I signed up to join the ‘SuperShe community’ in August 2019. The idea of the island both attracted and repelled me. I was not sure if I wanted to go so bad that I wanted to blow all my travel funding. The price for a week on SuperShe at that point was reported by Lonely Planet as costing €4000 and by Forbes $3500 earning SuperShe a reputation as being elitist. On the other hand it was the closest I had come to a place that actually existed which fit the utopic liberalist dreamscape, so I decided I would cross that bridge if I ever got elected to go.
Then, because I did not get any response to my application, I forgot all about it for a while. Until I began receiving newsletters. Apparently SuperShe, formerly known as an island, had been reinvented as an app. I first became aware that this has happened when in February 2020 I received an invite to check out a web-shop where I could purchase merchandize such as SuperShe hoodies, cups, and candles. And then from May onwards, in the midst of global corona-lock down, I started receiving regular newsletters from SuperShe. The first of these newsletters was an invitation to download the SuperShe app and offered a discount on the subscription fee. As a special teaser it showcased a tutorial for blowing your guy (yes, I know, right?). I had no time to follow up on my bewilderment because I was busy with homeschooling (age 8 and 12) and childcare (age 3). But I put all the newsletters aside in a folder in my inbox.
In September 2020 I open one of the newsletters before saving it. In this newsletter SuperShe claimed to be the #1 app for intersectional feminism. Judging by the content of the newletter, this is what intersectional feminism in the SuperShe-version is about: Flash sales, toning your body (which yes, comes in all sizes, shapes, and colours), workout, cooking, and chatting with female friends “in a safe space”. Apparently one way to get empowered is through online shopping of hoodies and coffee mugs with slogans. I’m provoked but nevertheless: I need to get that app downloaded and explored. I try but I cannot sign in – the app keeps asking for a phone number and my Danish one doesn’t work. I put it on my list for when I next go up to the writing refuge.
The transition from island to app did not take me by surprise. It was already on the table when Kristina Roth spoke at the Digital Freedom Festival in 2018 in Riga (which had been filmed and put on youtube and hence was available for me to see). Then, Roth had explained that really the island was a prototype for a global community she wished to build and that she planned to launch ‘a super cool app’. During the Q&A, however Roth was put on spot by a young woman in the audience. The problem with SuperShe, from the perspective of the critics and the ‘community of women’ she was addressing was that it was elitist. How could Roth claim SuperShe was about female empowerment when so few got to go and it was so expensive at to rule applying to go out for all but a small well-of segment of women?
Well, Roth answered, she had had that critique quite a few times and she had listen and made the app. The real community would be the app and then depending on how many women join the app, for a monthly fee of 16€ she would “at a ratio one of every 150 women” selected some to go to the island with everything paid for “so then I won’t have to listen to the bullshit that it is exclusive because now its super inclusive.” Roth was enthusiastic about how the app would be a shared virtual space with workshops and instruction videos about how, for instance, to be a successful entrepreneur. “A kind of school of life, but put in really small segments, like TED talks.” But importantly, users should also be able to upload content. “It can be about entrepreneurship but also it can be about the best Thanks Giving Pie you can make. I don’t want it to be elitist and say it’s just for entrepreneurs. I want it to be for every women, everyone has a talent but so many go through life and never discover it or cultivate it and I want to tickle it out of as many women as possible.”
I had realized then, even as Kristina Roth was discussing her plans for turning SuperShe into an app, that I wanted it to be elitist. Now, seeing the devolution from island to app have come to full bloom a year later, I realized that I wanted badly for there to be a place where ambitious women got together to scheme or plan world domination or just get drunk – whatever, even yoga and granola. But I really wanted it to be just for the few chosen. But ‘sisterhood’ is not supposed to be elitist, or leave anyone behind, or make anyone feel excluded or uncomfortable about the choices they have made in life. It is supposed to be egalitarian and inclusive, not only of all ‘sisters’ but also of all topics – cock sucking through to cooking classes and scented candles. The problems is; having cut SuperShe down to size does anyone actually want it? Thus, as I learn the unadvertised fact that a week-long stay at the SuperShe island now costs an unbelievable €29,000 I am oddly pleased, even if it has kicked the option of ever going firmly out of my ballpark.
Image: Screenshot of my attempt to sign into the SuperShe app from my phone