American Prospect’s Ann Friedman has an interesting critique of Slate’s Double X, a new “women-centric” web site launched this week.
The proliferation of woman-centric sites raises the sorts of questions that keep a feminist editor up at night. If Slate saw a demand for more content about women, why didn’t it start publishing more articles for and by women on its main site? The decision to devote micro-sites to groups that aren’t white men — The Root for black readers, Double X for women readers — implies that Slate recognizes the need for more coverage that caters to women and people of color. But it doesn’t want that coverage mucking up its main product.
I’ll be reading Double X out of professional curiosity if nothing else, but Friedman says that’s not the point.
Thanks to the feminist movement and evolving notions of gender, Double X may indeed get its fair share of male readers. (Jezebel boasts a nearly 50 percent male readership.) Even if men are interested and clicking, the problem with branding certain types of articles “for women” is that it still advances a false gender divide. We can all agree that men parent, too. Men andwomen care about fashion and follow Hollywood gossip. Yet when these articles are primarily housed under a logo that refers to female chromosomes, it perpetuates the false idea that women are interested in Forever 21 and Facebook but not torture hearings or health-care reform.
Here are a few of the Double X pieces I’ve looked at:
- Why I Give My 9-year-old Pot
- I Talk to My Mom Too Much
- Tilda Swinton: “I’m a Freak”
- Michelle [Obama], Put on Some Pantyhose
- The Dark Secrets That Dolphins Don’t Want You to Know
I’m sure for anyone versed in feminist history Friedman’s critique is an obvious one, which means there’s an obvious rebuttal, and a counter-rebuttal, and so on. Anyone care to enlighten me what a 3.5 Wave feminist would have to say about all this?
Update: Double X responds.