Jezebel’s Witch Hunt

5 Jan

I read Jezebel on the regular. I read it because I like it, because it’s usually a decent, entertaining blog with feminist leanings.

Today, however, was an exception.

While perusing the headlines on Jezebel my eye was drawn to the headlines along the top of the page. The superficial side of me clicked on the story with the photo of the hot guy titled “Princeton Alums, State Dept. Staffer Run Revolting Sex Contest.”

Three photos of guys in their twenties appeared below the headline. I spit out my coffee when I noticed the brother of a high school acquaintance smiling back at me. The same kid who graduated in the top of his class, went to Princeton, and came to my soccer games was linked to this scandalous email thread.

I won’t go in to the nitty gritty of the email thread; you can read it yourself on Jezebel, Huffington Post, or IvyGate, if you want to give them the page views. Suffice it to say that the thread is disgusting, misogynistic and repulsive. There’s no question that it goes against everything feminism stands for, in terms of treating people with dignity and respect.

But there is a question about what Jezebel is trying to accomplish by publicly humiliating these guys. I realize they are trying to prove a point — that some men are assholes, douchebags, really, and cannot be trusted. But is airing their dirty laundry for  all the internets to see really the right way to go about it?

At the time of writing this, the story on Jezebel has over 111k views, 1,242 comments and 607 “likes” on Facebook. If I “liked” this story right now on Facebook, it would most likely appear on my friend’s news feed. My friend, who attended an Ivy League school, has supportive parents, and comes from a normal suburban family, would be able to read all about her brother’s sexcapades. How am I supposed to feel, knowing that my fellow middle school softball teammate and school newspaper colleague will get the sickest feeling in her stomach while reading something her brother never intended for her eyes, or anyone else’s, really?

Let me pause for a moment and make something clear: I am not condoning the behavior in the emails.

But. Who doesn’t talk about sex? As a woman in my early twenties, I frequently go to brunch with my friends where our main topic of conversation is what guys we are currently dating/ trying to get attention from and all of the juicy details that go along with it. How is their email thread any different from our brunch conversations? They aren’t living in the same city so they have to keep each other informed; it’s their version of brunch. Not one I would condone or approve of, but then again, I wasn’t invited.

And neither was Jezebel. It seems that this has turned into a bit of a witch hunt. Instead of fighting the culture of misogyny, this well-respected blog is trying to fight the individuals themselves. But it seems to me that this kind of targeting, complete with mass hysteria and self-righteousness, won’t lead to the outcomes we want.

What do you think? Has this gone too far? And is there a better way to fight this kind of harmful culture than calling out people one by one?

This post was brought to you by Laura.

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3 Responses to “Jezebel’s Witch Hunt”

  1. RL January 5, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    laura, i totally agree. these guys are no doubt disgusting, but i’m not about to play judge and jury, especially when i don’t even know them.

    i love jez, but it’s gone too far.

  2. Brianna January 5, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    RL already knows my distaste for Jezebel and the clique that runs it. I used to love Jezebel like I love smoking cigarettes (compulsively and with a healthy dash of shame). Now … not so much.

    I think the decision to name the men, while leaving the women nameless does a lot of things … none of which solve the problem of misogyny. In fact, it further separates men and women and the similarities in our experiences as human beings.

    First of all, it demonizes the men.
    Why point out these guys in particular?
    While Jezebel is obviously an echo chamber/circle-jerk clique in which everyone agrees with each other’s very specific and somewhat-hateful version of feminism, some Jezzies seem to forget that unlike high school, the internets reach more than biddies in your grade. Including parents, future employers, etc. What’s the point? Why ruin three lives when I could show you an e-mail thread like that from every fraternity at my college? These three men are not “the problem.”

    Also, why victimize the women by leaving them nameless? While on the surface, it may seem respectful, it defaces them and assigns them all a helpless quality. No name, no face, no personality. It’s as if all of these women were totally seduced and swept off their feet by these guys, presumably left weeping after their yacht left the harbor. COME. ON. Women are independent! We have minds! And *gasp* sometimes we have sex just to have sex. For every guy that uses women, I could show you a woman that uses men, too. (It just may not be in such a high-five, fratcat kind of way.)

    While Jezebel decries the “objectification” of women (in particular), MY version of feminism (that doesn’t jive well with them), does not seek to put women on a pedestal. I want to bring gender into the equation and to question all behavior that treats human beings like objects, regardless of gender (or sexual orientation, or ethnicity, etc.). Jezebel is a weird combination between the man-hating feminists that give feminism a bad name and the bitchy popular clique in my high school.

  3. Maureen January 6, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Sadly, these three guys aren’t the only men who talk/act in this manner. It’s cultural. Not ALL men act this way, but a lot do. It’s annoying to see white, super privileged ivy-leaguer’s talk about women as nothing more than sex objects but the media does the same thing everyday in the products they sell us.

    Jezebel’s attempt at completely shaming them is lost on me.

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