Double X-asperation?

Sarah Seltzer

Slate's new website by/for women has launched a thousand debates.

Slate’s new magazine by women, for women to enjoy and men to "listen in on",, just launched itself into the fray-prone feminist blogosphere. In its first day, an all-star staff of writers kicked things off by taking shots at everything from hip young blog-on-the-block Jezebel to stuffy older feminists with (gasp!) wrinkles.

But beyond the warring blogs and generations, most of the really interesting conflict arises from the site’s own contradictory messages. After all, here’s Double X positioning itself as way beyond feminism while opening the site with a discussion of Betty Freidan’s legacy. Its bloggers simultaneously declare the movement to be dead AND troublesome (Zombie feminism! Bitch proclaimed, giving me my first true chuckle since the brouhaha began).

The very valid critiques  circulating throughout the internet make it hard to push aside the growing image of XX as a high school prom queen deciding to sport granny glasses and inform the boys provocatively that she’s kinda interested in women’s stuff, but not that weirdo-angry feminism that the school’s resident activists embrace.

But for now, I’m hoping that we can attribute yesterday’s catfights and seeming identity confusion to birthing pains. The (unfairly) maligned Jezebel and many other blogs and websites  marked their new existence by throwing a few hefty lobs to get noticed, after all. Stirring up controversy as a way of saying "l’m here!" is practically a rite of passage.

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And it is exciting to see another publication that contains some decidedly pro-woman, pro-feminist content –particularly when such a publication is supported by the heft of the Washington Post/Slate behemoth. Double X’s existence already means more women writers are going to be paid AND paid attention to–a definite good thing. I just hope that, as Salon’s Broadsheet often does, the staff at Double X use their shiny new platform to help elevate women’s voices around the internet. 

In other words, Double X doesn’t need to manufacture controversy by flailingly attacking other feminists; they can just jump into the juicy conversation that’s already
happening online. Feminist and womanist spaces may not initially appear to produce work that’s as "edgy" or right for the contrarian intellectual tone of Slate and Double X. But there’s tons to pick up on (and potentially filter through the sharp Slate aesthetic). With sites like Women’s eNews reporting from warzones and bloggers already having intense debates on everything from politics to parenting to reproduction (ahem!) across racial, social, and international lines, the talented staff at Double X has an amazing resource pool from which to draw.

And that may already be in the cards: Some of the awesome women Double X has hired to write for them–like Kathryn Joyce, Elaine Showalter, and Latoya Peterson–prove that even while at first it may appear that Double X is just talking, they’ve also been doing some listening.  Let’s hope that continues.

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