Thursday, May 24, 2007

What Women (Don't) Want

Imagine taking the very worst of those magazine's supposedly aimed at women and distilling it in a big vat of misogynist nonsense and then unloading it onto the web. Welcome to Jezebel, the new "women's" blog from Gawker.

I think the view Gawker has of women is very neatly summed up when they mention "Nebraska" and feel the need to add "(a state)"... I wish I was making this up.

So what is it that us women are interested in then? Mainly relationships - other peoples it seems, a good two-thirds of stories are about celebrity relationships. Personally I AM interested in celebrity relationships - I'm interested in how they're portrayed in the media and how they highlight gender issues that "ordinary" people may be experiencing.

For instance Anne Heche's divorce - we're told she's a poor cook while he looks up internet porn while he's meant to be looking after their child. Those are some really interesting issues. As a woman - what do you do if you discover your partner uses large amounts of pornography? How does it affect your relationship, how does it make you feel and how do you react if there's a risk of children finding it? And these days a lot of women and even more men have very limited kitchen skills. The wide availability of pre-prepared food may appear to be making life easier but if it creates a generation who are effectively unable to prepare fresh food from fresh ingredients, then that has serious implications for our health and wellbeing. (Discuss...)

Sadly that's not the Jezebel response. They've gone with "Sounds like a normal marriage to us!". Never mind that more men admit to poor culinary skills than do women. And remember ladies - all men look at porn, just get used to it.

As for the rest of it, try these extracts for size...

"Does this mean we can stop coloring our hair?" (When were we supposed to start? Did I miss a meeting?)
"Guess those fake breasts paid off!" (Since when was cosmetic surgery a business plan?)
"You can never be subtle enough when it comes to reminding a guy where his vagina is coming from" (Any sentence with the words 'his vagina' needs a re-think doesn't it?)
"Conventional wisdom holds that women's magazines aren't as good as men's magazines." (At what? And who writes half the cr*p in so-called women's magazines? Men! I don't think the author of this piece has subscribed to BUST yet...)
"Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon asks, 'What is wrong with women?'" (Speak for yourself thanks, I'm fabulous.)
"Males of the species: Now, sadly, even more irrelevant." (Again speak for yourselves, the men in my life are very relevant thanks. Of course the article is about fertility treatment. Because remember ladies - life is about baby-making!)
"We thought feminism was supposed to be straightforward" (Who told you that? It's as diverse as, erm, the women who definitely WON'T be reading your stupid website!)


AnnM said...

The Joss Whedon post is actually great. The question needs to be re-re-read in context to understand correctly, but it means something like "The incredible amount of misogyny in the world might suggest that something is wrong with women. But there's not. I mean, what is wrong (bad, evil, subhuman) with women?"

The intent of the question was so unclear that I'm having trouble rephrasing it so that it sounds innocent. But the link is well worth following.

The blog in question is such an odd mix of good and foul that I just don't know what to make of the people that produced it.

moi said...

The Gawker ethos (I'm not an employee, former or current) is a very tongue-in-cheek one. References to Nebraska as a state take the piss out of Nebraska, not the people reading it.

While you may not find the snarking appealing (and I find a good chunk of the writing across their network to be too shallow to be of interest), your Jezebel piece sounds like you opened up the blog, scanned the headlines, and made a piece out of pull quotes.

You managed to miss the fact that the Whedon piece is very pro-women; that 90% of the writing (Anne Heche, profitable boob jobs, etc) is sarcastic/snarky; the fact that BUST, while fab isn't what you'd call a 'women's magazine'; that they hate Cosmo et al as much as you do...

I've only just come across your blog, but the over-riding sense I got in reading your archives is that you have an awful lot to say that's of interest, but you don't have the research or facts needed to back it up. Shame.

Cruella said...

Just because an article doesn't sound like a cosmo article doesn't mean it's a pro-women article. Lots of people have mailed me to say I'm "missing" the humour of Jezebel, but the only joke I can find in it is "we should really know better but lets play along with misogynist stereotypes anyway". I don't find that very funny.

Alex said...

Alright, I'm inclined to agree-- Jezebel seems quite vacuous, superficial, and plays nicely into the "women are only interested in clothes, makeup and celebrities" stereotype.

That being said, I'd also like to throw another coal on the "Support for Joss Whedon" fire. The article in Jezebel did nothing to support his statement, so I can understand the confusion. However: Please read this to get the full story.