I admit that I have never felt that I’m the target demo for “women’s media,” whether in mainstream or alt-lady form. I don’t really give a shit about “fashion” beyond trying to figure out what looks good on me and maybe what necklaces might be pretty cool, I find the “here’s the agribusiness PR mail that we got this week” pose of all the health stuff absolutely wearying and ultimately incoherent, and I find the anti-intellectualism inherent in the table of contents’ offerings to be quite stifling and ultimately pushing our world toward a definition of womanhood that involves shopping and fucking and pick-a-little-talk-a-littling about the results of both (with some added bits of inanity about people who do not give a shit about you, trust) when all’s said and done.
I kind of had hopes for the Internet with regards to allowing women to push boundaries of what they could be and how they could portray themselves, especially as Bust devolved into the Etsy version of Marie Claire and Bitch wrapped itself in academic jargon so tightly you could hear it gasping for air (never mind its pre-Internet branding decision that resulted in it having to censor its “edgy” name in every email it sends out in spam-filter-rife 2011). But, you know, things didn’t really work out that way, because instead of letting a thousand flowers bloom, the economics of online content dictate strip-mining every field except the one that grows the superflowers, with technicolor blossoms and vines that snake around everything slightly outside the pageview-hoarding purview. So you have the hypersexist monolith that is “most of the media, especially the sites that are mostly just pictures of young female hatefuckable celebrities,” and then you have the sites specifically for women, each of which has its own problems with figuring out the exact metallurgy possessed by the gender.
Which brings us to XOJane, which right now (SORRY MATT EALER) has a “short film about choice” that involves Emily McCombs—who earlier today let out her feelings (complete with pictures!) on losing a ton of weight in an essay that I thought was very well-written and brave (if in slight need of editing)—taking a pregnancy test on camera. She brings the camera into the bathroom and you get to be there as she pees on the stick and gives a speech on the importance of choice while she’s waiting for the result. (Which is negative.) (Here is where I should also note that this is “sponsored content” by a shoe company.)
I mean I fully admit that I am uptight about a lot of things. The rise of people going to parties just to take pictures of one another instead of to actually talk to one another. My looks. (Yes, related.) The hypersexualization of society, from Smurf porn on up. There’s tons more, and if you ply me with enough wine I will tell you about it. But I just feel like this “LOOK AT ME, WORLD, AND LET ME TELL YOU HOW MUCH I WANT YOU TO SEE ME” pose put forth by XOJane and other similarly siren.jpg-studded sites for ladies is both not sustainable and drowning out voices possessed by women who might not be comfortable with sharing every sexy/salacious/OMG-worthy detail of their lives (or who might not already be celebrities, which is another topic for another post) as a way to care about Important Issues. I know, I know, you have to put forth the chocolate to get kids to eat the vegetables, but lately the Internet feels like it’s all chocolate, with the angry parts being I guess the kind that has a couple of serrano peppers chopped in for good measure. And it goes back to what I was saying when the site launched a mere three months ago: What happens when these women who are being pushed to mine their lives for high-volume content sites run out of stories? Well, I guess one answer is “go into the bathroom with a Flipcam.”
And yes I know that I am part of the problem by pointing at this on the Internet and saying “hey this exists! what?!” But if I can raise my voice on the side of the people who just have something to say, and who shouldn’t have to resort to stunt journalism and putting forth salacious details in order to get their point of view paid attention to by at least a sliver of the ever-distractable masses, then, you know, I think it all evens out.
So, this is an important thing written by the seemingly always astute Maura. And I have many, many (not yet fully formed) thoughts about it. It totally hits exactly the issue I have with le lady blog industry, and also, it is totally relevant to the state of my own blog, currently.
Interestingly (maybe), there is a thing happening in my life RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT that would probably make for some interesting bloggin’. But I am pretty torn between wanting to write about my experience and also having this strange new feeling about things I actually don’t necessarily want to share with the whole Internet. This thing is real, and true, and emotionally conflicting, and would be both relatable to some people and revile-able to others. In short, it is just the sort of stuff that makes the very best blog fodder. Formerly, I would have by now started a series about it. Currently, I’m writing drafts in my gmail account and having not very many second thoughts about them sitting there forever, unread.
I keep thinking, you know, maybe this is an Important Issue and my experience would be of value to share with other people. (Also, attention for my otherwise pretty boring lately blog.) And then I immediately think, hey, maybe some things actually are private, and do not need to serve a greater purpose. Basically, there is this constant back and forth in my mind of for what cause and at what cost? It’s a tough spot, though, running out of stories, or losing the willingness to mine your own life for content. It’s confusing, I guess. I often miss the kind of blog I used to write. I rarely miss the kind of life I lived to keep alive the kind of blog I used to write. But also! The sort of e-mails I’ve received from people, mostly women, when I have sort of shamelessly thrown it all out there…those e-mails make me think maybe there is some value in the bare all approach. I don’t know. Does the motive matter? Really. Does it matter if what we write is rooted in sheer narcissism or controversy courting and other related grossness, if it…ick…opens up a dialogue? I don’t know! I don’t know.
And really, this isn’t just an issue with female targeted writing, I mean, obviously. It is sort of the issue with all must generate more and more and more pageviews daily writing of any kind, just, I think, for whatever reasons the “this one’s for the ovary possessors” stuff is always more offensive. And this touches on way bigger issues, for me, the kind I have not thought out very thoroughly. But let me mention it anyway! Sometimes I think it is inherently…condescending…or something…to think women need their own special websites for their own special interests. I don’t know! That’s the theme of all this. I don’t know.
Maybe next I can talk about the problem with Internet writing and the awful sense of urgency it promotes and the terrible consequences of that, like, you know, people throwing out blog posts comprised of half formed thoughts and arguments! Until then!