Monday, February 22, 2010

Anna Holmes:

Anna Holmes’ visit to Syracuse was a laid back stroll down memory lane, strewn with blunt and honest advice regarding her two favorite topics; Journalism and Feminism.

Holmes graduated from NYU and moved on to work at magazines like Entertainment Weekly and Glamour. “Working at Glamour refined my hatred of women’s magazines” Holmes said as the audience giggled.

Holmes was then summoned by to create the “female gawker.” She decided right away that it needed to be more about making fun of women’s magazines, that “created and preyed on insecurities or just always tried to sell you something.”

Holmes is now Editor-in-Chief of Her site gets over 20 million monthly views, and has a die-hard fan base. These ‘jezebels’ often get into heated debates in the comments section, as well as share very personal stories relating (and sometimes not) to the article.

When asked about these fans, Holmes theorizes with slight frustration that “a lot of women are being underutilized in their jobs.” Because of Jezebel’s feminist and often snarky content, some companies dislike the site immensely. American Apparel, a common target for their underage-looking models and creepy owner, has not advertised with Jezebel for at least a couple years. To the angry emails Holmes receives, she laughingly says “If someone complains about me making fun of them, I’ll probably run their email on the site.”

While Anna focused more on her journalism experience during her presentation, I got to sit down with her after and talk about Feminism and women’s issues. (Yes, I was incredibly excited, thanks for asking.)

What is Feminism to Anna? “It’s called the F-word for a reason. It’s a bad word now. But I don’t think it’s something ugly or bad. I’m not going to stop using the word because it conjures up… images for some people. It’s just a marker, like anything else.”

But, how can we reach out to the upcoming generation? It seems as though Feminism just becomes a “dirtier” word as time goes on. “You have to draw girls in with stuff they want to hear. You have to hide the spinach in tastier food,” says Anna.

While she’s looking at some new projects, Anna has no idea what the future holds for her. One thing she does know is that she probably won’t be at Jezebel in 5 or 10 years… Which means you should check it out right now to see the greatness that is Anna Holmes, Editor-in-Chief at

PS- She thinks the name ‘Medusa Magazine’ is “pretty awesome.” Yes.

by Veronica Ripson

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco is a feminist. But she’s more than that. She is the reason that other people (men and women) are feminists. During her performance at the Westcott here in Syracuse Friday, February 5, she sang a piece inspired by an old working song from the 30’s. I don’t know what the original lyrics are, but I’m pretty sure that “feminism ain’t about women, that’s not who this is for” was not fashioned by the lovely Ms. DiFranco.

Now this is supposed to be a review of the concert, and I am going to do that, because it was my first time ever seeing her live and my life has officially been changed. However, I am also writing for a feminist magazine, and Ani has way too many interesting pieces to discuss in regards to her feminism to simply let that part slide. I was hoping she would do a couple of her extremely feminist songs at the show so that I would have a way to tie everything together but—oh well. I guess finding the common thread is my job. And actually that won’t be too difficult.

At the merchandise table, one of the t-shirts had what is possibly one of my favorite lines of hers pasted on it. It read “Feminism ain’t about equality, it’s about reprieve.” Isn’t that beautiful? The reason that so many people are feminists because of Ani DiFranco is because she gives them a legitimate reason.

When you see Ani perform live, it isn’t frightening. She isn’t some crazy lesbian butch maniac singing about roasting men over the fire. She is a tiny woman with a powerful voice and a whole string of powerful songs. She has the ability to entertain an audience—and she is a feminist. People assume because of her whole persona and because of her record label name and all of the things that anyone has ever heard about her that she is overwhelming and intimidating.

But that’s not true. I was actually surprised after listening to a couple of live albums of her music at how tame she was on stage. She made a couple of political jabs and she did her fair share of cursing at the audience, but she wasn’t preaching. And even though this wasn’t what I expected, it made me like her even more.

If you’re familiar with Ani’s music at all, she sang a lot of songs off her older albums and of course a lot of her classics—Napoleon has got to be one of the most energizing songs to hear live. She has a full band behind her but honestly she is so mesmerizing that you can’t really pay attention to them, except when the xylophone player has a kick-ass solo and everyone is cheering for him. It’s her and her guitar and the amazing lyrics that have the power to change your life and being in the room with all of these people who know every single word to every single song. That is an experience.

One of her songs, which she did not perform that evening but which always sticks with me, begs the question “why can’t all decent men and women call themselves feminists? Out of respect?” and I would like to know the answer. Ani makes identifying as a feminist something to be proud of – she markets it as a way of looking at the world, not the “bra burning, I don’t need a man” stereotype, but the idea of respect.

To Ani, feminism is the idea that the sexes be equal on all levels, and we still aren’t there yet. But we could be. And we should be. Most importantly, if everyone could get on board and realize the goal of feminism, wouldn’t we be a hell of a lot better off? I think she’s on to something. Maybe if life was like a giant Ani DiFranco concert everyone would understand. And hey, would that be such a bad thing?

Emmery Brakke

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Terry McBride: The God of the Goddesses

It seems that the goddesses of female music are finally smiling down upon me. My previous blog post dealt exclusively with the history of Lilith, after I discovered just how few SU students had heard of it. It may not have been very evident from my last post, but my excitement was uncontrollable when I heard the news of the Lilith revival not two weeks before my post.

And as if the news that I was finally able to witness the glory of Lilith Fair wasn’t exciting enough, at the peak of my excitement I was informed that Terry McBride was giving a lecture here at Syracuse. Terry McBride; the co founder of Lilith Fair, the person who worked with Sarah McLachlan to bring this feminist music Mecca to life, was going to be speaking here.

My previous writing was based on the written history of Lilith as acquired through my research. But lucky for you all, I am now pleased to relay the information which I learned directly from Terry McBride himself. His segment on Lilith Fair focused mostly on comparing what he called “The Old Lilith” to the soon to be revealed “New Lilith.”

Now before I launch into the tale of my evening of rapture, let me remind you: Terry is a man. He is a high-powered, male music executive. As surprising as it may be, it is also incredibly encouraging to see that the person who drove such a crucial piece of the feminist movement, an event that has practically become synonymous with feminism, is not even a woman. He put this event together because he loves good music. And he doesn’t see gender as a part of the equation that determines good versus bad. Which means that this man is very much our ally. So now that you have been properly warned; get ready to fall in love.

The main discrepancy in my historical account of Lilith was my lack of acknowledgement of the festival’s charitable involvement. From the way in which he spoke of his creation, it is clear that Terry is most proud of the astonishing ten million dollars that Lilith was able to donate to women’s aid organizations. One dollar from every ticket—and this system is to remain in place for the upcoming Lilith—is kept and donated to a charity that helps women. And at the first Lilith show, over fifteen thousand people showed up.

McBride plans to take it to a whole new level this time around. The New Lilith will focus even more on the charity aspect of the event, selecting four or five for profit organizations who show promise to achieve great things and sponsoring them.

Doesn’t sound too charitable? Think again. These businesses will be brought on the road with Lilith, setting up tents and advertising what they do at all of the concerts. Then these for profit organizations will donate portions of their proceeds to non-profit organizations, which are selected by a local talent search of sorts.

For McBride, it’s all about sustainability. His biggest disappointment from the old Lilith was the fact that although it was wildly successful and brought massive amounts of awareness when it was first created, only a few years after the last tour ended, so too did their work. People seemed to forget about it, and the charities they had helped to support were on their own again. They left a legacy, certainly, but not one with much proof of existence. McBride wants to change that this time around. His fresh approach promises to make Lilith a permanent fixture in the minds of great music festivals and great charity excursions.

Emmery Brakke is a sophomore in VPA. She can be reached at