The 10 Best Sites for Culture-Savvy Women

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Yesterday Twitter was alight with discussion over the founding of a new site for women called Bustle. We told you about it here. As someone who has made a living writing about women and popular culture, I could not help but grin at the Bustle founder’s presumption that he understood the market for women when he wrote such a clueless, dunderheaded “announcement” of the effort. Setting aside the question of whether general interest sites like Gawker are “for men” (hint: they are not), there are plenty of sites that fill Bustle’s 51-percent-of-the-population niche already, and many of them are so good at what they do he’s set quite the task for himself in equalling them.

Caveat emptor: I have written for many of these sites at one time or another. Nonetheless, there are certainly others I could have listed but did not.

Caveat emptor, take two: I make no pronouncement on whether any of these sites should be called “feminist,” nor whether any of them practice good feminist politics in their editorial strategies beyond publishing interesting/smart things to read. I have deliberately left off a number of substantial contenders like The Feminist Wire, Feministing, Feministe, etc., who take an overtly “feminist” stand in the sense of having it in their titles BECAUSE I’m not pronouncing on which site is the site that speaks for all women forever and ever without end, amen. I’m just highlighting what I, personally, enjoy reading and responding to.

Jezebel

Although it’s made some questionable choices of late, Jez will always have a special place in my heart for being the first spot on the internet where it felt like all the women, and there were multitudes of us, who felt condescended to by “women’s magazines” could gather and obsess over Lindsay Lohan and tampon mishaps. I have never, throughout my long patronage of Jez (disclosure: I’m a contributor to their upcoming book) agreed with everything that’s written there or every editorial decision taken. But the cacophonous, Babel-Tower nature of the thing always appealed with me. Part of the point of Jez’s raucousness was the invitation to disagree.

Bitch

Bitch’s editors have a knack for spotting some of the best up-and-coming writers in the far-flung corners of the feminist blogosphere and then giving them the platform that comes with being a long-established fabulous magazine brand. Bitch tends, as a result, to have some perspectives you won’t find anywhere else on the web.

The Toast

The Toast is pretty brand spanking new, formed by former Hairpinners Mallory Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe, but already I’m in love with it because it has things like an interview with V.C. Andrews’ editor and “Ten Writers Whose Success You’ll Resent This Year.”

xoJane

I don’t love everything about xoJane — they don’t pay a lot of their contributors and many of those they do pay make a whopping two digits on their searing (and sometimes really poorly written) confessional essays. But I do stop over there for Lesley Kinzel, s.e. smith, and Michelle Tea, all of whom are excellent writers with unique perspectives you won’t find anywhere else.

The Hairpin

The Hairpin, now run by Emma Carmichael and founded by Edith Zimmerman, puts a sort of hipster spin on the “women’s news” of the day, which makes it sound obnoxious in theory but in practice the site is full of eclectic pieces, from Scandals of Classic Hollywood to scandals of classic internet.

XX Factor

The XX Factor is a Slate blog, and as a Slate blog the focus is on arguments, which can sometimes be silly and overwrought. But I love the work of Amanda Hess, in particular, who wrote for example this convincing defense of leggings. (Conclusion: “Wake up, sheeple! Not giving a fuck is the point of leggings.”)

The Cut

The Cut is New York magazine’s entry into the fray. I’m a particular fan of Kat Stoeffel’s stuff over there.

The Beheld

The Beheld, the only single-author blog on this list, is written by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano. She is a bit more high-minded than some of the other sites on this list, but her explorations of the politics of appearances are a must-read.

The Gloss

The Gloss started out publishing Allie Brosh’s cartoons and Jamie Peck’s account of being sexually harassed by Terry Richardson. Ashley Cardiff is particularly great and self-aware. As she recently said of her own recently published memoir, “What kind of asshole writes a memoir in her mid-20s when she has lived in no discernibly interesting way?”

Rookie

Look, no one needs me to jump on the Tavi Gevinson bandwagon, least of all Tavi herself. But from the beginning, Rookie has had an eye for thoroughly excellent writing on women’s issues geared at the population who kind of needs them most: teenage women. Check out any of Sady Doyle, Roxane Gay, or Pixie Casey’s contributions.