How did you first discover feminism? My story starts as a Midwestern teen with a burgeoning love for punk rock and unlimited access to the internet. Naturally, it was just a matter of time before I bellied up to my conservative family's dinner table wearing a ''revolution grrrl style now'' tee.
Although I embraced feminism at an early age, for a lot of women--young and old--the f-word is nothing but a curse. That's why when I stumbled upon a new blog aimed at young feminists, the F Bomb, I knew I had to put in a good word for its creator, Julie Zeilinger. She's a 16-year-old growing up in the burbs of Cleveland (just like I did!) who started the F Bomb to give young feminists a voice on pop culture, politics, and all things feminist-y. It's exactly the kind of reading material I wish was handy when I was in high school. Julie took the time to answer some questions for BUST, which you can read after the jump. And yes, that is her with Gloria Steinem above. Lucky!!!
When did you first begin to identify as a feminist?
My parents had always raised me with feminist values, but I first became interested in 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 practice existed, but mostly I was disturbed that such a thing was occurring 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 started to research women's issues on my own, and started to learn more about the feminist movement. I really started calling myself a feminist in 9th grade, when I began to read more feminist literature and feminist blogs.
How has feminism changed you life?
Feminism has really changed my life in that it has changed the way I look at almost everything. Just as a high-schooler, I don't feel the need to play into that ''catty'' girl stereotype, or judge other girls, because feminism has helped me understand the reasons why girls do that and who the ''enemy'' really is. It's also completely changed my confidence, because feminism really just lets you be happy with yourself in a society that is constantly doing the opposite.
What gave you the idea to start the blog?
I really got into reading blogs like jezebel and feministing, along with a lot of others, and really enjoyed them, but found myself wishing that they would really consider the teenage perspective. So often, especially with topics like reproductive justice and sex education, the writers would just guess about the perspective of teenagers, who these issues directly concern, and that's when I realized it's really important that my generation gets more actively involved in the discussion. Because I couldn't find anything out there for teenage feminists, I decided to create my own site.
A lot of feminist publications have abrasive names. Why do you think that is necessary?
I know I chose ''the fbomb'' because it really conveys the tone of my writing and the way I perceive feminism - in your face, unafraid. My blog isn't cutesy so my name isn't either. I also think that in a way it's like these names are like the antithesis of the stereotypical female name, which makes sense for feminism.
Why do you feel it is important to have a blog that is specifically for young feminists?
I think this blog is important because the voices of teenage girls are really missing in other feminist blogs. I think in a lot of ways this is because most teenage feminists aren't as comfortable or confident in their feminism as older feminists are, and don't tend to put themselves out there as much, but that's exactly why we need the fbomb -- so young feminists can be confident, express themselves, and so we can build a community.
What is it like being a young feminist in suburban Ohio?
Being a young feminist in suburban Ohio is often a challenge. The funny thing about the area where I live is that there really are a lot of progressive people who believe in and understand feminism, and a lot of people who vote for Obama, for example. But then you drive only twenty minutes or half an hour south and you're on farms, and in a place whose culture revolves around the Bible and Church. So, I've really experienced both ends of the spectrum in where I live - both people who get it and people who don't.
Do the girls who submit to the blog come from similar situations?
I've gotten a lot of diverse submissions - a lot from girls who have experienced backlash from their communities about feminism, such as a girl from Amman, Jordan and a girl from the Bible Belt. So, they have similar situations in that they've faced backlash, but for a variety of reasons.
How do your friends, family, and schoolmates react to your blog?
My friends and family are all really supportive, especially my parents - they've been amazing about it, just trying to do everything to help, because they really believe in it, too. Some of the kids I go to school with don't really understand what I'm doing, but I haven't run into any truly negative attitudes. And a few of them were some of the first to write for the fbomb!