Jane Pratt, onetime editor of the magazines Sassy and Jane, is back with a new Web site, xoJane.com. Pratt's magazines were attitude-heavy publications with a frank feminist sensibility, and it seems like xoJane, which launched today, intends to carry on in that spirit. The site's about page declares that it's a place "where women go when they are being selfish, and where their selfishness is applauded. This is not the place to find out how to please your husband, mom, kids or boss. This is the place to indulge in what makes you feel good."
Sassy and Jane are fondly remembered today, but how is xoJane being received in its first hours of existence? Thus far, the reviews seem mixed. Irin Carmon at Jezebel extends a "welcome" to the new site, but we think we catch a note of sarcasm in Carmon's admonishment: "Be gentle. [Pratt is] feeling sensitive -- we get it, oh, do we ever." Edith Zimmerman at The Hairpin--which, like Jezebel, is a witty, woman-oriented site that seems to owe a debt to Pratt's magazine work--also says "welcome" and not much else. (The Hairpin commenters are freer with their opinions; one describes the xoJane writers as "a bunch of terrible people with a nasty sense of entitlement.")
Meanwhile, Choire Sicha at Hairpin brother blog The Awl recoils from an xoJane essay by a woman who's obsessed with her husband's masturbatory habits. Still, Sicha's not writing off the site entirely: "We're gonna wait this one out! We like having more things on the Internet. We like Jane Pratt. We're just... concerned."
One of the most sympathetic readings comes from Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon. After first praising Sassy and Jane--they were "infectiously enthusiastic and unabashedly snarky," Williams says, and "goddamn revolutionary"--she turns to the question of whether Pratt, 48, still has an ear for youth culture. "The generational divide isn't what it used to be, in part because women like Pratt made it OK to be spirited and unfussy and rock 'n' roll long past prom night," writes Williams. She concludes that the site is "an ambitious dream," but that it's "sweetly optimistic. That's so Jane."