Thursday, November 25, 2010

Seriously, Jezebel?

So by now you all know about the utter (fairly well-mannered) riot over at Jezebel. Well, Jessica Coen, the Editor-In-Chief, finally waded into the comments.
Hey everyone-
A few things, just to address the multiple concerns and let you know that no, your words are not falling on deaf ears.

- Let's get it out of the way: This was not published for traffic-baiting purposes. We are not compensated on page views; the sort of traffic this post produces is not the sort of traffic upon which the site's success is measured. If you're actually curious about the Gawker Media business model, that information is easily accessible via a basic online search.

- Jezebel doesn't post trigger warnings. I genuinely respect and understand why some sites choose to do so, but that's not us. Depending on an individual's experience, so many different things can be a trigger -- we're not going to determine what is and isn't worth a warning. That's your personal call. In a similar vein, you should not expect Jezebel to always be a safe space. That can be defined in so many ways; what is and isn't safe for you is, again, a matter of your judgment.

- This was posted because while it's indeed bullshit, it was bullshit that was written with a degree of thought and articulation that, even for its many failings, was earnest. Pasteck's purpose was not to attack but, misguided as he may be, to present his perspective to this audience. Okay, well, I'll let him put it out there because I worked at length with him, both of us knowing that it would be controversial; a Jezebel staff member has met with him in person, spoken with him on-record, and debated this issue with him. Ultimately I felt that his conviction, and the manner in which he presented it, was fit to post. I don't necessarily agree with every single thing a writer here may say, but if I'm okay with how they present their case, I will run their post. Same goes here.

Finally: I have read every single email and most of these comments (and will continue to do so, even if I am unable to further respond). I am sorry that so many of you find it personally disturbing; that was never the intention. A heated discussion, sure. But not to disturb anyone.

(And just so you don't think I'm ignoring any of this, a heads up that I cannot jump back into the comments and continue a discussion right now -- I have to interact with family, whether I like it or not.)

If you're celebrating, have a good holiday.

Well. Let's go down this list, one by one:
  • Link-baiting: Bullshit. When Gawker, Jezebel's sister site, posted the Christine O'Donnel "expose," they explained their actions while saying "We also thought it would get us lots of clicks and money and attention." That kinda sounds like link-baiting and the Gawker Media business model to me. Furthermore, you actually CAN'T find their business model through a simple Google search. I looked.
  • Trigger warnings: This is one thing that I was specifically angry about the post lacking. While it's true that Jezebel does not usually use trigger warnings, they posted a discussion of it back in April of this year. Yes, it's hard to decide what's triggering for whom. But they usually say "NSFW" on their racier posts. They know that some jobs would be fine with you looking at pictures of dead-looking models, but why risk someone losing their job over a post on your site? So you put NSFW on a post. It's not hard. Why is putting a trigger warning or an editorial comment at the top of the page with an explanation of what was to be found in the post so difficult and unnecessary?
  • Safe spaces: seriously? We aren't supposed to expect you to be a safe space? Until Coen took over as EIC, there was nothing of this degree anywhere to be found. When the site is covered in pro-women, anti-sexism, anti-assault, positive body image posts and more, we're not supposed to expect it to be a safe space for women that fall into those categories? We're supposed to think "hey, Jezebel is going to do something that goes against all previous evidence! Guess I won't read today!" That's total bullshit and victim blaming. We should just accept the idea that it's our fault for getting upset. I don't mean to sound like I'm being overdramatic, but that's dangerously close to accepting the idea that our skirts were just too short.
  • Articulation: Wait, Jezebel is giving a platform to anybody who can use a thesaurus? Cause that's what his writing sounded like to me-- some dude who can't write, but changes a few words with his thesaurus to make it sound good. As the commenter PandaRobots says, "Does it have more flowery language as "get those bitches drunk, yo"? Sure. But the writing is atrocious."
  • Earnest: Bill O'Reilly is earnest. That is all.
  • Working in-depth with Pasteck: Oh, an anonymous staffer spoke with him on record? They debated the issue? Then why on earth didn't we get to see that? Why was there absolutely no debate shown to us? No disclaimer BEFORE a couple thousand people wrote outraged emails, comments and blog posts? Ridiculous!
  • Fit to post: You seriously didn't think about your thousands of commentators? All those people in the Jezebel community that have proven TIME AND TIME AGAIN that they hate stuff like this? That they find this rape apologia disgusting? I've said it before, and I'll say it again. You don't have to give people equal time for unequal views. Maybe you should read the posts on your own site-- this post goes over the "valid opinion" bullshit.
  • Okay with how they present their case: Also bullshit! Jezebel has a long tradition of banning people who disagree with them, as shown here. This also has a really great analysis of how Jezebel loves to contradict itself.
Honestly, at this point I agree with the many commentators who say that Pasteck is a friend of Jessica, another contributor to the site, or Jessica herself. As ladra-luna misses MizJ (that's a mouthful) says,
I think it's very cowardly to publish this under an alias. If this were an article appearing in a college newspaper, Jezebel would have published this guy's real name, email address, and picture by now. Why does "Edward" deserve any more protection for his controversial views than, for example, Tracie? At least Maura Kelly used her real name.
Amen, sister. At this point, I give up on Jezebel. I'll keep up with the comments on this disgusting post for a while, but after that I'm done. Yeah, they're usually awesome, but I'm not going to expose myself to the chance that I'll get verbally punched in the face. Jezebel has already made it clear that they feel it's my responsibility to monitor things for them, so I'm just done.



  1. what information is out there about jessica coen in terms of her beliefs/mission for the site? i'm really shocked, and I know at least one other jezebel editor left a disapproving comment on the article, but I'm seriously confused as to how this got posted. how long has she been EIC? does she not endorse jezebel as a feminist blog?

  2. She wrote a piece about the article:

  3. When are you going to remove jezebel from your feed?
    She posted some anonymous essay by a French woman as some sort of point-counterpoint bullshit.

  4. I agree with the previous person. The new blog post really doesn't address the initial post: