“What would men be without women? Scarce, sir…mighty scarce.” — Mark Twain
“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.” — Joseph Conrad
The website’s name is so fitting for the article that grabbed my eye: Jezebel. My card-carrying feminist friends share Jezebel stuff on Facebook almost daily. That’s how I see it, and that’s how I know it’s terrible.
Relying heavily on contemporary media (news, TV, film, music, etc), the writers pitch the content from a feminist’s perspective. Predictably, men are the most frequent targets, but other women who aren’t feminine enough (or too feminine??) also fall victim to Jezebel keyboards. Article titles are punchy and eye-catching, almost like Matt Drudge trained a bitter ex-wife to provide vulgar, biased commentary on the mainstream news. Then again, what can you expect from a bunch of traffic-whores funneling clicks into the Gawker family of websites?
Just kidding, Nick. I casually enjoy some of Gawker’s portfolio, especially Deadspin. Vanity Fair penned a pretty good description following the Manti Te’o story. They called Deadspin “the hockey goon of the sports-media world…it goes straight at all the phonies, narcissists, and…the practitioners of “traditional” sports journalism, whom it views as corrupt, lazy, and slavish.” Nailed it. Fuck ESPN.
Jalopnik has always been pretty readable, even when I didn’t have a car. io9 posts cool sci-fi content, like the ten most horrifying technologies that should never be allowed to exist. Buzzfeed has taught me to avoid listicles, because they’re usually obvious, recycled, and boring for anyone thinking above a 7th Grade level, but these guys’ lists are ok.
However, Gawker.com (the flagship site) is a puerile rumor mill, and Jezebel is just awful.
Jezebel was a real person. She was also a total bitch. The daughter of pagan King Ethbaal, she seduced her husband, King Ahab, and made him stop worshiping his God so that he’d build a temple for hers. She was meddlesome, licentious, abrasive, and had a man killed for his vineyard when he refused to sell it. In the end, she was so fundamentally unlikable that her own eunuchs threw her out a window. The street dogs didn’t even finish eating her.
So, it’s apropos that a website by the same name would run an article entitled “What Former Sluts Tell Their Daughters About Sex.”
If that title isn’t clickbait, well…
I’m not a former slut and I don’t have daughters, but I read it. I enjoyed parts of it, especially the bits about self-worth. If anything is going to keep young people from hopping into the sack too early and for the wrong reasons, it’ll be the sense of self-confidence that comes from having a clear set of priorities. A strong family unit helps, too (however that may look).
What would I tell my daughters? Something like this: “Sweetheart, no man will ever love you as much as I do, and I love you just the way you are: with your clothes on and your brain making good decisions. You will be tempted by all sorts of riff-raff to have sex with them, but I trust you to make the right decision when that time comes. Understand that boys are 2-3 years less mature than girls, so they can’t be trusted to make these decisions for you. Unfortunately, the risks of sex greatly outweigh the rewards at your age, so be smart about who you share your body and mind with. You don’t want to be used by someone, do you? I didn’t think so, you’re smarter than that. I’m so proud of you, and I can’t wait to see you get married to the man who appreciates you and loves you the way I do…by the way, if you’re ever forced into sex by a boy, don’t tell anyone but me. I have a special way of dealing with that.”
Some people might see this as overbearing, or as stifling my daughter’s sexual growth and curiosity, or some other libertine argument for youthful promiscuity. I’m of the school of thought that young people need some guidance in life, otherwise parenthood is just a welfare program for your offspring. This laissez-faire approach to children at every stage of their life has to stop. The psychological welfare of airplane passengers, teachers, and the entire judicial system depends on it (though, public defenders are making a killing off bad parenting).
What former sluts tell their daughters about sex is honestly none of our business, and to portray the issue as if mothers are proud to bequeath their promiscuity to their children is irresponsibly misleading. Frankly, articles like this are where the line between feminism and trashiness starts to blur.
Consider this heading: There is no such thing as a slut.
Oh, really? Because I can open my college yearbook and point to a few. Hell, I can open my high school yearbook and point to a few.
I read the article, and I know what she was trying to say, but I still think she’s wrong. Sluts exist, just ask the girls who don’t call themselves sluts if sluts exist, and they’ll eagerly point out that “Yes, they do, and I’m not one.” Ask any guy, and I promise you he can think of three right off the bat. I’d even go as far as defining sluttiness as “consistently and conspicuously engaging in sexual activity with abject disregard for the consequences.”
If sluts don’t exist, I guess douchebags don’t exist. Imagine some guy saying “Douchebags don’t exist. They’re just guys with a different sense of manhood than me.”
That’s bullshit. Most men have a problem even being associated with douchebags, so while all men are douchy at one point or another in their life, only select individuals are Classic Douchbags. Some individuals need these outcast labels to avoid contaminating the reputation of the group as a whole, otherwise you risk watering down the entire dictionary of civilization with nuanced exceptions and catch-all caveats. The article mentions self-worth, but what happened to ours? Sometimes you just gotta call things what they are: Sluts are sluts, and douchebags are douchebags.
Hip chicks are trying to take “slut” and make it their own, but they’re simultaneously forcing the term onto any woman who exhibits sexually confidence. News Flash! That word has extremely negative connotations to 99.9% of the English-speaking world, so unless you propose doing what black people have done with the “N word,” I’d leave it alone. Camaraderie can only alter the meaning of a word so much.
The website had a few other little treasures that I came across while reading the slutmom treatise:
Article: “Dear Men: Having a Daughter Does Not Make You a Girl Expert”
My take: “Dear Writer: Being a Girl Does Not Make You a Father Expert” …This article pissed me off because the authoress used an innocent, loving piece by a father, Bret Spears, about his daughter as a marquee for alleged white-male ignorance. Such a bitter reading of an innocuous op-ed could only come from someone being paid to attack mainstream media, and while I generally applaud that effort, this belied the writer’s cynical gender paradigm. Some guy opens up about how much he’s learned about women from his daughter, and a Jezebel writer responds by telling him “Get to know women!” and “More dads than ever are getting into being dads…better late than never, right?” wtf, man. As someone who will eagerly welcome fatherhood when the time comes, I resent that last statement. The whole thing smacks of paternophobia, as if men shouldn’t be proud of raising children.
Article: “OKCupid Dude Will Not Be Ignored: ‘You Self Involved Princess'”
My take: Ok, this dude kinda sucks. His ego can’t handle something as passive as online dating, and he used the word “libation.” People who use that word when asking girls out fall into one of two categories: douchebag or 18th Century English gentleman. We can eliminate one…but come on, where’s the rest of the text message? I believe I saw the implication of her being interested in a second date at one point (i.e. “yes I definitely do”) somewhere in his rambling, desperate attempt to regain primacy in the conversation. Did she strongly imply a second date and leave him hanging before forgetting her phone at her parents’ house? Also, his harangue says more than you know about online dating. Girls statistically get waaaaay more OkCupid messages than guys (lots of articles about this), and girls understandably get tired of answering when they lose interest. Still, online dating is built for easy let-downs, so ladies, please tell guys when you’re not interested, because the guy might already have reservations somewhere, or he could be prioritizing you over another girl who might actually be interested in going out with him Friday night. Honestly, though, after “Sorry, I’m so busy!” twice, I’d give up.
Article: “Hell the Fuck No It Is Not Christmas Shopping Season Yet”
My take: Yep, I’m completely on board with this, and I loved the pumpkin spice latte hypocrisy.
Article: “Ricky Gervais Broke My Heart”
My take: Look, you broke your own heart by picking someone as mercurial as Ricky Gervais as your standard bearer for humour. Don’t worry, I read your whole article, so I know how important he and Merchant became to you. I won’t say I respect you for doing something so frivolous as ‘unfollowing your favorite celebrity,’ but I can relate to the pain of losing touch with a favorite celebrity. I feel the same way whenever my favorite bands make a shitty pop album, and I felt that way when Shannon Sharp left Denver for Baltimore, because I fucking hate the Ravens. I was too young to understand that it was Denver’s fault he left (just like with Dumervil, dammit), but my previously favorite TE was dead to me.
Anyway, I own The Office, complete with interviews that provided me insight into the real David Brent. This authoress is right: he’s brilliant. He effortlessly captures that wily area between theatre and reality, perfect for his and Merchant’s style of mockumentary. He was so good, in fact, that it often made me physically uncomfortable to watch Brent communicate with his staff sometimes, particularly that memorable scene when he sacks Dawn in front of a new employee, only to have her break down in tears before he can tell her it was all a prank. What the interviews showed was that Gervais’ ability to conquer that theatrical medium was derived entirely from his own spectacular awkwardness, the same awkwardness that leads him to be a complete tit on Twitter. So, go ahead. Unfollow him because he joked about the worldwide collapse of internet privacy at the expense of people who are used to negative media attention (re. Gervais’ comments, not the nudity). Go right ahead, but don’t hold an historically controversial comedian to the expectations you’ve set for other, more humanitarian-focused celebrities like Matt Damon, George Clooney, or Angelina Jolie (all of whom I have a healthy professional respect for, as well). The truth is, Ricky Gervais couldn’t give less of a fuck if you like him or not, and I’d wager the only reason he deleted the tweet in the first place is because his publicist told him to under the terms of his contract.
Article: “Cheating Man Confronted By His Three Girlfriends”
My take: The term is “boy.” He’s 20, but his pic looks like a punky, teenage version of Jason Segel, and his behavior has got a long way to go before he earns the title of Man. However, kudos to the persistent and veiled attempts by Jezebel to denigrate men by using boyish behavior as the smoking gun. It doesn’t sound like they’re desperate for material at all.
PS – I actually enjoyed (and recommend) reading through Jezebel articles. I can think of a hundred things I’d rather read than 200 pgs of gender theory, so while Jezebel is far from academic, it is a step in a direction I don’t normally go. Comfort zones are dangerous places to be, intellectually speaking, and Jezebel was a nice diversion from Microsoft Excel today.