One of the more salient criticisms to come out of the cat-fighting over who/how/what a feminist is these days came from Jez editrix Anna Holmes f-word laden diatribe: Basically many mainstream media type outlets take higher profile sites like Jezebel and use them as avatars for smaller-niche issues. Say, feminism. This despite those sites having an ostensibly broader agenda. This allows them to make arguments about, say, "the state of feminism", without needing to integrate the likely-overwhelming and argument-splintering fodder the best feminist-focused sites provide.
But, we have the power now! And I rounded up some feminist media
peeps peepettes and asked them to weigh in on the new Lady-blog in town:
I can understand why the new online magazine Double X wants to distinguish itself from other women's sites like Salon's Broadsheet and Jezebel, but I'm unsure that the way to do it is by publishing a bunch of "contrarian" articles that blame victims instead of rapists for rape and argue that now that women make ¾ of what men do, we're living in a dystopian, man-hating matriarchy. Poor Christina Hoff Summers! If women even got up to 1/3 of seats of federal power, she'd have to steal her male family members away to live in one of the few places on earth where a man can get justice. Perhaps Saudi Arabia?
The problem with the Slate brand is that they're all about trying to push the envelope and shock, but they seem to think the way to do this is by plugging into narratives that are, by any reasonable measure, still the staid conservative beliefs that actual rebels are trying to overturn. Victims of gendered violence have only themselves to blame? That's not a brave thing to say—-that was the internet's consensus on the Chris Brown/Rihanna situation, and sadly, that's what many rape victims face when they enter the justice system. Men need twice as many rights and privileges to feel equal? That's the argument of 95% of popular comedies now, and the prevailing notion in most American households where women still do most of the housework, even if they have full-time jobs.
Double X has a lot of fine writers that don't write this reactionary nonsense, but right now you have to comb through a lot of sexist crap to get the gems. But I can't say that it won't draw the readers—-the only thing conservatives like more than hearing their own baseless beliefs echoed back at them is to pretend that pushing the status quo is rebellious.
DoubleX premiered by attacking women who don't report being raped, urging Michelle Obama to wear pantyhose, and sounding the death knell of feminism — impressive, even for an offshoot of a website that thrives in large part by passing off half-baked traditionalism as intellectual contrarianism. To DoubleX's credit, it has a great editorial staff and some amazing writers to balance out the purely inflammatory ones; less appealing is Slate's arguable ghettoization of women's voices, it's ongoing offensives on women's rights, and the differences in how the two sites cover and categorize stories (both have News & Politics, Arts and Life, but Slate offers Business & Tech while DoubleX lists Kids & Parenting).
No one expected DoubleX to be an exclusively feminist blog and its editors are quick to assert that they're about more than just feminism, but the magazine does seem to be suffering from a crisis of consciousness. If feminism is dead, why the obsession with feminism? If women's lives are so fantastic that men are now the "second sex," why do we need a lady-mag offshoot of a more successful boys site?
Of course, DoubleX exists in part because of the feminist writers who cultivated strong and engaged online communities, and who worked to mainstream feminist thought into online political discourse. The ongoing DoubleX-related conflicts have only gained traction because feminist readers and writers have voiced their discontent, and larger media souces have (wrongly) picked up the story as a cat-fight or an intergenerational battle. The cynical part of me suspects that the inaugural flamethrowing was a ploy for traffic; I can't imagine why else anyone would publish a noted conservative hack like Christina Hoff Summers or recycle a 1998 Time magazine cover. But I'm holding out hope that DoubleX turns out to be a pleasant surprise, and that instead of continuing its embrace of anti-feminism and its finger-wagging at women who drink or forgo nylons, it'll address the seldom-covered issues that actually impact women's lives — even if that makes it one of those "feminist" blogs.