There's a scandal brewing in the feminist blogosphere over an interview between Lizz Winstead and Jezebel writers Tracie Egan and Moe Tkacik. Each week, "Daily Show" co-creator Winstead hosts a live interview (called "Thinking and Drinking") with big names in journalism in New York City; the interview is then posted on ShootTheMessengerNY.com, a hilarious site Winstead produces that sends up the mainstream media. And, despite the title, "Thinking and Drinking" can be a pretty high-minded and clever show, with guests including Craig Unger and Bill Moyers (Note to Lizz Winstead: You might want to think about renaming your show). Jezebel, a Gawker Media blog, puts a modern feminist twist on politics, culture, and entertainment in the kind of in-your-face traditions of Bust and Bitch magazines. On its face, it seemed to be a good match. Young, irreverent, feminist bloggers on a smart, funny media show in a year the country had its first viable female candidate for president. It was, however, a CATASTROPHE.
The Jezebel bloggers who showed up were not the arch women some of us have come to read regularly. Instead two drunk, eye-rolling, jeering women who thought they were funny showed up: Think Karen Walker of "Will and Grace" without the laughs. In what I will generously assume was a play for laughs (and a gross lapse in judgement), Egan and Tkacik discuss rape:
Tracie: People are always saying it's not safe to go home with strange men, blah, blah blah, like Mr. Goodbar whatever ...
Moe: The thing about the rapists of our generation, is that they all use drugs, they all have some sort of drug they use on you, so it's good to feel, and I don't know if this has happed to me or if I just drink too much ...
Tracie: I moved here when I was 18 and you think you would encounter more rapists in a big city like this, but, I don't know, I just haven't ...
Moe: I guess third guy, I ever had sex with, date raped me, and I got very mad at him, but I wasn't gonna fucking like turn him in to the police and fucking go through shit ...
Lizz interrupts: Why not, you see that's the problem, why not, I am just curious?
Moe: Because it was a load of trouble and I had better things to do, like drinking more.
The full transcript and clips from Winstead are here on HuffPo. Egan and Tkacik acquitted themselves so badly, it's at first difficult to understand how such otherwise bright and sharp writers could fall so hard. Though Moe's constant references to drinking go a looong way toward explaining it. And that's my huge, massive problem with this swaggering, I-can-do-anything, fuck-you attitude of the Jezebel feminist order. There seems to be this idea that an "Ab-Fab"/Karen-Walker attitude conveys power. That anything can be solved with a cocktail and sarcasm. I have a lot of personal experience with this kind of bravado, and I assure you it's a masquerade. Some of my most cringe-inducing memories are of how NOT funny I actually was during a drunken escapade. And as any good stand-up comic can tell you: If you're funny, you can be forgiven a multitude of sins; if you aren't, then you're just an asshole.
Sadly, Egan and Tkacik made Jezebel look super hackish: They didn't prepare for the interview, weren't familiar with the program's format or tone, and, worse, didn't even seem to think the topics they were asked about were serious enough for real thought. It was as though Egan and Tkacik were in a childish contest to see who could be more irreverent. Which in a way they were: Through the haze of hooch-fueled banter, I bet it seemed that way. And I know just how I might have reacted myself the next day once upon a time: I'd laugh about how drunk I was and what a disaster I was, as though that were the grand prize. Now that's a powerless, powerless woman. Drunkeness generally is a surefire way to lose power and control. Thinking that acting snarky and subversive to shock or get a laugh confers any power back to the woman is nothing more than a charade. And it's certainly a poor example of feminism.
peek behind the curtain of Jezebel has kind of shocked me back into
place. It has been all too easy for me to dismiss certain Jezebel posts
and attitudes as ironic (like Egan's avatar "Slut Machine"), but now it
all just seems like character acting instead of ideology. Which is too
bad, because Jezebel's young-adult book reviews, snarky takes on the
world of fashion, and links to tons of news stories about women made it
pretty awesome. Now it just seems like a site run by messy drunks who
think that snark is an end in and of itself. Time to wake up, sisters.
As a Jezebel commenter, StaceyofLiberty, writes, "Eventually these
women may learn that the public role of Outrageous Sexy Woman! is both
tired and tiring, and it inevitably leads you to look like an utter ass
besides." And Jezebel commenter esmemurphy, writes, "I've been getting
the feeling that I'm too old for this site lately. I think this
clinches it. I definitely think that things have been skewing more
party mentality and less womens-issues over time." Me too, ladies. I'm