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XoJane is a women’s interest blog focused on covering fashion and beauty-related news, as well as op-ed columns and personal essays on a variety of topics and issues, including gender identity, body image and racial identity.
XoJane launched in May 2011, followed by its UK counterpart in November 2012 and its beauty site XoVain in March 2013. The online magazine was founded by feminist writer Jane Pratt, who had started and managed two magazines, teen magazine Sassy and women’s magazine Jane, during the late ’80s early ‘90s. The site is owned by SAY Media, a web advertising firm that operates several other women’s interest websites, such as Fashionista and Cupcakes and Cashmere.
Cat Marnell’s Departure
On June 14, 2012, Page Six reported that XoJane Beauty editor Cat Marnell had left the website, following her stay at a rehabilitation center at the insistence of XoJane’s parent company Say Media. That same day, Pratt published a post simply titled “Cat’s Gone,” in which she explained her struggle to understand what to do about Cat in light of her drug problems and insisting she still loved Cat as a person and a writer. She concluded the article by saying:
“In the end: We both agreed she wasn’t doing her job. Though she plans to write more here in the future, she isn’t on staff. On her last day in the office, Cat Slimed me with some smelly lotion and ran off. Yep, I adore her.”
On the January 27th, 2013 episode of the HBO comedy series Girls titled “Bad Friend,” Hannah meets with a woman named Jame, the editor of a trendy New York City-based website called JazzHate. Many entertainment news sites following the show, including XoJane, speculated the show could be parodying Pratt and the website. Those behind the show denied the send up, but Pratt explained the clip is,“… not that far from how we work.”
The site is broken up into seven main verticals: sex/love, Jane, Beauty, Issues, Clothes, It Happened to Me, and Entertainment. the Jane vertical sends readers to a section titled “Jane’s Phone” that features pictures and thoughts from the sites founder, Jane Pratt. It Happened to Me is a series of personal essays that explore the unusual or profound experiences of the writer. The writers tackle heavy topics such as rape, eating disorders, and drug addiction.
The site also runs an advice column called “You Are the Advice Columnist” that allows readers to submit their questions and leaves the advice giving up to the commenters.
Social Media Presence
As of January 2014 XoJane’s official Twitter account has over 30,900 followers and its Facebook page has over 38,000 likes. The site also maintains an active Instagram account with over 6,000 followers and a Pinterest account with over 7,000 followers.
Disney Land Rape Headline
On July 17th, 2013, XoJane published a post titled “It Happened to Me: I was Raped at Disney World and No One Cared.” The author wrote that she was raped by a Disney World co-worker in his apartment the summer after she finished college. Jezebel pointed out the headline XoJane used was false, as the author hadn’t actually been raped within Disney World, and accused the site of bending the true to get more clicks. Women’s lifestyle and fashion site The Gloss also accused the site of lying in the headline, while criticizing Jezebel’s original headline for it’s piece “XoJane Lied and Said She Was Raped at Disney World” as it seemed to imply the author was lying about the rape itself.
There Are No Black People In My Yoga Class
On January 28th, 2014, XoJane published an “It Happened to Me” personal essay titled “It Happened to Me: There Are No Black People In My Yoga Class and I’m Suddenly Feeling Uncomfortable About It.” The essay described the author, Jen Caron’s, experience in her yoga studio when a overweight black woman entered. She goes on to explain how she felt the woman was angry at her “skinny white girl body” and how this distracted her and troubled her, ultimately causing her to break down crying when she returned home. Within 48 hours the post has gained over 2,500 comments. The same day Gawker posted an article titled “Black Person in Yoga Class Causes Profound Moral Crisis” which poked fun at the article. Other posts that lampooned the article include The Wire’s “It Happened to a Well-Off Young Woman Wallowing in Her Privilege” and XoJane’s own “It Happened To Me: I Read an Essay About a White Woman’s Yoga Class/Black Woman Criss and I Cannot,” both published on January 29th.
On January 30th the editor who assigned the original post, Rebecca Carroll, published a post titled "I Assigned That “Yoga Class” Piece and Here’s Why," in which she explained how the story came to be published and responded to the backlash saying:
“After taking a step back, halfway through my fourth week as an editor at XoJane, I realized that in all likelihood if I were a reader who hadn’t had the initial conversation with Jen and knew the background and context of the story, I would have been equally as offended as the most critical commenters. Because I SHOULD have asked Jen to do more work and questioning before writing about her experience.”
Conor Oberst Rape Accusation
On December 17th, 2013, XoJane published an article about a woman who was abused by her boyfriend titled “It Happened to Me: I Dated a Famous Rock Star & All I Got Was Punched in the Face.” In the comments section of the post, an anonymous user left several messages accusing Conor Oberst, known for founding the indie rock band Bright Eyes, of raping her 10 years ago when she was 16-years-old.
“I was raped by a “rock star” myself. I was 16 years old, he was in his 20s. No one believed me (he wasn’t even that famous then). No one believed me because I had been his biggest fan for several years at that point, his pictures covered my locker, etc. I guess when I made the accusation, everyone thought it was some sick & twisted way to get… I don’t know, closer to him? My own mother didn’t believe me until recently and it’s 10 years later now. This guy is the poster boy for what was known as “emo” back in the day, everyone thinks he’s so sweet and sensitive and sad, that he could never be the vicious monster he was that night. It makes me sick. I want to out him so bad. Every time I hear his name, I want to tell people what he did. I think people deserve to know. But due to how shit went down with my own friends&family at the time of the assault, the backlash terrifies me. It hurts to constantly see the way people fawn over him as if he’s a God. It’s really hard dealing with your attacker being famous or popular when you know the truth about them but feel no one will listen.
Anyway, I am so sorry that this happened to you but so glad you finally got out.”
“I am not the author but as I said in a previous comment, I was raped by a “rock star” when I was 16 years old and he was in his 20s. My husband suggests I may feel some empowerment by outing my rapist. It was Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes (and several other bands/side projects he fronts, bright eyes being the most popular). I hope you are right about helping the next girl but I’m waiting for the backlash. Thanks for the courage, even if you weren’t directing it at me.”
“Thank you, love. It was especially traumatizing because the way I became to know him is because his older brother was my 7th & 8th grade english teacher. His older brother is an amazing guy, a total sweetheart who helped me through some awful, awful times in my early teen years. He continued to be sort of a big brother mentor type to me throughout high school. I became a huge fan of Conor’s music and for my 16th birthday, Bright Eyes was playing a local show and my old english teacher (Conor’s brother) arranged for me to go and meet Conor after the show as a birthday present of sorts. Conor definitely took advantage of my teenage crush on him. At first, I was flattered when he was playing with my hair and had his hand on my leg. It was like my dream come true at that point. But then he clearly wanted to go further and I made it very clear and told him I was a virgin and wasn’t prepared to change that right then but he didn’t stop. It was a really fucked up way to realize that people you idolize and look up to so much can be shitty, terrible people. I lost touch with my old english teacher shortly after that incident because of what happened. I didn’t feel comfortable telling him what his brother had done to me and wasn’t confident that he would even believe me anyway. Conor took a lot from me including my virginity, my dignity and self esteem but also the only “father figure” and man I had ever really fully trusted I regret not telling his brother about it now that I’m older because when I look back on things, in hindsight I can see that his brother kind of thought he was a jerk and wasn’t very fond of him and he probably would’ve believed me and been a supportive adult for me to lean on in that situation.”
The comments were subsequently deleted but were subsequently reblogged on several websites. On January 6th, Oberst’s publicist released a statement to the music news blog AbsolutePunk, which vehemently denied the accusations and revealed that Oberst consulting an attorney about the matter. On February 19th, TMZ reported that Oberst filed a libel lawsuit in
Manhattan Federal Court against North Carolina resident Joanie Faircloth, claiming she was the anonymous commenter who had falsely accused him of rape.
Parent company Say Media describes XoJane as “The fastest growing women’s lifestyle brand on the Web.” The site has about 4 million readers and 10 million page views a month. It receives about 64% of its traffic from the United States, with the remainder coming in almost equal parts from the UK, Canada, India, and Finland.
Features Exec – Media Interview with xoJane UK editor Rebecca Holman
XoJane – "It Happened To Me: I Read an Essay About a White Woman’s Yoga Class/Black Woman Criss and I Cannot:http://www.xojane.com/issues/it-happened-to-me-i-read-an-essay-about-a-white-womans-yoga-class-black-woman-crisis-and-i-cannot
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