Be a lady, but don’t be a girl.

June 13, 2011 at 11:07 am (women's issues)

I’ve been watching an online fight amongst a couple of new girl blogs, Jezebel, The Daily Beast, and Julie Klausner, and it’s bringing up some really interesting issues that I find myself struggling with a lot as a grownup woman. Not the sites, necessarily, but the debate about the sites. Here’s the scoop:

Both Jane Pratt (the goddess who created Sassy magazine) and Zooey Deschanel (if you have bangs you know who she is) launched websites this past week that are aimed at females aged 14 through 40.

Meet xoJane and Hello Giggles.

xoJane describes itself as:

where women go when they are being selfish, and where their selfishness is applauded. This is not the place to find out how to please your husband, mom, kids or boss. This is the place to indulge in what makes you feel good. We are not snarky, but inclusive and uplifting, while remaining nothing but honest at all times. Like Sassy and Jane before it, xoJane.com is written by a group of women (and some token males) with strong voices, identities and opinions, many in direct opposition to each other, who are living what they are writing about. xoJane.com is not about changing yourself to fit any mold of what others think you should be. It is about celebrating who you are.

HelloGiggles, on the other hand, is:

the ultimate entertainment destination for smart, independent and creative females. Everything hosted on the site will be lady-friendly, so visitors need not worry about finding the standard Boys Club content that makes many entertainment sites unappealing to so many of us.

I could go through the content of each site and bash them for being frivolous, but that’s basically true of any site, so why bother. Instead, let’s hear what other ladies have to say about these sites.

The Daily Beast thinks these blogs are childish and talk down to women-

With such tickle-me-hormonal content online, it makes one wonder, where is the content for women who want the equivalent of GQ, with sharp articles about powerful women and fascinating trend stories, written by writers as good as Tom Wolfe or Joan Didion?

And Julie Klausner, who I adore, takes it even further:

I’m begging age-appropriate females: Read something written before you were born. Stand up straight. Make sure you own one piece of jewelry that you did not purchase on Etsy. Use capital letters in an email to the guy you want to date. Let him take you out on a date, maybe not on a walk or an Xbox session, even if you are, God help you, addicted to LA Noire. Meet your friend for wine instead of fro-yo one night. Watch a movie with no early-90’s nostalgic appeal. Bitch, you already know Clueless by heart.

These are not invalid or terrible arguments, but jesus, it’s so easy to attack people for trying to be positive. And that’s all these sites are trying to do- be not snarky and not self-hatey. Perhaps that’s a passe, po-mo stance to take, but let’s let them take it without shitting on them too much, shall we? Klausner is tired of women being obsessed with frivolous things like kittens and cupcakes, but shit, aren’t you just tired? I am. I’m tired of being a little bit too much of the modern woman who has her ducks in rows and CAN’T STOP COUNTING THEM BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE IS GOING TO DO IT IF SHE DOESN’T? And this causes me to wear rings with fried eggs on them. Historically, we’ve gone from being passive observers of our lives to being so on top of our game that it hurts, and I think this girlie movement is a desperate reaction to that. We don’t want to go back, but we don’t want to just be badass all the time. We want what the Beta Males have- the ability to be dudes and men at the same time. The 90 seconds I spend looking at the lolcats that are delivered into my inbox every morning are the least stress-laden moments of my entire day, and yes, that is sad.

And if I may pull this card out of the deck, why on earth do we ladies constantly just have to criticize each other into the dirt? I don’t ever see intelligent bloggermen bashing Men’s Health- they just see it as one more color in the spectrum that is manhood. I don’t need my news to come from sites like HelloGiggles- I’ll just read the news where I normally read it, thank you, and then go find out how to make cupcakes shaped like kittens, thank you.

I spent most of my preteen and teen years desperately trying to separate myself from the girlie girls I knew. I thought I was cooler than them, and because I had no other way to signal that to others, I did it by wearing huge band shirts and combat boots and staunchly refusing to care about being pretty. I stopped dancing at 12 and pretended I didn’t know how at school dances. Ten years I spent trying desperately to hide my joy and my girliness, because I didn’t want to be seen as a dumb, vapid girl. It took a drag queen friend to remind me that looking like a girl was good, and it took burlesque dance classes to get me dancing again. It’s taken years of reflection for me to figure out that being girlie isn’t a bad thing.

Fourteen year old me would have absolutely adored hearing from an adult woman that you can be girlie and vulnerable and still a grownup who is badass and fun. Fourteen year old me had no idea that was possible. So I can’t hate on these two new sites, and every time I want to roll my eyes at fashion tips for making pigtails look hot, I stop myself. Maybe it’s not for me, but it’s for one of my sisters out there, and I want her to like herself.

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4 Comments

  1. zeldafuret said,

    I totally agree with you. Some females like to be girly-girls, others don’t and some do sometimes. To be truly liberated, we should be able to be ourselves-whether we want kitten cupcakes or truck cookies or maybe BOTH! Let’s go for inclusion, not exclusion.
    You know the truth: glitter is cool! It just depends where you put it.

  2. nchoirnmind said,

    “I spent most of my preteen and teen years desperately trying to separate myself from the girlie girls I knew. I thought I was cooler than them, and because I had no other way to signal that to others, I did it by wearing huge band shirts and combat boots and staunchly refusing to care about being pretty. I stopped dancing at 12 and pretended I didn’t know how at school dances. Ten years I spent trying desperately to hide my joy and my girliness, because I didn’t want to be seen as a dumb, vapid girl.”

    This.

    I’m probably a decade older than you, but i remember this, painfully, internalized smart-girl misogyny. It still crops up in the most unexpected places.

  3. Margaret Wheeler Johnson: Is Women's Media Too Girly? - Freshwadda Brooks | Coming Soon! said,

    [...] girliness, as the New Yorker‘s Sasha Weiss suggested? -Is adult girliness an attempt to escape the stress of being an adult woman [...]

  4. Women’s News: Is Women’s Media Too Girly? – LadyRomp said,

    [...] Here are a few of the questions we tried to address:  -Is the “woman child” real? How many of them do we actually know? -Have we reached the point where women have enough educational, professional and financial success that they don’t need to be serious in order to be taken seriously? -Is acting childishly girly a way women attempt to make themselves look less threatening? -Is making yourself less threatening still necessary to succeeding professionally? -Is adult girliness about attracting men — or having parts of your life that men don’t have access to? -To what degree is promoting adult girliness about getting women to buy even more stuff? -Is it up to media outlets — websites, TV, film — to portray women seriously? -Is the “woman-child” exclusively white? -Was the post-Oscar backlash against Anne Hathaway about her adult girliness, as the New Yorker‘s Sasha Weiss suggested? -Is adult girliness an attempt to escape the stress of being an adult woman now? [...]

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