KEEPING IT REAL….Slate has a new blog, The XX Factor, written entirely by women. Over at Tapped, Dana Goldstein says “I look forward to reading it,” but also has reservations:

Yet I’m discouraged that another mainstream publication has put its feminist blogging in a separate space. The XX Factor launched just a few weeks after another new Slate blog, Trailhead, which covers the 2008 election and is written by Christopher Beam, and occasionally other male contributors. “Safe spaces” to talk among other feminists are very important online — that’s why I keep my own blog, where the comment arena is decidedly more sympathetic to gender analysis. But if we want feminism to penetrate into broader conversations about politics, especially during such a crucial election year with a female front-runner, we need to also encourage mixed spaces. So many male bloggers and journalists I know have never heard of Broadsheet, or rarely visit Feministing, but are totally clued in to the feminst debates taking place at TAPPED and other integrated blogs. I think high-traffic sites like Slate have an important role to play, not in doubling down on “no boys allowed!” blogs (that’s the tagline on Slate’s front page right now), but in showing that feminist anlysis is mainstream political analysis.

I have exactly the same mixed reaction. It’s similar to the problem of the various “studies” departments at liberal arts universities, which provide a space to do research on topics like gender and race that probably wouldn’t get done anywhere else, but at the cost of making it ever easier for everyone outside those departments to ignore race and gender issues. The resulting ghettoization effect can be pretty unhealthy, I think.

For my money, I’d prefer issues of race and gender to be treated as fully mainstream issues, discussed at the same political table as every other political issue. Obviously there’s plenty of room for specialist blogs of all stripes, but overall, I like Tapped’s approach better than Slate’s.

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