This is a very exciting week at HuffPost, as we launch a trio of new sections (HuffPost Women, HuffPost Parents, and HuffPost Black Voices -- the last of which I'll be writing about later in the week), and reach a big milestone thanks to our super-engaged community (more on this in a bit).
First up is today's launch of HuffPost Women. So much of the news and information directed at women these days seems determined to make us feel that our lives are somehow lacking. We are constantly made to feel that we should be prettier, thinner, sexier, more successful, better moms, better wives, better lovers, etc. Though often wrapped in a you-go-girl! message, the subtext is clear: we should feel bad because we have tummies, not abs; bad because we don't always feel like sex kittens, or bad because we do; bad because we don't have a color-coded filing system for our recipes.
Not at HuffPost Women, which is designed to be a place where women can come to be informed, inspired, entertained, and celebrated -- and be part of a highly social community where you can connect, swap ideas, and lend support. The goal is to leave us feeling empowered about our lives and ourselves.
HuffPost Women is a site for women looking to redefine success and what it means to live a healthy, happy, well-rounded life. It will highlight an approach to living that centers on the happiness that comes from feeling good by doing good; that draws attention to the importance of "unplugging and recharging"; that cheers on the continued shattering of glass ceilings; and that embraces a fearless attitude about work, love, money, beauty, relationships, and friendships -- with the understanding that fearlessness is not the absence of fear, it's the mastery of fear. It's about getting up one more time than you fall down.
Like all our sites, HuffPost Women features a combination of real-time news and opinion -- covering the issues affecting women and providing an opportunity for women from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives to share their personal stories and insights on everything from how to ask your boss for a raise, to tips on strengthening your relationships, to advice on how to manage your money and invest wisely. Above all, it is a place where women can connect and form a community around the things that matter most.
Among the original stories by HuffPost reporters and editors that we're featuring today is a startling piece by Amanda Fairbanks exploring a disturbing trend: debt-saddled college students selling sex to "Sugar Daddies" to pay for tuition or pay off student loans, and the websites that have popped up to broker these hookups.
Also, Laura Stampler reports on Project Air, a program that uses yoga to help HIV-positive rape victims in Rwanda cope; and Katherine Bindley explores the real-life experiences of so-called "runaway brides."
Plus, watch this video in which our HuffPost Editor-at-Large Nora Ephron introduces our new "Breakover" video series.
HuffPost Women is edited by Margaret Wheeler Johnson, with Marlo Thomas as Editor-at-Large. It is overseen by our Executive Women's editor, Lori Leibovich, who is also in charge of HuffPost Parents, which launches on Wednesday.
Edited by Farah Miller, HuffPost Parents will offer breaking news, blog posts, videos, and slideshows on the challenges and joys of modern parenting -- covering everything from the latest research about raising happy and healthy kids, to policy decisions impacting America's children, to the latest expert advice on balancing work and children, to the impact pop culture is having on our kids.
Nothing I have ever done in my life has been as challenging as being a parent. And nothing has come even close to being as rewarding. The miracle of birth has, for all our scientific knowledge about it, never been diminished over the centuries. The staggering reality that we can accomplish the act of human creation leaves us changed forever.
It also often leaves us confused and overwrought -- because parenting in the modern era is filled with anxiety (it doesn't help that we live in an age of drugs, school violence, hypersexuality, and terrorism; I can't even imagine what those parents in Norway are going through).
Of course, bubble-wrapping our kids can't be the response. HuffPost Parents recognizes that doing so is not an unreasonable reaction to the world we live in, but there is no faster way to make the joy of parenting -- and hence the quality of our parenting -- plummet than going overboard with overprotection.
So HuffPost Parents will delve into our fears about our children's well-being -- and how often they become mixed up with our worries about our worth as parents. I'm convinced that once you become a mother, as soon as they take the baby out, they put the guilt in. From that moment, both the baby and the guilt start growing. And as our children grow up, so does the fear that we're not good enough -- that we aren't doing enough. This is true for both working mothers and stay-at-home moms -- and HuffPost Parents will look at both.
We'll also obsessively cover technology and how it's impacting family life -- for better and for worse. This is the first generation of parents grappling with questions like: Should we let our child IM or have a Facebook page? How much computer time is too much? Should we have a no-device policy at the dinner table?
Speaking of dinner tables, HuffPost Parents will also feature our Family Dinner Table Talk series. Inspired by Laurie David's book, The Family Dinner, each week our Table Talks highlight a compelling news story pulled from the latest headlines -- and raise questions designed to spark a lively discussion among the whole family.
And longtime HuffPost blogger Susan Kaiser Greenland will offer her insights and wisdom on teaching our children how to disconnect from technology through mindfulness and meditation.
While the world today is a much different place than when my mother raised me, some big truths haven't changed: we can't parent alone; we won't make the right decisions all the time; there is no greater gift we can give our children than our unconditional love; and nothing gives a parent strength, support, and confidence more than being able to talk to other parents.
That's why HuffPost Parents is designed to be a place where parents can come together and share their experiences -- from the heartfelt to the hilarious, from the useful to the purely entertaining. We hope that by doing so you'll help create an engaged, passionate community where advice is offered, questions are answered, foibles are lovingly commiserated over, and screw-ups are met with knowing nods and words of encouragement. Be sure to check it out and join the conversation starting this Wednesday.
Which brings me to the community milestone I mentioned earlier. This weekend, HuffPost received its 100,000,000th comment! We had a pool in which our staff tried to guess the exact time the 100,000,000th comment would be posted. The winner was Brad Hill, who guessed that it would happen on Saturday between 1 am and 1:30 am ET -- it actually went up at 1:29, so congratulations Brad, you've won a dinner for two at your favorite restaurant! The comment, by the way, was this one -- posted by user Chassis -- about the debt ceiling.
One hundred million is a staggering number, and we are really grateful to you, our community, for such amazing engagement and participation.
Community has always been an integral part of HuffPost -- and comments are a big part of that community. The ability to have our readers rapidly interact with each other -- as well as with our editors, reporters, and bloggers -- is one of the great advantages of working in new media. It makes the site a two-way experience. People no longer want to passively sit back and be served up news, information, and entertainment. They want to engage with a story, react to it, add to it, and share it.
And by doing so, our very active community has turned HuffPost into a digital water cooler, a place where people gather to talk about -- and often argue about -- the issues that matter most to them... and we have done everything we can to ensure that civility prevails during these discussions through our use of both human moderators and the state-of-the-art tech tools we have developed.
As a result, more and more of our users are engaging with the site -- and with each other. Indeed, last month we received over 4,450,000 comments -- and last week we averaged more than 175,000 comments a day. It's amazing to see how many people are joining in the discussion -- and very satisfying to think that we have created a place where that kind of engagement can happen.
But we are not resting on our laurels: we are committed to continuing to innovate and improve our commenting system and will be adding a host of new features over the next few months to help make the HuffPost community an even more interesting, engaging, and welcoming place to be, starting with a new section, HuffPost Backstage, the go-to place to get the latest information about the HuffPost community and updates about the site, including new features, special series, staff announcements and more. Give it a look here.
And be sure to check out HuffPost Women and, coming Wednesday, HuffPost Parents and HuffPost Black Voices. As always, your feedback, your takes, and your participation are a key part of what we do, so use the comment section on this post to let us know what you think... and move us further down the road to comment 200,000,000!