I write about what I’m reading, and the last couple of months — despite my highbrow writings on deconstruction, the politics and sex of the hyphen, Frank O’Hara, Frederick Seidel, and n+1’s Keith Gessen and Gawker alum Emily Gould — I’ve been floating between Gawker, Above the Law, Facebook, and Every Day Should Be Saturday, a smart college football blog. Manila is twelve hours ahead of the east coast, so every morning I wake up to day’s worth of posts on each. (And then you start clicking on links inside links and you get so deep in the internet that you wonder why you are thinking of buying a non-stick skillet for $100.)
But I tell you what. I’ve added Jezebel to my morning round up. A recent NYTimes article paints Jezebel as a girly version of Gawker or, as Jezebel editors put it, a cure for “glossy insecurity factories” — i.e. magazines such as Cosmo, Elle, and their ilk. The article goes on to describe some of the cattiness and cliqueishness that goes on at Jezebel, even though, in the end, according to the article, everyone is friends. (I’m not really too sure what the newsworthiness of the article is, but the NYTimes has slid away from that anyway.)
Jezebel might be the girly version of Gawker (this seems like a suspect statement: a girly version of an effeminate/metro celebrity blog?), but it is also very much something men can and should read. Especially for the posts of Moe Tkacik. Now granted, in middle school I was the kid that would sit with girls on the bus and take Cosmo quizzes with them. I’m not gay, I just liked hanging out with the girls I had a crush on and other than letting them steal my hat and run away, this seemed like one of the best ways. Besides, my little prepubescent brain was conniving that I could learn something useful about the female psyche.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that the female psyche manufactured and disseminated by those magazines is not the female psyche I particularly care to know and understand. Anyway, for the most part I don’t read Jezebel for insights into the female psyche, whatever that might be. Jezebel is more than the NYTimes descriptors — and even its own — would have you believe. It’s tempting to go into a digression now about minority perspectives in blogs — check out TAM for another great read — and what it means for a blog to be from a minority lens. But that’s for someone else to write. Jezebel is a blog about, yes, those glossy women’s magazines, but also about politics and whatever else comes to mind. For all the branding of Jezebel as a celebrity and fashion blog… well, it’s also just a good blog that, in it’s finer moments, transcends genre writing and gives you terrific posts on a wide range of subjects. I mean, whether you are a man or a woman, you have laugh at the weekly Crap Email From A Dude — even if you sometimes laugh a laugh of self-recognition.
Moe Tkacik is reason enough for anyone to read Jezebel. Whatever she writes on, I will read — especially her longer pieces. Many people bitch about blog hacks, asking why should anyone read the someone who doesn’t spend more than a handful of minutes writing a post. Generally speaking, what’s fun about the best blog posts is that they don’t have to be polished pieces that “go somewhere” or have a narrative arc or some other MFA-important quality. In blogs, posts can be thoughts that are followed for a few minutes of writing and then ended without reshaping. Many comments hate on Moe’s post “Everything I Needed To Know About The American Economy I Learned At American Apparel” for that reason and others, but I enjoyed her wandering, multi-genre prose. Some people want a cogent argument out of their reading; for me, it’s sometimes enough to see where a particular mental stimulus (in this case, a WSJ article on American Apparel) can take a good writer who’s had a few cups of coffee. My favorite Tkacik posts are the ones where she gives herself room to trace disparate threads, which usually have a political tinge to ’em. It’s not always clean — hey, it’s a blog, I gotta write another 10 posts today — but in terms of writerly efficiency, she’s one of the best. She’s able to churn out a complicated piece where you can follow her mind’s workings with ease.
Besides, if you are currently reading Gawker, you might be reading an emasculated version of Tkacik’s Jezebel. I’m not trying to assign gender roles to good writing here; I’m just saying if Gawker is the male Jezebel, Gawker can be, well, kind of flaccid. Jezebel takes more risks than Gawker does, for one. As my co-blogger Sarah says, if you want to read Gossip Girl and Paris Hilton, you can read Gawker. If wanna read about McCain and economic trends, you have Tkacik’s conversation to read . You’d be hard pressed to find something so — hard hitting isn’t even the right word; it’s better than that — in Gawker. Sometimes it just seems like Gawker is on autopilot; Jezebel is out there flying over new territory — even if the topic is familiar.
Anyway, I wrote all this so I wouldn’t just post “Go read Jezebel and Moe Tkacik!” I was hinting at some sort of a theme by saying men should read this site too. For one, feminism isn’t just for women. Yeah, one self-centered reason for saying this is that a woman who reads Cosmo advice columns for her literary dosage and subscribes to a mass media produced idea that women should be perfecting their bodies and remaking their attitudes for men is usually not an interesting companion. I have to agree with this as well: “maybe we need to stop letting curve-hating gay men tell us how we should look!” But the best reasons to read Jezebel aren’t something I can really do justice to (as this post has shown) — I’ll let Moe Tkacik and the women over at Jezebel explain, and I’ll follow every word.