She was funny. She was realistic. She said 'fuck' (a lot). But mainly, she was dead fucking on. As I blogged for The Bloomington Alternative after first discovering Valenti:
"The writing is accessible, funny, full of the actual f-word and other profanities, but most importantly, right to the point. She’s not talking strictly to heterosexual, white females; she recognizes that men also face sexist standards; and she addresses issues that young women deal with on a daily basis, whether we’re conscious of it or not."Finally, I had found my brand of feminism. I was already a dedicated Bitch magazine reader; I'd taken a gender studies course or two; I had read plenty of feminist lit. Yet still not one feminist voice had completely struck a chord with me since my mother, the ultimate and initial feminist force in my life, had passed away in 2002. Valenti was speaking my language. I was in love.
Soon, I was jumping full-force into feminism in a way I never quite had before. I bookmarked Feministing, the blog Valenti founded, on both my home and work computers, and began telling anyone and everyone who would listen about it. I began paying attention to the news, advertisements, and pop culture in a way I never quite had before—and began blogging about it more and more. When I was interning for In These Times last fall, I suggested interviewing Valenti for a Web feature, "20 Questions," and actually squealed when I saw a reply email from her in my inbox. (I didn't actually interview her ultimately, but ITT did run the piece.)
In the last year, I really feel like I've grown into my feminist identity, and I have Valenti to thank for a lot of that. But my feminist identity started at a young age, with my mother constantly expounding feminist rhetoric my way (even if I didn't recognize it as such). I'd be remiss if I also didn't mention my father's role in shaping me as a feminist. He might not use the F-word directly, but damn if he isn't more of a feminist than some of the women I know. Not only did I get a first-hand glimpse of male-female relationships with an equal power balance from witnessing his relationship with my mom, he was always (if not so loudly as my mother) vocal that I could do anything a boy could do. I didn't realize until I was an adult how big of an influence that had, and continues to have, on the way I view relationships and my world in general.
And this is another reason why I so quickly fell in love with Valenti's brand of feminism: She got it! Men are feminists too! As she wrote in Full Frontal Feminism, "The same social mores that tell young women that they should be good little girls are telling guys to be tough, to quash their feelings, and even to be violent. Their problems are our problems, ladies. Men aren't born to rape and commit violence. Men aren't naturally 'tougher' emotionally. These gendered expectations hurt men like they hurt us."