'Women' occur to Vice

Following in Bustle’s footsteps, Vice has realized that human women with human lives exist and matter in terms of capital. The traditionally dude-centric company has announced they will be launching a “female-focused channel,” led by Shanon Kelley and ex-Jezebelian, Tracie Egan Morrissey, and featuring “sex writer,” Mish Way.

The channel will be called “Broadly” and, as much as I’d like to feel pleased that these huge media conglomerates are paying attention to women, they almost always fuck it up.

I can’t help but tense-up when I read about the plans for Broadly, which include sections like, “‘Style and Error,’ [which] will focus on the translation of fashion from the catwalk to the street by ‘getting super deep with the superficial.'” and “How (Blank) Found Feminism,” which will offer “revelations into how public figures came to declaring themselves feminists.” It’s hard for me to trust that a company that positions such a horribly misguided and sexist person like Paris Lees, who recently told men that street harassment was actually super flattering (thanks Par!) and routinely informs women that prostitution is totes empowering, as spokesperson for feminism and women.

It is even more difficult to trust the launch of Vice’s lady-channel when part of their announcement completely erases decades of feminist media.

Kelley says, about the channel,

If you look at the current landscape of women’s media, it is purely reactionary. Blogs are either reacting to the news, gossiping about celebrities, or discussing the latest beauty and fashion trends. No one is telling original stories that women specifically relate to.

Really?? No one? Just Vice. I guess Ms. Magazine was just covering celebrity gossip all those years, huh.

Some responses online:

Vice is not the same beast it once was. Since they got rid of evo-psych douchebro, Gavin McInnes, things have improved substantially and they have produced some really good reporting. But alongside that reporting, there is still a lot of porn and a real lack of effort to support solid feminist writers [Full disclosure: I have published a few articles at Vice and had a very positive experience with my editor. But I’m talking about who they hire as regular columnists and about 90 per cent of their coverage of feminist issues — in particular when it comes to the sex industry]. The majority of their coverage of prostitution and porn is of the pro-industry (or simply neutral) variety, publishing articles that position prostitution as a necessity because, “disabled people,” and as simply a job like any other — a choice women make, void of any larger context. I’ve yet to see Vice publish a feminist critique of BDSM or porn and their regular “feminist” writers simply aren’t very knowledgeable about… well… feminism. Their unwillingness to actively move beyond the “porn is empowering” position and to challenge the sex industry beyond the tepid (but acceptably progressive) “sex worker rights” position into a more in-depth analysis of how the objectification of women connects to violence against women and perpetuates gender oppression makes me skeptical about what a “female-centric channel” will look like. Who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised. Wouldn’t that be nice.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Oh, I get it. Broadly. As in “broad,” the old-fashioned derogatory term for women.

    Vice is owned by Murdock.

  • The Real Cie

    Style and Error! Getting super deep with the superficial! Wow, and to think I’ve been caring about things like pay equity and ending women’s second class citizenship. Thankfully these folks are here to teach me what feminism really means!

  • anaeli

    I have noticed Vice’s change in editorial direction might be somewhat international. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ll detail here as it may prove interesting to see how Vice goes about this change in editorial direction. I did not used to read Vice (the version in my language) because they posted a few very misogynistic articles in 2013/early 2014 (it seemed they were written like that for the sake of being “edgy”) and it was like a personal boycott of sorts.
    My country has two woman-centric holidays this week (International Women’s Day that was mostly changed to be Mother’s Day around here, ’cause only women who birth are valuable y’all, and another traditional holiday, won’t get into details here). Using this occasion, Vice (the native language version) has started a series of articles about feminism in my country. I was surprised to see it and I was really interested, especially since the first article is titled (my translation here) “Why I, as a man, think we need feminism in our country”. Of course, there are a lot of women feminists, activists and scholars alike, who work hard towards achieving gender equality and spreading awareness about gender issues in my country and I read their scholarly work & follow their activism daily, unfortunately not one of them was mentioned or consulted in any way while writing this article (from what I can tell), none of their work (articles, sites, books, blogs, whatever) was linked to, which was the first red flag. Why write a series of articles on feminism without consulting any women with authority on the matter? There are so many of them (not me, I’m just a novice) and I’m pretty sure they’d be glad to give a quote or help co-write an article about their area of expertise.
    The article did touch upon a few important issues, such as domestic violence, sex trafficking, abortion, the religious oppression of women and it did a fairly good job, I guess, in that the author presented statistics and called out stereotypes and such, though it just repeated the same things feminists (all around the world, not just in my country) have been saying for ages. Congrats, I guess, for co-opting feminist rhetoric without giving any one woman credit. The article was plagued by one more thing: telling feminists what they should concern themselves with, over and over again. Like, at some point in the article, the author says that domestic violence statistics should be feminists’ Bible – again, thanks, I guess, for the pointer, but I’m pretty sure feminists have been campaigning and working hard against this very thing for, like, decades? Also the author says feminism should concern itself with tough, grave issues (like violence, abortion, the stuff I mentioned above), not like, objectification of women in advertising, because that “absurd stuff” is alienating people and it’s stopping feminists from seeing the big picture.

    All in all, having read what you wrote here and having seen Vice’s rendition of feminism in my country, I am still thoroughly not impressed and disappointed.

  • stevie

    I’ve never been a fan of vice, but I am glad to know that you are putting some content on their platform that challenges the dominant view that women’s value is primarily for our sexuality and sexual expression and displays.