this edit-a-thon and others like it are more important than ever. Speaking truth to power has never been a more urgent cause, especially in light of Trump seeking to diminish journalism and news media. This is definitely an issue the Art+Feminism organizers are keenly aware of this year.
“Wikipedia is something that belongs to all of us. It’s not a privately held resource, its content isn’t motivated by the whims of any owners. When you have a government actively pushing ‘alternative facts,’ improving the reliability and completeness of Wikipedia is an important act of everyday resistance,” said the founders in a press statement.
The founders mention in their press kit that in the interest of their mission and ensuring greater diversity and representation in Wikipedia, they particularly want transgender and cis-gender women to be part of their events, although everyone, no matter how they identify, is invited.
If you aren’t in New York City on March 11 but want to participate an an edit-a-thon, take a look at the list of upcoming events on the A+F website. They are happening in Boston, Ontario, Washington D.C., and many more locations. If you want to hold an edit-a-thon and are unsure of how to start, we highly suggest contacting Art+Feminism for more information on what is required to successfully update a Wikipedia page with accuracy.