Until two years ago, we used to hear a lot about how women make 80 percent of buying decisions and were the primary movers of the economy. Now that we know America was over-spending during that period, the gender nature of it has suddenly stopped being a story.
Emily Bazelon: I would offer a few more statistics: Women are more likely to be poor and make low salaries, which is related to why they took out more subprime mortgages. And women are experiencing fewer layoffs than men—less than 25 percent of the total—so their earnings are increasing crucial for keeping family afloat in this downturn.
Your point about the link between gender and consumer culture is a really interesting one, which we hope to explore more on the site. Why do women tend to do the bulk of buying for their families? What do their purchasing habits mean for the economy? Those are big questions.
Kansas City: I'm a female daily Slate reader. Currently, I find the XX Factor near impossible to read. With the blog format, so much of the time I didn't catch the original post and am lost to read the discussion from the middle, so I get frustrated and give up.
I guess what I'm asking is will Double X be more of a true online mag like Slate instead of the BLOG format of XX Factor? Thanks!
Meghan O'Rourke: Hi, great question. Double X will contain both the blog and features and essays that are more like Slate. You can find these features underneath the blog in the center column of the site—where it says "Table of Contents." There, and in our promotional pane on the upper-left hand side of the magazine, you'll find pieces about Elizabeth Edwards' new book; an interview with actor Tilda Swinton; an assessment of the Supreme Court candidates; and much more.
BUT: I also want to add that we have spent a lot of time redesigning the blog so it will be more readable. Some of these features don't totally work yet, but they will soon. One that might interest you is that if you click on the word "conversation" by a post, you can read the conversation in chronological order. (This feature has some bugs in it today, but we'll sort them out soon.)
But do let us know what else we can do to make the site more readable and navigable.
Anonymous: I'm so glad this site is being launched. I've been a fan of Slate for years and have enjoyed the blog immensely since it started. Quick question: if someone wanted to contribute to the site, what's the best way to go about doing so? I sent in the form with name, e-mail address and comments, but didn't get a confirmation page that it was received. I don't want to be so presumptuous to think that my contribution would be needed, but, well, I'd love to try! Thanks, and congratulations on the launch!
Emily Bazelon: Thanks for this note! We would love for you to comment on the site, and I'm sorry you didn't get a confirmation back from us—we've been snowed under getting ready for launch. You can go to doublex.com whenever you're ready and log in. Once you're registered, you can post in response to any blog entry or article you want. We look forward to hearing your thoughts—we started the site in part to bring readers into our XX Factor conversation, and you're key to our success!
Florida chick: Dead-tree media and, esp., cable TV, revealed itself to be savagely misogynistic with the "shrill" Hillary meme and the utter dismemberment of Palin. No coverage of male candidates in the past began to approach the personal and inappropriate stuff tossed around. From cackles to cankles to MILF star ratings, to was just plain shocking. Shocking. How will your efforts seek to immediately change this tone, which is apparently not limited to any party or media outlet? (Similar crap would not have been tolerated vis a vis Lieberman's religion, Richardson's ethnicity or so on.)
Meghan O'Rourke: This is a great question. It was partly out of frustration with the tone that you describe that we started the XX Factor blog on Slate. It was a conversation among Slate women about politics, the campaign, whether sexism, implicit or overt, was affecting Hillary's campaign. Within the conversation on that blog, we tried to dissect and examine our own assumptions, the moments when we might have been absorbing bias without even noting it.
I was thinking about this very issue last week, because all of the fuss and acrimony over Elizabeth Edwards' book has brought up some of the same questions for me. On the one hand, Edwards wrote a book and put herself out there to be discussed. On the other hand, it almost feels like women are quicker and more enthused to jump in and critique her than her husband!
So, we're trying to take a reasoned, analytical tone when we explore these subjects. We also think that the conversational element of the blog is key. It lets us represent different points of view. And to represent argument and debate about these very questions.
New York, N.Y.: How do you (if at all) envision place of men at Double X as readers or contributors?
Meghan O'Rourke: Thanks for asking. We are going to have regular male contributors. They'll contribute on a variety of topics, from parenting to cultural and political issues. To give you a concrete example, this week we will be running a Book Club about a handful of parenting-confessional books that were just published—the kind of books that are part of the so-called "Mommy Wars." Hanna Rosin, my co-editor, will talk with Stephen Metcalf, a culture critic for Slate, about these books and why they strike a cultural nerve. Our hope is to get outside of the tunnel vision way that these issues are often talked about by inviting a man (and a father) into the conversation.
We'll be doing that regularly. Men will routinely write about kids and parenting. And much more.
Arlington, Va.: I kind of find the magazine to seem like a ghetto for "women." If the topics are so "smart" why do they need a XX factor to tell women THIS IS TARGETED FOR YOU! Does this mean Slate is not meant to be read by women? Slate is a Men's online magazine?
Meghan O'Rourke: Good question. The XX Factor blog is read by men as well as women. The reason we expanded into a full site of our own was to be able to expand the conversation we were already having on the blog. So we think of this less as a conversation or magazine just for women—a pink ghetto, if you will—than a site that will be able to publish more content than Slate would on a variety of topics that the blog already touches on. Emily and I both write regularly for Slate, so no, we don't think of Slate as a "men's" magazine. But Slate is already packed full, and doesn't have room to promote all the stories it runs. So, we decided we needed to create a new site. Our hope is that men as well as women will read it—a hope we have some reason to believe will be reality, given the very equal gender breakdown of readers of XXFactor.
Cosmo, LHJ, Glamour, etc.: Those are exactly why Double X will be so welcome.
Meghan O'Rourke: Thank you. We hope to differentiate ourselves from those magazines—not so much by never talking about celebrity or fashion, but by taking on a broad range of topics and by taking a more analytical tone. I hope you enjoy!
Anonymous: are you concerned readers might confuse your blog with a Vin Diesel movie?
Hanna Rosin: This is a chronic problem. Readers coming to the site might be disappointed to find photos of humans with hair, and no six-pack abs, and not a wife-beater undershirt in sight. Perhaps we will start a Vin Diesel fan corner to mollify them.