Monday, February 7, 2011

10 Things I Learned From Jessica Valenti

Photo by Jessica Dennis, April 2010
As I mention on my "About Me" page, Jessica Valenti is one of my feminist idols, nestled comfortably between Jessie Spano and Gloria Steinem.

And I met her.  And it was awesome. 

How?  As a member of the Organization for Women's Issues (OWI) at BGSU, we collaborated with several other student groups and departments within the university to raise the money to bring her to our campus.

Seriously.  Imagine driving to school with Jessica Valenti in your passenger seat, discussing potential ideas for her next book and where you're going for dinner that night.

Groupies say reading her work is like forming a friendship.  Seeing her on TV is like,"oh, there's my bestie, doing work."  And watching her school Stephen Colbert (hilarious) or Kathie Lee Gifford (even more hilarious) feels like a personal victory.

So, to all of you who think it would be awesome to kick it with Jessica Valenti because you feel like you know her already, you're pretty sure she gets you, and you're convinced you'd get along because that bitch makes the most sense ever-- it's true.  She's a super good time.

And did I mention the New Yorker was pregnant during her visit to Ohio?  Yes, this TFBA (total-fucking-bad-ass) toughed out an entire day of activities and gave an amazing presentation, followed by an hour long Q&A session and then a book-signing. 

"Hi.  I own all of your books.  Will you sign them?"


Can we say unstoppable?

And this personal annecdote brings me to some rather sad news. 

Valenti has announced she's leaving the blog she launched seven years ago to focus on other things, leaving her space open for new talent. 

"Because I feel Feministing should remain a place for younger feminists to build their careers and platforms, I think it’s appropriate to our mission that I step back," Valenti said.

While her words are truly inspiring, many third-wavers are still panicking, sharing their different stages of grief in a tweet or Facebook status.  (I myself, am still in shock.)

So I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on what I learned that fateful day when I met the woman who attracted an entire generation of of young women to feminism by just keeping it real...

1) Sometimes the hardest thing about being a feminist is admitting, out loud and to other people, that you are one.

2) "Fuck" is one of the most necessary words in the English language.

3) Nothing says "classy and professional" like a shirt-dress.

4) No matter how smart, funny, and interesting your lecture just was, there's always some douchebag in the audience waiting to question you about your outfit.

5) Kashi really is delicious.

6) Always let your friends express their opinions, even if you don't always agree with them.

7) It's okay to be a slut, but it's still a double standard.

8) The concept of virginity is neither medical nor scientific.

9) Consent is not merely the absence of "no" but the presence of an enthusiastic "yes."

10) Blogging is just another way to give patriarchy the middle finger.

Thanks for the memories.  Best of luck in all your future endeavors.  And hurry up with that parenthood book already so I have something to read.


  1. I'm so jealous, I love Jessica Valenti - she gave me my feminist 'click' moment.

    Amy xx

  2. You must be a fan of Courtney E. Martin then too!

  3. Kashi is yucky. But you are sooo right about the shirt-dress! ;)