There’s been quite a bit of hullabaloo on this site and elsewhere today about a cartoonishly stupid and irresponsible post written by xojane “beauty and health” editor Cat Marnell. I’m not going to link to it here, but it’s heavily quoted in Jennifer’s post from earlier. Basically, this ostensibly educated, gainfully employed, 30-ish-year-old(?) woman wrote about how she cannot (present tense) be bothered to use any kind of contraception but the emergency kind (Plan B), because LOL condoms suck, and birth control makes you fat. She even dislikes the (somewhat less effective) “pull out method,” for a word salad of reasons I wasn’t really able to decipher. Jizz goes in here!
While I’m fairly certain that this was a cynical play for traffic on the part of the website’s management, it seems like xojane’s “health” editor is fairly sincere about her utter abdication of responsibility for her own health (and the health of her partners). This is disturbing for a whole host of reasons, which Jennifer did a great job outlining. Xojane’s only response to the criticism thus far? “Xojane is not geared towards teenagers.” This response comes in the form of some comments on our sister site Mommyish, as well as an “open letter to teenage girls” that seems to be tangentially making the same statement.
Sorry, xojane, but that’s not the problem we have with it. Like Jennifer said before, the biggest problem with this piece is that it embodies the exact type of entitled, irresponsible, bratty woman-child that the people on the wrong side of reproductive rights want to hold up as evidence as to why women can’t be trusted to make their own choices. This particular trust fund coke head might live in a magical post-feminist utopia where she’s shielded from pernicious legislation by her own privilege, but most people don’t, and she could actually be doing real damage to those people. Does she care?
Also, as someone who gets paid to write about health for a well-trafficked website and is hence assumed to be an authority on such matters, she’s spreading false medical information. You don’t have to be a teenager to take medical advice from a “health” editor. LOL forever at the notion that it’s okay to have unprotected casual sex so long as your partner count doesn’t rise above some arbitrary magic number. And LOL at the notion that birth control pills “will make me fat.” If she took them and gained weight, that’s fine. But if this is the case, she needs to clarify her statement. And hey, great job combating the fatphobia that permeates every aspect of our society. It’s cool to have reckless unprotected sex, but God forbid you gain an ounce of water weight during your cycle because that’s the worst thing that could possibly happen to a woman!
It’s not just the admission of having done stupid things that bothers me. Lord knows I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my own life. I’ve written about some of them, and I’ve even used humor as a means of coping with the way I felt about them. But a mistake is something you make in the moment. Once you recognize you’ve made a mistake, you can try to do better in the future. I don’t think Cat’s missteps can even really count as mistakes if she learns nothing from them and blithely and un-apologetically continues that same behavior, rubbing it in people’s faces and joking about it all the while. I’m not sure if this “hilarious” disregard for her own body is some weird internalization of hipster misogyny or what, but when women do it, it just seems masochistic. Ultimately, I pity the author of this article more than I dislike her, because she has got to have some serious issues to feel comfortable treating herself and others this way. Let’s hope she is successful in her incompetent attempts at avoiding pregnancy, because I’d hate to see her pass those issues down to anyone else.
UPDATE: And now they have published a post mocking anyone who dares suggest that spreading false medical information and embodying the right wing’s straw idiot woman-child might harm women in very concrete ways. There’s also the cop-out defense of “nobody reads our writers’ work before it’s published!” Do they think this makes their publication look good? So classy and professional, that XOjane.