Irene Stuber: Raising Hell on the Web


Last year Irene Stuber took a good look at the World Wide Web and found a man’s world. Amidst the clamor of gun control activists, religious conservatives, progressive political parties — just about any group with a point of view — she found that the women’s side of the story was in danger of going untold. So Stuber, a 67-year-old retired Florida newspaper journalist, launched her own women’s Web nexus, Catt’s Claws, and women’s voices got a little bit louder.

“The same thing was missing on the Internet as was missing in our daily newspapers and news magazines: information about what is happening to women in the U.S. and the world,” says Stuber. “For example, monthly I have been posting information about an abortion pills method that is legal and available today. I post information about condom use, birth control, etc. Each month women write amazed. This may be ‘old’ information, but women don’t have access to it in today’s society.”

In Stuber’s eyes, the new media provided a unique opportunity for women to discuss their local problems and put them into a global perspective. Catt’s Claws set out to do just that.

“While reading our newspapers, we may think ‘Oh my, how awful’ about one murder after a lengthy stalking in our hometown and see it as an isolated miscarriage of justice,” she says. “Catt’s Claws, by showing the same thing is happening in Wyoming, New York, California, Alabama, and Iowa, reveals that there is a pattern of discrimination and abuse of women and children’s rights and safety — an institutionalized abuse that is not being addressed by our government and law enforcement agencies.”

Indeed, Catt’s Claws has been the chronicle of ‘herstory’ on the Web, and has been a source of inspiration to a younger generation of women Web publishers.

Laurie Mann, a 30-something feminist who coordinates the Women Leaders Online Web site, says Stuber is “my role model as I age — an interesting/take-no-prisoners woman who won’t kowtow to anyone and who will grow and change with the times.”

Stuber says that she chose her role model for the same reasons. “That’s why I named my column after Carrie Chapman Catt, who was so single-minded in her drive towards women’s enfranchisement that we got it. She marched into Congress and into the state legislatures and into the White House and confronted men face to face.”

Catt’s Claws is put together by a “cast of thousands,” says Stuber, since much of the content comes from the more than 150 email messages she receives every day. With an invisible budget, (in fact, much of the cost has come out of Stuber’s pocket), the site has a voluntary workforce, comprised of a proofreader, a mailing list administrator, and a Web designer. “My work is limited to gathering the information, writing it, and then sending it to a few people who then do the major distribution,” she says.

Catt’s Claws began as a “protest” against the National Organization for Women’s absence from the Internet, Stuber says. An active member of NOW, she began petitioning them to build a Website in July of 1994. Nothing happened.

“In January of 1995 I said ‘to hell with them’ and launched Catt’s Claws.” Six weeks later, NOW launched their site.

Stuber says that sometimes her family has told her that she “should be sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair instead of in front of a computer screen raising hell with the status quo.”

Let’s take up a collection for a laptop.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.