Ha, so I just read this.
We usually try not to talk about Jezebel too much on here, but because many of our readers met us as Jezebel commenters, I felt like I had to speak up on this particular topic, and the other Harpies are gonna weigh in in the comments. I’ll probably have more articulate thoughts on this later.
It’s a funny thing that in this day and age of only-the-media-cares, navel-gazing, solipsistic journalism one can write an entire article about a blog while having only passing familiarity with it. Linda Hirshman (she of “pull yourself out of your violent relationship by your own bootstraps” fame) calls Emily Gould an “occasional Jezebel contributor” – I think Emily’s maybe had a byline or two in the entire, year-long history of the site of which I have read nearly every post. She talks about an incident (Thinking and Drinking – Google if you happened to miss that bit of fun) that is now nearly a year old. So, safe to say that this woman has a highly selective view of what Jezebel is and does.
My suspicion is that to people like Hirshman, Jezebel represents an opportunity to generation-bash, without much cause or sense. If Hirshman is looking to be the Better Feminist (TM) by thumbing her nose from on high, I suppose she’s being successful at it. It’s not much worth the trouble, it seems to me, but hey, everyone needs a cause, and if Hirshman’s is to spend her time bitching about an internet website… well, Fight The Power, Sister! I’ll be over here caring about actual problems.
Now, I’m not gonna lie. I have definitely had my… issues with different writers at the site over the year or so I’ve been there regularly, some on grounds of mediocrity, others on grounds of sheer offensiveness. This, to me, seems like the case in any kind of collaborative media publication; not even the New Yorker (hell, much less the New Yorker) is on one hundred percent of the time.
I have even, of late, been a bit concerned about the commenting community there, and have gotten myself in trouble there for saying so. I do think that the commenters there, which, as anyone who reads Jezebel knows, can dominate the tone of the site even to the editors’ dismay at times, have taken a turn for the “no judgment!” worst. And I am definitely in the camp of thinking that feminism as empowerfulment is deeply problematic as a creed for young women.
But is Jezebel “hurting women”? Well, Mary, Jesus and Joseph, I tend to think that the only people “hurt” by asshattery and stupidity are the asses and idiots themselves. And everybody’s an ass sometimes; Ceiling Cat knows I am. I admit I would be happier if everyone owned up to their mistakes and apologized, all the time, but the fact that they don’t is a human problem, not a Jezebel problem. (Note: I didn’t see Ms. Hirshman apologizing for completely misquoting Katha Pollitt in her last debacle, myself, even after she was called on it.)
Moreover Hirshman fails to recognize that she too is falling prey to the persistent media trend is often “worried” about young women in the same way that the patriarchy is – in a sense, you want to damn us to save us. And sometimes, in the process, people forget that young women are not drones. We are not without the ability to react, and to think critically. The commenting community at Jez can often feel like a boxing ring (or at least it did until recently) where you cannot get away with saying things without being able to articulate some reason behind it. And that? Is refreshing in an age where young people are encouraged to have strong opinions, but actively discouraged from examining the reasons behind them.
Thus, for all my occasional issues with Jez, I can respect it because it has, overall, been a force in my life that forced me to think harder about why I believe what I do, and what that means. Twisty once called Feministing a feminism “gateway drug,” and while Jezebel is less obviously so, there’s some truth to that. I don’t love everything that’s written there, and I don’t love everything that’s granted the label “feminism” there, but by being there, I have been forced to explain why. And that is something. And that something is bringing far, far more young women to feminism than Hirshman’s finger-waggy, ill-informed, poorly-fact-checked screeds. Et tu, Linda?
***Note: we realize our commenters may have tons to say on this subject, but let’s try to keep this discussion from being linked to in future as a repository of internal Jez gossip, yes? Keep the critiques and thoughts abstract, please.