Feminism | Posted by Hannah H on 07/16/2009

Jezebel and Me

My freshman year of high school, I was like any other shy, bookish girl. With a copy of Ariel in my hands I would dart from class to class, not daring to make eye contact with other students as we passed in the hallway. During lunch I would dive into Franny and Zooey instead of rehashing the details of my day to friends. I used books to escape wallowing in my low self-esteem and my struggle to reconcile my Lutheran upbringing with my liberal personal beliefs about LGBT rights and abortion.?   

Back then, the words “I love myself” or “I support gay marriage” seemed equally inutterable. I spent my days picking apart my flaws in a mirror and biting my tongue when classmates made homophobic jokes. I barely had the courage to announce “‘X equals 7″ to my algebra teacher, let alone to announce my political beliefs to my peers.?  

But when I started reading Jezebel.com sophomore year, my life began to shift. Although many of the site’s reference points – from sex to Sassy magazine – were unfamiliar to me, it was still more relatable than glossy teen soaps and pure-as-snow Seventeen. During class discussions, I found myself raising my hand to express the new thoughts I had about intersections of race, class, gender, and media. After reading page after page of sex positive, body-snark free articles, I started to feel more comfortable in my skin.?   

I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if my fifteen-year-old self hadn’t discovered Jezebel. Would time alone have been enough to erode my self-loathing and solidify my political beliefs? I recollect the mass of editorials, statistics, and personal narratives I have read over the years, and say no. Because, to me, Jezebel is as much about challenging the media and society’s perception of women as it is about challenging women’s perceptions of themselves.

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  • Brenna @ at 3:56 pm, July 16th, 2009

    I’m going into my junior year of high school, and I am very similar to how you were as a freshman. But I’ve been reading feminist blogs and books since the summer before my freshman year, and I still haven’t found the confidence that you have. It’s great that you’ve found that, and this post inspires me to be more confident and comfortable with who I am.

    Maybe I should start checking out Jezebel, and see if I can gain from it like you did. :)

  • Danielle @ at 6:18 pm, July 16th, 2009

    I discovered Jezebel sometime last year, when I was 16. My family is already pretty politically active, but I still think that Jezebel had a profound impact on me. I have a lot of health issues and ended up dropping out of school in my freshman year. Reading things online became the perfect way for me to stay on top of things going on in the world, since I could read when I felt slightly better but I could also just fall asleep at my computer and have no problem picking back up when I woke. Jezebel was one of the sites that really stood out to me, and now I check it multiple times a day!

    I have to say, though, while I really love the site, I feel like sometimes you can definitely tell that the editors/commenters are kind of out of touch with teenage girls, and weirdly enough, they often generalize all teenage girls into having sort of one hive mind of likes and dislikes. Not often, but often enough that I’ve considered writing in about it.

  • Julia @ at 6:55 pm, July 16th, 2009

    I just discovered Jezebel this summer, right after I finished high school.
    My experience with it has been very positive! I’m still new to feminism, and my view of it broadened with this blog.

  • Julie Z @ at 6:58 pm, July 16th, 2009

    @Danielle
    that’s really why I started this site. I *LOVE* feministing and jezebel, but they really aren’t for teenagers. They do generalize our generation because they don’t know us. Hopefully, the fbomb can be as awesome as jezebel in the approachability and topics of the articles…just for teens!

  • Hailey @ at 10:16 pm, July 16th, 2009

    @ Julie Z
    I thank you so much for the site. I have come so much to love and value both Jezebel and Feministing since I found them a year ago. And yes, they don’t have the viewpoint of girls our age, so thank you for this. I love Jez, I love feministing, and I am loving fbomb. Teen Girl feminisim ftw!!!

  • Jessica S. @ at 11:12 pm, July 16th, 2009

    I go to Catholic school, have since the first grade. It’s difficult being as open-minded and opionated as I am when I am surrounded by close-minded nonsense most of the day. And I have a really hard time keeping my mouth shut. I’m pretty sure I shock my fellow classmates with some of the things that come out of my mouth, especially the ladies. These “kids” have been raised brainwashed, and it terrifies them to be in the classroom with someone who challenges what they’ve been taught to believe, and who can call them out when they don’t know why they “believe” something. It’s important to be a strong, individualist woman, especially these days. Never be afraid to speak your mind, to tell people when they’re wrong. I know I’m not.

  • Alexa @ at 11:21 pm, July 16th, 2009

    Oh, Jezebel, how do I love thee? I discovered Jezebel about a year ago and I fell in love with it. It was so nice to find a website that shared my view on things, seeing as I live in a place that is extremely closed minded. I found the Fbomb’s link on there too!

  • SarahMC @ at 11:50 pm, July 16th, 2009

    Hey there! I found your blog by way of Jezebel and I’m so impressed and inspired. You are all awesome. Keep up the good work!

  • Jessica @ at 10:10 pm, July 17th, 2009

    I also found your blog via Jezebel! I am amazed at your entry, because I’ve never thought about it that way before. I am the age of many of the writers, and when I was 12-15, Sassy Magazine opened my doors to so many of these topics. Now, Jezebel sustains my taste for witty, sassy, intelligent writing that I can no longer find in magazines, except for Bust Magazine, which I highly recommend, by the way!

  • Sadie @ at 10:24 pm, July 17th, 2009

    I found Jezebel maybe a year and half ago? Meg Cabot links to the articles sometime on her blog, and once I was there, I couldn’t stop reading. I’m really excited about fbomb though, because as much as I’ve learned from Jezebel, some of it is totally alien to me.

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