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Jezebel’s Manifesto

The creation of Jezebel was intended to provide, according to Holmes, “an antidote to superficiality and irrelevance of women’s media properties” (Mascia 2010). Jezebel expressed  these goals in the article “ The Five Great Lies of Women’s Magazines,” labeled as Jezebel Manifesto.  The article outlines the goals of Jezebel by deconstructing the  different flaws of women’s media (Holmes 2007).  The beginning outlines the main goals of the publication.

 “To put it simply, Jezebel is a blog for women that will attempt to take all the essentially meaningless but sweet stuff directed our way and give it a little more meaning, while taking more the serious stuff and making it more fun, or more personal, or at the very least the subject of our highly sophisticated brand of sex joke” (Holmes 2007).

The post then breaks down each of the “lies.” The first of these is “The Cover Lie” which discusses how women’s magazines set up unrealistic expectations from before they are even opened (Holmes 2007).The women on the cover fail to show a diversity of races and are often Photo shopped to non-human perfection (Holmes 2007.  The cover lists outrageous promises for “tasty tidbits” which are predictable, but draw people in on the hope they are not (Holmes 2007).

The second lie is “ The Celebrity-Profile Lie” which criticizes the narrow focus on the minutiae of the lives of celebrities (Holmes 2007). Additionally, magazines bestow celebrity like descriptions and standards to normal people, and “focus on only the most photogenic cancer survivors/assault victims/environmental activists” (Holmes 2007). In this environment, even those people who want to be every day heroes must live and act as celebrities, and are subject to the same scrutiny (Holmes 2007).

The third lie is  “The Must-Have Lie,” where editors push products that they have been given for free, promoting bias and forcing the perpetuation of the image that certain styles and expensive items are necessary (Holmes 2007).

The fourth lie is “The Affirmation Crap Lie,” where magazines cause women to second-guess themselves by showing them constant criteria to compare themselves (Holmes 2007). Women are analyzed on the smallest details of their lives, from the color of their lipstick to their ability to cuddle (Holmes 2007). This creates a need for affirmation, which magazines happily supply with ways to continue to check on how adequate a woman is mixed with lessons about loving themselves and how all women are goddesses (Holmes 2007).

The last lie is “The Big Meta Lie” where people try to justify addiction to and the content of women’s magazines (Holmes 2007). People attempt to deny the effects of these medias on their self-esteem and world views (Holmes 2007).

Jezebel hopes it is “planting a little seed, so that maybe people will think about this stuff a little more critically” (Johnson 2007). However, various criticisms have questioned the changed trajectory of Jezebel, and if it truly qualifies as a blog with feminist ideas.  The next few posts will break down Jezebel as a product for women, by analyzing if it is feminist, and the content and driving factors behind the four major categories. (For what those categories are check out this post)

Sources:
Holmes, Anna. “The Five Great Lies Of Women’s Magazines.” Jezebel. 1 Nov. 2007. Web. 22 Mar. 2012. <http://jezebel.com/262130/the-five-great-lies-of-womens-magazines&gt;.
Johnson, Steve. “Jezebel: A Few words with the editor [Chicago Edition].” The Chicago Tribune.25 July 2007: Web. <22 Mar. 2012 < http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-07-25/features/0707230542_1_jezebel-gawker-media-celebrity&gt;
Mascia, Jennifer. “A Web Site That’s Not Afraid to Pick a Fight.” NYTimes.com. New York Times, 12 July 2010. Web. 23 Mar. 2012. <http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0CEEDB103BF931A25754C0A9669D8B63&gt;.
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Wait, so can you clarify what this is about?

Through every medium there are publications meant to appeal to women, from the thick flimsy Fabio covered paperback of the grocery store to the slick colorful pages of Ladies Home Journal.  With the expansion of the Internet, Jezebel.com has worked to establish itself as a “women’s blog.”    However, the newness of the Internet makes this distinction lack a great deal of clarity, as there is no precedent of standard to understand what that distinction means.  This entails analyzing its part in Gawker media, its structure and tone, and the different aspects of its tagline “ Celebrity, Sex and Fashion For Women. Without Airbrushing.”

In order to understand what the vague term “ a women’s blog” means, the different aspects of Jezebel.com must be pulled apart and analyzed, in order to create a more understandable whole.  Without understanding the components and context of the site, there is no way to understand the impact and meaning of the site itself.   An important part of the context of Jezebel is its part in Gawker media. Like Jezebel, each Gawker media blog has been successful by micro targeting its content to a specific segment of the population.  It is in alignment with this business model that Jezebel has come into play. It is important, especially given the distinctive tone of Gawker works to analyze how Jezebel fits within these works. It is also important to frame Jezebel within the history of female-targeted works in different media forms, and how it has taken on the mantel of this genre for the digital age.

Jezebel has also been called a feminist blog, in almost every description but their own. Since feminism is such a loaded word, this distinction is important. In order to determine if Jezebel is a feminist site, it is important to understand about feminism more broadly and specifically its expansion into the digital world.

The different elements of the tagline also indicate how Jezebel might break down how it is a “women’s blog.” Picking these topics could be no accident, and looking at each of them and their digital history could unlock what Jezebel means.  Celebrities, including gossip and gossip blogs are a flourishing element of the Internet and integral to Jezebel.com.  With any blog associated with Feminism comes a certain degree of sex, and for Jezebel, this is expanded to also include other aspects of sexuality. Contextualizing this and comparing it with feminist websites can clarify the importance of this part. While the fashion element of Jezebel is less obvious, further analysis can show why this was important enough to be included in the tagline.  Additionally, the tagline could be amended to include a fourth category, especially aimed at tugging women’s heartstrings. This is cute animal and baby videos, labeled “aww” and “squee” to replicate the reaction to watching these clips. How these different pieces all fit together is the answer to understanding Jezebel, and figuring out what it means for digital media

“Celebrity, Sex and Fashion for Women”

This is how media outlet Jezebel.com frames its in its tagline. The blog, a part of the Gawker Media sites, is specifically targeted towards the active Internet user of the digital age.  This blog will focus on analyzing on how the website defines what it means to be a female blog, exploring the different type of content. This blog will further explore the history of topics like celebrity gossip and women’s health issues in other forms of media. The overall question of the blog is how Jezebel chooses and presents its topics to make it a “female website” and if the content is driven by women’s interest, or constructed to fit some idea what women like.  Posts will begin with an exploration of the long history of the word Jezebel, explanation of website themes and the role of social media in women’s communication.

Like Jezebel itself, this research will draw on a variety of sources. Some of these sources will be digital sources, including articles about Jezebel and other female-targeted blogs, such as  some of the research on the “mommy-blog” phenomena.  Research about the role of social media in female education, as well as digital media as information sources will be included. Many of those sources will be news articles, blogs or poll information from organizations like Pew.  Additionally, the blog will source from journal articles that discuss the appeal of different topics to women, and the history of women’s media.  Other information may include input from peers about Jezebel.

I chose this topic for several reasons.  The first is that I am admittedly and avid Jezebel (and Gawker) reader. I have found myself wondering about just how the editors manage to posts stories about exactly what I am interested in. Those thoughts formed the basis of the idea for this blog, breaking down what exactly they talk about on Jezebel, and how it is so well targeted that it appeals to me as the intended audience.