via Natalie Dee
Last night I quit Jezebel. It sounds like a dumb thing to be writing about, but for me, it's really, really significant.
I'm 23. I'm black. I'm West Indian. I didn't have a lot of exposure to feminism growing up. I cringe when I recall the things that I said about other women when I was a freshman in college, and the attitudes that I had towards sexuality and womanhood. I went to a Catholic school in a country that is still largely misogynistic. It was pretty much a given that I'd grown up to be an anti-woman little shit.
But then I found Jezebel. I found Jezebel and I started reading. I'm the kind of person who just likes to know things, so perusing the site pre-Kinja was like a revelation to me. All of a sudden I had this entire vocabulary to explain the little microagressions that I'd faced all my life, and a community of women who were engaged in parsing those issues. I could finally vocalize why I felt an inconsolable rage when I was tone policed. I knew how to defend myself against slut shaming. I could explain in detail why rape culture was so insidious and why restrictions on reproductive freedom were a devastating step backwards for women.
Jezebel taught me how to be a woman.
And then it taught me that it didn't care about the kind of woman that I am.
In a weird way, it feels like being betrayed by a trusted friend. I've been a regular on Jezebel since my junior year of college in 2010, and a fervent feminist ever since. But little by little I could see that there wasn't much consideration for a feminism that included the diversity of women. There was a blatant disregard for the difference in perspective that WoC have in relation to various issues by virtue of their different experiences of the world.
And then Kinja happened, and I was locked out of Groupthink during the switchover. I finally got posting privileges in July 2013. And then Solidarity Is For White Women happened and I talked about it. And Jezebel ignored it. So I talked about it some more.
In the three months since I've had posting privileges, all of the following have happened:
- Solidarity Is For White Women called out Jezebel's complicity in allowing H. Schwyzer to become a prolific voice in online feminism, despite his continued abuse of WoC.
- Instead of apologizing for their mistake or even acknowledging the situation in any way, Jessica Coen wrote a satirical post about the stages of grief, effectively trying to absolve herself of any responsibility.
- When Jezebel did finally acknowledge SIFWW, rather than take the opportunity to address their role in the situation, they simply aggregated tweets without context, and then forgot to mention the WoC who started the hashtag.
- Then Miley at the VMA's happened. And instead of talking about both the way that Miley was needlessly slut shamed and the way in which Miley's performance perpetuated racist narratives, they ignored the racist aspects of her performance altogether.
- Pissed, I tackled it myself, and then Miley-Gate happened, and they ignored that too, instead choosing to recycle and old piece of one of the few WoC on staff, and tacking on the name of the white EIC.
- And yesterday, a month later, they published a piece that made light of and mocked Chris Brown's admission that he had lost his virginity to a much older girl when he was eight. That's right. They diminished the fact that Chris Brown was RAPED AS A CHILD, because flagellating the misbehaving black man is more important than sympathy and support for a rape victim.
Three months. Three MONTHS! That's how many times Jezebel has majorly fucked up in three months. And it started to feel like I was just banging my head against a brick wall. It was getting pretty clear that Jessica Coen & Co. didn't care about the commentariat said and why should they? Jezebel isn't about feminism, or change, or making a difference. It's about page views and clicks. It's about money. "Corporate Feminism" at its finest. If it helps them hit their numbers, they're going to continue to troll the very readers that make their success possible. I refuse to be part of it anymore. Jezebel has become like that toxic friend you keep around out of nostalgia for the days when things were better. Fuck that. Time to cut the fat.
I know that Jessica Coen will likely never see this, and if she does she won't give a shit, but I sincerely hope she gets her shit together. I know that Jezebel likes to pass the buck and claim that they aren't technically a feminist site, but it is staffed by women who identify as feminist. And if they're as feminist as they claim to be, none of this stuff would be acceptable. So this is me calling you out Jessica. Get your shit the fuck together. Make some changes. Expand your perspective. Improve. Do better. Either do that, or never tackle another feminist issue on Jezebel ever again. Feminism isn't situational. Either you're feminist or you're not. Right now, you're not, but you keep pretending to be. Stop it.
It'll be hard to just drop Jezebel cold turkey, especially since it's my main source for feminist news (maybe that was the problem!) but I'll survive. As I said last night:
"I'm not letting them make any more money off my page views. I'm not enabling them to keep demonstrating that people who look like me are worthless to them. [...] It genuinely hurts me to feel like a space that is supposed to be feminist and inclusive, continuously rejects intersectionality and routinely reasserts the hierarchy of privilege. I'm not game for that."So instead of spending all my time trying to strike back at Jezebel's bullshit, I'm going to get my own shit together. I'm gonna get back to my photography and I'm going to start spending more time on feminist websites that actually understand what feminism should be. Because they exist. There are spaces on the internet that allow diverse voices to be heard. Here's to signal boosting:
In addition to supporting the work of WoC, I'll continue to follow them on twitter. I have learned so much from so many incredible women just by sitting back an listening; just by watching the conversations unfold organically and genuinely considering perspective I'd never come across before.
So I'm gone. I will dearly miss the lovely ladies of Groupthink, but they know they're all welcome here should they wish to come. I won't miss Jezebel.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.