During the Middle Ages, it was common for unmarried women to get work by spinning yarn or thread as a means of financial independence, referred to as spinsters. At that time a person’s occupation was often used as a sort of surname in legal documents. By the 17th century, unmarried women were generically referred to as spinsters, eventually evolving into the insult it is today. This week’s #WebsiteWednesday is reclaiming the term to represent female freedom and autonomy for their women-centric website, Spinster.xyz.
Spinster.xyz is a social media platform meant to provide a safe space for feminist dialogue. While it’s open to all genders, the rules set in place are meant to protect women and feminists specifically. The platform has strict policies against the use of slurs, messages of misogyny, stalking, and harassment. The site’s moderators strictly enforce these rules to ensure that feminists have a platform to connect without being targeted and harassed.
Spinster.xyz was recently founded by software engineers Mary Kate Fain (@[email protected]) and Alex Gleason (@[email protected]). Also a writer and grassroots organizer, Mary Kate faced backlash online for her popular articles on feminism. Mary Kate and Alex saw a need to give internet users a place to discuss feminism without feeling censored or afraid. They took to the Fediverse, a decentralized web of social networking applications that communicate with each other (including fellow Fediverse site Mastodon.xyz), to start Spinster.xyz, and knew that .xyz would be the perfect domain to brand with.
“We chose .xyz as our top-level domain for two main reasons. First, it is short, snappy, and easy to say, spell, and remember.
Second, we liked .xyz because it felt tangential to the content of Spinster. As a feminist social media platform, we regularly deal with questions of identity, biology, what it means to be a woman. Since “X” and “Y” are the human sex chromosomes, we thought .xyz was a bit of a cheeky reference to the extravagance of modern gender discourse.”
– Mary Kate Fain, Co-founder of Spinster.xyz
Spinster.xyz launched on August 15, 2019 to an outstanding reaction. Within one week, the site was overloaded with 4,250 users and over 74,000 statuses posted. Spinster.xyz was also featured in an article on Reclaim the Net, and Mary Kate was interviewed on the Feminist Current podcast.
Spinster.xyz is designed to work similarly to Twitter, and allows users to post up to 3000 characters in public or direct messages. The posts can include photos, videos, and polls, and posters can tag each other through their “@spinster.xyz” handles. Where Twitter has only one feed, Spinster.xyz has three feeds on the homepage. The Home feed lists updates from those you follow, the Spinster feed includes updates from all the platform’s users, and the Fediverse feed houses updates from the connected network.
All of us at XYZ believe in equality and celebrate the profound impact women have on our society every day. We’re proud that Mary Kate and Alex have chosen to share their innovative platform with the world on a .xyz domain.