The Gawker-owned feminist website Jezebel recently landed in controversy when they passed over their black deputy editor Dodai Stewart for twenty five year old white editor Emma Carmichael.
The announcement two weeks ago that Emma Carmichael, editor of The Hairpin, will succeed Jessica Coen as editor-in-chief of Jezebel left some Jezebel staffers feeling conflicted—both happy for Carmichael and disappointed that management passed over deputy editor Dodai Stewart for the top job.
Dodai Stewart has been with the site since a month after its founding. In May 2014, both Gawker editorial director Joel Johnson and Jezebel founding editor Anna Holmes told Capital Media that Dodai was a strong candidate. The choice of a twenty five year old white girl over the second highest editor who has been with Jezebel since its founding has lead many to accuse Jezebel of racism.
But the decision to hand the site to a young white woman instead of Stewart—a black woman who has been working at the site since Carmichael was still in college—rubs some current and former staffers the wrong way, especially since the site has been criticized in the past for its handling of race issues.
“I would not say that I think it is like a racist action, but it is kind of a missed opportunity,” one staffer said. “The race thing would have been a really wonderful—just like to have a really well-established Black woman who is so good at her job running the site would have been great.”
If Jezebel staffers were speaking about another organization with a history of race issues, they would not restrain themselves to the phrase “missed opportunity.” Jezebel has actually called the schools of kids making racist tweets, reported them to administrators, and gleefully reported the results. If this were another media organization, Jezebel would be publish the home phone number and address of everyone involved, and unleash a twitter swarm under the hashtags #CancelJezebel, and #solidarityisforwhitewomen.
Dodai Stewart has been writing for Jezebel for seven years, published in the New York Times, and represented Jezebel on television. Though Emma Carmichael has been managing editor of other Gawker sites (Gawker, Deadspin) she is has never even written for Jezebel. The two most recent articles listed on her website are How Pat Summitt Ruined The Best Thing About Women’s Basketball and Dropping In On The Demented Utopia Of The Gathering Of The Juggalos. Ironically, her degree is in Urban Studies.
Emma Carmichael wears Juggalo makeup for an article.
Stewart is universally agreed to be a more qualified candidate than Carmichael. The question is why was Dodai rejected in favor of a white woman? Was it mere cronyism, an indication of racism, or even fat shaming? While it’s no secret that Jezebel represents everything Return of Kings abhors, this controversy reveals the what really drives Jezebel. Behind all the feminist rhetoric lie darker truths about looks, money, and media. Even on the most vocal feminist website on the internet, sexual market value still rules.
Does Jezebel Have A Problem With Race?
Racism is the preferred theory hinted at by anonymous Jezebel staffers. Emma Carmichael represents the same demographic that makes up the majority of the Jezebel writing staff—young privileged twenty-something white girls. Many have already pointed to Dodai’s race as the reason Jezebel passed over her for a white girl:
It’s difficult not to feel the racial undertones to this because it does reek of just another day and another example of discrimination. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth that the glass ceiling still exists, even in spaces that are supposedly progressive.
Whether or not this is the only motive, Jezebel has clearly committed a racist action by passing over a more qualified black woman for a less qualified white candidate who looks more like the other women she will be working with.
Did Jezebel Pass Over Dodai Stewart Because Of Fat Shaming?
Part of the job of editor in chief is to be the public face of the company. Previous editor Anna Holmes was a camera friendly white girl, while Dodai Stewart is an overweight black woman. Did Jezebel not want to be publicly represented by a fat person?
Jezebel has received heavy criticism in the past for overweight writer Lindy West who plays into every negative stereotype of a fat feminist. Perhaps West’s poor media performance has made Gawker hesitant to allow another fat woman to represent Jezebel. Would Stewart have gotten the job if she’d lost forty pounds? We’ll never know, but Jezebel clearly passed over a more qualified fat candidate for one with greater “thin privilege.”
Is Jezebel Trying To Hide Where Feminism Leads?
Dodai Stewart is an unmarried unattractive overweight black woman approaching forty with few quality romantic prospects. While ROK readers see this as the natural outcome of feminist living, Jezebel readers may not realize this is where their philosophy leads. No young feminist would want Stewart’s life. She is not an aspirational image. Carmichael is still young, so her actions have not revealed their consequences yet.
Did Jezebel Want To Avoid Paying Its Editor Well?
A comment on the original Buzzfeed announcement reads:
An inexperienced twenty five year old girl is a cheaper hire then the salary bump a deputy editor with seven years experience might demand. Could it be Jezebel just cares more about the bottom line then they do about race, women’s bodies, or loyalty?
Was Emma Carmichael Chosen To Sell To White Readers?
Gawker owner Nick Denton makes the final decision on who sits at the head of the media companies he controls. Gawker has moved to a model known as commerce journalism, where writers create sponsored content full of affiliate links disguised as news. In a leaked memo, Gawker founder Nick Denton told his staff, “your beat is helping readers buy things.” Commerce journalism turns reporters into advertisers and is unethical by most traditional standards.
If Denton’s goal is to push products, a twenty something white girl is the superior choice. Emma Carmichael will have an easier time selling to her own demographic and less moral scruples about doing it than a devout ideologue like Stewart. Because Carmichael isn’t qualified, and owes Denton the job, she won’t be able to say no if he asks her to use even more unethical journalism practices to monetize the site under the guise of feminism.
Emma Carmichael Was Chosen For Her Looks
Every possible theory to explain why Jezebel would chose a less experienced thin young white editor over a more experienced overweight older black editor points to one conclusion: Emma Carmichael was chosen over Dodai Stewart for her attractive white appearance. Regardless of what Jezebel says, their actions reveal what they truly believe. While Jezebel tells men to embrace body positivity, diversity, and feminism, they do not practice those values in their own office. Jezebel’s new choice of editor confirms what Gawker is really about: money. And they’re willing to sell out every value they have for it.