Going ‘Off Script’: A Message From Our Founder

Greetings Role Rebooters,

In early 2014 we celebrated Role Reboot’s third anniversary, and I’m excited to finally announce a long overdue re-launch of the site. You’ll notice some things may look slightly different, and that we’ve integrated a few (hopefully not-so-intrusive) ads as part of an ongoing effort to make the site sustainable for the long term.

You may notice that one other thing has changed. We have a new tagline: Life, Off Script.

When we first launched, we were the only popular site themed entirely around contemporary gender roles and culture—the only community created specifically for individuals navigating rocky terrain around men and women’s roles, examining outdated gender expectations and offering alternatives.

A lot has changed in the interim three years. Popular culture has begun to catch up. Major magazines now have sections dedicated entirely to exploring gender roles. Elite newspapers cover the way relationships, marriages, and family life are changing on a daily basis, and cultural conversations about whether men and women can “have it all” now crop up with frightening regularity (whether we want them to or not).

Meanwhile, as Role Reboot has evolved, it’s become increasingly clear that gender analysis, though still central to our perspective, is only one of many ways we make sense of the world around us. Looking back, some of the pieces that have touched the deepest nerves over time, aren’t specifically—and certainly not exclusively—about gender roles at all. Our favorites have spanned a wide range of topics. Two open letters made waves for months: one, a letter to a street harasser, another, a deeply touching open apology to Trayvon Martin’s friend, Rachel Jeantel. A piece about rejecting the body hatred learned from a parent was so resonant it immediately went viral, while a deeply personal argument by one author about why her mother should have aborted her plunged us into a heated public conversation about how our culture talks about choice. Some of our favorites have been quietly aspirational—about how satisfying and authentic it can be to live life the “wrong” way, whether that means being part of a happy long-term gay couple living in separate homes, or leaving a long-time job that has come to define you.

Gender will continue to infuse our work, but we can’t disentangle it from race and class and sexual orientation, and frankly, everything else that gets mixed up in the daily cultural milieu, and we don’t want to try. Rather, we want to tell stories about how these all interact in our daily lives. We want to talk about how all expectations around family life in this country have been upended in recent decades; about what it means that marriage has been on a steady decline and is at its lowest point in recorded history; we want to give voice to the families with children born outside of marriage, the enormous community of single parents, and the increasing number of women who never have children. Few of these trends show any signs of reversing, or even plateauing, so there are many stories to tell, expectations and injustices to navigate, and glimmers of hope to highlight as a new generation redefines what a “successful” life looks like.

You might even say that “No Normal” is quickly becoming the “New Normal.”

We want Role Reboot to be a champion of “No Normal.” We want to be the home for truth-tellers and boat-rockers, people questioning norms and calling out injustice, feminist storytellers, anyone with the courage to create an authentic life, and those who look their shame square in the eye and say, “I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way.”

As I think about what I want this community to stand for now and in the future, I’m clearer than ever about the central belief that guides us: That honest, authentic storytelling is one of the most powerful forms of consciousness-raising around, in large part because, as philosopher Hannah Arendt once said, “storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” That’s what life off-script means to me, at least.

Finally, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the whole Role Reboot community. It’s been immensely rewarding and deeply humbling to watch this seed of an idea grow into a large and thriving movement of people forging their own unique paths over the past few years.

But no one does it alone, and we are no exception. Thanks to those of you who believed in this idea from the very beginning; thank you to our amazing writers who bravely share stories that reveal personal truths, struggles, and joys, and who epitomize the idea that writing is “cutting open a vein and bleeding”; thanks to our loyal readers who keep coming back; thank you to everyone who helped us grow steadily over the years, with no marketing budget, by sharing stories with your friends and family and proselytizing our mission—all without ever being asked.

Thank you, most of all, to everyone with the courage to be perfectly imperfect.

I’m excited for what’s still to come.

Nicole Rodgers

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Role Reboot