- "Look at me! I'm an edgy magazine! Do you guys see how edgy I'm being? EDGY!!!!!!"
Oh, Vice. You edgy internet publication. You crazy diamond of "rapportage." You nutty self-declared loose cannon of voice-driven prose. You unapologetic discusser of drugs. You've done a lot of crazy things in the past, but launching a vertical for ladies may be one of the most truly misguided. That's right! VICE recently announced the inception of Broadly (yes, it's really going to be called that because I guess they're taking a page from the oh-so-successful Bustle playbook).
Let's get this out of the way: I actually like Vice. Sure, I do. Running a fashion spread that glamorizes female suicide is a horrible editorial choice, and trying to be edgy is a fool's errand, and it shouldn't take a dressing-down from David Carr for executives at any publication to realize that reporting on genocide is not a hip new thing. Even with all that nonsense (and it is, by all accounts, a lot of nonsense), I'd be lying if I said I didn't read Cat Marnell's trainwreck-y column, Amphetamine Logic, until it self-destructed in 2013. And yet, there's something about this excitement about finally reaching women that just grates. Here's what the vertical's publisher, Shanon Kelley, told the Hollywood Reporter about why Broadly allegedly needs to exist:
"If you look at the current landscape of women's media, it is purely reactionary," says Kelley. "Blogs are either reacting to the news, gossiping about celebrities or discussing the latest beauty and fashion trends. No one is telling original stories that women specifically relate to. For Vice, it is in our DNA to provide original, story-driven video content and speak to a millennial audience."
LOL WUT? There are PLENTY of ladyblogs out there that do nothing BUT tell "original stories that women specifically relate to"—the Toast, the Hairpin, Everyday Feminism, Rookie, Autostraddle, the Cut, the Gloss, xoJane, Bitch, Bust, Dame, and Lemonhound, just to name a few off the top of my head. Then there are millennial-focused sites that regularly feature women writers but aren't intended for an audience of only women—think Matter, Mic, and almost everything on the Awl network. We're not talking about a gap in coverage that needs to be filled, you know, except maybe at a blog like Vice.
The problem, I think, with a site like Vice launching a vertical for women is the message it sends: that women don't read Vice, or that "women's issues" need to be shunted into their own separate pink-hued category away from the site's front page—and this, on a site that actually did run a fashion spread glamorizing female suicide. The problem isn't that Vice doesn't offer a dedicated space for female readers: it's that Vice doesn't offer women much of anything. Cat Marnell's column was wonderful guilty pleasure reading, and Vice has occasionally published interesting female voices, but these seem to be exceptions. There are a lot of things Vice could—nay, SHOULD!—be doing to be less of a boys' club. I'm just not convinced Broadly is going to be one of them.