Today in the American Prospect , Ann Friedman asks a question we’ve heard from many feminists since we launched Double X on Tuesday: Why do we need a women’s web site? Did we kill the “ladies” page in the newspaper only to recreate it online? This is an excellent question, and one we wrestled with ourselves when we decided to found Double X.
One reason is simple. Women have never had a great public interest magazine. We’ve had magazines with a very narrow understanding of what women are interested in. We’ve had magazines for the feminist movement. But we’ve never had a magazine written mainly by women that accurately reflects the range of subjects we think and talk about. Our model here is Esquire , and particularly Esquire of the 1970’s. Esquire is clearly a men’s magazine but I have read it all of my life. Early on it pioneered new forms of journalism and continues to publish award-winning stories year after year. Growing up, I’d read Esquire, and then a women’s glossy, and the difference made me crazy. We don’t have nearly the resources Esquire has, but Double X is our small contribution to this historical gap.
Friedman asks whether Slate is signaling that it doesn’t want women as its main readers. Definitely not. We don’t think of it as either/or, but more! In just our first two days Slate has promoted so many Double X pieces on its homepage, and we’ve promoted theirs. There’s no question that a space dominated by women’s voices creates a slightly different alchemy. But it’s not instead of a mainstream magazine; it’s just another thing.
“Somehow, ‘smart women’s magazines’ never seem to publish things that influence the national conversation in the way that smart articles in general magazines do,” Friedman writes. Exactly! That’s what we’d like to change. We are not just interested in changing the direction of feminism. We’re interested in influencing many things. The XX factor blog we grew out of is a perfect example: We debated the election, the Supreme Court, torture memos, education policy, and yes, sometimes Michelle Obama’s arms and the Real Housewives . This is how we live, and we want a magazine that reflects that.