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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

94

Remembering the Early Days of Jezebel with Anna Holmes

The Book of Jezebel is "An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things" edited by Jezebel creator and former editor Anna Holmes that includes funny-to-serious entries ranging from giggle (Tee-hee) to Wolf, Naomi. Published in October, it's a work of art, a humor book, a compendium of writing from an array of notable names, and an excellent guide to important topics of our time.

It's also a book that came from a blog, and not just any blog, but the blog that set the stage for sites like The Hairpin to emerge and implement and experiment with their own styles, voices, and content. Jezebel was the first to dedicate itself to breaking new ground in writing for women, to cultivate a female commenter culture, to do something that was at the time rather unheard of. Now, there's a range of great sites to pick and choose from, but in the early days of "Girly Gawker," the Internet was a very different place. In honor of the book's release, Anna and I reminisced.

Jen: Let’s go back to very beginning of the site. When did it start?

Anna: It launched in May 2007, six and a half years ago.

Forever ago, in internet years. How did you get involved?

I had a friend named Geraldine who was friends with Nick Denton, and he asked her if she wanted to start a “Girly Gawker.” She asked if I wanted to do it with her, and I said no. The internet was scary. I didn’t know anybody who was going over to the Web. I thought it was too risky, but she and I kept talking about it. Then Nick’s deputy, Lockhart Steele, said he’d match my salary at InStyle, where I was working at the time. That was a surprise. I said OK, maybe. But after I agreed, my friend decided she didn’t want to do it anymore. I was informed that I’d be starting the site on my own — that was terrifying — and my name would be at the top of the thing.

That was probably January of 2007. I spent the next couple of months thinking about what this would be, what features it would have. I started getting some resumes from writers, and I met with a couple of people. One of them was Moe [Tkacik]. She was very funny, we got along very well, and she was totally into it. I hired her, and then I hired Jennifer Gerson. I interviewed Tracie [Egan, then known as "Slut Machine"] and Dodai [Stewart], but I didn’t have the budget to hire four people at once.

We just sat around brainstorming ideas, and then we started test-blogging. I had to learn a CMS, I had to learn html. We talked about the name and what would it look like. I didn’t really like the name.

What were the other options?

I don’t remember—I didn’t love any of them, and I didn’t really like Jezebel, either. But we were so far into it. I had to believe the name would work out, that it would resonate with people. At some point, we had to throw it out into the world and see what would happen.

In a month, I had enough of a budget that I could hire someone else. Tracie was already writing for the site but she wasn’t on staff. I hired Dodai, and then I hired Tracie, and then after that I think it was Jessica Grose. There were also contributors who were freelancers who I ended up hiring later on. 

What was the immediate reaction, and how did things progress from that? I’ve heard you mention burnout.

It was successful pretty much in the beginning. It got bigger and bigger, and I got really burnt out and I quit. My last day was June 30 of 2010. I think I gave notice a month or two before, and I’d hired Jessica Coen earlier in 2010, with the idea that she'd run the site: she also has a broader, more commercial sensibility than I did. Also, I was getting a little bit irritated with Nick. It was becoming a big site, and he was suggesting I do things I didn’t really want to do. 

Like what?

Nick wanted stuff about makeup. I didn’t want to do makeup; there were plenty of sites that talk about makeup. I mean, I wear makeup, but I couldn’t figure out a way to do it in the spirit of the site. He’d complain that we had too many posts about politics. I felt like he maybe wanted the site to change, but he wasn’t explicitly saying that, and I thought, if that’s what he wants—to turn the site into the very thing we’d been making fun of for years—he needed to get someone else to do that.

Reasonably so. How did it feel to leave this thing that you’d created and developed into a significant media entity?

I was very addicted and proprietary about the site. I knew that it was unsustainable and not the healthiest job in the world, but there was this adrenaline rush that came with it. I think I cried all day on my last day. I think I left at the right time, but in the weeks following I felt a little bit lost. Even though I’d agreed to help them do Jezebel-related projects (like a book!), I just couldn’t run the site anymore.

Three years is a long time to run a site (or work on a website, for that matter)!

It was a long time. There was an added insanity because it felt so much a part of me in a way I assume it wouldn't have if I'd come around after it had started. I felt like failure was not an option. I worked myself to death and I worked the staffers hard. I gave them a lot of freedom—the best stuff they did was what they were interested in—and I gave them ideas and feedback and I told them they were great. I wasn’t the sort of boss who had them work their butts off when I just went and had lunch. I was online before they woke up, and I was there after they signed out for the day.

By 2010 when you left, what did Jezebel look like? How did it change in that period from just-born to three years old?

In the beginning it was very insidery. I felt like we could take more risks, see what worked and what didn’t. It was more self-referential, it was kind of wackier. As it got more attention, I felt like we were under scrutiny. There wasn’t as much of an opportunity to get a free pass if we fucked up. We were representative of something, and we couldn’t let people down.

So we fell into a groove, which is not a bad thing, and people on the outside were paying attention to us. Our writers were getting quoted; we were asked to go on TV. We were being legitimized. That was thrilling but scary. There were sites that popped up that were somewhat iterative. It felt like they were direct responses to or influenced by the site, although I was too busy to analyze this in any meaningful way.

Which other sites were coming into existence around then?

The Frisky popped up first. Then Slate started Double X, which is now The XX Factor. There was Lemondrop, which failed. I don’t remember when The Hairpin started [Ed. note: October 24, 2010]. I think there were at least five sites that were responses to Jezebel.

How did you see them differing? Did you feel they were all competing for the same space?

I think they had different voices. I think they all tried to use humor and maybe that’s how they were similar. To be honest, I didn’t really read The Frisky because I didn’t have time to, though I paid attention to what they were doing because I had to. The Hairpin, it felt very cool-girl, very sophisticated. With Double X, I remember feeling threatened at first. The first post they put up was attacking Jezebel. But then I was like, this probably isn’t going to last. It felt like it was geared toward white women aged 30 to 50, who had graduate degrees and lived on the East Coast and were upper middle class and probably were married and had kids. There aren’t that many women like that. It felt very demographically homogenous. Now, it still exists but as a different form — I don’t think it is as homogenous as it was. Everything evolves; you react to market forces and what readers are asking for.

In some ways these new sites emerging was exactly as it should be, giving more women opportunities and space to write about topics of interest.

I was not objective at the time. I was very competitive with anyone who was entering that space. I didn’t know if there was enough room for everyone, which sounds stupid now. I also felt competitive because Double X stole Jessica Grose away!

The Double X call-out came at a time before widespread social media—Twitter had just been founded in 2006; we weren’t using it like today. Did it have a role at all for you?

I didn’t use Twitter. The discussions were taking place on blogs; it wasn’t on Twitter. I love Twitter, but it’s a good thing it wasn’t around. It would have been harder to keep track of stuff.

Speaking of social media, I love the photos of people holding the Jezebel book up to their faces on Twitter and Facebook. How did that come about?

That wasn’t a strategic plan. It was more like, shit, what am I going to use as my Twitter avatar on the month the book comes out? It occurred to me to hold the book up to my face. I felt like it was corny but I didn’t care. I had my friend Lindsay come over and take a more professional picture; it's hard to hold a book and a camera!

I wasn’t going to make the staffers of the site to do it, but if they wanted to, they could. I’ve been putting pictures on Facebook, and people have sent them in. We had the book party and Victor, the Gawker Media employee who planned the party, had this photo booth in the back. He’s a professional photographer, and he did really awesome ones. There were things I tried to strategize, but the book selfies, that was just me fucking around.

I noticed you don’t define the term “ladyblog” in the book. Was that on purpose?

I don’t know if that was done on purpose or not. I don’t know if I kept it out, or if it just didn’t feel like a very compelling entry. Maybe because I don’t like the term. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. But it’s also possible that I just forgot. There were some things we didn't do simply because there wasn't enough room.

What else did you forget, or leave out on purpose?

Off the top of of my head: Althea Gibson, Susan Brownmiller. Another one we forgot was "scrunchie." Then, there were things that got to us too late. With Wendy Davis, the book was already done. Someone wrote in very angrily, how could you not put Taylor Swift in there?, but a lot of the book is just my and the other writers' points of interest, and Taylor Swift is just not on my radar, but someone like Debbie Gibson might be [Ed: she’s not in the book, though “Gibson girl” is].

I like that there’s an entry in the book for the name Jennifer.

Anna North did that feature for the site, a series about female names, addressing the idea that we have preconceptions about Jennifers, Kirstens, Emilys, or what have you. Same for guys. We think of the name Paul, and we think, he’s a nice guy. Chad, he’s a doofus.

Chad was my first boyfriend! Can you share some of the wackiest Jezebel moments you experienced?

We had a big fight with Scott Baio. It was totally fun. He and his wife were making it worse for themselves and being more bananas, and the readers loved it, and we did too.

Did you ever make up?

No.

Moe and I would argue quite a bit, mostly over IMs. I think of that fondly; I think we’d laugh about that today. The public-facing things that were bananas: the Daily Show piece that Irin wrote and then Jon Stewart responded to. After I left, there was a parody of the site on 30 Rock.

One thing that was fun, in August of 2007, for Fashion Week, I had barf bags emblazoned with the name of the site. We put a tongue depressor and a mint in them. The idea was that the industry of fashion was vomit-inducing; you could vomit because the spectacle was so gross. We had them delivered to fashion editors at magazines that week, which I’m sure they didn’t appreciate. That was a fun stunt. It wasn’t about fashion; it was about the preciousness, the consumption, the lack of diversity.

That’s awesome. I feel like there were more stunts back then.

Yeah, totally. Depending on whether Nick wanted to finance them! I probably have 200 of those barf bags somewhere. I’m very fond of them.

Anything else you remember off-hand about the early days of Jezebel?

I kind of do miss the era when Tracie was anonymous and wrote about her sex life, she was so balls out. I remember being in awe of whatever she was going to say. She was totally unapologetic about it, and she wasn’t reminiscing, it had just happened: “I went to the bathroom of a bar in Williamsburg and had sex with this guy.”

Also, once they tried that thing, the Shenis, to pee standing up.

The what???

It’s for women who are camping, these large dildo things. They drank a lot of water and tried to pee standing up using them. That’s not something I would have done in 2010. It was too wacky.

How much of that old feeling remains, do you think?

The site still retains some of its original DNA; Tracie and Dodai have been there since the beginning. But everything evolves.

How does the book channel the spirit of Jezebel?

I got everyone who used to write for the site together, to do things in their voice just the way they did when they wrote for the site. I don’t think the book is wacky in any way that resembles the site the first year. But it’s a book; it has to be grown-up!

 

The Shenis, and Other Memories from The Early Staffers

Jessica Grose

Man, I loved being there at the beginning. I was 25 when I started working at Jezebel and I really do think it was magical in many ways. People complain about working at Gawker Media, but for me it was a total bootcamp. I learned how to be a person on the internet, how to be a professional, how to have a thick skin, and also how to be more sensitive. The Shenis video was epic and I can't believe it's not online anymore—I remember filming that and laughing so hard. I remember caring so much about the 2008 elections and everything that was happening for women then. I wasn't really a political person until I started working at Jezebel. It just felt like we were doing something really new and special. And Anna also taught me a whole lot about developing a voice and having honest conversations.

I remember getting really drunk on the roof at Gawker HQ (several times!). I remember going to interview Kate White, then EIC of Cosmo, at a Gray Rape panel they had convened after that controversial article came out, and having her refuse to talk to me (and Moe? I think Moe was there) when she realized we were from Jezebel. I remember Moe and I going to see Liz Phair do Exile in Guyville on a revival tour, I remember talking to Tracie (and Anna, I think) on IM about pooping. Just like, in general, every day, about our coffee intake and poop outtake. I remember New Year's Eve at Tracie's. I remember Dodai's really awesome silver sparkle platforms at that New Year's party.

Oh also, I remember feeling agitated a lot. Which is funny to remember. I remember just feeling this deep sense of urgency all the time, and feeling SO upset when the commenters would get mad at us, and actually losing sleep over it. I don't think I would feel so intense about anything that happened on the Internet again at this point.

Tracie Egan Morrissey

Having been at Jezebel the whole time, the thing I can say that's changed the most is that I'm a lot healthier and cleaner than I was in those first few years. I used to just eat, sleep, and shit that blog every day, and my laptop was with me in bed, on the couch, on the toilet, etc. I would go days without showering, just sitting in my living room, chain smoking and working in a muumuu with no bra. I used to be so into my work that I developed hemorrhoids from sitting too much. There was a point where at least three of us had 'rhoids at the same time. With a larger staff and more writers, the relentless churning out of content that we had to do before isn't as necessary. Now I exercise and get dressed every day. It's better mentally as well as physically. I still do part of my morning post while I poop, though. Old habits die hard I guess.

It was really exciting. It was as exciting as a job could be where you're alone all fucking day long. (It's different now: we work around a table and hang out together.) It was exciting to be doing something that was what we wanted to do, and people gave a shit, and we were saying these things that clicked with people. It was a huge validation. I didn't ever want to be a part of the women's magazine business because I never felt they spoke to me. They made me feel fat, and poor, and I felt they talked down to women. At Jezebel, we could tap into millions of people, and that audience that we wanted wasn't a niche audience after all. Men were reading it, younger girls were reading it.

When I first started I was a 27-year-old party girl; now I'm 34 and married and have a kid and a 401(k) plan. My life is super different, and the way we work is different, but what we do hasn't changed as much. We don't go after women's magazines as much because they're catching up. You know what else I think is really great? When the first women's site after us started, we were a little nervous, but as more and more started popping up, I thought it was cool. It just proves women are interested in so many different things and want a place where they can see these conversations happening, and that there's a need for that. It can only help to have more of that. And that this is a viable career—you can grow up and say, I want to write about women's issues—that to me is super-cool.

Dodai Stewart 

OK, peeing on the roof using the Shenis was pretty amazing. We drank a bunch of beer beforehand, so even as we were setting up and the camera was being put into position, I already had to pee. In fact, I am the one who pees first in that clip. My claim to fame. Sadly, that video is lost in the bowels of the internet. WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE RESCUE OUR PISSING CONTEST?

Back in those days we didn't work in the office. We were each at home in our underwear writing as much and as quickly as we could. If you could picture me in a tiny dark hovel of a 200-square-foot apartment crammed with junk, tearing pages out of Vogue and cackling, you would understand. I would meet Moe after work for drinks sometimes and we'd both be so happy to see another human. My favorite posts from the early days were my weird catalog and magazine posts. It was fun to do LOL Vogue (here's another), also, but the catalogs! There was the time I turned Anthropologie into a Southern Gothic Novella. And OMG the 1986 International Male catalog, and food porn, and Urban Outfitters—so much fun.

Moe Tkacik

It was a really fun time of my life. Everything was quintessential in the beginning: The first time I met Tracie at Angel's Share and we got drunk and realized that we'd had sex with certain people in common. Or the Shenis thing, we were all up on Tracie's roof pissing out of these giant 12-inch schlongs, trying to see whose piss would go the furthest. I was always pretty serious about politics and had never been involved with anything that was that much fun before. Dodai lived in this tiny studio in this old-school tenement on the Lower East Side, and I lived at Rivington and Allen, and we got into so much crazy shit. (The place that sort of sums up that time is Dodai's old apartment; it was covered in toys and girlie shit and teen heartthrob posters; I spent so much time there.) We were all funny, smart girls, and we were working so much and it was just so much fun. We were all probably just a little bit high from how much fun we were having; it was a very special time.

 

The Book of Jezebel is in stores now.

Jen Doll is a regular contributor to The Hairpin.



94 Comments / Post A Comment

Gobsmacked

I enjoy Jezebel, but I am absolutely disgusted by the barf bag / tongue depressor stunt. That would be majorly triggering to many people sick from an eating disorder or trying to overcome one. And while you might joke about the fashion industry being a magnet to those with eating disorders, they aren't to be taken lightly. They kill.

supernovice

@Gobsmacked Yeah, delivering barf bags to fashion editors and calling it a comment on the fashion industry as 'vomit-inducing' isn't being very honest, I don't think. There's a really clear subtext there that was obviously intentional.

tofuswalkman

@supernovice i mean, the industry is literally vomit-inducing. in that it promotes standards that cause ED. i don't think it's a funny joke, but i do think it could read as a sobering indictment of the industry.

Lily Rowan

@Gobsmacked Yeah, the barf bags alone would be a very different statement than including the tongue depressors.

1968020174@twitter

@Gobsmacked What a story! Narrated stylishly, true thoughts ..."Can you have some spare time to sit back in your chair having your laptop with you and making some money online for some intersting online work “said Jenny Francis in the party last night ....see more what is for you there to increase your pocket money ... >>>>> WW¬W.ℬAY91.Ⅽ¬OⅯ

milenakent

Huuuuuuuge !! Love@n

Mariajoseh

Oh I really want to read this interview but... what's up with the format? Not very friendly :(

Emma Carmichael

@Mariajoseh Technical difficulties, fixing!!

Mariajoseh

@Emma Carmichael Thank you! I thought it was a choice haha.

likethestore

My general exasperation with Jezebel was the reason I jumped ship for the Hairpin, so thanks!

tofuswalkman

@likethestore SAME! HI!

Jolie Kerr

@likethestore You could come back every other week on Fridays. Just, you know, for a visit ....

districter

@likethestore YUP. I came across Jezebel in 2007, I didn't really realize it had only just started then. Can't say exactly when I stopped reading, but I haven't looked over there in ages.

fallopian princess

@likethestore Yup, same. I loved the hell out of that site when Anna was at the helm, I learned a lot from their political coverage (and am happy that there is more of that here now!). I am also eternally grateful to them for linking to Edith's Letters to the Editor back in the day. I didn't know about The Awl at all before that.

TheBelleWitch

@likethestore It's funny, this interview made me realize I discovered Jezebel shortly after it started and jumped ship not long after Anna left. Everything they were doing at that point seemed click-baity or just designed to induce useless rage, and my blood pressure couldn't handle sticking around for the stuff that I still enjoyed. Then I got on board the Hairpin so I guess that wacky/weird girl blog thing really appeals.

ipomoea

@fallopian princess Megan Carpentier kept me sane in 2008 with regards to politics.

saul "the bear" berenson

@likethestore me too, I had no idea it had just started back then. I miss Pot Psychology. But ultimately it was the comments climate at Jezebel that made me throw up my hands and give up. And now, here, the very first comment on this is about triggers. I don't know.

likethestore

@likethestore The comment policy is the #1 reason I refuse to read Jezebel now. The whole stars/featured comment thing is complete bullshit.

estelle_firefly

@likethestore Same! I read Jezebel for a least a year, but became increasingly disillusioned after Anna left and the content changed so much. The French dude post was a huge red flag, the blatant disregard for triggers, and then finally the video featuring a rape that was quickly taken down and replaced with screen caps. It was through rage comments on that post that I found the Hairpin.

damselfish

@estelle_firefly Oh man that French dude post is when I stopped reading even though I was aware of the problems waaaay before (all my favorite commenters were being run off, for ex). It had to be years ago but I'm surprised at how you said "the french dude post" and I can still remember it. Fuckin' gross.

Myrtle

@districter Samesies. And it took forever to become a Starred Commenter, then, once I'd finally won it, it seemed the rest of the site had lost its bite. Truly, #scottbaioruinseverything

Jolie Kerr

The Hairpin, it felt very cool-girl, very sophisticated.

Sorry what? What Hairpin is she talking about? The Hairpin was always the total opposite of that, at least when it started. Alex Balk described it perfectly to me (when, full disclosure, I was SQUALLING at him for launching the site. "Why do we need a Lady Awl? Why can't The Awl still be for ladies and dudes? I HATE YOUR PINK GHETTO.") by saying, "Well it's a site for weird girls."

He really did mean that as a good thing. And it totally was a good thing, and not at all a "cool-girl" site, hello?

Mariajoseh

@Jolie Kerr Yeah, I thought exactly that too! She probably just read a few posts. But still, I kinda understand cool-girl, if you are like me and think weird is cool but not sophisticated!

Jolie Kerr

@Mariajoseh Oh I absolutely think weird is cool (Hi! My name is Jolie and I write about bleach with great enthusiasm!) but, like, The HP was always unabashedly goofy and earnest and bizarre. Which is cool, at least in my eyes, but not at all "cool-girl." There's SUCH a difference.

Mariajoseh

@Jolie Kerr Probably lost in translation (English is not my mother tongue) but anyways, we agree. A weird way to describe The Hairpin!

saul "the bear" berenson

@Jolie Kerr Maybe owning your weirdness equates to cool, especially on the internet, where it's not plain how weird you are, the way it is in life. (I mean weird as a good thing, too.)

Lily Rowan

@Jolie Kerr WHAT IS MORE SOPHISTICATED THAN DOLL NEWS??

TheLetterL

@Lily Rowan Well said! We are sophisticated ladies, Jolie, and don't you forget it! *sips Qream out of doll head*

LaLoba

@TheLetterL I've just recalled that I either had a dream about texting someone about Qream last night, or I texted someone about Qream last night in my sleep. Dare I look?

stuffisthings

@Jolie Kerr That's perfect -- I have some coworkers who are always like, manually refreshing Jezebel all day, and now I can say "Hey! You should be reading The Hairpin! It's a site for weird girls, like you!"

"Also get an RSS reader!"

Tuna Surprise

I was a Gawker commentor (back when it meant something, I swear!) when they launched Jezebel and remember being quickly disillusioned by the site. Although I still read it and appreciate some of the content (especially its spotlight on rape and reproductive issues), I think I was turned off by a 'the cool clique' in high school vibe about the writing staff.

twopercent

Does anybody else remember Hortense? She was my favorite Jezebel-er at one point and then she just kind of vanished. I remember reading her Tumblr and it seemed like she had some personal life issues, but I hope she's doing okay.

ipomoea

@twopercent Oh!! There is a contributor listed in the Jez book named Pixie Casey whose write-up says she "spent two years as Jezebel's first weekend editor and is now a staff writer for Rookie. She is, was, and always will be Team Cake." That made me SUPER happy, because I adored Hortense. (I checked her Twitter account and there's a greyhound on it so IT MUST BE HER!)

Amphora

@twopercent Hortense was great! That's all I remember.

twopercent

@ipomoea Good! That's great to hear. I always loved her stuff.

paper bag princess

@ipomoea That is so great! I liked Hortense a lot. I will now go read all her stuff from Rookie!

melis

As for me, these days, I read only Bustle.

j-i-a

@melis i love you

ipomoea

There was this very specific time in my life, when I was in my mid to late 20s and sort of exploring the idea of myself as a feminist adult that Jezebel was perfect for-- Feministe was so serious and I didn't like the layout of Feministing, but Jez gave me gender, politics, fashion, pop culture, and a strong commenting community. I remember spending my 27th summer at various shit temp jobs and trying to become a starred Jez commenter (25 followers!), and being unreasonably proud when I hit it.

I started to drift away from Jez when the open threads closed down and my friends established communities on message boards and Tumblr, but the line in the sand was the infamous French dude post. I'd already become disappointed when Megan and Anna left, and I just couldn't get excited about where Jessica was taking the site.

I check it about once a week now-- I see a few commenters I remember, I love Erin, Lindy, and Dodai's writing, but I don't feel as invested as I used to. What Jezebel did for me was introduce me to women who presented ideas outside of my suburban white girl life, both in their writers and commenters. I've got friends all over the world from my time at Jez, and that's the best thing that came out of it.

highjump

@ipomoea Same, especially the excitement about stars. In fact, I remember you from Jez and follow your fab tumblr. I used to be really bitter about the decline of Jez, but I am now grateful for the education and sense of community it gave me, even if that community has flown to different websites/platforms now.

peahen

@ipomoea The French Don't Believe in Consent Day was the exact moment I bailed for good, too. That was after Anna was gone, right? I'd be interested in a behind-the-scenes explanation of how that thing ended up on the site (and some other pieces as well -- I remember at several moments thinking "look, the Jez staff is not dumb. They MUST know this is going to upset their readership. What is the deal here?").

Amphora

LOL Vogue was one of my favorites - I used to read Jezebel specifically for the political info, making fun of magazines, and Pot Psychology. It was a great site to keep a tab open of on the computer at my first post-college job (when you're young enough to feel threatened by/inundated with pop culture conceptions of what's feminine).

like a rabid squirrel

This article perfectly captures the Jezebel I knew and loved before the commenting culture got so cliquey, indignant, and toxic that I defected for The Hairpin. My burgeoning feminist, frequently intoxicated college self looooved Tracie in the Slut Machine days, and I followed her blog and Jezebel posts religiously. I miss Pot Psychology.

planforamiracle

@like a rabid squirrel I feel the exact same way.

Joshie

not a huge fan but if i can thank it for one thing, it's that in the first decade or so of the internet it was assumed that all the shitty ALL CAPS F U LOSER flaming comments on the internet were from angry young white dudes. then jezebel and tumblr proved women were just as good, and when a bunch of internet sites switched to facebook linking accounts for posting, it proved old people were posting as much, if not more uninformed ranting garbage. now at least the internet is an equal cesspool.

mabellegueule

I still read Jezebel so I guess I shouldn't judge, but it certainly does feel both sensationalist and pandering now in a way it didn't before. I love Lindy West though.

Smallison

@mabellegueule I stopped reading last year, but I do follow Lindy West's Tumblr, and her Twitter, because she's absolutely fantastic. I wish there were more writers like her on Jezebel. I was hoping somebody would point out how good she is!

planforamiracle

@mabellegueule YES! Lindy rules.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@mabellegueule "sensationalist and pandering" are the words that I have spent forever looking for when trying to describe Jezebel. Thank you.

TATABox

@mabellegueule The repetitive posts about pubic hair or high heels, obviously meant to incite comment wars. Oh laawd...

SuperMargie

I was pretty active on Gawker from the beginning and started reading Jezebel from day one. I liked that there was a large variety of topics, serious and funny. I loved that they put a stop to the body snarking that popping up (Remember the Great Cankles Debate of 2007? Holla!)
I used to love commenting there, and I have IRL friends that I met on that site that are just the greatest people ever. I like that a "new generation" of commenters have found a community there, but I just cannot wade through all the indignant, shame-y comments over there anymore. EVERY SINGLE ARTICLE has at least 10 people popping up to complain about triggers, privilege, that the article is not appropriate for (the commenters definition of) a feminist website. Very seldom do I see an actual engaging thoughtful discussion in the comments anymore.
The tone of the website now is "Here are a bunch of click-bait posts to enrage you and we are going to toss in a few videos of animals doing cute shit in between."

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@SuperMargie That is completely inaccurate because you totally forgot about the videos/one-paragraph posts about preteen or child-aged girls doing adorable feminist stuff. LIKE SRSLY NOW check your privilege. [gif from RuPaul's Drag Race]

franceschances

Moe! I miss your wonderful, rambling, dense political writing! And I love it when I see it pop up on other sites and people are completely unable to make sense of it. Please write more everywhere. I say rambling with complete love.

werewolfbarmitzvah

@franceschances Moe was my faaaaaaaaavorite! To me, the turning point when Jezebel started going downhill was when she left. And then one day I followed a link somewhere to some article in the Washington City Paper and was laughing and thinking about how hilarious, smart, and uniquely awesome this tiny random article happened to be, and I scrolled up to the byline and of course it was written by Moe. I also wish she would write more everywhere.

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melis

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adorable-eggplant

@melis .70 cents on the dollar. Same old story.

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sycofan

I read Jez from the beginning. Like others have said, I used to really love it. There was a commenter at the beginning, whose name I can't remember. She had an avatar of a panda and I think her name involved a panda in it. Anyway, she wrote a post with another woman about using their boyfriend's semen as a facial and it always stuck with me for some reason.

Weirdly, I felt part of something in those early days of Jez. I used to read it all day and just click refresh. I was definitely obsessed.

I really enjoyed Jessica Coen as the editor of Gawker but I don't love Jez under her control. Things change I suppose. Gawker was great fun back in the early days. I was living in New York, working in media and enjoying the shit out of reading all the bitchy gossip about New York media. When they introduced commenting first, I was too scared to ever comment because everyone who did was just so fucking smart.

I wish Jez all the best with the new book. I feel I owe the staff a night out for all the boring days of work drudgery that they got me through.

bluebears

I really enjoyed Jezebel in the first few years. (also Deadspin when Will Leitch was there)

I know it's cliche to say it but the site makes me cringe now. There's nothing original or interesting about anything they're posting. I get why and what happened. It's just a totally different website. I think Anna Holmes is great and anytime she has an article anywhere else I read it and enjoy it. But the idea of the Book of Jezebel just kind of bums me out.

ipomoea

@bluebears I preordered the book, but I have to say, I'm just kind of disappointed in it. What I would have enjoyed is a collection of themes, memes, and greatest posts. What I got was a weird encyclopedia of stuff they thought was "important" to the idea of Jezebel, yet (at least to me) wasn't.

katekatekateyeah

Another former Jezzie exile here. I feel like it's possible I'm having the same "drifting apart" with the 'pin now post-Edith/Jane I had with Jezebel in 2010 post-Anna H. That shopping addiction article comments section was ROUGH, y'all.

bitzyboozer

@katekatekateyeah I feel you. I'm not even sure that much of it has to do with content. It's just what happens when a site gets more popular and suddenly goes from feeling like your own little corner of the Internet to just being the same as everywhere else, with random shouty commenters, people dropping in from Facebook or Twitter or Reddit or whatever with no context. And so we find a new little corner, and eventually the process starts all over again...

melis

Bustle is an excellent website. At Bustle, you can find many articles, about lipsticks but also who is running for Queen next England. Bustle is the perfect site for women who read but also enjoy being a wine desk for a Tall Man. Bustle: isn't it time you were reading it right now this time?

planforamiracle

@katekatekateyeah I definitely miss Edith and Jane, but I don't feel the same drifting apart. Maybe I just never felt as involved with Jez as I do with The Hairpin (I never commented on Jez—I was always afraid of being attacked which is maybe a sign I came to Jez too late)..

Myrtle

@melis is that where you went. And is Evil Melis with you?

Mr. B

So I introduced my girlfriend to The Hairpin and she became a regular reader, but she has since independently discovered J*Z*B*L and migrated over there. I'm not sure what to think.

Jinxie

@Mr. B I think that's a bad sign. You should probably break up with her.

Mr. B

@Jinxie Hey, don't talk about the love of my life that way! Lots of ladies go through a jezzie phase.

Merin

I also followed Jezebel from the beginning (it was probably the only thing keeping me sane during my first year of grad school), left around the time Tracie got married, and then I moved over here. I commented from time to time on Jez, though not frequently. I remember I received one comment award that came on the heels of several grant rejections and the award pretty much kept me from going over the edge. I almost never comment on the hairpin, but I enjoy the reading the comments here! You all are just lovely. I actively avoid comments on Jezebel now. Today I accidentally started to read some comments about how all doctors are rapists and then remembered where I was and told myself to put that down.

Urwelt

Jezebel first appeared on my radar through another site I frequent, where it's constantly derided for being faux feminist, so I've always had a bias that prevented me from getting into it.

BUT I got my first apartment in New York via Jezebel in a roundabout way, and I once went to a clothing swap at their office where I acquired a sheer leopard print bra with rhinestones. So those are my thoughts on Jezebel.

siniichulok

I still read Jezebel every so often, but I'm turned off by the articles on there frequently that are all, "let's be reasonable about unpaid internships! OKsomaybetheyaren'tfairtothepoors...but *I* got one and it got me where I am today! If I can do it, anyone can! They teach you important skills and they taught me how to Stand On My Own Two Feet!" Etc., completely obliviously. I prefer the Hairpin and wish it had as many articles as there are on Jezebel,just because I need stuff to read while breastfeeding for hours at a time, but I guess it's a quality vs. quantity thing.

purefog

One Jezzie feature I fondly remember was "Crap Email from a Dude," not so much for the emails themselves as for the comments. Assuming I have ever ROFLMAO-ed, that would have been the time.

MichaelCCruz

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FickleMoon

Another ex-Jezebel reader here! I discovered it early in the first year of university (2007) and it really shaped my feelings about feminism and widened my horizons - I will always be grateful to it for that. But I went off the super-po faced commentators and the re-design which seemed to put lots of American political ranty and minor celeb stories up front.

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