How Jezebel shaped online feminism

Anna Holmes, the founding editor of Jezebel, just published a book (along with Kate Harding, Amanda Hess and a bunch of contributors) titled The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things. I’ve read it and it is very good and you should read it too. I spoke with Anna about the book and her time at Jezebel, and over at the Guardian wrote a piece about the evolution of Jez and Anna’s goal of subversive feminism:

When first given creative control of Jezebel, Holmes set out to do things differently to the women’s magazines she had worked on, including Glamour and InStyle, where “there were a lot of stories about finding a man, how to have sex and ridiculous sex tips that I had to write. It was a formula and I hated it.” She crafted Jezebel with a sort of stealth feminism that appealed to the Gawker bigwigs (“I used the word feminist once to the higher-ups and they blanched, so I knew I had to be a bit subversive about it,” Holmes says), as well as to the hundreds of thousands of young women soon flocking to the site. Her method was to write about celebrities, fashion, lifestyle and popular culture, but through a feminist lens, and throw in a healthy dash of social justice too.

The word “feminist” didn’t make the site’s tagline – “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing”. Holmes says that this was partly because the bigger plan was “to use the stuff we were told to cover, like celebrity and fashion, as inroads to feminism”.

When it launched in May 2007, Jezebel was not immediately well-received by the already thriving feminist blogosphere. Sites such as Feministing, Racialicious, Pandagon, and Feministe (which I edit) were suspicious of its Gawker money and, a lot of us activist-minded feminist bloggers considered it Gawker-style snark over substance.

By December 2007, Jezebel was hitting 10 million page views a month. Feminist undertones were there, especially in its eye-rolling at airbrushing and celebrity body-bashing, but explicit feminist thought seemed underdeveloped, with the spectre of media sexism employed to feed the outrage machine rather than launch thoughtful analysis. According to the rightwing blogosphere, Jezebel remains a den of self-indulgent, slutty femi-Nazis. From the left, its feminism was sometimes fluffy.

For Jezebel’s part, the criticisms from the left stung worse than those from the right. “I felt that we were learning along with everyone else,” Holmes said. “My understanding of the nuances of the feminist blogosphere and what they were talking about and their literacy influenced stuff on the site, sure. But I was not going to let a very vocal two percent of our commenters who seemed to want to complain all the time change how we did things in any sort of massive way.”

Check it out. I was one of those early critics of Jezebel, but I’ve largely changed my mind. Does the site always post content that is 100% feminist and awesome and progressive? No. But Anna created a platform for many smart, engaged women, some of whom I agree with and some of whom I don’t, and some of whom are often correct and insightful and some of whom are occasionally spectacularly wrong.

The more I “do” online feminism, the less interested I am in policing feminist perfectionism an the more I enjoy thoughtful debate and discussion alongside the realization that online feminism is an ecosystem, not an entity. Our websites and platforms hit different communities and find different people in different places. Jezebel served the very purpose Anna intended it to: It’s a space for explicitly feminist writing presented by bright young women, alongside more typical “women’s magazine” content filtered through a feminist lens, serving as a kind of feminist gateway drug to newbies. They have an active and dedicated commentariat who debate endlessly and offer a variety of feminist views. It may be “problematic” in some ways (my kingdom to give that word a rest), but on balance, Jezebel does a real service. And it’s served as a launching pad for some of the smartest, most interesting writers around, Anna at the top of the list (but also Megan Carpentier, Lindy West, Jessica Grose, Anna North, Sadie Stein, Irin Carmon, Dodai Stewart, Katie JM Baker, Erin Gloria Ryan… it goes on ).

I haven’t read Jezebel as regularly since Anna left — although I don’t read any blogs “regularly” anymore, and mostly get my blog-reading in via whatever people are linking on Twitter — and I’m not really Jezebel’s target audience anyway, but I’m glad it exists. I wish their editors would have made some different decisions and they’ve published a ton of content I find wholly objectionable, but I’m glad we have women’s websites and feminist websites that are big and popular and imperfect and interesting and controversial. And I’m glad that Jezebel’s trajectory has been a learning experience for me: Not everything has to be perfect to be good, and there are a whole lot of different ways to do this feminism thing. Just because one of them doesn’t appeal to me 100% doesn’t mean that it’s 100% bad or harmful. I can hate certain things a website does and still think it publishes a lot of excellent content, and respect its vision. And as women come to sites like Jezebel for the celebrity and the fashion and get drawn into the comments and to the other blogs Jezebel links to, perspectives change, feminist understanding becomes deeper, and learning is done. That’s an invaluable tool.

Author: has written 5272 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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76 Responses

  1. karak
    karak October 30, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

    In a non-way judgement way, I describe Jezebel as intro to feminism or feminism lite. It’s a great way to introduce concepts with a lot of 101 explaining and it places explicitly feminist concerns with other, more magazine-type things so that it all doesn’t become overwhelming, depressing, or inaccessible.

    Also, it’s entertaining and funny. And sometimes happiness is the greatest tool to battle bullshit.

    1. Coraline
      Coraline October 30, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

      Yeah, this.

      I have always liked Jezebel.

      It was my intro to feminism, it was the first place where I really felt welcome as a newcomer to feminism, and for a long time I felt like it was the only feminist site/blog that I could go to to get my basic questions answered. Most of the other feminist/feminism sites/blogs that I had found were very … unfriendly … to newbies and I was getting really tired of being told to go away and “educate” myself…

      So here’s to Anna!

  2. Donna L
    Donna L October 30, 2013 at 1:41 pm |

    Aren’t we kind of ignoring the extremely problematic elephant in the living room here? Whatever issues Feministe has with its past HS connections, Jezebel has them a hundredfold — they were defending him, giving him a platform, and censoring/banning dissenting views, long after just about every single other person had finally woken up about him. Combined with Jezebel’s widely-disparaged, self-justifying “apology” for their relationship with him, it seems to me that there’s a lot of unfinished business that has to be taken care of before a great many people would have any interest in buying their book.

    1. Safiya Outlines
      Safiya Outlines October 31, 2013 at 11:47 am |

      There’s also Jezebel posting photographs from someone’s rape, posting an article claiming sexual harassment was great and the many, many, other hideous things they’ve done.

      This is more of the same “My Big Online Feminist Friends Can Do No Wrong” attitude that enabled and allowed HS and all the rest to happen. So much for lessons being learned.

      The article is about Jezebel the brand, therefore all acts of the brand should be up for discussion.

      1. Kathy
        Kathy October 31, 2013 at 4:42 pm |

        This is more of the same “My Big Online Feminist Friends Can Do No Wrong” attitude that enabled and allowed HS and all the rest to happen. So much for lessons being learned.

        The article is about Jezebel the brand, therefore all acts of the brand should be up for discussion.

        Exactly. It’s been too easy to buy into the idea that everything was fine and dandy before HS, when the culture that allowed HS a platform had formed before he ever starting writing there. I don’t care that Jez’s brand of feminism is too 101, or too silly and superfluous, or any other criticism that has been leveled at women who dare write about the intersection between feminism and pop culture. Viewing pop culture through a feminist lens is vital, it’s just that Jezebel’s version of it — sorry Jill, I have to use the “p” word — is problematic in many ways.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune October 31, 2013 at 11:49 am |

      Yes, you’re definitely right there; in defending against the snobby and weirdly misogynistic crap elsewhere on the thread, I neglected to acknowledge Jezebel’s incredibly problematic shit. (Hell, it’s so problematic I don’t even rage-read it; it just pisses me off too much to encounter some shit.)

  3. TimmyTwinkles
    TimmyTwinkles October 30, 2013 at 2:03 pm |

    You gots guts Jillian

  4. Kirsten
    Kirsten October 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm |

    Here, here! Here’s to recognizing that we can be on the same side and think different things. So hard to do, but so important for a sustainable movement.

  5. How Jezebel shaped online feminism | Fabulous F...

    [...] Anna Holmes, the founding editor of Jezebel, just published a book (along with Kate Harding, Amanda Hess and a bunch of contributors) titled The Book of Jezebel: An Encyclopedia of Lady Things. I'v…  [...]

  6. Disorder
    Disorder October 30, 2013 at 5:38 pm |

    I really have a hard time getting behind this post. If Jezebel is the supposed “gateway drug”–the supposed catalysis that gets people to think about feminism for the first, then it seems that feminism has failed.

    Feminism has always been a deeply personal and spiritual endeavor for me. I came to feminism because I was in pain, and I wanted to find away to heal. After sometime I realized that feminism was about more than personal healing (although it remains and important space for that); feminism is about a way of being in the world and seeing other people. It’s about trying to understand other people and the ways that they have been hurt, so that future injustices may be prevented.

    While I realize that not all persons who join some faction of the feminist cause will enter under the pressure of personal pain, it seems silly to think that a “feminist-take” on which lipstick you should buy next week provides any real comprehension of, or introduction into the objectives of feminists.

    The notion that feminists are obscure, obsolete, or inaccessible suffers from its own brand of elitism. Implicit in this idea is that most are too stupid, or too careless to comprehend the objectives and views of feminists. People need to be given a real opportunity to understand who feminists are and what they want. Perhaps the best way to accomplish this goal is to create a space where feminists can explain how they got involved in feminism, rather than hoping that the latest feminist take of celebrity rehab will lure a few thoughtful minds this direction.

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan October 30, 2013 at 6:11 pm |

      Sure, and your average young person will voluntarily google “how famous feminists got their start”… approximately never.

      1. Disorder
        Disorder October 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm |

        Well that’s a terribly unimaginative response. The point is we need to work harder on telling out stories and explaining why feminism is important. Just trying to sneak it in under the radar means that feminism must always remain a covert and secondary topic.

        1. EG
          EG October 30, 2013 at 8:10 pm |

          I disagree. You meet people where they are, not where you want them to be. You pay attention to what they’re actually interested in, not what you want to make them interested in. When little girls want to play princess, you play princess until you can move the game. And when young women want to read about lipstick, you write feminist discussions of lipstick.

        2. Hermione Stranger
          Hermione Stranger October 30, 2013 at 9:23 pm |

          But constantly talking about lipstick teaches a new generation of young women that lipstick is what they should be talking about, that lipstick is one of the most important feminist issues out there. There’s no reflection on the way a blog with the word “fashion” in the tagline that talks a lot about lipstick reinforces the idea that, while women might have different opinions on the lipstick, they mostly talk about lipstick. (Not to mention the way it perpetuates women’s appearances as marked, while men’s appearances remain unmarked and uncommented on.) And anyone who is actually rather sick of talking about lipstick, but would also like to keep wearing it and just be left in peace, gets accused of being a dumb choice feminist.

        3. Hermione Stranger
          Hermione Stranger October 30, 2013 at 10:37 pm |

          Actual lipstick? That’s true. “Lipstick”, meaning, beauty standards, especially makeup and body hair? One of the bigger feminist issues they talk about. Because they are a Gawker site, and rely on clicks, and what’s better for clicks than an article that in any way mentions pubic hair, except for an article that in any way mentions porn?

          And they don’t even really have a particularly good structural analysis. They aren’t really talking about the macroeconomics of it all in a global context, or about the factory conditions of the workers who make beauty products, just the occasional piece on personal economics in which all women pay the same large amount for their beauty regimen. They don’t talk about how the different subcultures in America change what beauty standards there are, and how we could use that to understand why some women wear lipstick instead of just accusing anyone who still wears lipstick of having internalized misogyny. It’s incredibly rare to read about race as it relates to beauty standards. I’ve never read a piece over there that even acknowledges the existence of queer femmes, much less examines how those queer femmes might have different experiences than straight women, and femmes tend to overrepresent in the group that declares their lipstick is empowering for them. It’s just sort of “some dude was awful, but whatever, you do you”, with the presumption that the reader is straight, cis, and white.

        4. TimmyTwinkles
          TimmyTwinkles October 30, 2013 at 10:57 pm |

          Geez louise, different strokes for different folks. I don’t see why Jezebel cant do its thing, and other sites do theirs. Jez aint my cup of tea, but if there are people getting something positive from it more power to them.

      2. Linda
        Linda October 30, 2013 at 8:10 pm |

        No, your average young person hangs out on Tumblr where they take the feminist hysteria occasionally promoted by the likes of Jezebel and turn it into veritable oppression olympics. Online feminism is not feminism, it’s what a bunch of insecure women talk about in their spare time, sitting on their couches at home.

        Look at Jezebel’s front page right now… “In defense of selfies at funerals” (hey girls, it’s okay to be shallow and self-absorbed) “My daughter was teased at school” (an important issue for women everywhere!) “halloween jerk tells trick or treaters they’re fat” (feels are more important the diabetes epidemic) “red wine fixes everything! and ruins everything!” (you can feel less guilty about your persistent alcohol habit)

        It’s the same old gossip rag, whether they add “Without airbrushing” or not. The few times an “empowered” woman is featured, she’s still just a vehicle for others to judge her based on her career, relationships and motherhood. Nothing published on Jezebel will cause more women to choose a career in science, business or politics. They wouldn’t want to make the vast majority of their audience feel inadequate.

        1. EG
          EG October 30, 2013 at 8:37 pm |

          “halloween jerk tells trick or treaters they’re fat” (feels are more important the diabetes epidemic)

          TRICK OR TREATING IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DIABETES. TRUE FACT. Also, concern about diabetes justifies rudeness and body-shaming. Policing girls’ bodies and eating habits couldn’t possibly be a feminist issue, of course.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 30, 2013 at 8:51 pm |

          “My daughter was teased at school” (an important issue for women everywhere!)

          Speaking as someone who’s dealing with this right now, and the massive amounts of trauma done to my child by it… GO FUCK YOURSELF, YOU ANIMATED SHITSTAIN.

        3. karak
          karak October 30, 2013 at 8:56 pm |

          Well, why don’t you tell us about the things you value so I can mock you as being stupid?

        4. Ally S
          Ally S October 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm |

          Look at Jezebel’s front page right now… “In defense of selfies at funerals” (hey girls, it’s okay to be shallow and self-absorbed) “My daughter was teased at school” (an important issue for women everywhere!) “halloween jerk tells trick or treaters they’re fat” (feels are more important the diabetes epidemic) “red wine fixes everything! and ruins everything!” (you can feel less guilty about your persistent alcohol habit)

          Fat-shaming, trivialization of bullying, and baseless negative judgments on individuals. That’s very kind and empathetic of you.

        5. Kerplunk
          Kerplunk October 31, 2013 at 7:12 am |

          Speaking as someone who’s dealing with this right now, and the massive amounts of trauma done to my child by it… GO FUCK YOURSELF, YOU ANIMATED SHITSTAIN.

          I completely agree with your sentiment. I agree that teasing and bullying are very serious issues, and I can see that it’s very personal to you and that you feel strongly, and rightly so.

          But I’m quite upset by this language. Is this okay on Feministe? I don’t care about the swearing, but about the vitriolic attack against another person, no matter how wrong their perspective.

        6. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help October 31, 2013 at 7:13 am |

          Online feminism is not feminism, it’s what a bunch of insecure women talk about in their spare time, sitting on their couches at home.

          Riiight, so you’re an insecure woman sitting on your couch at home, too, I gather?

          Funny old assumptions you’ve got there.

        7. Andie
          Andie October 31, 2013 at 7:38 am |

          But I’m quite upset by this language. Is this okay on Feministe? I don’t care about the swearing, but about the vitriolic attack against another person, no matter how wrong their perspective.

          People are allowed to be angry when other people say stupid and harmful things, such as minimizing things like the bullying of young girls. There are rules against violent rhetoric and against gendered/racist/homophobic/transphobic slurs, but nobody is obligated to be totally polite. In many cases, a little vitriol is perfectly warranted. The insistence that everyone play nice is a method of silencing dissent that is not expressed as lady-like as possible.

          And as another woman whose child is dealing with the same issues, I will co-sign macavity’s use of “animated shitstain” as a perfectly valid assessment of that particular commenter.

        8. Kerplunk
          Kerplunk October 31, 2013 at 8:55 am |

          The insistence that everyone play nice is a method of silencing dissent that is not expressed as lady-like as possible.

          Bullshit.

          There’s a chasm between insisting that everyone be all nicey-nice and objecting to someone being told “GO FUCK YOURSELF, YOU ANIMATED SHITSTAIN.”

          The comments policy reads: “We will delete comments that are abusive, off-topic, or include ad hominem attacks. “Foul” language is not offensive to us unless it is used as a weapon against a writer or commenter.”

          I’ve never used this, but I feel that “We need a giraffe here.”

          [thank you for sending a giraffe alert ~ mods]

        9. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie October 31, 2013 at 9:49 am |

          I’m with kerplunk. I find a lot of commentary here to be outright abusive. I don’t comment here much because of that.

        10. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 31, 2013 at 10:26 am |

          But I’m quite upset by this language. Is this okay on Feministe? I don’t care about the swearing, but about the vitriolic attack against another person, no matter how wrong their perspective.

          Okay, so if you don’t care about the swear words, what’s your problem with “animated” and “yourself”? And no, I stand heartily by that. People I love were bullied out of school. My child was bullied into things I’d rather not discuss here. I’m a little fucking touchy right now and I think I have a right. I wasn’t insulting in any way that’s gendered, racist, or any other -ist (except maybe poopist, but it’s my understanding that almost everyone is poopist) and was not violent, so I’m genuinely not sure what the hell upset you so much. It’s not like I told her to off herself or something. Jesus.

        11. JD
          JD October 31, 2013 at 12:58 pm |

          I read that selfies-at-funerals article. You clearly did not. The headline was click-bait. The most important part of the article was to note that young people have no fucking clue what to do with themselves at funerals, or at any time they are confronted by death, largely because we do a shit-poor job of discussing it with them.

        12. Tony
          Tony October 31, 2013 at 1:59 pm |

          Obviously you can mod however you want, but I believe the comments policy has been selectively enforced in the past (usually no one objects to ad hominem attacks that don’t contain violent imagery), so I can see where Mac might have gotten the idea that it is within bounds.

        13. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 31, 2013 at 4:44 pm |

          Your space, your rules. No hard feelings, sorry for the language, and I’ll keep it in mind. (Though…yeah, I’ve seen tons of nonviolent ad hominem here, so…I didn’t know that was a no-no.)

    2. karak
      karak October 30, 2013 at 8:39 pm |

      Man, I’ve tried to write this a few different ways, but I’m going to be blunt:

      I don’t like the way you just acted like lipstick is pointless and people who write articles and read articles about it are pointless. I especially don’t like the way you think conventional beauty standards and industry exploitation are issues that people care about and are worth considering.

      I don’t like the way you’re making yourself out to be some Arbitrator of Feminism and saying people have only certain specific ways to be introduced to feminist thought, and anything else just isn’t feminist enough.

      Appealing to people’s experiences, wants, and needs is the first step to getting a lot of people to think critically. There’s nothing wrong with that.

      1. Disorder
        Disorder October 30, 2013 at 9:10 pm |

        I just find it terribly disappointing that a whitewashed website is what gets to bring people into feminism by appealing to what they might find feminist. Exactly who’s feminism are they being brought into?

        This sounds a little too much like you radical complicated people better stand at the back of the line and wait your turn. Only some people get to be exposed to your feminism. Don’t complicate for the newbies they might run way away (we only want you when it is convenient.)

        We need to talk about why people get involved in this movement. And it’s not as elitist or far fetched as you people seem to think. Youtube seems like a good place to tell a story, or maybe a serious tumblar post.

        And while there is in theory nothing wrong with a feminist conversation about lipstick, thinking that responsible consumerism should be the thing that pulls people into a feminist conversation just sounds like giving up. It’s like it wouldn’t be ok to you bad ass disabled Marxist self, or who ever you are.

        How people are allowed to enter a movement says a lot about what the movement is really allowed to be, and what people are permitted to perceive about it. I want a certain kind of feminism, and that means I want to think about how a person might be introduced into that feminism.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 30, 2013 at 9:24 pm |

          This sounds a little too much like you radical complicated people better stand at the back of the line and wait your turn. Only some people get to be exposed to your feminism. Don’t complicate for the newbies

          Or, it could be that people find whatever they go looking for on the internet, because google searches don’t censor the terms Radical and Complicated, and you’re just pissy because someone else is more appealing to some complete noob who’s trying to find something on the internet that’s marginally more readable than your jargon-filled and poorly punctuated prose.

          Also, maybe I don’t want to read 50,000 stories about how cis straight white abled neurotypical middle-class women discovered the patriarchy WAS A THING OMG. Have you considered that?

          It’s like it wouldn’t be ok to you bad ass disabled Marxist self, or who ever you are.

          What if you’re a bad-ass disabled Marxist who likes lipstick? Or is the chemical content on someone’s face the sole marker – haha – of feminism?

        2. Disorder
          Disorder October 30, 2013 at 9:25 pm |

          But some blogs are slated as more popular or more accessible than others. These blogs tend to be the ones that discuss the “safe” or easy to process issues. There seems to be a higharcy here. Why do some people and positions get to be the introductory ones, while other people have to hide in the shadows for fear that they scare someone away.

          And why is it ok to position Jezebel as the broad doorway though which the soon eliminated will walk. What makes you think that the shape of the door doesn’t matter?

          Feminism is not a covert lure, it is a real political position with complexity and nuance. I refuse to put these things away. They are critical to feminism and shouldn’t be glossed over.

          No one thought that people would get interested in Marxism by luring them to a work’s strike where they could sit in comfortable chair and watch, while they decided if they wanted in or not.

        3. Disorder
          Disorder October 30, 2013 at 9:32 pm |

          @ macavitykitsune you seem like an elitist jerk. I have a learning disability, how dare you say that pros, which reflect by body’s neurology are unreadable. I would appreciate apology, and hope that in the future you not resort to ad hominem attacks.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 30, 2013 at 9:39 pm |

          I didn’t say it was unreadable; I said it was less readable than most of the articles on Jezebel. Your opinion that people are somehow rendered unable to Use the Google to find radical feminist sites by the mere existence of Jezebel is pretty weird (and I say this as someone who hated Jezebel even as a noob) and frankly stupid. I’m not about to apologise for that opinion, but I am sorry I criticised your language.

        5. karak
          karak October 30, 2013 at 11:02 pm |

          macavitykitsune is their own person, but for my sake: I’m not sorry they pointed out your language was dense and jargony. It is. In the context of you complaining about elitism and accessibility it’s a little boggling that you’re using terms and words most people never hear out of a class or pretty serious feminist blog.

          And, on another note, there are a fuckton of blogs out there for all kinds of feminists and angles and takeaways. Jezebel appeals to a fairly specific demographic; Racialicious to another.

        6. Willemina
          Willemina October 31, 2013 at 2:06 am |

          Starts a sentence with “Implicit in,” accuses others of elitism…

          And honestly, Marxism (for the purposes of engaging large numbers of people) gets boiled down to big bullet point headlines hence its persistent popularity especially amongst those who haven’t read the damn Manifesto, which is a slog.

          You’ve got vocabulary and audience, pick one. If you opt for subverting the vernacular in order to pursue an odyssey into the Stygian depths of systemic power matrices and their resulting impacts of the warp and weft of contemporary mores then go for it. Don’t be surprised or complain though when the Google doesn’t put you very near the top of the search results. It doesn’t need to be simpleWiki, but “complicated” isn’t a winning communication tactic.

        7. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help October 31, 2013 at 7:21 am |

          I want a certain kind of feminism, and that means I want to think about how a person might be introduced into that feminism.

          So if we don’t Do Feminism Right, we aren’t allowed into Disorder’s treehouse?

          Is there a test? Do we get banned if we were introduced to it the wrong way?

          Seriously, you don’t get to dictate what anyone else’s introduction or approach to feminism might be, and that’s exactly what that sentence sounds like.

        8. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan October 31, 2013 at 1:13 pm |

          I just find it terribly disappointing that a whitewashed website is what gets to bring people into feminism by appealing to what they might find feminist.

          Yes, people often like things that they can understand and relate to. Isn’t human nature appalling?

          In other news, maybe you should do a little research into teaching strategies such as “scaffolding” and figure out why things like 101 exist.

        9. Disorder
          Disorder October 31, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

          For the record I believe my use of words such as “implicit” is radical and no elitist. Living my whole life with a learning disability I have been repeatedly told that such langue is not for me. This angers me greatly, and I feel that I have a right to use it and to show my intelligence when ever I choose.

          It also bothers me terribly that people think that people must get into feminism (or whatever) via 101. I really dislike anything as condescending as this. People never expected much of me growing up (my neurologist didn’t even thing that I would graduate highschool). I want people to be talked to in intelligent ways. I want to give people credit for being able to figure things out (because no one gave me credit). So I want a feminism that gives people credit, not one that sells them short.

          And as far as complexity goes its a good thing. Humans are arguably the most complex species on this planet (depending how you want to look at that). Our relationships and social structures reflect this. It’s not elitist to want people to see things in a complicated way, it’s honest.

          Finally, I never meant to say that there is some wrong or right way to enter feminism, I just mean to say that I am disappointed with what seems to be the status quo. To me this sort of 101 stuff sends a message to feminists that they should be overly smart or overly complicated. I am constantly feeling like I need to hide this part of myself in feminist conversations, and I’m sick of it. I wish for just once some feminist would see it as a victory that a smart woman with learning disability completed college and knows how to use words like implicit. I’m proud of this part of myself, I wish my community was too.

        10. tigtog
          tigtog October 31, 2013 at 4:00 pm | *

          Disorder, my own default style of communication is loquacious sesquipedalian, so I have masses of sympathy for some of the attitudes you are expressing, but the point is that not everybody shares our loquacious sesquipedalianism, and messenging that incorporates different strokes for different folks is not just OK but can also provide *an* (not *the*) effective gateway for ushering people towards social analysis and activism.

          By all means curate your own internet experience to skew to the various erudite analysis sites written by and for us walking encyclopaedia types if that is what you most enjoy. You strike me as someone who seeks out new learning experiences deliberately, which is of course wonderful, but not everybody does that (in fact, in my life experience, most people actively do not do that – most people seek out affirmations of their current worldview rather than looking for new perspectives and critiques on the status quo). If social justice advocates want to get our message out beyond the demographic of the naturally curious and already self-examining, then it has to be crafted to sit within the media that other demographics prefer to consume, to pique curiosity within those who aren’t looking to learn stuff and inspire them to go and learn stuff anyway.

          Jezebel is mostly not my cup of tea. I haven’t commented there in years. I do however keep an eye on their Twitter feed to see what they’re writing about, because they’re pretty good at gauging the pop culture pulse, and pop culture matters in terms of propping up and, more crucially, in terms of challenging toxic norms. Jezebel saves me time and energy by keeping their eye on these things that I occasionally find worth looking into more deeply from other sources for my own edification.

          Nobody says that you have to like Jezebel. It’s OK to find it too simplistic for you and generally not worth your time and energy. To take the stance that absolutely everything they are doing is wrong wrongitty wrong just because it doesn’t hew to your preferences though? That’s not just arrogant, it’s boorish.

        11. SkyTracer
          SkyTracer October 31, 2013 at 4:02 pm |

          People never expected much of me growing up (my neurologist didn’t even thing that I would graduate highschool). I want people to be talked to in intelligent ways. I want to give people credit for being able to figure things out (because no one gave me credit).

          Unlike a traditional school setting, no “student” of online feminist discussion can be forced into a “class” that’s less challenging than they can handle. Even if that were the case, then the solution would be to stop forcing people into discussions they don’t benefit from. The solution wouldn’t be to excoriate (much less get rid) of 101-classes merely for being 101.

          There are good reasons to not want to contribute to Jezebel’s revenue stream, but the fact that the discussion isn’t as advanced as you’d like isn’t one of them.

          I wish for just once some feminist would see it as a victory that a smart woman with learning disability completed college and knows how to use words like implicit. I’m proud of this part of myself, I wish my community was too.

          What if I told you that you’re not the only one here who’s experienced marginalization and discrimination in the education system, and that knowing how to use certain words doesn’t mean that you should use those words.

          Please don’t take it as an insult that I’m illustrating that point by linking to TVTropes.

        12. SkyTracer
          SkyTracer October 31, 2013 at 4:04 pm |

          Or, what tigtog said.

        13. Disorder
          Disorder October 31, 2013 at 4:29 pm |

          @ tigtog. Thanks! I think the thing that is really bothering me is that so often feminists seem so preoccupied with expanding the movement (which is good) that they wind up policing people who do not fit that model of expansion. I’m as interested in talking to new/young feminists as anyone else, I just feel like people are so frequently telling me that I have to be someone else to do this. I want there to be a space for lofty thought and complication. Seeing people as just plain incapable of this makes me sad.

          I’ve felt nothing but a sever depression watching one gender studies professor after another reduce theory to sound bites because the assume that their students will just never get it. I think people need to (at some point) be given the opportunity to struggle with things. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean that you will never learn it.

          @ SkyTracer. I’m well aware that certain types of words are often rearguard as belonging to a specific group of privileged people, I don’t think that their use should be reserve for that group however. These “special” words are often the words that contain the most specificity. In order to express what I mean precisely I choose to reclaim them. I hope that this reclaim will counter their “specialness” and permit better communication.

        14. SkyTracer
          SkyTracer October 31, 2013 at 5:04 pm |

          I’m well aware that certain types of words are often rearguard as belonging to a specific group of privileged people…

          I haven’t told you not to use certain words. I understand where you’re coming from, I think — I always hated the way my textbooks would coddle me with “easy” definitions and simplified reasoning, and I would go out of my way to find more complex stuff. Regardless, those easy definitions and simplified reasoning are beneficial to some people or they wouldn’t exist, and the people who write such things know their audience better than I do.

          I think we’ve gotten off topic though. Further discussion should probably go to Spillover.

        15. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help October 31, 2013 at 10:28 pm |

          I want there to be a space for lofty thought and complication. Seeing people as just plain incapable of this makes me sad.

          I’ve felt nothing but a sever depression watching one gender studies professor after another reduce theory to sound bites because the assume that their students will just never get it. I think people need to (at some point) be given the opportunity to struggle with things. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean that you will never learn it.

          So are you talking about gender studies and so on, classroom situations, or about internet sites? They’re not the same.

          There’s not a lot of point in having a 101 site or beginner’s class that assumes everyone’s at 201 level (or whatever the numbering is). I’ve seen plenty of sites where the discussion went very academic in its terminology, and I hadn’t the faintest idea what they were talking about, any more than if it’d been a discussion of biology or physics or whatever. Does that mean I felt like an idiot because I couldn’t follow them? No, it does not. It means I didn’t have the background, that’s all.

          101 sites or courses are not a reflection on anyone’s intelligence; they’re about knowledge levels, an entirely different matter. It’s also pretty strange to conflate the internet – where, as has been pointed out, anyone can go to any site they feel like until they find something that suits – with a classroom, where people are doing a set course with specific goals, probably as one stage of several, and where the teacher/lecturer has to get particular information and concepts across to people who may be entirely new to it.

      2. Disorder
        Disorder October 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm |

        Oh Sky I just read your link. I see your point but, you might also be interested to know that I have Noverbal Learning Disorder. Which is not what it sounds like. It makes me highly verbal.
        A short explanation can be found here: http://www.nldontheweb.org/

        Decide what you want about this.

        1. SkyTracer
          SkyTracer October 31, 2013 at 4:55 pm |

          Decide what you want about this.

          I have no idea what your point is, actually.

          I have an autism spectrum disorder that makes me prone to verbose pedantry and stilted word choice. Does that mean other people are obligated to find my writing more pleasing than it is?

  7. Tony
    Tony October 30, 2013 at 7:23 pm |

    Jezebel has published some great stuff. At a personal level I especially appreciated articles like this: An informative article calling out a form of racism against a small minority that doesn’t get talked about much, and bringing it to a broader audience. The result? Some commenter by the name of “orlana fallaci fan” comes in and calls the author a “racist jezecunt”. “I apologize for getting defensive”… the author eventualy concedes.

  8. Donna L
    Donna L October 30, 2013 at 8:30 pm |

    I readily concede that Jezebel has some good writers, and has published many interesting pieces. But there’s also an awful lot of crap they publish that makes them seem like incredible hypocrites when they call out others.

    To Linda:


    they take the feminist hysteria occasionally promoted by the likes of Jezebel and turn it into veritable oppression olympics. Online feminism is not feminism, it’s what a bunch of insecure women talk about in their spare time, sitting on their couches at home.

    Then what are you doing here? What a collection of insulting cliches.

    “My daughter was teased at school” (an important issue for women everywhere!)

    Obviously no serious feminist cares about children being bullied, because, hey, it isn’t as if that kind of thing ever has long-lasting effects. Oh wait.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L October 30, 2013 at 8:31 pm |

      The last two lines were not supposed to be italicized, of course.

  9. IndianFeminist
    IndianFeminist October 31, 2013 at 1:13 am |

    Can we not have difference of style and content? Feminism is a diverse movement and women can read ‘feminist interpretation’ in different texts, which may not even have started as feminist texts. I can look at a music video and feel empowered by Beyonce. Now, some other woman might find the same music video and my sense of empowerment unreal/ false/ fake/ cliched/ problematic. The whole point is that we debate about it. But unless I watch the video, actively talk about the empowerment I feel, there is not going to be a debate, is there? I think sites like Jezebel are great starting points for conversations and debates about women’s experiences, albeit, limited and maybe over-representing a certain section. But they are women’s experiences nonetheless. Some could find it shallow and privileged. But many women like me ( a child free media professional from India) find these stories an entertaining way of starting conversations. And many times I start these conversations by saying, ‘that is rubbish’, but a conversation is so so important.
    To be precise, ahem, I think ‘populist’ sites like Jezebel are also important for women’s dynamic and fluid experiences.

  10. Miriam
    Miriam October 31, 2013 at 1:51 am |

    Jezebel exists to make money for Gawker. As Anna seems to admit herself in the article, any feminism was snuck in under the radar and is not the main mission of the site. I stopped reading Jezebel a long time ago, but in the time I read it, it seemed no different from Cosmo or Glamour except that it had a more Internet friendly tone. Most of Jezebel, Cosmo, and Glamour consists of fluff, but there are some good writers and some good articles that happen. The good stuff seems to be an accident as much as a reality.

    I don’t know if there’s an equivalent term for greenwashing that can be used for corporate riding on feminism’s coattails, but if there is that’s what Jezebel is. It’s just trying to make money off of other people’s convictions but with none of its own. Bustle supposedly has some good writers, too.

  11. Athenia
    Athenia October 31, 2013 at 9:55 am |

    I liked Jezebel more when Anna was running the show, but alas, I still hang about there cuz sometimes the commenters can be the funniest feminists on the internets.

    It’s definitely been interesting to see Jezebel balance feminist values with capitalist goals. i.e. click-bait vs. genuine feminist articles

  12. Lateef
    Lateef October 31, 2013 at 11:20 am |

    The Jez commentariat used to be much better, but lately has gotten very troll-y. Many on Feministe should check out Groupthink, which is like the backroom of Jez. Many awesome commenters there.

    Oh, and Jill is basically spot-on about everything with Jez. It ain’t perfect, but it’s brought a lot of people closer to feminism by asking and answering interesting questions from a fresh perspective.

    1. Kathy
      Kathy October 31, 2013 at 12:53 pm |

      Agreed. The posts on Groupthink are often far more nuanced that what’s on the main page.

      Full disclosure: I was a commenter at Jezebel, around ’09 or ’10, right around the time Anna left. The tenor was much different back then, but Jezebel has never been without race or class fail, and queer ladies are all but absent. This isn’t about “imperfect feminism,” but recognizing you’re alienating a chunk of your readers. I think it was Tasha Fierce who years ago called Jezebel “ostensibly feminist.”

      1. Lateef
        Lateef October 31, 2013 at 1:53 pm |

        Heh, I love the phase “ostensibly feminist”.

        As a dude, I often feel that way myself sometimes. ; )

    2. Kyosuke
      Kyosuke October 31, 2013 at 10:23 pm |

      Like me! :3

      1. Lateef
        Lateef November 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm |

        Hey, Kyosuke! Good to see a familiar face!

        Maybe we should suggest an online mixer between GT and Feministe? On second thought, all of the animated gifs might annoy the hell out of the Feministers. ; )

        1. miga
          miga November 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm |

          Ohayyyy y’all!

          (Korra)

        2. Kyosuke
          Kyosuke November 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm |

          Haha! Well, I’m much more prolific on GT/PR/Jez, but I read Feministe (and Feministing and Autostraddle and…) quite regularly.

        3. Lateef
          Lateef November 14, 2013 at 11:40 am |

          Just have to say what’s up to Korra:

          You are the bomb, Korra! ; )

          (Is EG not also the bomb? Come on, now.)

  13. Erin
    Erin October 31, 2013 at 11:40 am |

    I’ve always thought of Jezebel as pop feminism.

    1. Lateef
      Lateef October 31, 2013 at 12:06 pm |

      I don’t think they even use the word feminism – rather they say it’s “for women”. So rather than a site that’s primarily concerned with equal rights, it’s more focused on producing content that women like and selling some ads.

      It just so happens that a lot of women like content that treats them as human beings and is sensitive to a lot of oppression they face. But, at the end of the day, they’re trying to make money, so yes, they go for a pop angle. And they try to stir up controversy so as to generate a lot of comments and repeat visitors.

      1. Lateef
        Lateef November 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  14. Kyosuke
    Kyosuke October 31, 2013 at 10:22 pm |

    I do all of my writing on Jez. Jez has mainpaged, I think at last count, 14 of my articles. Many of my trans specific articles continue to be visited and circulated. Just recently on of my pieces which had been mainpaged was posted to reddit and the discussion continued.

    While I often complain Jez is not as intersectional as it should be, I have found Laura Beck and Jessica Coen to be quite willing to pick up very intersectional pieces from the subpages, Groupthink and Powder Room.

    Jez still sometimes gets it very wrong. But I feel as though with the subpages, under Jessica’s stewardship, it recognises the need to amplify voices which might otherwise not be included on the masthead.

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