I’m excited to have my youngest interviewee on Job Talk 4 All, Julie Zeilinger, founder and editor of the FBomb, a feminist blog. I wish I could say that I discovered Julie myself, but I have to give the credit to journalist Andrea Newell, who passed along Julie’s name to me. Julie represents the best of Gen Y and serves as a reminder to all of us to go after our goals no matter how old we are.
Title: Founder and Editor of The FBomb
High School Diploma, Hawken School, Cleveland, OH, 2011
First Year Undergraduate at Bernard College of Columbia University, planning to double major in women’s studies and human rights.
1. When did you first get the idea to start FBomb? And how long did it take, once you had the idea, to get it off-the-ground?
I started The FBomb the summer after my sophomore year of high school because as a teen with a newfound feminist identity, I felt there really wasn’t any place where young feminists could come together and share their ideas and form a community.
I grew up in a place that didn’t really understand or promote feminism and really craved a support system and community myself – I figured if I felt that way, other teens must, too. Soon after I started it, some major feminist blogs linked to The FBomb and it started to attract a pretty wide readership. Currently, tens of thousands of people read The FBomb every month.
2. When you started your blog, who did you look to for guidance?
I always looked up to the bloggers at major feminist blogs, specifically Feministing. Their content is consistently really intelligent and engaging and I’ve always strived to live up to the standards they’ve set in the feminist blogosphere.
Also, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know some of the women who blog there personally, and they have been incredibly supportive of me and have given me great advice over the past few years.
3. What’s been your biggest mistake since starting the blog?
For a while, I took the comments on The FBomb’s posts very personally. Whether it was criticism of a blog post I had written myself or even criticism of posts written by contributors that I had chosen to publish, I took all of it to heart. I even tried to respond to every comment.
What I eventually realized was that doing so was not helpful or productive, specifically in the case of straight up sexist and disparaging comments. I had to eventually come to terms with the fact that there will always be somebody who disagrees with you and it’s better to simply stand up for what you believe in and be the bigger person rather than engage in a petty argument.
4. What are your responsibilities as an editor of your blog?
As the editor of The FBomb, I am in charge of making sure it functions on a daily basis and thrives on a larger scale. I edit submissions, write my own posts, and am in charge of making sure content is regularly posted.
I also promote the blog on social media outlets like twitter (@the_fbomb) and Facebook (facebook.com/TheFbomb). More recently, people have asked me to speak at conferences and other events because of my role as editor of The FBomb.
5. How do you manage balancing school and your blog? Do you have time to socialize?
It’s difficult. I go to a very competitive college and the workload is quite demanding. The FBomb is constantly growing, which is also very time consuming. Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at time management, though, so I am still able to socialize and have a life in addition to my roles as editor of The FBomb and Barnard student.
6. What advice do you have for anyone that wants to start a blog about a topic that they’re passionate about?
I say just go for it – often the biggest roadblock for people is that they’re too afraid of failing to ever really try in the first place. It’s very easy to start a blog on sites like WordPress and Blogger and if you’re passionate about something, it will come through in your blogging and people will enjoy reading your content.
7. Who are living feminists that the public should know about?
Jessica Valenti and Courtney Martin are definitely two of my personal feminist heros – they’ve both written great feminist books (Full Frontal Feminism and Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters respectively) and both blogged for Feministing. Of course, Gloria Steinem continues to be a feminist powerhouse to this day.
I’m also a huge fan of the work of bloggers like Latoya Peterson (Racialicious) and Lena Chen (Ch!cktionary). Honestly, there are so many feminists out there doing incredible work today that more people should know about.
8. What’s been one of your favorite experiences/moments since you started this blog?
One of my favorite experiences since starting this blog is the contact I’ve been able to have with the girls who submit posts to The FBomb. It’s so inspiring to hear from so many passionate and intelligent young women and it’s been fascinating for me to get a sense of what feminism means to our generation from reading their work.
I’ve particularly loved hearing from women from different countries – The FBomb is read all over the world, and I’ve gotten some really interesting posts from girls from countries like Italy and even Jordan. To hear their perspectives on what feminism means to them and how they think it’s perceived in their countries is so interesting and I think they’re really important perspectives for American women of my generation to be exposed to.
9. How do you respond to young woman and men who say that there is now a level playing field and sexism is pretty much a thing of the past?
I think this is (unfortunately) a pretty common attitude amongst my generation. I think the key thing here is that feminism for my generation has become a much more subtle fight than it has been in years past. While Second Wave feminists of the 1970s were fighting for more concrete goals – like equal pay for equal work, for example – the issues current feminism is focused on aren’t quite as obvious, like sexual harassment and unattainable standards of beauty in the media, just to name a couple.
Obviously, we still have a lot of political goals to achieve as well, but overall the sexism we deal with doesn’t always have a blinking arrow pointing to it like it once did, so on the surface it may seem like we’ve achieved some semblance of equality.
I think it’s also important to note that this perception of equality some of my peers seem to have is born from being part of a society that is overall very privileged. It’s hard to look at worldwide trends like sex trafficking or female feticide and infanticide and claim that globally we have achieved equality.
10. What are your future plans? Do you have any career dreams?
I just wrote my first book – A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word – which will be published this spring and is now available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. My hope is that I will be able to continue to be a feminist writer and activist.
11. What’s your favorite dessert?
This is a really hard question because I have an insane sweet tooth, but I’d have to say my favorite dessert is German chocolate cake – specifically my mom’s German chocolate cake. It’s amazing.