Claire Fitzsimmons | Salty
As a bisexual, non-binary femme and feminist I always had a hard time with dating. I was too ‘masculine’, too loud, too brassy, too slutty. And I never felt like I could get the content or advice I needed from old guard media institutions like Cosmo. It was all so heteronormative, condescending and all about pleasing HIM. It didn’t take into consideration the nuances of gender identity and ignored people of color. I wanted to create a space that didn’t tell women, trans, and non-binary people HOW TO have sex (We know how! We’re having it!) but to explore it and talk about it amongst ourselves. Salty does not have one singular voice, instead, Salty is a collection of many different voices. I’m not building Salty as a vehicle for my perspective - I’m trying to use my privilege to build a stage and to pass the mic around so we can have real conversations about modern dating, sex, and relationships. (And I don’t want a fucking trophy for it.)
The process of creating Salty is ongoing. I think will always be. Salty is run by a rotating cast of smart, enthusiastic editors and we have contributors from all over the world. But we have no funding. Although we’re only a few months old, we’ve already seen fantastic growth (16k followers, 5,500 newsletter subscribers, 100,000 views per months across platforms) and I know we are tapping into a zeitgeist. We’ve also been kicked off Mailchimp, censored by Instagram, and suffered a fatal hack on our site and had to rebuild the whole thing. So, it’s actually been really hard and stressful, but I'm buoyed by the fantastic response we've had so far.
The best pieces of advice I’ve gotten are from my mentor Beth Comstock - don’t be afraid of change, be able to adapt and pivot quickly, listen to everyone's ideas, the best ideas come from outside the institutions. What I’ve learned from my own experience is that the fear of allowing yourself to step into a leadership role or take charge of your own business is scarier than actually doing it. Overcoming that fear may be your biggest challenge. Also, I used to think that leaders were fearless, but now I know that they’re not fearless at all, they’re as scared as you, but the difference is that they power ahead anyway. That’s the difference between people who talk about living their dreams and those that actually chase after them.
I worry that I’m not the right person for the job. I worry that I’m a fraud, an imposter. I feel that I don’t deserve success. That anxiety literally keeps me awake — I wear a mouth guard for my teeth grinding and have a sleep apnea machine to make sure I don’t stop breathing. So it’s rarely sexy, haha. But what gets me up every day is knowing in my spirit that I am truly capable, that this was my idea, that it’s working and that is a whole team of people relying on me to keep the ship together. It keeps me sane in moments of anxiety and trolls that this is honestly an act of service to women, trans and non-binary people everywhere and that nobody is perfect, I’m doing my very best.
On my desk, I have about 6 notebooks with to do lists all throughout them. I make so many to do lists!! I need a better system because they’re scattered all over the place! Also, Unsweet Iced Tea, like, gallons of it. I quit drinking booze and became totally addicted to Iced tea (apparently addicts often transfer their addictions so I’m glad it’s iced tea and not anything harder lol).
I have some anti-role models. I’m very wary of snake oil media personalities in women’s media - those who are selling big ideas, or empowerment without authenticity for money and fame. My real role models are the all the women, trans and non-binary sex educators and body/sex positive influencers who are carving out space for themselves online when the mainstream media have been ignoring them for so long. I’m super inspired and thankful for the emotional labor and teachings of women like Rachel Cargle, Tilly Lawless, Ericka Hart and Munroe Bergdorf, all who have taught me so much and dedicate so much of their time to doing the work and teaching trifling white ladies like me.