Jezebel is well-known blog that claims to carry a feminist agenda. It was founded in 2007 by Anna Holmes and is geared exclusively towards and written by adults. In a world where the existence of a feminist movement is still necessary, and the existence of an online blog would seem to build global awareness of the issues at stake, Jezebel isn’t exactly helping the cause.
Instead, what Jezebel reads like is a catty gossip column created by adults who never grew out of their junior high ‘mean girls’ stage. Its’ overall snarky tone and tendency to bully and judge women who don’t fit into the ideal Jezebel-produced feminist mold only succeeds in perpetuating the alienation and segregation that abounds in the female community. What Jezebel doesn’t offer is the sort of openness, the sort of supportive community that women who want to speak up but have been hesitant to, need. Instead, its’ tendency is to pin women against each other, which is really a shame.
Clare Malone, writer and author of the article “Jezebel Grew Up: The Website Used Upstart Humor To Teach Feminism To A Generation. Now It’s A Media ‘Influencer.’.”, points out various instances of persecution against certain women on the website. One writer was quick, for example, to write an article which reeked with condescension against the filmmaker Sofia Coppola, claiming that she creates “artfully draped, filmy costume design and hazy, ill-framed film shots”, and that she “… tends also to be a bit hard on women in her films”. Just Google “Jezebel article bashing women” and you’ll find a variety of articles speaking out against the website’s gossipy, snarky, drama-fueled approach.
A screen shot of Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette in the Sofia Coppola-directed film “Marie Antoinette” (2006)
Jezebel tags itself as a “Celebrity, Sex, and Fashion blog” with a feminist agenda. Indeed, they have a right in their opinions. Moreover, a lot of women enjoy the dramatic, witty medium of the writing. It’s no wonder the blog is so popular.
But where is the space for women to really express their deepest concerns and be listened to with an open, compassionate, and non-judgmental ear? We can thank a girl named Jessica for creating the site F-Bomb when she was sixteen years-old, a website that launched a proactive, pan-cultural feminist movement on the web.
F-Bomb markets itself as an online “blog/community created for teenage girls who care about their rights as women and want to be heard’.” The blog encourages every teenager, male or female, to submit articles and post comments that explore contemporary issues about women’s rights. This allows contributors and readers to articulate their own perspectives about what it means to be a female in the 21st century across the world.
The namesake, F-Bomb, stands for “feminist”. It’s also a sarcastic phrase aimed at articulating the “loud, proud…passionate: everything feminists are today”. It’s not accidental that the title reflects a swear word popular in American culture. The point is in its’ “in-your-face” nature.
F-Bomb is written by teenage girls and boys all over the world, including India, Canada, England, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and is read by people in over 90 countries. Discussions take on an exclusively feminist perspective and include everything from pop culture, reproductive rights, sexuality, violence, and transnational statuses of feminism.
The appeal and success of the website is a product of its’ worldwide accessibility. In the past, teenagers who operated under a resistance to animosity against women made zines, participated in punk music, and hip hop. Those were the outlets in a world where feminism tended to be organized by adult organizations. Now, the internet fills the gaps where teenagers were omitted from the cause, particularly in areas of the world where it’s unacceptable and even unlawful for a girl to have a voice.
Jessalynn Marie Keller, a PhD Candidate in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin, says in her article “Virtual Feminisms: Girls’ Blogging Communities, Feminist Activism, And Participatory Politics”, that “through the practice of blogging teenage girls are actively re-framing what it means to participate in feminist politics, drawing on opportunities that the Internet provides to embrace new understandings of community, activism, and even feminism itself” (430).
In this way, the lines are being blurred between what was once thought of as a campaign for a privileged minority a mainstream movement that is becoming far reaching. Now, youth all over the world can exercise political agency. Furthermore, girls who don’t have a say in their own communities have the opportunity to spread the word about the issues they’re facing.
The emergence of online blogs such as the F-Bomb is a sure sign of a redefining that is happening in feminism. Online communication pan-culturally is the new political activism, and is the marker in the definition of Third Wave feminism. It is a new era of the feminist cause which goal is to expand women’s rights to a global scale.
What online communities for young feminists such as F-Bomb do is provide a relatively safe network where all teenage or collage age girls and boys can explore feminism with little commitment and risk. They are also supplying the opportunity to gain understanding about other cultures. Also, there is a production of tolerance ingrained in this kind of space, as well as a place for the building up of future women. For example, the habits of engagement and critical thinking that takes place on these sites creates room for girls to become “active producers of culture” (Keller, 432).
In the 21st century, online blogs, forums, and social media communities are the new place for political activism. It is also a place where people of a younger generation can come and speak, collaborate with other youth from around the world, expand their understanding of global issues, develop critical thinking skills, tolerance, and begin to build a strong passion for participating in political change.
Keller, Jessalynn Marie. “Virtual Feminisms: Girls’ Blogging Communities, Feminist Activism, And Participatory Politics.” Information, Communication & Society 15.3 (2012): 429-447. PsycINFO. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
Malone, Clare. “Jezebel Grew Up: The Website Used Upstart Humor To Teach Feminism To A Generation. Now It’s A Media ‘Influencer.’.” The American Prospect 6 (2013): 73. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.