I’m not going to lie, when I saw that The Awl had created a ladyblog — The Hairpin — I was pretty annoyed. But that’s because I really, really like The Awl, and I wondered why female writers and readers have to be ghettoized. Why can’t Awl readers and writers just enjoy more stuff about/for women? Or, as my friend Phoebe Connelly wrote at The Prospect, part of the problem with woman-centric spin-offs is that they put “women writers in the weird position of being encouraged to flog stories ‘over on that women’s site’ and helps eclipse those who are writing and editing for a mainstream, or non-lady-specific, audience.”
With that said. The Hairpin? It’s really, really, really good. Its contributors are fantastic, and Edith Zimmerman, its editor, writes so many things that seem to speak directly to my weird little lady heart:
Marie Claire’s Maura Kelly asks, “Should You Lock in a Winter Boyfriend?” and I don’t even want to know what she’s talking about because YES. Lock him IN. Lock, lock, lock. Who’s there? “My winter boyfriend!” … is what you’ll say when someone asks who it is you keep trapped inside your room. Ahh, anyway.
It gets better, as she describes the needs of said Winter Boyfriend (“What does your winter boyfriend do all day? He sleeps, or he takes short walks around your house.”) and totally skewers Kelly’s commodification of a human being.
The things I dig about The Awl — voice, weirdness, obsessiveness, and quick hits that feel like a gchat message from a friend who’s cooler than I — are all present on The Hairpin. But better yet, that friend is a woman, and I relate to her even more closely. (Like, for example, this list of Some Futures I Thought I Might Have could be ripped straight out of my daydreams. Except replace Matthew Perry with Jason from General Hospital.)
I still feel uneasy about lady blogs, as a concept. Maybe it wouldn’t feel like a really fun sleepover if there were boys around, but there’s very little that I see on The Hairpin that wouldn’t work on The Awl. After all, the former cross posts content from the latter pretty frequently. I’m happy The Hairpin is there, but I’d still like to get to the point where we don’t need that “This Is For Ladies” stamp.