Here’s the thing: I will always want more women’s (and feminist) voices in the mainstream media, particularly in politics. There’s an overwhelming byline gender gap and that needs to change. But The Washington Post’s new lady blog, “She the People,” is not a step in the right direction. In fact, I think it’s pretty terrible.*
I’m all for WaPo featuring more women covering politics, but why oh why can’t they just - I don’t know - feature more women covering politics on the main site or pages? As Steph Herold tweeted earlier today, “why do women need a separate blog to write about politics?”
The logo doesn’t exactly help things either. I mean, “she” is underlined with lipstick?
And the tag-line, “the world as women see it” not only reeks of gender essentialism, but promotes the idea that women’s opinions and perspectives aren’t normative, but somehow “other” than real, everyday opinions.
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.
…When publishers create separate sites dedicated to women or to black people, they are signaling that they don’t see a need to have their main site serve these people as core readers. They are, in essence, saying, “We want the ad revenue associated with your readership, but we don’t create our homepage with you in mind.”
The site-as-traffic-and-revenue-bait becomes a lot more obvious when you check out the stories She The People chose to highlight:
Uh huh. This is pretty much the same strategy that Slate’s Double X used when they launched - throw some incendiary antifeminist headlines up and get our collective panties in a bunch in an effort to drive traffic via outrage. (Btw, Double X is now the XX Factor and has an equally vomitous tag-line: ”What women really think!”)
I’m glad that The Washington Post wants to appeal more to women. I’m also glad that this blog means that they’re employing more women; that’s great. But there’s a much simpler - and less condescending - way to create a publication that does these things.
You want more women readers? Get more women writers: on the main page, in the opinion section, writing about more than “women’s” issues. Cover more feminist topics.
And for the love of all that is good in the world, drop the fucking lipstick logo.
*Full disclosure/caveat: I’ve written for The Washington Post’s Outlook section in the past and have had pretty great experiences with my editor there