Fairfax launched Daily Life this morning, their new site for the laydeez, and my goodness it’s insulting. Fashion, beauty, celebrities, handbags, and please kill me now. (The headline for this post comes from the mocking hashtag on twitter, #dailywife. The term reduces women to being nothing more than wives who like to shop, which is an appropriate way to describe what Fairfax has done.)
Editor Sarah Oakes calls it “A smart and irreverent take on the news designed specifically for women”.
I call it belittling nonsense that reduces women’s interests to shopping and famous people.
As @kirstenalex tweeted:
I hope it’s a joke. Otherwise #dailywife is the most patronising, marginalising thing i’ve seen in ages. I’ll keep reading the grownups news.
Scrolling down the homepage, after the main image (a rotating series of opinion pieces by some good writers) are sections on fashion, beauty, people, entertainment. Yep. That’s apparently the “smart and irreverent take on the news designed specifically for women”. I’m still looking for the news that gets this “smart and irreverent take”.
There is one newsy thing. But what does Daily Life have to offer the public discussion about Rupert Murdoch, phone-hacking and the Leveson inquiry? Can a baby solve a PR crisis? With obligatory references to Madonna’s arms being “scary” and Angelina Jolie being a “home-wrecker”. Anyone still want to call this “smart and irreverent”?
Sure, there is room for stories like these. But they shouldn’t be the only stories. Particularly on launch day when you need to show people what they can expect. And if all they can expect are stories on fashion and famous people, then fuck off with calling it a “smart and irreverent take on the news”. Be honest about the fact that you think women aren’t interested in serious things. Or that serious things can’t be written about in interesting ways.
And there’s this:
Handbags express power, really? What, am I supposed to take my handbag to meetings, stupidly hanging from the crook of my arm, so that colleagues know I have power? Give me a break. A “smart, irreverent” way to feature handbags from advertisers would be to just say, “These are handbags. You might like them. But we’re not going to spin you bullshit about how a handbag that you leave under your desk all day is going to improve your job prospects. It’s just a handbag. You put stuff in it”.
Now, @rachelhills raised a good point on twitter about my criticism of the site:
@newswithnipples @clementine_ford shits me how anything pertaining to women or the personal sphere is dismissed as “fluff”.
It shits me that anything aimed at women becomes about celebrities and shopping. I’m not dismissing stories about women as “fluff”. I am dismissing the idea that women are only interested in this stuff. I don’t know what percentage of Fairfax’s audience are vagina owners, but it’s insulting to tell us that “our news” is only fashion and famous people and that it needs to be cordoned off into a special section so that men – real readers – don’t have to see it.
Fairfax had a great opportunity to create an interesting, smart site that combined personal and professional, but instead, decided that women couldn’t possibly be interested in good journalism about politics or finance or world news or domestic news and oh look, shiny new handbag.