XOJane Justifies Condoning Unprotected Sex With Condescending, Tone Deaf Statements

Not pictured: the vagina she deserves to have revoked.

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.

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    • superjack

      But wait! There’s more!

      http://www.xojane.com/sex/even-more-scandalous-birth-control-post-we-didnt-run

      They still don’t fucking get it. And some of their readers are actually commenting like “Cat tells it like it is!” and “Worry about your own vagina!”

      Cannot. Deal.

      • Jamie Peck

        Thanks. Update added.

      • Lucinda

        “Worry about your own vagina!” That’s a great one!

        Cause all those older, conservative, male lawmakers are worrying about their…own…vaginas? Oh WAIT!

      • KathleenCat

        They worry about the vaginas of the women they think they own.

      • sara

        Yes and if I should be worrying about my own vagina, why am I reading about hers on the internet? And I thought the point of the article (according to the defenders, not me because who can FIND a point in that mess) was that she’s calling out all girls to be more responsible, thus telling ME what to do with MY vagina.

    • Jane

      At least the feedback from other blogs and commentators shows a great awareness for the trouble that reproductive rights are in right now.

      Ms. Cat is very very lucky she lives in NYC. Drop her in North Dakota and have her write an article about trying to get Plan B or an abortion there.

      • Ashley Cardiff

        Truth.

    • limeginger

      great article – well written and *important* to have published. When I read her post I thought more than anything else this person really dislikes herself and seems to be hoping to rope in other despairing women with her glib self-loathing and loathing of others. btw…she says she didn’t go to college, so she’s not “ostensibly educated,” and from her tone and approach I get the sense she’s more like mid to late 20s.
      Just re-read the last part of your article and we’re in total agreement “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.”

    • Sara L.

      Not that any more holes need to be poked in this particular post, but a health editor should be on top of this stuff:

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110119141901.htm

      Unless she doesn’t like the the, like ugh! news, either.

      • Lucinda

        And in a similar vein (and not that one more incurable STD would tip the scales in this insane person’s mind, I’m sure) :

        Resistant Gonorrhea IS a Thing!
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14078098

    • Miss Woodward

      When I first began reading XOJane I really enjoyed it. It spoke to me! It was pithy! True to life! And sometimes deep!
      But then I started to see the sloppiness. The articles without facts, only opinion. Important articles like “It Happened to Me: I got Toxic Shock Syndrome” that I thought would be very enlightening, only told the writers story and didn’t include any facts or information on TSS. Young girls are reading this publication (old girls like me too!) and I still believe that sites like XOJane are members of the media and should do their best to fully report their stories, facts and both sides.
      If they want to be a pure opinion blog, then that’s fine. But Jane used to stand for a women’s voice in the news media, and people still take her publication in that way.
      As I said in a comment on XOJane, I guess I’m relegated to the like of Slate and Salon. And The Gloss!

    • OG

      I’ve been on the pill for about 12 years (yay! Ice cream for dinner!), and have not gained any weight from it. You know what does cause weight gain? Pregnancy.

      • Furious George

        YES! I hear it can get pretty expensive too….

    • Daniel

      If you want to start looking good in this exchange, I suggest countering with facts and links, not name calling and sarcasm. (fortunately your readers filled in some of that) I found the original post silly and possibly irresponsible, and maybe it’s the kind of thing that the editors should have stopped, but if you start calling people “entitled, irresponsible, bratty woman-child” not only do you preempt any possibility of real discussion, you sound like a child yourself.

      • Alexandra

        I fully agree with Daniel. You sound like every other judgmental person who picks apart Cat’s posts. I find her highly entertaining, and she frequently mentions how irresponsible her lifestyle is- but thats HER life. Nobody is asking you to follow HER actions. She is a real eye-opener in the way that she puts herself out there. Why are your choices right for her? Why are her choices right for you? People need to stop deciding what is RIGHT for other adults. “Live And Let Live” people, cmon. If anything people read her words, and realize that ISNT the right choice for them. So in a way, she really is turning people away from her lifestyle, while still giving them the opportunity to watch the show.