Feminism goes ‘broad’: Vice Magazine launches Broadly

On: September 15, 2015
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About Deniz Gulsoken


   

Launched on 3 August 2015, Broadly is the new channel of Vice Magazine that internalizes the proverbial feminist slogan “for women, by women.” In their own words

” [It]… Is a website and digital video channel devoted to representing the multiplicity of women’s experiences.”

Broadly tackles various subjects under 4 main titles: sex, drugs, politics and culture. Along with these 4 titles the channel offers daily horoscopes for anyone interested – a nice touch, declining that astrology which is usually associated with women is vain. – They also produce their own wide variety of videos: from going to places like the women-only village in Kenya to a regular show about where they explore the relationship between women’s exploitation and liberation and fashion.

Broadly is a sub-channel of Vice but what exactly is Vice? Initially starting out as a print magazine based in Montreal in 1994 and moving to an online platform in 1996, Vice is still one of the most popular magazines for youth and pop culture. It is known for being controversial, outspoken, snarky and ‘hip’. Apart from all of these ‘cool’ attributes that make Vice appealing to young people, the magazine also has a dark side for the ones who have a close look at it. The content while very multifarious and occasionally of good-quality also is quite male oriented and chauvinistic. It seems to represent a generation who is mostly interested in alcohol, drugs and relevant to our case: objectifying women.

So how come this magazine known for their male-centric style launches a channel that is ‘for women, (mostly*) by women’?

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Popstar Adam Levine wearing a feminist t-shirt

Emerging slowly, women’s empowerment and liberation issues have started to show up in popular culture objects more and more. From Beyonce’s self-declaration as a feminist; to then Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech about misogyny going viral, Feminism stopped being the evil  bogeyman and has almost become a buzzword. Female oriented websites like  the online pop-culture site Jezebel or Rookie: an online magazine curated by  young women (which had more than one million views only a week after its launch) started to gain more and more recognition and thereby success.

Women taking the reigns and creating for themselves is not a new phenomena, as it says on the notorious feminist hardcore punk movement Riot Grrrl’s manifesto “…us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to Us that WE feel included in and can understand in our own way”(Hanna). And now women crave blogs and videos and opinion pieces. As is in any other form of media they are sick of being the object of new media platforms, sick of “watch [ing] themselves being looked at”(Berger). For centuries, women have been repressed and objectified by all kinds of media; and in the case of new media and internet this attitude is still prevailing. New platforms that challenge this attitude are necessary for change in a positive direction. So if you don’t like what you’re being offered, creating something that you would want to see is the best way to ensure it’s there.

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End patriarchy

This was the idea in the now Editor In Chief Tracey Egan Morrisey’s head when she pitched Broadly to Vice cofounders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi. Now, while Vice is known for being the epitome of ‘hipster bro’ culture, it is also a magazine that has undeniable foresight, a trendsetter even. So the cofounders picked the idea up as soon as it was pitched to them (Greenberg). While we knew that feminism was finding a place for itself on the Internet with the emergence and success of websites like Jezebel and Rookie, a magazine like Vice which can be dubbed the leading voice of alternative youth cultures on the internet launching an unapologetically feminist channel takes things to a new level. It goes to show that Feminism is slowly making its way through pop culture, reaching wider audiences.

Some might argue that this ‘popification’ of feminism has the potential to become  harmful to its original goals. That feminism becoming popular would water it down, eviscerate its meaning, history; that a self proclaiming feminist channel like Broadly shouldn’t be a part of the Vice group that represents a male-centric point of view. However, “parsing feminism and pop-culture is not as easy as looking vigilantly for what’s ‘good'(that is feminist) in pop-culture and calling out what’s ‘bad'(anti-feminist and regressive)”(Zeisler). If we try and follow this segregating thought that it’s either black or white we will be left with nothing. The power of popular culture as a tool to make change should not be overlooked. Broadly may be a part of the Vice Empire, but it is also a digital, social, interactive space for women to express themselves as they wish to.

* While broadly staff has a majority of females on their main crew, they also have 4 male employees and several male contributors.

References

– Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London. British Broadcasting, 1973.

– “BEYONCE: Feminist.” Youtube. 23 April 2015. Web. 13 Sept. 2015 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7pd1w022ME>

– “Broadly.” Broadly RSS. 11 Sept. 2015. <broadly.vice.com>

– Greenberg, Julia. “How Vice’s Feminist Channel ‘Broadly’ Plans to Get Women Right.” WIRED. 3 Aug. 2015. 9 Sept. 2015. <http://www.wired.com/2015/08/here-comes-broadly-the-new-feminist-channel-from-vice-getting-women-right/>

– Hanna, Kathleen. “Riot Grrrl Manifesto.” History Is A Weapon”. 13 sept. 2015. <http://historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/riotgrrrlmanifesto.html>

-“VICE | United States | The Definitive Guide to Enlightening Information.” VICE. Web. 11 Sept. 2015. <www.vice.com>

– “EVER BEEN BULLIED?”.” Youtube”. 06 June 2014. 13 Sept. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl1v4VOLj2Q>

– Zeisler, Andi. Feminism and Pop Culture. Berkeley. Seal Press, 2008.

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