I started Feministing almost seven years ago (wow) to provide a space for younger feminists who didn’t have a platform. I was a 25 year-old who found it profoundly unfair that an elite few in the feminist movement had their voices listened to, and that the work of so many younger women went misrepresented or ignored altogether.
Today, almost 5,000 posts later, I’m a 32 year-old feminist with a voice that is listened to. Largely because of the work I’ve done with Feministing, I have a successful platform for my work – I’ve published books, written articles, and built a career as a speaker. Because I feel Feministing should remain a place for younger feminists to build their careers and platforms, I think it’s appropriate to our mission that I step back.
It takes a big woman to step aside from a project that she created and nurtured and built from the ground up. And Jessica did build Feministing into the biggest feminist community on the interwebs; she has also, through her seven years at the site, been instrumental in raising the profiles of many more young feminist writers, and giving a platform and a voice to hundreds of young women.
I met Jessica soon after she started Feministing, when I was writing a now-long-gone blogspot blog, which I started after regularly reading (and arguing on) a conservative classmate’s blog. When I started writing online, I had never read a feminist blog; I had no idea that there were other feminist blogs out there. After a few months of writing, I came across Feministing; a few months after that, I met Jessica and Vanessa at a Feministing get-together in the East Village, and my experience on the internet was never the same. Feminist blogging, I’ve said many times before, taught me more about feminism and women’s experiences than four years of academic gender studies coursework. Seven years of reading and writing about feminism online has been exceptionally fulfilling, if often frustrating and sometimes painful. Jessica was the first person I met who believed that online community-building was the future of feminism; she was the first person who, back in 2005, told me it was awesome that I was 20 and had a bright-pink website where I mostly wrote about abortion. She was also the first person to tell me that I should think bigger than just the blog — that I should pitch to the Guardian; that HuffPo was looking for more female writers; that I should submit a panel idea to a blogging conference that had been pretty dude-heavy the year before.
What struck me most about Jessica when I first met her, and what she was so good at in her time at Feministing, was her unflagging support of other women and feminist writers. Despite her status as the founder and de facto “star” of Feministing, she made conscientious efforts to raise the profiles of dozens of other writers. She turned down all kinds of opportunities, opting instead to suggest that another woman take her place. She links and quotes and sources liberally, on Feministing and in her books. She has been, for me personally, a source of support and mentorship.
I feel like I’m writing about Jessica like this is an obituary, when obviously it is not. She’s still writing at her personal site, and is working on a book about parenthood. But it is the end of an era — very few of us who were doing the feminist blogging thing when it was brand-new (and when it was still kind of embarrassing to admit you were a “blogger”) are the “young feminists” we were almost a decade ago. I admire Jessica for passing the torch, while continuing her amazing work in different venues. And I’m excited to see the work that the current and future Feministing writers and editors produce.
Congratulations, Jessica, on the next steps. And thanks for everything.
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