Hello there, dear readers. Sorry I disappeared there for a while. This post was originally called “What’s the Difference Between an Excuse and an Explanation?” but 300 words later, I realized it doesn’t matter. I’m back now, I think. I missed you. What we had going on was cool. I hope it can be cool again.
Part of the reason I wanted to start this blog is because I love magazines, and I don’t feel like magazines do a great job of fostering good, vibrant conversations with women as active participants. Obviously there are women’s magazines, and I read and love those, but it’s pretty hard to deny that magazines whose editorial bent is distinctly gendered don’t approach women as thoughtful, interested people anywhere beyond the nail polish aisle. Magazines that do deal with topics other than how you should pay attention to politics to meet men, like The Atlantic or Outside or Wired, aren’t explicitly for men, but feel like they are because they aren’t adorned with the cultural alerts coded into society to be “for women,” like pastel colors and flowers.
It’s almost like we never grew out of the kid-book dilemma: Girls will read a book with a knight on the cover, but boys won’t read a book with a girl, bows, or puppies on the cover. There isn’t anything inherently about horses or ballet that have anything to do with being a woman, nor is there any homogenous experience of being a woman to which to assign that cultural indicator anyway. If the current cultural idea of femininity is breaking down, that’s a good thing.
One of the things I was doing while I was not posting here was moving in with my parents after graduating college, and to say this is an adjustment would be to say that the Titanic sinking was kind of a bummer. My mom tells me every day that there just aren’t any “real men” out there anymore. Any American could guess what she means: A muscular male who drives a truck, owns a gun, and can fix or build anything, including a barbecue on which to sear his ribeyes and roast the the championship hopes of his rival sports teams. She’s not alone: The Atlantic, a magazine one would hope would be above these spats, has claimed on its cover that love and dating as we know it is breaking down, once with the bold headline “The End of Men.” (Both articles were from and for straight, white women of some economic privilege and did not examine those tensions.) Dating is hard, that’s true. But that’s not because expression of gender is less distinctly polar than it once was.
I hope we can keep writing, and that you keep reading, because the work of evolving this culture can’t be left to publishers of magazines. We do this work in the wild hope that you’ll read it and enjoy it, or at least think about it. What made me come back to this place through the shame of inconsistency and the edging realization that I never won’t be busy is this: The conversations we have here are important.
I want to live in a world where not one girl makes decisions for her life based on who will call her a slut or a prude. A world where “real man” has no definition. Where not one person worries that how she looks or loves isn’t “normal.” Where having sex for the first time isn’t a loss. Where these hopes aren’t bold.
Join me, won’t you?