Forbes magazine came out this week with a list of the Top 100 Websites for Women, and it got me thinking about what makes a website “for women.”
On the list, there are various websites like She Takes on the World, which serves to create a kind of online business and entrepreneurial community for women, with articles about women entrepreneurs and opportunities for women to connect. This website, and the other ones like it, seem to create a category of their own—a kind of link for women in the business world.
There are various other categories, from women’s fashion to advice for mothers, and then there are just some sites that made me think, What makes this a women’s site? Why is Rachael Ray’s website a women’s site? Why is Escape from Cubicle Nation, a blog a woman writes with advice for frustrated employees on how to start their own business, something just for women? Men like to cook (at least some, just like women), and men also get frustrated with work.
I was surprised to see just how many websites there are out there that define themselves as “for women.” And not in a bad way, because by the sheer number of websites and number of comments, there is certainly a demand for them. So, I decided to google “top websites for men,” and I actually got some results. Not from places as famous as Forbes, but Min Online came out with a list of the Top Five Men’s Websites, and JeanTop has a top ten list, and surprisingly (or not so), they were similar to the women’s sites: they talk about clothes, money, dating, and various other day-to-day topics.
A part of me wanted to write this post about how having separate websites for men and women serves to separate the two instead of creating discussions between men and women. Because when I write this blog I don’t expect or want the readers to be only female. In fact, of all my friends, the ones who read it most frequently and comment on it most frequently are male. And personally, I think that it’s a good thing that men are reading feminist blogs, because what good does it do to only discuss issues that affect women with women? But, then I thought about it, and the fact is that this blog is a feminist blog, not a women’s blog—men can be feminists, but they can’t usually be women.
And therein lies a key difference: you can even tell from the list that there’s clearly a difference between being feminist and being “for women.” The list is supposed to be “the most dynamic, inspiring and helpful websites for women,” and there are only a few (Feministe, Femininisting, Ms. magazine blog, etc.) websites whose missions are feminist. And I think that makes a lot of sense, because there is more to being a woman than being a feminist, and feminist sites should not be only for women.
That’s the thing—I think that while a lot of websites should include both men and women, it’s also important to have spaces for them to be separate. Women and men are different, and it’s useful for women to have a website for the needs that they have that are different from men’s, and where they feel comfortable embracing the fact that they are different. I still think that Rachael Ray’s website could be for men, too, but the rest of the list is actually kind of empowering in that it shows me just how much women have taken it upon themselves to connect with other women and to better their lives, separate from men. It’s cool that there are sites for stereotypically women’s things, like food and parenting, but also that there are so many for business and investing, too.