VICE, the media brand for a new generation, is now reaching out to women with the launch of Broadly: “a website and digital video channel devoted to representing the multiplicity of women’s experiences,” as its “About Us” shares. In a mediascape saturated with women’s interest sites like Jezebel and Cosmopolitan, Broadly plans to stand out, and not just by being the “pink ghetto in the Vice network,” promises Editor-in-Chief (and Jezebel alum) Tracie Egan Morrissey.
As its name suggests, the Unilever-sponsored Broadly hopes to go broad, only “excluding anything of relevance that includes men.” Its homepage this week includes stories on “Why Filipinas Can’t Get Birth Control” next to “The History of Black Lipstick” and “What to Expect When You’re Drinking While Pregnant.”
As a 27-year-old woman with one lonely tattoo and a fascination with subculture—a.k.a. the target demographic—I feel comfortable admitting that I really didn’t think I needed my own channel. VICE sufficed. And I’m not alone, apparently. Vice’s readership, according to the ad sales stats in its 2014 media kit referenced by International Business Times, is 65 percent male. And really, where else can you fall into a black hole of reading about clowns, cults and climate change for hours on a sunny Saturday afternoon with your blinds closed?
Thankfully, Broadly still delivers, with diverse journalism that includes a timely documentary on sex workers in Spain, another on drone-delivered abortion pills and an article on “The Face of Juggalo Feminism.” (Clowns? Check.) Still, it begs the question: what’s in a name? Broadly’s double entendre is certainly clever, but isn’t stating the obvious somewhat annoying and redundant? In the world of naming and common sense, we might call it being descriptive. But isn’t it also prescriptive, as a name that is explicit (and exclusive) in all the wrong ways?
I’ve always been immediately suspicious of anything “designed for women.” What truly makes something made for ladies: ergonomically sculpted for delicate hands? The aroma of flowers or a feminine mix of sparkling fruity notes? Maybe my sarcasm is not translating in text. But that descriptor, “made for women,” is kind of deadly.
Don’t just take my word for it, Thrillist covered it brilliantly in the article, “What Happens When a Man Eats Nothing But Food Made for Women.” (Spoiler alert: apart from smaller, unfulfilling portion sizes and “light” calorie hacks, it’s the same stuff you stuff your face with normally.) Can’t we all just be happy with food made for human beings?
But it’s not just the descriptors of female focused brands that do damage; it’s the names themselves. Lululemon. Goldieblox. The Skimm. The Hairpin. Skinnygirl Vodka. White Girl Rose. And, no joke, MTV Braless.
Lovely or ladylike, feminine, girly: gender in words goes all the way back to Latin. Guys haven’t been left out either. (Looking at you, Dove Men+Care.) It’s not always been so divisive, though, and even today, we don’t need to rely on these old devices to convey who we’re made for. Think Thinx, a startup that couldn’t be more clearly for females, with a name that doesn’t make any assumptions.
Let’s be more creative—broadly speaking. We can take cues from the world around us and make names that are powerful, engaging, friendly and gender-free. And we can find new ways to bring in the ladies—with insanely relevant content that doesn’t rely on celebrities and click-bait. Thankfully, Broadly, which means (according to Merriam-Webster) “including or involving many things or people,” has that covered.
Corey Lewis is a writer and consultant in New York who is really bad at talking about herself in the third person. Follow her at @hewey_lewey on Twitter.