We Forgive You, Bryan Goldberg

What Women Really Think
Aug. 15 2013 6:00 PM

We Forgive You, Bryan Goldberg

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You are pardoned

Photo by RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/GettyImages

Dear Bryan Goldberg,

Katy Waldman Katy Waldman

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer. 

We forgive you. It’s OK. When you announced that you had received 6.5 million dollars to launch Bustle, which you heralded as the first website ever dreamed up for women, and that you would employ woman writers (but hardly pay them anything), and that you couldn’t tell the difference between eyeliner and mascara, you became the laughing stock of the Internet. Our own Amanda Hess laughed. Forbes laughed. Flavorwire laughed. The Hairpin laughed. Also, the Hairpin exists! And so does xoJane and Jezebel and XX Factor and the Atlantic Sexes channel and…Oh no. I’m sorry. I promised I wouldn’t do this. I made myself a solemn vow that I would not rehash all the dumb things you said in your initial post on PandoDaily, even though the whole thing was like some sort of horrible performance art where you have to watch a bro spill Natty Lite on himself in slow motion, repeatedly, from 40 screens at once. What a nightmare. If it was so mortifying for us, it must have been even worse for you, which may be why you returned to PandoDaily today with a heartfelt apology.

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“I messed up,” you began. Yes.

“There has been a lot of response to my fundraise blog post on PandoDaily on Tuesday,” you continued, stepping very slowly into the hot bathtub (and perhaps hoping we’d be distracted by the weird use of fundraise as an adjective.)

“Most of that response has been negative.” Most?

“And there are many good reasons for the criticism.”

From there, you do a nice job of describing why you made everyone so mad: by “[oversimplifying] the editorial landscape,” ignoring great women’s publications, assuming that women only care about trivial things like makeup, condescending to women, and undervaluing your female staffers. You seem genuinely remorseful (bromorseful?), genuinely more enlightened than you were a day ago, genuinely blindsided by the critiques that came your way, as if you never had anything but the best intentions.  

So we forgive you, Bryan Goldberg. Because you are obviously tonedeaf and clueless, which is preferable to malicious. You are just an economics major in a world where “you always have those curves where you maximize the X and Y axis at some point in the middle of the curve.” Perhaps you have learned your lesson, and realize that it’s weird to say the kinds of things you said in your interview with Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici from a few months back, about how Women, capital W, are “awesome” creatures waiting to be discovered:

What fascinates me as I spend a lot of time talking about women with what they want to read…I used to have this attitude of ‘Oh, a woman who likes beauty probably likes fashion, probably likes interior design, probably loves pop culture, and health and whatnot.’ But that’s not accurate. My girlfriend is really into health and yoga and fitness but she’s not into fashion. And I know women who are really into fashion but not into beauty. So, my cousin is obsessed with fashion but she’s not one of these girls who spends an hour putting on her face. And yet I know women who spend an hour putting on their face but don’t really care that much about yoga. And I know women who are really into interior design but don’t care about fashion. And it seems crazy. You say, how can someone love interior design but not care at all about fashion? And that’s what’s awesome about it. If you can make a publication that’s strong in all of these disparate areas and bring together all these interests no one else is doing, I think you have a winning idea there.

Actually, reading this makes me mad all over again. It is, quite frankly, drivel. It is the rambling of someone who sincerely has no notion that women are people just like men, with a few anatomical differences. Yet while we Women may be interested in fashion, but not interior design, or yoga, but not pop culture, or makeup, but not fitness, most of us aren’t interested in being mean to dumb people. So, thank you for your apology. Thank you for trying to understand us a little better. And good luck with Bustle. We sincerely hope that your dedicated attention to the female species will help fill in the gaps for you.