Recently, a new website launched, from the creator of Sassy magazine. Jane Pratt captured a generation of young women who were shocked and amazed to find their voices represented in a magazine that talked to them about things they cared about. When Jane moved on to her next endeavor, Jane, she didn't have quite the same alchemical magic, but people were still plenty ready to give her a try.
So now there's xoJane.com. A web-based mag in the vein of Jezebel.com, it features articles on family, sex, fashion, technology, and Jane, Jane, Jane. I like snark, I'm a regular reader of Gawker, Jezebel and Television Without Pity, so I'd hoped this would be up my alley...but after reading much of the first "issue," I'm incredibly disappointed with what they've produced. And I'm not alone--all over the web (and all over the comments on xoJane itself!), readers are expressing their disappointment at the site's lack of substance and its fairly remedial gender politics.
Current articles include "I Obsessively Monitor My Husband's Lube Bottle," in which a woman feels hurt and paranoid because her husband masturbates; an ignorant review of the excellent "Game of Thrones" that declares women are only watching for the HBO sex; their tech writer declaring "I Can't Date You Unless You Have a Smartphone"; and a piece from Jane herself being upset because she eavesdropped on her waxer's receptionists and heard them say she looked old. There's one fairly strong article that even the negative reviews are pointing out: the story of a woman whose rapist friended her on Facebook, leading her to have a conversation with him for the first time since the rape happened.
This site is doubly disappointing because of Jane Pratt's history, and because the point of creating a site like this on the web is that a publication doesn't have to be beholden to the typical "women's mag" model. The voice alone isn't enough to carry this site, and while it would be easy to overlook an occasional off-base article, or a single staff writer with whom I didn't click, the pervasive tone-deafness throughout the site is worse for its good intentions.
Anyone else reading xoJane? What's your favorite online read?