I don't know what to make of Slate.com's new women-writing-on-politics blog, The XX Factor ("Slate's no-boys-allowed political blog!").
It's not as if the ladies are being herded up and ghettoized in some Slate Lite section to seethe progesterone away from the men: presumably Slate's marquee name writers -- Dalia Lithwick, Meghan O'Rourke, Emily Bazelon, etc. -- want to participate in a women-only blog. But it feels gimmicky. And I don't know that I, a Slate reader and someone who cares a lot about getting women's voices heard in politics, want them to be doing this.
Too often in our culture, when women have something that's branded towards them, its denigrated for being fluffy: the Oxygen and Lifetime networks, a few of the women's magazines, so-called "chick flicks" and "chick lit," etc. Of course there are exceptions, but by and large, the lighter, breezier, lady-fied version of something gets less respect. And it shouldn't be that way with political thought, too. (Though nobody would accuse the women of Slate of being fluffy -- well, except Gawker.)
Separating the gender implies there is, or should be, a separation of both interests and opinions. I don't like thinking that my opinions are a different take, or that my political interests, like reproductive rights, equal pay, and representations of women in the media, are separate from the main part of anything. Or the implication that what men write about and do is what's normative, and when women do the same thing, it's somehow special.
The XX Factor will probably have great content and may even contribute to raising the profile of political and cultural problems that women face. And to be fair, I read and love politics blogs written by feminists, like Salon.com's Broadsheet and Feministing.com (in fact, I've done some blogging for Feministing myself). But I still wish for the day when women-on-politics blogs don't exist anymore, when its just a given for the media -- both the mainstream media, and the skewed-to-the-left media -- to be healthily bountiful with smart women blogging about politics. And if Slate.com's regular content is already a step in the right direction, what's the point of this gimmick?