New Women's Lifestyle Blog Offers Sex Advice Without Boundaries
From Dear Abby to Savage Love, we've always had places where people could go for socially-minded advice on their relationships with others but, as much fun as it is to get your daily dose of schadenfreude from these venerable sources, there's not much dialogue beyond the one-on-one variety and when it does happen, it's usually delayed by a week or more. Oh sure, there is a community behind them, of sorts, but everyone has to line up for their turn with the microphone at the pleasure of the moderator. While this might not seem to be very democratic it tends to ensure that the quality remains a suitable level (and we know who to blame when it doesn't).
The Internet, on the other hand, has always been a place where those boundaries are often discarded and, for better or worse, it's second iteration (popularized by sites like Facebook and Wikipedia), is taking the bottle-neck separating the expert from their audience and making it a whole lot wider.
Enter The Divine Women. Far from being some kind of feminist super-hero league, it's a collection of women, some of them famous and others not-so-much, who have banded together to write about sexuality and relationships from a feminine perspective. Far from playing that one note, the site has been conceived as a grand experiment in community-building with all the relevant areas of interest that this entails.
To find out more, I woke up bright and early Wednesday morning and, thanks to bracing infusions of dark coffee and grapefruit, set myself about the task of interviewing Adrianne Fekete, their fearless leader, on the goals of the website, its users, the differences between men and women and, of course, sex.
Who is this site specifically aimed at?
"One of our favorite catchphrases is 'this site is for women who rock and the men who love them.' That's obviously a wide range of people and when we speak to women, we speak to women of different ethnic and educational backgrounds with a variety of careers. We speak to women that are single, divorced, separated, widowed; we speak to women in all walks of life... going through joyous, happy elated feelings to sadness, sorrow, struggle and triumphs. We speak to all women around the world.
Women have a lot of buying power; they're huge in the market. Women in the age-range that we're really targeting, and I don't really like to put an age on it, I'd like to say 19 to 109, are really 35-plus. These are women that have good careers, they're women that have money, that own their own homes and make buying decisions. From an advertising standpoint, a lot of companies are realizing that they've focused on the men because they're perceived to make more money when, in fact, women to do. So really, it's all about niche-marketing."
Are men welcome on here too?
"Oh absolutely! If you look at the number of men who pick up a Cosmo magazine or watch Sex and the City or Desperate Housewives... it's a huge viewership because men wanna know. Men have been trying since way back in the day to figure women out... and [this site] gives them some insight into what we're doing and what we're thinking and why we think the way we think and men are interested. They're like, 'It would've been neat to have something like this ten years ago because I wouldn't have taken that long to figure all of this out.' It's some pretty juicy insights for men.
In the absence of clearly-defined rules, people often feel they don't know how to relate to the opposite sex. Where does The Divine Women come in?
Not only do we help them relate but they teach us how to relate through their blogs, their comments and the lives they're living. And as insightful as us women might think we are, we definitely want to hear from the men because in the thrill of emotions, whether they're positive or negative, you often don't get the real story and that's what we're after.
I feel that through blogging, men can be anonymous which is a huge relief because a lot of men don't want to put themselves out there, much like anyone else. I want to stress that what we learn from men through their articles can be huge for women as well.
Don't get us wrong we love men! This website is about empowering women, it's not some gender competition but it is about bringing to the forefront what women in power are doing with their lives, what they're doing financially, what they're doing personally, what they're doing professionally... it's huge and I don't think it's recognized as much as it should be."
How many users do you have?
"Obviously, we just launched on the 30th of March but we will definitely be up to over fifteen thousand for the first month."
What do the bloggers of The Divine Women have in common? How are they different?
"Sisterhood! Carla Collins summed it up really well in one the interviews that we did: 'Men have their golf, they have their business meetings but women have each other.' There's this unspoken sisterhood and they jive and they gel and they talk and it can be about anything and everything; we call them fast friends but they very quickly become sisters because there's a closeness and a commonality in wanting to talk about what's going in their lives, wanting to be heard, wanting advice, wanting opinions, wanting to hear other people's opinions.
We have women that have never been married, we have women that are divorced, we have women that have been divorced several times, we have women that are happily married, we have women that are in happy relationships, we have women that are single, we have women who have children and we have women who are childless. You really get an overview on so many different lifestyles because let's face it, someone who's single and has never been married can't necessarily relate to someone with three children.
Besides Carla, we've got Valerie Gibson, Josie Vogel... but we've also really interesting people like Jade Hart, who is Brett the Hitman Hart's daughter. Kyla's awesome, she's a story producer for a television network and she's got some great, funny, hilarious stories as well."
Can anyone become a writer for the Divine Women?
"Well, we have our feature bloggers and while we're happy with them, the great thing about this site is how interactive it is. When it comes to our writers, our members fill out a profile that corresponds to the questions asked of the feature bloggers, their likes and dislikes and a little bit about themselves. They're able to write about the exact same topics that our feature bloggers write about and whether they agree or disagree... it definitely brings up a lot of debate and conversation.
So yes, we're looking for talented writers. We've got contests where we're looking for the best of the best and we'll also be doing segments of them, to be posted in our video section. We'll shoot them and whether it's news or events coverage or even pole-dancing! So yes, we're always looking for writers and we encourage all different kinds of men and women to sign up and start writing."
What led you to get involved with The Divine Women?
"There's such a huge amount of information that's out there, in so many great outlets, whether it be television, radio talk shows or radio or other websites. However, there's not one forum where women can open up, talk and express and share their views and opinions; their hopes, dreams, desires and fears. There's not really one place can go to except for their friends and some women don't have that or are not comfortable speaking about the situations that they're going through with their present circle of friends. This website allows women to speak in an open forum.
That was huge for me in the sense of giving women, empowering them by giving them a place where they can feel comfortable enough to share their life experiences. I really enjoy the real-life aspects of it."
Do you think that both men and women often evaluate sex from a masculine point of view?
"A dude can have lots of girls and he's a stud, good on him, but you look at a woman that may be promiscuous with multiple sexual partners and she's a slut. I think that showing society that the different needs and desires of women from a sexual standpoint, while not necessarily arising from a male standpoint, can be synonymous.with that kind of expression and that's a good thing.
When it comes to a girl's night out, the conversation nearly always comes back to sex. If you think men are bad, women can be pretty revealing when it comes to those types of conversations. I think men will be surprised and interested in what we actually talk about. I mean, yeah, we talk about sizes and we talk about how good it was... we get into some pretty in-depth conversations.
On the Divine Women, we're talking about everything from vibrators to masturbation. Knowledge is power and whether it be sexually-transmitted diseases to different types of sexual behavior, it's all out there and we're here to talk about it and answer as many questions as we can. It's all about creating a community."
After browsing through their website it's clear that The Divine Women have far-reaching ambitions. While the cosmopolitan gloss laquered over every page might turn some people off, its potential to act as a clearing-house for all knowledge feminine puts it on an important field that's remarkably free of competitors.
Hopefully, this home field advantage will be put to good use as they grow and change. A blogging community is only as accomplished as its writers and the quality of the posts is wildly uneven, with some of them feeling rather short and incomplete, an understandable outcome given that the blogging world rarely plays host to editors.
Still, any website that presents women's sexuality beyond that of a simple response to men's needs is welcome and, with more practice under their belt and more users, these gaps will undoubtedly be smoothed over. It's very easy to see The Divine Women thriving in the same cultural milieu that gave birth to male equivalents such as Maxim and Stuff
(Photo: theXenon on the blogTO Flickr pool)
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