This Salon article on the state of web sites aimed at women
August 31, 2000 2:51 PM   Subscribe

This Salon article on the state of web sites aimed at women asks some interesting questions. Women-centric sites set out in 1997 and 1998 to start a revolution, and instead we have relationship quizzes, diet plans, TV reviews, and horoscopes. What went wrong? Are women really interested in these things? Did the sites start out edgy and adapt to the audience? Would anyone expect online magazine/lifestyle properties to be much different than their offline counterparts? I also wonder what anyone that has ever seen and/or used iVilliage, Oxygen, and think of each site's content? Is it enlightening, or pure fluff?
posted by mathowie (12 comments total)
I don't think they're any better or worse than a regular 'ol woman's mag. Little do you know that between the pages are the secrets. That is what it's all about!
posted by karaleah at 4:57 PM on August 31, 2000

Here's a site which used to have an edge. It sure don't anymore: horoscopes and "Should we ban hairdye for kids under 18" and equal drivel.

Actually, if you want a woman's site with an edge, try this one. It's ironic what takes for its subject matter, but you won't find a horoscope there. And sometimes they get into some pretty deep stuff in their forum (though most of it is fairly shallow).
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:25 PM on August 31, 2000

When I think of sites with content for women, I think of slashdot, and metafilter, and zdnet.

Fluff is fine - everyone needs a little light reading in their lives, but I think that sites that pattern themselves after bad women's magazines (Cosmo, Mademoiselle, et al) have made a very big mistake - because while some women like a little fluff, we don't live on it, and already there are enough paper magazines catering to when we need fluff content most - in airports and on trains, while in the tub, and in the gyno's office.

The fact is, 'women' aren't the main consumers of women's magazines - 'young women' are - the demographics skew to the 13-21 crowd, even if the content doesn't represent them well. As for, and, I don't need anyone filtering content down for me based on my reproductive organs.
posted by kristin at 8:53 PM on August 31, 2000

i never even went to the iVillage web site (even though their office in NYC is very close to my school). the only "women's" web site i ever went to was underwire -- just because it was always linked from with some times "gender neutral" headlines/links.
posted by tamim at 9:15 PM on August 31, 2000

Well, there's always "The Breast Chronicles" and "Flatsy". (Oh, dear.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:48 PM on August 31, 2000

I just go to the plain old human sites, myself. Wimmin schmimmin, men schmen.
posted by stefnet at 7:51 AM on September 1, 2000

the thought of chickclick ever having anything even resembling an 'edge' is utterly laughable. they were about as edgy as a butter knife, at least when you use the true (read: not marketing-speak-defined) definition of the term.
posted by maura at 9:01 AM on September 1, 2000

Hey, I cut myself with a butter knife once!
posted by daveadams at 10:02 AM on September 1, 2000

Chickclick itself barely existed as an entity in the beginning; it was just a network of sites done by girls & women. Many of the sites in the network had a decent amount of grit and interesting stuff (and some still do), but as Chickclick has grown more successful, they've added more "Chickclick" fluff (forums, polls, quizzes, stores, etc.) and focused less on the network.

I still visit some of the Chickclick sites and enjoy them a lot-- I dig Hissyfit, Fametracker, Disgruntled Housewife and Spacegirl.
posted by wiremommy at 11:45 AM on September 1, 2000

Ah, yes, the Wymmynz Web, and Hissyfit. Read all about it, unless and until Matt deletes this link or an autobloggationist like Kottke calls this kettle beige.
posted by joeclark at 3:53 PM on September 1, 2000

Interesting take on Hissyfit, Joe. I don't think it's totally accurate though. I checked a few of the most recent items on Fametracker and found 2 1/2 Wing Chun credits, 3 1/2 Man From FUNCLE creds, and 1 by "KatyDidn't". Chun & Glark's hands are still on the wheel.

I don't think it's fair to say Chun and her geek hubby Glark are moguls who merely profiting by repackaging others' content. For one thing, Glark designed, Chun conceptualized, and both maintain the sites, which is commonly known as "work". Chun is an extremely brisk and witty writer, which is the reason people were ever attracted to her sites in the first place. She may not be paying out huge sums for TV episode wraps and hissyfit rants, but then again, these are TV episode wraps and rants, which are not exactly rare commodities. She's paying out an honorarium for something that most people would probably do for free just to put their material in front of her readership anyway.

As for the money... Hissyfit, Fametracker and Mighty Big TV may collectively bring in $100K per year, but some of that is a full-time staffer's salary (Man From F), and some of it pays for expenses like server bills, DSL, etc.-- I don't think Chickclick fronts them anything for their costs, it seems like CClick is strictly an ad network.

Lately Chun hasn't been writing as much, but then again she and Glark are moving into their new house (as discussed on Hissyfit). In fact, just today they posted an explanation as to why Chun's been absent for the past few weeks.

I don't know WC or Glark, but just from reading their sites I would be hard pressed to characterize them as "moguls". They seem to have managed to make an independent living off their combined talents, partly through work and partly through luck. Good for them! As for your contention that they'd be up shit creek if the Chickclick gravy train closed shop, I doubt it-- with their numbers they'd be welcomed with open arms by most any ad network. The question I come up with is, why do you care so much about where their money is going? Your screed is fairly even-handed, but I wonder what prompted it in the first place.
posted by wiremommy at 7:58 PM on September 1, 2000

Wiremommy, I think lotsa folks are interested in following the money. Only thing more interesting than other people's cash is my own. That said, I wouldn't call 'em moguls either.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 11:50 AM on September 2, 2000

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