Feminist F Bomb
Yep, that’s right – the other ‘F’ word… Feminist. Julie Zeilinger is the proud teenage feminist mastermind behind fabulous teen feminist bible ‘thefbomb.org’. She talks about the F Bomb, feminism and what being a teenage feminist means.
Teenage feminist Julie Zeilinger is the girl behind thefbomb.org, a site for feminist teens. The F Bomb is a hallowed place where just about anything that could possibly affect the life of a young feminist in the modern world is sure to have been discussed. What are Julie’s perceptions of feminism? What does she stand for?
How did The F Bomb come about?
I started the F Bomb because a lot of the mainstream feminist blogs that I read weren’t representing the teenage perspective on issues that directly affect us, and I felt that that voice and perspective needed to be heard. Also, I thought it would be great if teenage feminists could have their own community, and a place where they could speak their mind. I couldn’t find any other teenage feminist blogs that really accomplished this, so I decided to start my own.
You were described recently in a UK newspaper as “an angry teenage feminist” – is that an accurate description?
I don’t think ‘angry’ is accurate. I guess people confuse being angry with being critical. Often, the problems or observations I talk about really do make me angry (because why wouldn’t blatant gender prejudice make you angry?) but I feel like my overall goal when I write is to come up with some answers, rather than complain or express how upset I am.
On your website, you ask readers when they first became aware that they were feminists… what about you?
I first started calling myself a feminist in 8th grade when I had to give a speech to my entire middle school. I found an article about female feticide and infanticide (a practice most commonly in south asian countries where parents kill their babies for the sole reason that they are female). I was so shocked that such a misogynistic thing occurred, but mostly I was disturbed that this was happening and I didn’t know about it and that more people weren’t concerned. It made me wonder what other misogynistic things were happening without my knowing. That’s when I really felt connected with feminism – when I felt the need to know more about how to end gender prejudice and misogyny.
The fact that your website is called “The F Bomb” implies that you believe there is a certain social taboo around the concept of feminism – this is definitely true in the UK… what about the US, where you’re from?
I think there’s definitely a social taboo around feminism. People have a stereotype associated with feminism (hairy LGBT man-haters) and I think that that’s what drives people away from feminism most often. They can’t see past that stereotype and realize we’re just talking about equality.
In a country which has a far stronger religious ethos behind it than Britain, would you say that equality is tougher to deal with in the USA?
Well, I don’t know about ‘tougher’, because I can’t really compare the two (not having lived in Britain), but we still have a long way to go equality-wise. I don’t necessarily think that we’re still not equal because of religious beliefs in this country (although the conservatism isn’t helping…) – I think it has more to do with social and political behaviour.
How did family and friends react to your website and feminist attitude when they first found out? My brother just laughed at me…
My family was very supportive and always have been. It took my friends a little bit longer to wrap their heads around the idea that I am a “feminist” – but as they’ve gotten used to it and heard me talk about it, I think they’ve realized that it’s a really logical way of looking at things and it really represents things they believe in, like ending domestic violence and the right to choose, just to name a couple. Some have also started to identify as feminists, too.
How would you define feminism in a modern world? Many people seem to believe that it’s irrelevant now that women have the vote…
Feminism is about equality. Of course we’ve had major victories in the women’s movement and are in a much better place than we’ve ever been before, but there is still a lot we have yet to accomplish, too. I think feminism is moreover about creating the best possible reality – it tries to rid the world of hatred, violence and tries to create more loving relationships. It’s really just a way of life and a way of thinking.
What are your “favourite” gender stereotypes?
Being in high school, the stereotype of girls only being able to be sluts or prudes comes up a lot. To me it’s one of the more ridiculous ones, as well. Also, I’m sad to say, the “girls aren’t as good at sports” one is still prevalent. In the world of high school sports, guys’ games are still way better attended than girls’.
You’ve been quoted as saying that when you are no longer a teenager, you’ll hand your blog on to another teenage feminist, because you always want the F Bomb to be relevant. Is this true? If so, who do you intend to hand it to?
Well, it’s true that I’m considering that – I haven’t made any final decisions just yet, but that seems to be one of the best options. I just started the F Bomb less than a year ago, though, so I still haven’t considered it fully or thought about who I’d pass it down to.
What’s your message for other young feminists out there?
Be proud. It’s so easy to feel left out as a teenage feminist, because so many of our peers don’t really understand how we think or why we think this way. I’ve found that if you just stick to what you know as a feminist and take pride in it, people will really respect you for it, and more importantly, you’ll respect yourself.