Why the half-hearted promise, Jezebel? The blog’s statement of purpose goes like this:
To put it simply, Jezebel is a blog for women that will attempt to take all the essentially meaningless but sweet stuff directed our way and give it a little more meaning, while taking more the serious stuff and making it more fun, or more personal, or at the very least the subject of our highly sophisticated brand of sex joke. Basically, we wanted to make the sort of women’s magazine we’d want to read, a magazine that would never actually see glossy paper because big-name advertisers and the publishers who kowtow to them don’t much like it when you point out the vulgarity of a $2000 handbag. Women deserve some of the blame here: if men ever bought $2000 handbags, Esquire and GQ might be as bad — and profitable — as Glamour and Vogue.
A feminist undertone lingers in the idea that what is meaningless but sweet could have more meaning, while serious issues could be personalized. Feminism suggests that the personal be made political, that what the individual experiences can be translated into collective action. Jezebel’s insistence that she can deliver substance without formality and that there is a way to read frivolous news without shelving some of your best sensibilities is feminist-inspired. There is a world, Jezebel says, for those of you who are intrigued by Lindsay Lohan’s latest crime sprees and can articulate rightful disdain for someone made successful by a society whose laws she does not in any way respect.
But Jezebel is not a feminist. Jezebel refuses to take herself seriously and, in her awkward anthropomorphic identification as woman/media, has no agency. Jezebel will “attempt” to redefine what counts as important to women, but if she can’t, she will make a decent sex joke out of it. Jezebel neither affirms the ability to realize her convictions, nor define precisely the source or relevance of her intent. For this, more than any other reason, (including the decidedly unfeminist statement that men don’t buy $2000 handbags) I do not count Jezebel as a feminist.
Between feminism and Vogue exists many more ideas about what women need and why this question matters. Can we locate Jezebel more precisely in this expanse?
On Monday May 2, 2011 Jezebel contributor Anna North wrote on Amanda Fortini’s article for the New Yorker about blogging Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond. The headline “Pioneer Woman Makes Blogging Look Like Paradise” leads the brief article, along with a snapshot of Drummond at home in her kitchen. All signs point to an article about Drummond. And yet, as the reader makes her way to the second paragraph, it becomes clear that this is not in fact an article about the Pioneer Woman. Instead, North writes a deceptively complex, brief summary of Amanda Fortini’s New Yorker piece on Ree Drummond. She asks “What makes [Drummond’s] life on the ranch so popular with readers?” and responds that it’s not just Drummond’s real-life Marlborough Man or well-weathered KitchenAid, but that she has built a successful, profitable home in cyberspace. North’s italicized sarcasm seems to say: “Why didn’t you think of that, Fortini?” as it cleverly suggests that women’s reasons for visiting the Pioneer Woman’s site may be numerous, complex – perhaps even paradoxical.
The question is: can North make this point without poising herself in the context of Fortini’s piece and what does she sacrifice by framing her article as a counterpoint to an original piece? Without someone to address, the sarcasm would likely allow for a more substantive focus on Drummond. Do we read Jezebel for the content or the commentary? Whichever it is, we should always ask ourselves if it measures up.