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Jezebel Founder Anna Holmes And Modern Women’s Media

The founding editor of the hugely popular online women’s news and culture magazine, Jezebel, shares her scrappy, brawling, feminist view of the world.

Anna Holmes is the founding editor of Jezebel.com, a wildly popular online news and culture magazine designed for women, but written without the problematic sheen of traditional women's publications. Anna Holmes' new book is called, "Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things." (Anna Wolf)

Anna Holmes is the founding editor of Jezebel.com, a wildly popular online news and culture magazine designed for women, but written without the problematic sheen of traditional women’s publications. Anna Holmes’ new book is called, “Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things.” (Anna Wolf)

Anna Holmes got her media start at Entertainment Weekly, women’s magazines Glamour and Star and fashion mag InStyle.  In 2007, she broke out of that world as founding editor of the online sensation Jezebel.  Glamour airbrushed.  Jezebel kicked tail.  Kicked over the old women’s magazine tropes.  Looked at celebrity and sex, yes, but in a fresh, un-airbrushed way.  And roved much wider into culture and politics and new territory of women unbound.  Men too.  Up next On Point: we talk with Jezebel’s founding editor Anna Holmes about women in the world now.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Anna Holmes, founding editor of Jezebel.com, the online women’s news and culture magazine. Author of “The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things” and “Hell Hath No Fury: Women’s Letters From The End of the Affair.” Columnist at the New York Times Book Review.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times Book Review: What’s The Most Erotic Book Review You’ve Ever Read? – “It’s about first love, but it’s also about sex: Katherine has a close, functional family, an interest in tennis and a carnal curiosity that eventually finds expression in her relationship with Michael, to whom she loses her virginity. Although not particularly graphic in its depiction of intercourse — readers remember the corny name bestowed on Michael’s reproductive organs better than the sex itself — the book, which has sold more than 3.5 million copies, remains, for better or worse, one of the most memorably erotic novels I’ve ever encountered.”

Mother Jones: How Jezebel Smashes the Patriarchy, Click by Click – “ It was part of my mission to call out women’s magazines for the way images are manipulated. When we held a contest for the most egregious examples, I was sent an image of Faith Hill on the cover of Redbook before it had been retouched, and we showed the before and after. It made national news. Now some women’s mags are very vocal about how they don’t use Photoshop like that anymore. I think that’s an indirect result of the stink that we made for many years.”

NPR: If You’re Looking To Read ‘Lady Things,’ Choose Jezebel Over Jones – “If you’re looking for jolly feminist cultural commentary, giveMad About the Boy a pass and, instead, pick up The Book of Jezebel. This is a lavish encyclopedia composed of contributions from the writers and artists who’ve helped shape the Jezebel website, which was created in 2007 by award-winning writer, Anna Holmes. The Book of Jezebel is packed with gorgeous graphics and photos, as well as witty and unruly entries on everything from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” books to speculums. Most gloriously, this is an encyclopedia with a voice.”

Read An Excerpt of The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things” by Anna Holmes

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  • Coastghost

    “Hugely popular”? If media success is judged by success in flourishing across media platforms, Jezebel and Ms Holmes would not seem to be quite so huge. 11:00 am ET has arrived and this is the first post here. Without media crossover, even though NPR is promoting Jezebel Holmes’s presence with interviews and shows like this, the claim of “hugely popular” looks hugely relative and sounds hugely dubious.

    • Mari McAvenia

      We’re listening to the show rather than wasting our energy arbitrarily down-voting your posts.

      • Coastghost

        Dynamic and gripping interview, I agree.

  • LinRP

    Hmmm…interesting. Jezebel is a site I never paid attention to, and actively avoided because it first glance it struck me as just another brain-draining, soul-sucking deliverer of schlock. Could never get past the visuals of it to even care to give the content a glance. Showing my age, I guess.

    • Rath

      Don’t worry LinRP, you aren’t missing anything.

      Jezebel is not journalism in the slightest, its just ridiculous man-bashing and attacks against the “Patriarchy”.

      The Women’s Liberation movement that actually focused on helping women, not at the expense of disenfranchising men, and promoting equality was largely successful thanks to women like yourself.

      The current ridiculous third-wave feminism that runs rampant at Jezebel has completely gone off the deep end.

      If these feminists want equality, why have they not pushed for women signing up at age 18 for Selective Service, just as men have to do?

  • Emily4HL

    Jezebel has a lot of really silly content, such as the tampon piece I just read. But they also have some very thought provoking pieces, pointing out wins and loses and draws in quest of gender equality.

  • JonieCans

    Thank you Jezebel for all you do!

    But most of all, thank you for observing and naming things for what they truly are.

    For example, thank you for calling the recent controversial cases of “non-consensual sex” reported in the mainstream media what they actually are: cases of rape.

    Your discussions of media coverage of rape cases in Maryville, MO and Steubenville and UConn as well as your skewering of US rape culture at large have been among the most well-researched, heart-breakingly frank content I’ve found.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Coastghost

    In terms of discourse theory, then, we can say that today’s second hour is devoted to the popularization of the popular, a metatext on metapopularization.
    This is equivalent to enhancement of the vox populi, a megaphone for the popular public to be heard through, an earphone through which to hear the popular public.
    This reflects editorial judgment and political intent conveniently wed together.

  • Casey Culver

    i know it’s coming in late – but would you say publications like Maxim are wholly negative, or is there a place for this media in your opinion?

  • AW

    When Tom addresses his guest in closing with the pat-on-the-back-esque “Anna Holmes, Big Editor!”, it sounds very much like an example of the mostly unconscious sexism that is very much present in our liberal and enlightened community.

    • JonieCans

      I love this show, but this made me cringe, too.

    • Rath

      You can’t be serious, can you? Only a second or third-wave feminist could possibly take an obvious compliment as an insult.

    • Bill98

      I, too, was disturbed by this, but for a different reason. Jezebel may be popular, but it is also controversial, and highly-polarizing. Among other things, this showed Tom’s utter lack of objectivity on this subject. His role is that of interviewer, not cheerleader. How about some hard-hitting questions, concerning the site’s content, and it’s inflammatory content? At the very least, how about something other than a verbal “high five” at the end of the interview? I guess it was better than a “you go, girl”, but not by much.

  • Bill98

    Thank you On Point! I was SO afraid that you might make it a week without another story, pushing your gender agenda. Then, bam, here it is! And, barely a week after the last one. Phew! That was close.

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