'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

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.