A ferocious outpouring of emotion and dismay has consumed me and a group of my dearest friends this weekend, all of us women — lovers, mothers, sisters, daughters, girlfriends and wives from all different walks of life, income brackets, ages, countries and ethnic backgrounds.

The blog that brought us all together, Jezebel.com, is going through some growing pains, it would seem. A year ago the site helped pull me out of a pit of divorce-related depression that I feared I would not survive at times. It was hip, funny, irreverent, ballsy and — first and foremost — feminist. It railed fiercely and entertainingly at all the deserving sexist targets. It was a place where you could go to express outrage at the latest crimes being reported against women while a click later, you could be snarking on Madonna’s camel toe. And the commenters it soon attracted via other Gawker Media blogs were by and large witty, razor-sharp, sarcastic, silly and ridiculously bright feminists.

Jezebel filled a huge niche on the Web for a blog for and about women and women’s issues that was also unafraid to delve into our dual obsessions with celebrities and pop culture. No other site was doing it, and those early weeks were golden. But Jezebel got popular fast, and it changed in odd and perplexing ways.

First there was the startlingly visceral hatred towards the first woman to run for president, Hillary Clinton. Then there was a lackadaisical — some would say openly offensive — attitude about rape from a couple of the regular editors in some controversial posts. Not to mention the stunning lack of social responsibility in posts about sexual activities.

The young fans reading and apparently influenced by Jezebel seemed empowered by this allegedly revolutionary way of thinking: sleeping around indiscriminately is absolutely fine, don’t get too worried about your STD because it’s just a cold sore, pulling out is a really fun method of birth control and you won’t necessarily get pregnant by relying on it, and if you get raped it’s probably your fault because you either wanted it — even at the age of 13 — or you were too stupid to avoid it. And if you DID get raped, and it was just some guy who insisted on having sex with you even when you said no while you were both drunk, don’t raise a stink about it. It’s no biggie.

Oh, and by way, if you adhere to all these notions? You, my dear, are a FEMINIST!

I think this is where the site has lost me, as an old-time feminist who started marching in feminist rallies when she was in high school in the early 1980s. It hurts more than angers me to watch a younger generation of girls being schooled in this ridiculously false notion that “feminism” means you’ve got free reign to be spectacularly irresponsible, ill-informed and insensitive — and openly callous and rude to those who express disagreement — and to other women, to boot, including those who were personally and sincerely offended by what you’ve expressed.

I agree that feminism is a multi-headed beast and means different things to different women. But first-wave, third-wave, eighty-fifth wave, I think we can all agree on this: It’s about believing men and women are equal. It’s about wanting a society that gives women all of the same opportunities that men have. It’s about wanting to live in a world where women are not solely assessed on their looks and their sexual appeal. It’s about understanding and accepting how women have indeed been kept down, and continue to be kept down, and fighting for it to stop.

That means supporting other women when they’ve been raped. It means at least celebrating the historical milestone that saw a woman make a near-successful run for the White House, even if you think she ran a shitty campaign. It also means — if you write for such a popular site — understanding that your words and your opinions are powerful, so perhaps suggesting to young girls that pulling out is a “fun” method of birth control is not exactly ensuring these young women are heading into adulthood with some intelligence and with a sense of responsibility to those they’ll be associating with. It’s not anti-feminist to tell your young fans: Fuck whoever you want, but make sure you don’t end up in danger, or pregnant, or diseased while you’re doing it, because this is your chance to shine.

This recent public appearance, on Lizz Winstead’s Thinking & Drinking, by two popular Jezebel editors last week doesn’t anger me so much as it saddens and depresses me. Such a great opportunity wasted. I agree these two women didn’t ask to be “role models” for their generation — and I don’t believe they are — but the point is they COULD be. They have a forum now to challenge the establishment and really represent young modern-day feminists as I know them, both in my real life and among my online pals: smart, socially conscious, socially progressive, women-loving, liberal-minded, morally responsible, sex-loving, hot-blooded and astonishingly intelligent women. Women who still want to believe that Jezebel will once again reflect who they are.

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