In the online magazine arms-race, it's largely accepted that Slate is "fairly manly", especially when compared to Salon's menses-swathed musings on politics, arts and life. Perhaps to steal some lady viewers from Joan Walsh's estro-audience, Slate has launched a blog for its women writers, called the XX Factor.
The XX Factor is touted as "Slate's no-boys-allowed political blog!" (What is this, a blogging slumber party?) I feared observations like "Barack is dreamy," and "Rudy's cell phone use is such a turn-off!" And although that sort of stuff is nowhere to be found, the blog has yet to prove its purpose: The posts by Slate's impressive roster of women writers — Dahlia Lithwick, Meghan O'Rourke, and Emily Bazelon to name a few — sound exactly like all the other political commentary in Slate. The only difference being that the XX Factor writers insert cutesy anecdotes about their Dear Husbands and adorable children alongside the harder-hitting political news.
We all tend to degenerate into generalization and flippancy when we talk about sex differences. This morning one of my co-workers was worrying about a conversation he'd had with a mother at his daughter's school, who'd tried to talk to him about rearranging a playdate for his kid and hers. He hadn't known anything about the arrangement in the first place, and I said that most moms would know not to try to talk playdate with a dad. Which didn't exactly give him credit for trying to sort it all out, or encourage him to try again next time. This is why when my husband chides me for referring to "my kitchen," I say I'm sorry. At least I think I do.
Also, the XX Factor is just BORING. The posts are too infrequent and far too long to be appropriate for a blog. The political insight is nothing I haven't already seen several times this week, reported more quickly in other arenas. With so much writing talent wasted, thus far, Slate's XX Factor is seriously Xasperating.