In May, Nicole Cliffe and Mallory Ortberg announced that today would be the end of The Toast. In its three years the site was known as a haven for women online — the comments section was the nicest on the whole web; the writing was smart, funny, and kind; and everyone got paid for their words. It was a favorite of virtually every person who works at this website.
Today, presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has written a farewell message for a blog. (It truly is 2016!) The Toast commenters reacted to Clinton's post with a mixture of "knowing that the next President is a secret Toastie is just way, way too witches," and "I HAVE NEVER BEEN PANDERED TO SO EFFECTIVELY BEFORE," and "*faints*."
"don't be afraid to carve out a space of your own"
Of course, The Toast commenters are right to be excited and right to be a little suspicious. This is, at least in part, the latest in a string of transparent attempts by Clinton to relate to young people who spend their days on the web. She has appeared in an episode of Broad City this year, zinged Donald Trump with Twitter's favorite diss, and quoted the hip-hop musical Hamilton. But, honestly, who doesn't love "Texts from Emily Dickinson," or "If Stephen Colbert Were Your Dad," or "Two Monks Discover How Tall Women and Horses Are?"
In the note, Clinton praises Cliffe, Ortberg, and managing editor Nicole Chung for being the sort of people who "take it upon themselves to create spaces where women can express their minds freely." She compares their efforts to those of Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who organized dinner parties for women in the Senate in the early 2000's. She then encourages readers to follow in The Toast's creators' footsteps:
"Look forward and consider how you might make your voice heard in whatever arenas matter most to you. Speak your opinion more fervently in your classes if you're a student, or at meetings in your workplace. Proudly take credit for your ideas. Have confidence in the value of your contributions. And if the space you're in doesn't have room for your voice, don't be afraid to carve out a space of your own"
While it's inspiring to think about The Toast's pervasive reach — to hear that it meant something to one of the most powerful women in America — it's bittersweet when you zoom out. It is 2016 and it is still hard out here for a chick. Clinton commends The Toast for making a nurturing and creative space for women to congregate online, but soon it will go quiet. Having the first woman president in US history will be nice, but having that and The Toast would be so much better.
RIP, good website. Hopefully we can all step it up.