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Armchair Analysts: Jezebel and Inaction

After breaking down the pieces of Jezebel, it is still hard to draw full conclusions about how it is a women’s blog.  One of the unclear pieces is if Jezebel fits inside the category of a feminist blog.   There are many undeniable parallels in goals and content. However, where Jezebel falls short is it full commitment to political activism. In her piece analyzing Feministing, Moswel discusses the activism built into the site. (2008) However, in Jezebel, the topics are too varied to really stir activism, but err more on the side of social critique. Jezebel writers are the armchair anthropologists of the digital age, sitting on chairs and jotting down notes on what they observe and hypothesize.  To truly be feminist, Jezebel would need to push beyond just observance to ask readers how they are going to take action against what has been elucidated by the writers of Jezebel.  In a similar way, Jezebel tries so hard to critique the magazine industry in their manifesto. Yet, with Nick Denton’s goals of creating the pixilated Conde Nast, they cannot help but fall into many of the same patterns.  The rhetoric penned by inaugural editor Anna North has cooled. In an interview with Madame Nior, popular current (and newer) writer Dodai Stewart reacts strangely, and almost in a coached fashion to this very question about magazine disapproval.

“Jezebel is not anti-magazine, we are anti-cover lies, anti-unrealistic Photoshop and anti-exclusionary content — whether it be targeting only white people, only thin people or only rich people. Personally, I love print…. But many mainstream ladymags are disappointing.”

But for as much of a fight that Jezebel puts against mainstream magazines, its content falls into many of the same patterns. There is the celebrity gossip, the analysis of who wore what, splashed with human-interest pieces. What sets Jezebel apart is its acidic tongue, but even that seems to fall short of really piercing celebrity culture.  Of course, Jezebel has made it clear that they do not deal in cruelty, Holmes pointing out in interviews that they never mention weight. (Johnson 2007) Really, in these areas they are treading into worn territory. Perhaps this is because their manifesto and begging was so focused on the fashion piece, that they forgot to really establish their goals for the rest, and fell fumbling into patterns of puppies and dresses.

However, this so far may be selling Jezebel short. One area they excel in is their attention to women’s issue. They have exhaustive coverage of LGBT issues, sexual health, reproductive rights and more. However, none of this coverage comes with the real impetuous towards change, only the passive resignation.

Sources:

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;

Stodghill, Alexis. “Black Beauty With Buzz- Dodai Stewart, Editor at Jezebel.com.” Madame Noire. Moguldom Media Group, 18 Oct. 2011. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. <http://madamenoire.com/78847/black-beauty-with-buzz-dodai-stewart-editor-at-jezebel-com/&gt;.

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Expanding “Sex” to “Sexuality” and Women’s Issues

Instead of direct retellings of sex stories, many of the posts in the “sex” category on Jezebel detail issues of women’s health and equality, especially how it relates to sex. This creates a segment of the blog that is more sexual/political, aimed at advocacy and change.  Stories like this one, both a story of a women’s encounter with rapist and a cautionary tale about digital privacy bridge the gap between the more explicitly sexual and the political. There are also segments about the ongoing debates about  abortion (Pill Baby Pill) and abortion (Roe v. World)

With their coverage of women’s issues, Jezebel is engaging in the power of blogs for potential political and social change. For Jezebel, different political issues, especially those related to women are monitored. There is detailed coverage of recent issues of abortion and birth control. Recently, Jezebel posted about the “Top  Scariest Places to Have Ladyparts In America,” which detailed the different anti-female laws around the country.

This links with the recent trend within the Feminist community of blogging about women’s issues with the intention of raising awareness and making change.  While Jezebel may not be explicitly feminist, it does cover issues that fall under concerns of third wave feminists (Mowles 2008: 31). Third wave feminism, like Jezebel is not a cohesive unit, but a compilation of parts around a set of ideologies (Mowles 2008: 31). One of the first blogs to blend feminism and attention to women’s health issues was Feministing.  Founded by Jessica Valenti in 2004, Feminsiting promised, “to be a platform for us [young women] to comment, analyze, and influence” (Mowles 2008: 33)

Mowles’s analysis of Feminsiting and the potential impact of Feminist blog describe many of the same characteristics present in Jezebel.  Feministing was created in 2004, three years earlier then Jezebel, in the height of George Bush’s “War on Women” (Mowles 2008: 32).  For both sites, there is a definite focus on women’s issues. However, “the content of the [blogs ranges] from media analysis, to political commentary, to frustrated rants about pop culture. Posts address diverse topics in an engaging and witty way” (Mowles 2008: 38).

Part of the sexual/political focus of the women’s issues on blogs is the intersection of different forms of oppression (Mowles: 2008 36) On Jezebel, African American writer Dodai Stewart often discusses the specific issues facing women of color.  In an interview with Madame Nior, a  “black women’s lifestyle magazine” Stewart explicated on the role of her gender and race in her writing. Stewart explains she “could never write from the vantage point of “black people are like this.” I try to write with honesty, from my personal perspective, which is as a woman of color” (Stodghill 2011). With the recent show Girls, which has been hailed as speaking for the generation much of Jezebel’s readership falls into, Jezebel writers has critiqued the absence of minorities in the show which purports to capture a universal experience (Stewart 2012).

Of course, through all of this coverage, these women’s issues, ranging from pregnancy to the difficulties of finding love in the modern era are all treated with the signature Jezebel snark.  Jezebel has expanded the meaning of sex in the tagline to mean “sexuality” and has focused on many issues that push it further into the realm of feminism.

Source:

Mowles, Jessica M. “Framing Issues, Fomenting Change, ‘‘Feministing’’: A Contemporary Feminist Blog in the Landscape of Online Political Activism.” International Reports on Socio-informatics 5.1 (2008): 29-50. Print.

Ryan, Erin. “The Ten Scariest Places to Have Ladyparts in America.” Jezebel. 18 Apr. 2012. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. <http://jezebel.com/5887627/the-ten-scariest-places-in-america-to-have-ladyparts&gt;.

Stewart, Dodai. “Why We Need to Keep Talking About the White Girls on Girls.”Jezebel. 19 Apr. 2012. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. <http://jezebel.com/5903382/why-we-need-to-keep-talking-about-the-white-girls-on-girls&gt;.

Stodghill, Alexis. “Black Beauty With Buzz- Dodai Stewart, Editor at Jezebel.com.” Madame Noire. Moguldom Media Group, 18 Oct. 2011. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. <http://madamenoire.com/78847/black-beauty-with-buzz-dodai-stewart-editor-at-jezebel-com/&gt;.

Loosing Faith: The Redbook Photoshop Incident

Digital technology has also lead to more controversial changes in the fashion industry. It is one of these unfortunate consequences that put Jezebel on the digital map.  (Johnson 2007)  The website was able to gain a great deal of media attention and a reputation off of a contest it held. The rules were simple. Readers were asked to find the most egregious use of Photoshop, and send in their submissions to the newly founded Jezebel. The results were, according to then editor in chief Anna Holmes, frightening (Johnson 2007).

The winner was a picture of singer Faith Hill from the cover of the July 2007 issue of Redbook magazine.  Previously, Redbook had gained negative attention from a cover with a doctored image of  Jennifer Aniston (Holmes 2007).  Although there were more famous stars in submissions for the contest, Holmes was struck the most with the picture of Faith Hill (Johnson  2007). For Holmes “the Hill image was perfect for Jezebel’s purposes, because you see what was done to the whole body ‘of a beautiful woman who is not 25 and starving herself.’”(Johnson 2007)

Jezebel posted an annotated guide to everything that was changed about Faith Hill’s picture.  Dozens of edits were made, from as large as editing in an arm to as minute as changing the shape of an earlobe (Tkacik 2007 b). The computer also took off several pounds, and whittled away at her figure to the point of changing her posture.  Jezebel’s frustration with the situation and their view of its inevitability is evident in their incendiary title for their article: “Here’s Our Winner! ‘Redbook’ Shatters Our ‘Faith’ In Well, Not Publishing, But Maybe God”(Tkacik 2007 a) This type of egregious use of Photoshop is most common in magazines, as they have more time to edit each issue then other media (Reaves et al 2009: 59).

There are several reasons why this episode was seen as so troubling. One of the reasons was the  nature of the publication itself. (Holmes 2007) Redbook is a magazine intended for a more mature audience, one who should be able to dissect and criticize the imagaes they are given. (Holmes 2007) In a criticism written the day after the initial article was published, then editor-in-chief Holmes lamented “ that even in and on a women’s magazine meant for a more mature female audience (working moms, etc.) and featuring a more mature female celebrity (career-woman and mother-of-three Faith Hill) the lies and half-truths continue to be perpetuated”(2007). Even as a working mother of three, Faith Hill is not afforded anything less then perfection.

The problem lies in the standards that this sets, when editors use “ a little digital pixie dust” (Reaves et al 2009:56) Jean Kilbourne has spent over the lat 30 year studying the impact of advertising and media depictions of women. (Kilbourne 1999) She has released a series of videos explicating the topic called “Killing Us Softly”(Kilbourne 1999) In her third video, released in the early 2000’s Kilbourne  discusses the negative impact of the advent of digital image altering. While there were already impossible standards of beauty, the “image has become more flawlessly perfect in the ea of computer retouching” (Kilbourne 1999) Women are striving for an image that they cannot achieve because it is not real, but culture establishes that their only block is a lack of concerted effort. (Kibounre 1999)

The result of this digital retouching and unobtainable standards is a growth of low self esteem.  The impossible beauty standars thart “beauty equals goodness” can have a profound effect on formation of identity” (Reaves et al  2009: 58) A study of Canadian women by Dove indicates that “only 4% of women worldwide consider themselves beautiful” (Dove 2011)   This process begins as early, as a “girl’s inner beauty critic moves in by the time she is 14 years old and continues to erode her self- esteem as she ages” (Dove 2011)

All of this, according to Holmes, fits into the greater world of lies. ( 2007)  This incident embodies the full range of Jezebel’s tagline. It deals with a celebrity, on a fashion magazine, and emphasizes that there should be no airbrushing. As for the sexy, Holmes implores the reader to “look at the picture above, and tell us that Faith Hill is not fucking gorgeous and vibrant just the way God — not Photoshop — made her”( Holmes 2007)  As with much of the more serious content on Jezebel, it is meant to engage the viewer in a dialogue about the state of culture.  As an article about the incident on Vh1 said “The more you look at the touched up cover picture, the more you’ll wonder why we as a society like our celebs to look like straight-up aliens”(Vh1 2007) The Redbook incident embodies Jezebels’ critiques of the magazine industry.

Sources:

Dove. “Surprising Self-Esteem Statistics.” Dove Canada. Unilever, 23 Mar. 2011. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dove.ca/en/Article/Surprising-Self-Esteem-Statistics.aspx&gt;.

Holmes, Anna. “Faith Hill’s €˜Redbook “Photoshop Chop”: Why We€™re Pissed.” Jezebel. 17 July 2007. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://jezebel.com/279203/faith-hills-redbook-photoshop-chop-why-were-pissed&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;

Killing Us Softly 3 Advertising’s Image of Women. Dir. Sut Jhally. Perf. Jean Kilbourne.Killing Us Softly 3 Advertising’s Image of Women. Media Education Foundation, 1999. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1993368502337678412&gt;

Reaves, Shiela, Jacqueline Bush Hitchon, Sung-Yeon Park, and Gi Woong Yun. “If Looks Could Kill: Digital Manipulation of Fashion Models.” Journal of Mass Media Ethics 19.1 (2004): 56-71. Print.

Tkacik, Moe. “The Annotated Guide To Making Faith Hill ‘Hot’.” Jezebel. 16 July 2007. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://jezebel.com/278978/the-annotated-guide-to-making-faith-hill-hot?tag=gossipdistortbynumbers&gt;.

Tkacik, Moe. “Here’s Our Winner! ‘Redbook’ Shatters Our ‘Faith’ In Well, Not Publishing, But Maybe God.” Jezebel. 16 July 2007. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://jezebel.com/278919/heres-our-winner-redbook-shatters-our-faith-in-well-not-publishing-but-maybe-god?tag=gossipphotoshopofhorrors&gt;.

Fashion Blogging

Tied with the coverage of celebrities is the coverage of fashion on Jezebel. Its manifesto declared Jezebel as an alternate to the fashion-heavy women’s magazine industry set Jezebel up to be a critique of fashion. However, looking at the fashion tag shows that this has mostly devolved to reviews: the fashion industry,  celebrity fashion  and products by Jezebel writers.

Fashion blogging has become a major factor in the industry. While at first, fashion was resistant to embrace social media, companies themselves are now  using it in addition to acknowledging the influence of independent fashion bloggers.( Amed 2011) An article for Women’s Wear Daily‘s website explains that there are  two million fashion and shopping focused blogs, many with linked to similar products available for purchase embedded in their site (Cochoran 2006).  The influence of digital fashion critiques is forcing fashion institutions to change, and involve a more democratic process of inclusion (Cochocran 2006). While fashion was once a “dictatorship” the growth of the fashion blog, and its critiques of the fashion world have forced a type of transparency on the industry, forcing them to involve regular citizens in their decision (Cochoran 2006). Industry giant/PR Rep Kelly Cutrone commented to the New York Times that  “Do I think, as a publicist, that I now have to have my eye on some kid who’s writing a blog in Oklahoma as much as I do on an editor from Vogue? Absolutely. Because once they write something on the Internet, it’s never coming down. And it’s the first thing a designer is going to see. (Wilson 2009)

This change is infiltrating long-standing bastions of the fashion industry.  Wilson’s 2009 New York Times article about the changes in the industry noted that “Jezebel.com (a saucy blog that includes coverage of fashion) shot ahead of Style.com (the Condé Nast fashion site) for the first time this fall with more than a half-million visitors” (Wilson 2009).The attention given to a wider variety of designers, such as the detailing in Jezebel’s “Rag Trade.”

Similar to “Dirt Bag,” but focused on the fashion industry, “Rag Trade” reflects both caused the increased humanization and celebrity of industry giants, and increased the name and coverage of smaller scale designers. These changes, wrought by Jezebel and other online fashion blogs have caused a more macro examination and restructuring of the industry. A recent story on Jezebel discussed changes in America’s Next Top Model, a show that has long been merging the world of fashion with the American people.  (Stewart 2012) Tyra Banks, show star/producer has fired long standing judges and creative director, to take the show in a more digital/ online directions. (Stewart 2012) She is currently courting BryanBoy, one of the most popular fashion bloggers to become a part of the show. (Stewart 2012) Bryanboy is so influential that in 2008, Marc Jacobs named a purse in his collection after the blogger. (Wilson 2009)

In “Rag Trade” Jezebel also covers the gossip of the industry, mentioning not just the design changes but inner lives of the designers. Social media has become a major player in perpetuating rumors about the fashion industry. (Amed 2011)This reflects the trends of celebrity gossip, but extended to the names of the fashion industry. What is interesting to note about this section is that it differs from the others in that it assumes baseline knowledge of the players in the fashion industry, and does not just draw upon popular culture, like “Dirt Bag.”

Another element that reflects celebrity trends is Jezebel’s coverage of celebrity fashion at red carpet events in a feature called “Good/Bad/Ugly.” In this feature, pictures of celebrity outfits at red carpet events are shown, with commentary. This dissection of celebrity fashion is a part of the fashion blogging trend, which magazines have had difficulty adjusting to. (Wilson 2009) The analysis of celebrity fashion can have multiple functions. In Feasy’s study of heat readers (talked about more in this post) the women described why they enjoyed the fashion section of the magazine.( Feasy 2009: 693-696)  For some, they liked both the inspiration of the style, but also the confidence it gave them to try off new styles after feeling validated by seeing a certain look on a celebrity. (Feasy 2009: 694) Most magazines have launched digital components, which readers enjoy due to their interactive and search features, which allow them to tailor the content the consume. (Inghanm and Weadon 2008: 218These online pieces are able to be more in depth then the virtual pieces.  (Ingham and Weadon 2008:217)

The fashion industry is being changed by social media, but is still managing to maintain its gendered identity. Fashion blogs merge the celebrity, gossip and fashion elements, whether fashion is the main focus or one element of a larger site.

Sources

Ahmed, Irman. “Fashion 2.0 | Fashion PR in the Digital Age | BoF – The Business of Fashion.” Fashion 2.0. Business of Fashion, 5 Apr. 2011. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.businessoffashion.com/2011/04/fashion-2-0-fashion-pr-in-the-digital-age.html&gt;.

Corcoran, Cate T. “The Blogs That Took Over the Tents.” WWD. Women’s Wear Daily, 6 Feb. 2006. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://www.wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/the-blogs-that-took-over-the-tents-547153?full=true&gt;.

Feasy, Lauren. “Reading heat: The Meanings and Pleasures of Star Fashions and Celebrity Gossip.” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 22 5 (2010): 687-699

Ingham, Deena, and Alexis Weedon. “Time Well Spent: The Magazine Publishing Industry’s Online Niche.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 14 2 (2008): 205-20. Print.

Stewart, Dodai. “Tyra the Tyrant Has Fired Mr. Jay, Miss J and Nigel Barker from ANTM.” Jezebel. Jezebel, 20 Apr. 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://jezebel.com/5903702/tyra-the-tyrant-has-fired-mr-jay-miss-j-and-nigel-barker-from-antm?tag=america.s-next-top-model&gt;.

Wilson, Eric. “Bloggers Crash Fashion’s Front Row.” The New York Times 27 Dec. 2009, New York ed., Style sec.: ST1. Print.

OMG!!!! DID YOU HEAR ABOUT LINDSAY/BRITNEY/MILEY/ANGELINA?

Popular wisdom and Yahoo Ask! User theone78 maintain that gossip is inherent to women, something inherent.  Curious user honeybee posted on Yahoo’s general forum for knowledge asking “ Why do women love to talk & gossip? I’m one of them so no judging here.”   The answer she received from theone78, whose self-stated source is an “Associate Degree—In Social Behavior Science” was not an unheard of.

“ It’s the way you girls are made…more social and emotional!! …. It has more to do with out genetic structure/makeup of survival. Gossiping however is not being to control your tongue which BTW takes discipline.” (theone78) This prominent perception (whether or not the somewhat dubious science checks out) has lead for the industry of celebrity gossip to become immensely popular.

Gossip has been a widely researched subject, and “ the sheer bulk of five centuries commentary on gossip suggests a phenomenon worth taking seriously (Spacks 1985: 26) Most of this discussion of gossip has been decidedly negative, with potentially positive elements being acknowledged rarely.  (Spacks 1985: 26)  There are ethical questions inherent in gossip relating to its position on the “borderline” between public and private (Spacks 1985: 262; Podneicks 2008: 56). It is clear that sites like Jezebel push this line, forcing private information of celebrities and even self selecting contributors into a more public forum.  Like the snarky attitude of Jezebel, gossip draws heavily upon humor. (Podniecks 2008:57)  Gossiping is a performance, meant to create a reaction, whether of amusement or disgust, from the audience.  (Podneicks 2008: 57). When it is “framed by humor gossip ‘rises above its pettiness and viciousness’ and is redemptive” (Podneicks 2008: 57).

While gossip was in previous era was limited to the exchange of information about personal acquaintances, celebrity gossip has supplanted that. (Feasy 2008:693)  This is a relatively new phenomenon, and has been shaped by and defined a new definition of celebrity.  From Louella Parsons, the first gossip columnist to todays gossip blogs, the discipline has changed (Fairclough 2008) The growth of celebrity has given a consequence free way to share information about others, a process which gains the sharer social capital (Feasy 2008: 690). Since it does not involve personal acquaintances, gossip is not as problematic (Feasy 2008: 690). Initially, the idea of nationally knows stars came to fruition with the era of the powerful movie studios (Fairclough 2008). Monolithic, the studios were able to control the images of stars with a heavy hand (Fairclough 2008).  However, the invention of the zoom lens changed that (Fairclough 2008). Salacious pictures of Elizabeth Taylor’s extramarital affair caught from a distance breeched a new form of celebrity information(Podnieks 2009: 56). Now, any aspect of a celebrity’s life, especially their faults and private shames, were fair game (Podnieks 2009: 56). Having a taste of something more,  people were not longer satiated by the static stupid images (Podniek 2009: 56).

Feasy’s 2008 study group of readers of heat, a British gossip magazine, revealed that the consumption of celebrity gossip is not the sole voyeurism traditionally associated with it. In fact, women like to read the information for the main purpose of sharing it with others (Feasy 2008: 693). Knowing this information gives people a desirable expertise.   It allows them to share it with others to create a sense of community. There is also a desirability to be the first to obtain this information, expressed by Feasy’s study participants (Feasy 2008:691). While this is not reflected on Jezebel itself, this desire for primacy is the meaning of Gawker.com’s tagline “Tomorrows News. Today.”  There is a certain appeal to be the first of a social group to know something, to even, as Gawker suggests, be a whole day ahead.

Additionally, the presentation of celebrity flaws and personal news creates what  Feasy identifies as a double edged sword (Feasy 2008: 696) Women  feel validated for the own imperfections, comforted by the normalcy of celebrities. (Feasy 2008: 695) However, women also feel a sense of guilt for intruding and pointing out people’s weaker moments, even if they are in the public eye (Feasy 2008:696)  The popularity and social benefits of celebrity gossip have embedded it in popular culture. With the digital age, celebrity blogging has grown.  Check out the next post for more on that!

Sources:

Fairclough, Kirsty. “Fame is a Losing Game: Celebrity Gossip Blogging. Bitch Culture, and Post Feminism.” Genders. 48 (2008) Web. 18 April 2012. <http://www.genders.org/g48/g48_fairclough.html>

Feasy, Rebecca. “Reading heat: The Meanings and Pleasures of Star Fashions and Celebrity Gossip.” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 22 5 (2010): 687-699

Honeybee, and Theone78. “Why Do Women Love to Talk & Gossip?” Yahoo! Ask. Yahoo!, 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 17 Apr. 2012. <http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110428163842AA9TcJ0>.

Podnieks, Elizabeth. “Celebrity Bio Blogs: Hagiography, Pathography and Perez Hilton.” a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 24 1 (2009): 53-73.

Spacks, Patrica. Gossip. New York: Knopf, 1985. Print

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;.

Jezebel’s Intended Audience and Viewpoint

The truth revealing, no holds barred attitude was part of Jezebel even before the first words were written (Johnson 2007).  As expressed in its tagline, Jezebel strives to tell “the news without airbrushing.” The phrase was offered up by Anna Holmes, who would become the founding editorin chief of Jezebel, during her job  interview for the with Gawker media (Johnson 2007). While over 70% of Gawker.com readership was female, Gawker media decided to create a “straight women’s blog”(PR Week). They hired Anna Holmes, whose resume includes work at Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, and InStyle. (PR Week) Holmes experience with women’s fashion magazines had fostered a frustration with much of the media created for women and formed ideas that would become core to the site. (PR Week).  In an interview with the New York Times, Holmes explains that she “felt disillusion by magazines to a certain degree, because they perpetuated this insecurity factory and present solutions to the insecurities they just created (Mascia 2010).

Jezebel’s target audience is young, urban, educated, liberal females. Advertising Age praises Jezebel as uniquely successful in ability to “[appeal] as creatively and non-patronizingly to women in their 20’s and early 30’s” (Dobrow 2008). In an interview with PR Week from 2007, Holmes expressed the target range of the audiences as women from 18-40, “who take things more seriously than the magazines that are geared to them would have you believe.” (2007) According to Gawker media’s demographics page, 82% of the readership is between 18-34. (Demographics) Holmes makes it clear that Jezebel is intended for a more clever, critical audience. In fact, 81% of Jezebel’s readership has a college education or higher, and over a third (37%) have post graduate degrees. Additionally, it can be assumed that Jezebel appeals to higher income women,  as over 70% of readers are employed (Demographics). The targeting has clearly worked, as the Jezebel readership is 95% female (Demographics). The website also has a link to a live updated chart on the demographics of viewers. The chart indicates that the popularity of visiting the site rises in the afternoon, stabilizing around 3 PM and declining after 8 (Chartbeat). The chart also indicates where in the country users are, and how many people are on each page (Chartbeat).

It is clear that when they set out to make a women’s blog, Gawker media succeeded. However, this date does not display what Jezebel explicitly meant by its idea of a “women’s blog,”  This was stated in the Manifesto, and continued to be reaffirmed by the content they publish.

Works Cited:

Chartbeat. “Jezebel.com.” Chartbeat. Web. 19 June 2009 < http://chartbeat.com/dashboard2/?url=jezebel.com&k=2b3d990a244b3531b681932ac5c8ce33 >.

“Demographics.” Gawker Media. Gawker Media. Web. 23 Mar. 2012. <http://advertising.gawker.com/demographics/&gt;.

Dobrow, Larry. “Lets Hear It for Women Who Suffer No Fools.” Ad Age Media Works. 13 March 2008. Web.  20 March 2012 < http://adage.com/article/mediaworks/hear-women-suffer-fools/125671/>

 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;.

PR Week. “Journalist Q&A – Anna Holmes, Jezebel.” PR Week. 4 June 2007: 12. Print.