Thursday, February 9, 2017

Is Feminist Frequency a money-scamming organization?

Feminist Frequency is a "non-profit" organization, the brainchild of the infamous Anita Sarkeesian. It has made the "Women vs Tropes" video series as well as the "Ordinary Women" series.

I have written previously about the latter, and why I think it's actually just a money-grabbing scam. However, I would actually expand that accusation to the entire organization and everything they do.

The organization got over $200 thousand in donations for that series alone, but has received well over a million, maybe even several millions, in donations overall, during its entire existence.

Yet it has extremely little to show for it. They have only made about half of the videos in the "Women vs. Tropes" series, even though the entire series was promised by something like 2014. They have made something like one video per three months, or the like.

Just as with the "Ordinary Women" series, the videos themselves in no way justify the well over a million dollars donated to make them. The production quality of the videos is something you see all the time on YouTube, by people who have no budget at all, people who make these videos on their free time using their own recording equipment, computers and cheap editing software.

Even if we counted every single expenditure that would be needed to make this type of video from absolute scratch (ie. without using any existing personal property) they would still amount to a couple thousand dollars. At the very most, if we were to go overboard and assume that they use professional-quality recording equipment and studio lighting, we could reach maybe a couple of tens of thousands of dollars. Nowhere near the millions of dollars that they have been donated to make these videos.

The production quality cannot be seen in the video content either (in any of the videos they have made). They are extraordinarily basic, using video editing tools and techniques that are readily available in cheap editing software and that don't require but a very modest amount of work and expertise. The videos aren't full of special effects or professional quality editing. It's all extremely basic (and, as said, something you see all the time on YouTube by non-professionals made on shoestring budgets.) Heck, there are countless parody videos out there with at least as high production values, made on shoestring budgets.

There is absolutely no way to justify the millions of dollars going into the production of these videos.

As a non-profit organization, they are required by law to publish annual reports on how their assets are being used. If you read these reports, they are always really, really vague. For example in the latest one there are tons and tons of self-praise, going on and on about how many awards and how much recognition they have got, but very little to explain where exactly those millions of dollars have gone.

They certainly have not gone into producing the videos they publish. So where?

While the organization might not have been purposefully created from the very beginning to scam people out of their money, while spending as little of it as possible on pretending that they are doing something, I think that they rather quickly settled on that kind of "business model" more or less serendipitously.

What I think happened is that they created the organization just to test the waters, and perhaps even with some good intentions, but when they noticed how much donation money was pouring in, exceeding even their wildest expectations ten-fold, they got greedy. Maybe they haven't even among themselves completely explicitly and verbally planned on spending as little money as possible on the video production and keeping the rest to themselves, but some kind of non-verbal or semi-verbal agreement might have formed among them. Don't ask, don't tell... everybody just implicitly agrees. (Of course it is perfectly possible that some of them have directly discussed it, for example to formulate a plan in case that they might get in some kind of legal trouble.)

So they are presenting a facade to their fans and donors, and making videos from time to time to keep them happy, while spending as little money on them as they possibly can, while still trying to keep the illusion that they are working hard on them. And of course part of the charade is to constantly praise themselves and tell to the donors how successful they are, and how many merits and awards they have got, to give them the impression that their donation money really is making a difference.

And, of course, the organization is conveniently "non-profit", which means in the United States that they don't need to pay any taxes.

I really am of the opinion that Feminist Frequency is a money-grabbing scam facade. I do not know if they are completely deliberately doing it or whether they just silently agreed on it after the money started pouring in, but that makes little difference. They probably even believe in their own narrative (with regards to feminism and social justice), but that's just a convenient excuse.

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