Riot in Her Head: Jessica Valenti

Photo: Courtesy of Avalon Publishing Group

Since Queens girl Jessica Valenti, 28, founded three years ago, she’s emerged as a sort of Kathleen Hanna—the nineties riot grrrl who slathered the word slut across her midriff to reclaim it—of the blogosphere. Katha Pollitt reads her, and her breasts have been fiercely scrutinized by the blogging community, something any self-respecting feminist might be proud of. Her new book, Full Frontal Feminism, is an irreverent guide to why young women should embrace the F-word. Valenti spoke with Emma Pearse.

What’s with the cover, the title printed across a woman’s bare torso?
I’ve taken a lot of shit about the cover—somebody called me a patriarchal whore. But let’s face it, no young woman is going to pick up a book with the woman’s symbol with a fist on it.

Has blogging changed feminism?
It’s going to revolutionize feminism. I can’t tell you how many e-mails I get from girls who do a random search on Jessica Simpson or Britney Spears and end up on Feministing.

Who is Miss Magoo, the book’s dedicatee?
My mother: Miss Magoo was her gang nickname when she was growing up in Long Island City. They would say Magoo and her Goos.

What impact do you think the partial-birth-abortion ban will have in New York?
If it’s happening to a woman in Texas, it’s going to affect us. I’m terrified, frankly.

You got a lot of flak for not wearing a suit to meet Bill Clinton—were you intending to be provocative?
No, the whole manufactured “controversy” came as quite a shock. It wasn’t a busty top; sadly, it was just a Gap crewneck sweater. I guess some folks don’t get out all that often.

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters
Seal Press. 256 pages. $14.95.

Riot in Her Head: Jessica Valenti