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Through the Gates: Maximum Multitasker

Julie Zeilinger ’15, Photograph by Anna NozakiJulie Zeilinger ’15 had a unique challenge during her first semester at Barnard: She had to balance studying for exams and completing papers with writing blog posts, finishing a book, and managing a flourishing career as a writer. The founder and editor of theFBomb.org, a blog and online community for young feminists with about 30,000 unique visitors every month from across the globe, she says, “I knew it was going to be a challenge to continue as editor while at Barnard, but the Web site is my baby, I just couldn’t give it up.”

The “F” in FBomb is for feminist, but the double entendre is not an accident, as the site’s “About” page explains: “The FBomb.org is for girls who have enough social awareness to be angry and who want to verbalize that feeling. The FBomb.org is loud, proud, sarcastic … everything teenage feminists are today.”

The writing on the site has one common thread: Everything is written by and for young feminists. “The whole point is to get girls writing and thinking about their own lives and about feminism,” says Zeilinger. “The content tends to be very personal; it’s based on our relationships, our bodies, and things that are central to our lives.” This approach leads to an eclectic mix that includes poetry, critiques of media coverage, and what she describes as “straight-up rants about sexist experiences.”

Balancing the demands of FBomb and her academics isn’t all that’s keeping Zeilinger busy. This past fall, she completed a book, an extension of FBomb titled A Little F’d Up. “The book is a guide for girls who don’t really know what feminism is or what it means for our generation,” she says. A Little F’d Up is scheduled to be published in April by Seal Press, a small feminist publishing house.

Zeilinger has also managed to squeeze in time for the Barnard Center for Research on Women, which enlisted her to be a part of an intergenerational panel at a conference the center co-sponsored, “Sex, Power and Speaking Truth: Anita Hill 20 Years Later.” Alongside prominent scholars, attorneys, and activists, she discussed young people’s perspectives on sexual harassment.

Originally from the Cleveland, Ohio, area, Zeilinger discovered the world of feminist writing through an eighth-grade research project, and has remained an advocate ever since. “I realized that I had always been a feminist; I just didn’t know the name for it until I began to research,” she says. She launched FBomb during her sophomore year of high school in hopes of creating a medium through which young women could share their voices. “It turned out there were a lot of teenage girls looking for the same thing,” she says.

The content posted on FBomb has changed slightly as Zeilinger, along with many of her contributing writers, have transitioned from high school to college. “The FBomb community has grown together,” she says. Recent posts have focused on college-specific themes and campus events, and a column covering issues of sexuality was recently added.

Since arriving at Barnard, Zeilinger has been pleased to find an offline community of like-minded peers and supportive professors. “Barnard is such a great environment. I’ve become more comfortable identifying as a feminist, and I actually have the chance to discuss feminism and feminist issues in classes,” she says. “And that’s been a new experience that I can write about.”

—by Maura Ewing