When someone you love keeps doing stupid shit, how long do you hold on before you cut them loose? I fear I’ve come to that point in my long relationship with the website Jezebel.
I met Jezebel five or six years ago. I clicked on an article about good to-do-list apps. I quickly found Jezebel had a whole series of articles about unsolicited products that were actually good. Then I clicked on some other articles on feminism, and realized they were giving voice to an unspoken rage that had been twisting inside me, that I had long ago learned to squish down. No, Jezebel cried! You are neither wrong nor alone!
Alas, it’s been a long, long time since Jezebel gave me any similarly useful information.
So today, I’m going to my Facebook feed right now and will give you the last six Jezebel headlines that have come in. I have not looked at Facebook yet today, yet I feel confident they will prove my point. Then I’m going to unsubscribe. It will be sad. BRB.
There. I did it. It’s over.
1. Fucking seriously?
2. Leaving aside the question of feminism appropriating the struggles of other marginalized groups, this is another manufactured-rage story. Do we learn why? No. Do we learn how to stop it? No. Again, without these key points, all you’re doing is reiterating what we already know. You’re getting us dialled up to ten and then…nothing. One article like this is enraging. Ten, twenty in a row? I start to feel like I’m being provoked, like the site is treating my rage as a product.
3. Clickbait fluff (great Bond villain name!)
4. This may actually add some value to your day. Except the exclusive excerpt is over at Vogue.com. Two days ago.
5. This is FOX-News-esque gossip mongering, taking one weird example and extrapolating to significance. This is not important. Jezebel, what are you doing?
6. This is shady, true. But…is it related to feminism? Is it furthering discussion of women? No. When all your good articles need to reach outside feminism to be…well, good, doesn’t that say something?
I want to be better. I want to make it better, or learn why it was not getting better before. Jezebel no longer does this for me. Instead, all I know when I open the page is that I’m going to hear yet another horror story that neither casts light on the why of misogyny, nor offers solutions. I will just get a snappy closing sentence that amounts to ‘guys! stop being assholes!’
And I have no time, energy, or strength for these sorts of circlejerks. There, I said it. It’s not me. It’s you. I can no longer afford to be made angry for no purpose. If I wanted that, I’d just go to a Red Pill forum.
But the thing that makes me angry, and not just sad? It had the potential. It had the audience. And it had the talent. Lindy West fired me up something fierce, back in the day. It’s a Gawker-affiliated site, so there was even the chance an occasional dude might see an interesting article. And now it’s a punchline. Granted, I could write a whole other article on how unfairly quickly it became a punchline, but still.
I can sum it up in one sentence: none of its content, as written, helps.
And hey! I get it. You’re sick, Jezebel. You have a condition. It’s called ‘being on the Internet’ and the problem you have is far from unique to feminist outlets. You are pressured to produce digestible, entertaining clickbait on ever-shorter deadlines. In many ways, it’s not your fault. Your friend io9 suffers from the same disease. I would have hoped you could escape it, find a way to push past it. But what is annoying on BuzzFeed is painful from you, and I can’t afford to wait around for you to grow up any longer.
So, goodbye, Jezebel. I wish the writers my sincere best in their next gigs – which they will have, I’m sure. Very, very soon.
In the meantime, this is (in my opinion) the last thing of real quality that Jezebel wrote. To close: a rather fascinating portrait of the woman behind Lisa Frank.