Why Don't I Read DoubleX?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Because it's a Web site about parenting, decorating your house, and chick lit. It's not for me.

When I heard that DoubleX, Slate's women's sister site, is being re-incorporated into Slate I wasn't surprised. Here's why:

I had a lot of things I needed to do tonight, so instead I decided to split the DoubleX archives by topic.

Here are the top ten topics and number of times they appear in DoubleX:

Home Decorating 41
Sex/Virginity 29
Clothes/Makeup/Hair 26
Birth/ Pregnancy 25
Celebrities/Hollywood 24

Notice the quantitative difference between the first and second most popular topic? I wonder why I didn't feel like it was directed to me. Which ones of these topics was supposed to break out of the box of traditional women's roles?

I went through everything in their archives except podcasts, some videos, and the XXFactor blog. The reason for the first two is that I'm lazy. The reason for the last one is that I figure the question should be what did DoubleX add to the already existing blog.

I only read the headlines and the teaser of each article and found them simply by clicking on the tabs on the top of DoubleX, so if it was saved incorrectly, I didn't see it. If the headline or teaser was misleading, too bad. I figure people decide whether or not to read it based on the headline and teaser. So, for example, a search on DoubleX for "sexual harassment" comes up with more than one post, but I only saw the term once.

Also, I was not doing this carefully. Mothering, for example, is posts in which daughters write about their mothers. Except sometimes it's really parenting, just with an extra focus on mothers. Health is non-healthcare reform, generally non-children related issues. Literature includes a disproportionate amount of chick lit and some children's literature, and movies includes about five posts on Judd Apatow. Religion is mostly about Islam with some about the Christian right and a few personal essays. Feminism is mainly posts that tackle the question of what is feminism or what its future will be head on.

In general, I inflated the numbers for terms that I didn't think I was that careful in recording. There's one giant exception: Parenting. I wasn't sure if I should count each XXtra Small post as its own entry, and I got bored counting them, so while I counted everything else from today back to May 1, I only counted XXtra Small through August. And then, the parenting numbers are deflated even more because I got tired of counting my tally marks.

As for the blogs, I counted all of The Desire Lab under Sex/Virginity with a few marks for domestic violence and rape.

I went through Your Comeback like the rest of the archives.

I counted all of Nick's Dream House under Decorating

All of The Oyster's Garter went under science.

I didn't count the On-Ramp at all because it seemed to just be an aggregation of recession related news (relatedly, it's interesting how many recurring features or blogs within DoubleX just died or trickled off).

Any post could be given as many tags as I saw fit.

Let's hear what the founders said about it when it launched:

Emily Bazelon: "I grew up feeling mostly baffled by women's magazines. They just didn't really speak to me, they felt ... sometimes they felt like a guilty pleasure but often they just felt kind of irrelevant."

On XXtra Small: "Our effort to fill a hole that Hannah and I and I think others felt in particular."

Meghan O'Rourke "Women's magazines seem to assume you want to inhabit a very particular kind of identity, and one of the things we are trying to do is to explore different senses of identity and to do it with a sense of playful inquiry,"

"We're hoping that the site will speak to women of multiple generations and we're hoping that will be one of it's great strengths."

It "isn't always about I'm a woman and this is what I think. It's I'm a person and this is what I think."

Hanna Rosin: "There's lots of incredibly interesting cultural writing about fashion which we hope to have in the magazine."

"They don't have to be 'women's issues' in the way that people have always defined women's issues. There can be a whole range of issues and you just put them through a slightly different lens."

"If you take something like Slate and have it edited by three women instead of the kind of people it's edited by well that's the kind of magazine we want to turn out."

At the end of the day, for all their hope of talking about women's issues in a new way, DoubleX just shifted the demographic a little bit older, and was not really all that groundbreaking in the way they talked about issues, which, when listed, read just like the table of contents of any other magazine.

I still feel like DoubleX is irrelevant to me, I don't understand why Slate edited by women would hew to such stereotypical discussions, and I don't understand what the definition of women's issues is. And based on my numbers, they did a pretty bad job catering to senior citizens or 20-somethings, which is too bad because advertisers for the mommy bloggers already have platforms.

My whole chart is below.

Parenting 160
International affairs 16
Body image/eating disorders 4
Home decorating41
Recession 16
Divorce 4
Literature 30
Health 15
Domestic Violence 4
Sex and virginity 29
Relationships 14
economics 4
Clothes/makeup/hair 26
Teens 14
Millenials 4
Science 26
Media/Social networking 13
Obama, Barack 4
Birth/ pregnancy 25
Television 12
Obama, Michelle 4
Food 25
travel 10
Sex scandals 4
Celebrities/Hollywood 24
Health Care 9
Sotomayor 4
Motherhood 23
Men's Rights/Manhood 8
Music 4
Movies 21
Millitary 8
Sisters 4
Q&A with women 21
Marketing 8
Iraq 3
Married life 20
Birth control 7
McCain, Meghan 3
Religion 20
Rape 7
Palin, Sarah 3
Workplace 19
Sports 7
Senior citizens 3
Supreme court 18
Politics (other) 6
Clinton, Hillary 2
Weddings 18
sexism/ gender 6
Judiciary reform 2
Friendship 18
Grief 6
Race 2
Abortion 17
Happiness 5
Yoga 2
Feminism 17
Sexuality 5
Sexual harrasment 1

0 Responses to 'Why Don't I Read DoubleX?'

Search This Blog

Contact Me

Written Pyramids is a blog written by a journalist living and working in Washington D.C.

I have left my real name off of the blog so as not to imply that the blog is somehow linked with the journalism I get paid to do. (Still, I never write about my beat on this blog, and rarely express opinions about the day's news regardless of its relationship to my beat).

I would love to hear from you. If you want to contact me directly rather than leaving a comment here, I can be reached at WrittenPyramids@gmail.com.

Blog Archive

Books pyramid image originally from the British website, Explore Writing.