• Mon, May 23 2011

Does The Entire Internet Hate XOJane?

So, I asked the office if anyone is loving XOJane and wants to hug it, and kiss it, and snuggle it, and no one seems to, maybe because it’s a website. However, everyone loved Sassy, and Jane, and I think everyone really wants to like XOJane. But no one seems to. So what’s the problem?

“It’s not the kind of place I’d just stumble into and hang out and have a few drinks at,” said one member of our team, “because it’s the kind of place where Terry Richardson would make you pretend to be a sheep and have sex with you and afterwards you’d have to talk about how it was TOTES KEWL!”

I guess I’d never thought of Internet sites as kind of charming bars one has a few drinks at. If that’s the case, I hope TheGloss can be the Mos Eisley Cantina of the Internet, where droids and Terry Richardson never venture. And on the Terry Richardson note, I find the fact that XOJane’s piece, wherein a girl detailed her consensual sex with Terry Richardson, was used to somehow indicate that he was a gentleman when he’s coerced other models into much less consensual sexual relationships really… you know what? Jamie explained it better than I can.

Koa at our sister site Mommyish pointed out that XOJane might be good if you were a mom trying to relate to your 14 year old. That reminded me of the time when I was a teenager when my mom decided she would like “my kind of music” and began singing along to “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy, while I wandered off to my bedroom to listen to more Eartha Kitt records. “Do you like Ella Fitzgerald?” I asked her. “Bangin’ on the bathroom floor!” she replied. What I’m saying is: that never works, parents. That never, ever works. Though I probably should have paid more attention to her, because, perhaps if I cared more about Michael Stipe, I would be able to relate to XOJane. Because he’s name dropped constantly.

But it certainly won’t work in this case, because I don’t think these issues will grab your 14 year old’s attention, unless they’re just really trying to break their addiction to sugar (but then how will they experience the youthful pleasure that is peach schnapps?)

But! Maybe it’s just us who are having some troubles with the site? Let’s evaluate some of the feedback on this NY Magazine article about XOJane:

XOJane reminds me of why I stopped reading Jane magazine in the last couple of years that it still existed. The tone and poor level of writing betrayed any sincerity or message they were trying to convey. What they seem to think is honesty or liberation or confidence just comes across as vapid and immature and entitled. Worst of all, it’s all poorly written. The facebook rape article really is one of the best personal accounts of adolescent rape that I have read, BUT in classic Jane fashion, the glib headline (“I Friended My Former Rapist on FB and All I Got Was This Lousy Article”, is essentially the title) took away from how powerful the piece is. When you play it that way, it sucks all the confidence away from the site and just makes all these women look like hair-twirling undergrads bs’ing their way through life, or “whateveerrrr…”

The Jane website writers really need to quit with all of the so called ‘quirky’ titles (“Dudes, Try This Body Scrub… It TOTES Saved My Ass!”) and faux hipster-y stream of consciousness writing. It just ends up looking sloppy and like they’re trying too hard.

I’m a 90s Riot Grrrl feminist blahblahblah who LOVED Sassy. I was so stoked to hear Jane was back in the game. Jane is obsessed w. her age (yawn) and name-dropping 90s celebrities that nobody gives a rat’s ass about. Woo! Saw Kurt’s ghost at a party!. Read formerly rad Christina Kelly write a piece on how awesome it is being a priviliged suburban mom. Read the one about where Jane calls for a boycott of J-Sisters bc the receptionist accuratley guessed her age. Jane used to be a hero of mine; now she is just dated and self-obssesed. XOjane is jaw-droppingly bad. Like, I can’t believe these chicks are serious bad. Tavs: I know you are obssesed w. Sassy, but please, stay far away from this website. You are way too good for these vapid souls.

Okay, it’s interesting that the piece on the J. Sisters gets brought up because that was the one that really, really bothered me, too. Long story short, Jane goes to the J. Sisters, one of the receptionists – KAREN THE RECEPTIONIST, Jane notes  – who loved Sassy says (when she thinks Jane is out of earshot!) that Jane looks old. Dude. It’s the J. Sisters. It’s one of those tony places in New York where they overcharge because… you lie on beds of gold? I have no idea. But if you’re spending $100 on a bikini wax you’re going to be surrounded by 23 year old trophy wives and women whose faces have been entirely rebuilt. Of course you’ll look old. I’m 25 and I’d look old there. (I recommend J’aime, where the haggard people flock!) Anyhow, Jane proceeds to have an emotional breakdown. She writes:

I knew my extreme stress overreaction was happening for a reason. Just like when I was being emotionally abused and calling women’s shelters and battered women’s hotlines every night in fear for my life a number of years ago, I knew that it would one day make me better able able to help other women in that situation. But both experiences still sucked really badly in the moment.

Lady. Those two situations are not comparable. Like, amazingly not comparable. But, obviously, we just did a week about issues that we have with our bodies, so I can’t say that body loathing isn’t a valid topics to discuss. But did she have to mention the receptionist who thought she looked old by name? In all caps? The poor girl is going to get fired. And really, that’s all I got out of this article, because the receptionist was the person I related to. It’s the first time I’ve ever, ever, thought of Jane as th enemy.

But that’s nothing compared to the woman who wrote about how she monitors her husband’s lube bottle. That’s… crazy, right? We can all agree that not allowing your husband to masturbate is some kind of indication that you’re on the fast train to crazy town? But I guess over at XOJane that’s only a concern if you don’t have the right hair products.

Sorry. Low-blow. My bad.

I guess the thing that really bothers me is the fact that women seem to be portrayed as victims in every single article on this site. Like the girl who feels sexually harassed because she overhears a UPS worker talking about banging women (full disclosure: if I were a UPS worker, I think that’s how I’d relieve the agonizing boredom of my day. Fantasizing about a world where I was living the man-in-uniform dream).

Generally, it seems like all the women at XOJane are victims of society. But really, I’m not sure it’s the patriarchy or the evil receptionist league who are conspiring to make you feel old or sexually undesirable. I think that’s just you. To me, in this day and age, the enemy seems less like any of the external factors XOJane seems to want to blame it on, and more like our own staggering, baseless insecurities.

We don’t need to whine publicly about receptionists who unknowingly hurt our feelings. We just need to pull ourselves together and carry on. Can’t we learn to be – forgive me – a little it sassier? Maybe listening to a little Shaggy will help. (Fine. It’s a really good song, Mom).

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  • Jamie Peck

    I agree with all of this. I also think a lot of xoJane is pretty cop out-y. Like, it’s one thing to be honest about the ways in which one is maybe not such a good person. It’s another to be totally complacent and sit back and joke about it and not doing anything at all to try and fix it. I know caring isn’t cool…trust me, I’ve long struggled with my dual impulses to be 1.) cool and funny and all IDGAF and 2.) a responsible and decent human being, but there has got to be a better balance than this.

  • MilointheMeadow

    So here’s why I like xoJane – it’s not preachy, not pretentious, it’s a little bit flippant, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Kinda like myself and the coolest, kindest people I know.

    It seems like whenever there’s a new lady-blog out there, the other lady-blogs need to weigh in on its worth (not unlike a lot of women I know when a new girl enters the office pool). I don’t see any articles on xoJane deriding TheGloss, TheHairpin, Jezebel, etc. So let’s get off our high horse on this one.

    • Jamie Peck

      Looking through the site, I like a lot of it. There are just a few articles that evoke this negative kind of reaction in me.

    • Jamie Peck

      And yes, I realize that’s sort of different from what I just said. As I read more of the site, I’m seeing a lot of good stuff along with the stuff I don’t like so much.

  • Jessica Pauline Ogilvie

    I don’t know — I agree that some of the headlines over there are really dumb, and it does seem at times like they’re both trying too hard/not trying enough. But as far as the J. Sisters story, no one can control how they react to things like that, and I think it’s braver of her to write about how she really felt about what went down at the salon then to pretend that she always has her fierce riot grrl face on all day every day. Shit, if I overheard someone say they thought I looked 20 years older than I am I would also be really fucking upset.

  • Fabel

    Yesss, this is the reason why I love your site. I cannot stand the vapid, whiny tone that most other women’s magazines tend to have. The articles here are intelligent, funny and different– not some regurgitated Cosmo bullshit.

    Regarding the J. Sisters article, I’d also be upset if I heard someone say I looked 20 years older. However, it’s totally unnecessary to repeatedly call out poor Karen IN FUCKING ALL CAPS because an offhand comment she made while thinking she was in private. I actually found it creepy. Nothing about that article (or the other ones you linked to) came off as lighthearted or “flippant”

  • Suzanne

    Actually, the UPS-article isn’t her whining about being “sexually harassed” or “overhearing a conversation”. At all. It’s a question about what felt like, and seemed to be, passive aggression with a sexist twist, and how to react to that.

    Sometimes it’s like women hate the ideas of being victims so much that we look for or imagine self-victimization in other women, just so we can distance ourselves from it and feel better.

  • Betty

    Welp, dunno if the entire internet hates XOJane, but at least people have heard of it. I came to this post searching for XOJane… I had never heard of “The Gloss”. Whatevs, next!

  • littlebird

    I admit, when I first came across XOJane, I liked it. I grew to dislike it more and more and more upon encountering the XOJane community. The negative, rude people + the poor writing in the articles have made me decide to never look back after today.