I’ve never had a voice in media. Oh, there was a fun little stretch when Sassy existed but the timing was slightly off for me personally. It was aimed at teenagers but hit its stride in my early college years, when any money I came across was spent on beer, not magazines. (No Internet back then kids!)
The problem only increased as I got older. There weren’t a lot of pubs covering the frustrations of women working in tech during the dot com boom—kind of hard to fathom now. When I got engaged, I tried to read the phone-book-sized Bride’s magazines, honest I did. But ended up throwing them out and getting married in Vegas instead. I couldn’t for the life of me find the parenting sites for women who didn’t actually enjoy the baby years. And don’t even get me started on Oprah.
Why does this matter? Because if you’re not represented in media, you don’t exist. You’re relegated to the sidelines while others speak for you, much of the time in blatant contradiction of who you are and what you stand for. ‘Lean In’ is an excellent example of this. There is a subset of women for whom Sheryl Sandberg’s mantra is perfect. I give her huge props for recognizing it, labeling it, and making a hell of a lot of money off it. I, however, don’t know any of these women. The women I know hate meaningless buzzwords and have no interest in, or time for, weekly pep rallies with small groups. Any free time they happen upon involves a martini and a screen.
The women I know are messy. They’re overworked and most definitely underpaid. They drink too much and speak without thinking. The divorced ones are having one-night stands and the married ones aren’t getting any. They curse in front of their children. Some of them smoke weed. Some of them watch porn. Some of them never miss church. All of them are tired of being ladylike.
Media targeted to women aims for perfection, regardless of its focus. There’s this overwhelming message of Supposed To. Even with ballsier publications like Jezebel and Feministing, it’s there. Whether you’re expected to maintain your goal weight, fight the patriarchy, pursue your dream career, achieve the perfect orgasm, or hate celebrities—you better do it well.
Here’s the thing though. Just because we’re messy doesn’t mean we don’t care. We want to strive for more, stay informed, and fight for what matters to us. It just rarely happens gracefully.
I have no idea what this is going to turn into or what it will look like in the process. We’ll probably change some stuff along the way. We’ll add parts and delete them. We’re definitely going to ask you to write for us. The main intent is to inform, to vent, to curate, and to coalesce—little of which will happen with finesse.
Welcome to Graceless.